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Rodrigo Prieto

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  1. Hi David! In my lighting package I had quite a few cool white bulbs as there are many scenes with fluorescent lighting in which I used cool whites exclusively to match existing lighting or to keep the green/cyan look of cool whites. On the doctor's office I wanted Uxbal (Bardem) to have a combination of white daylight on one side of his face, combined with cyan fluorescent top-light to add discomfort to the moment. I felt that Cool Whites slightly corrected gave me the right amount of greenish top-light for that moment. For other scenes I used Chrome 50's clean and in some cases even added a bit of plus green and 1/4 blue to the bulbs. For example the scene in the sweatshop where the Chinese immigrants work was lit with cool white bulbs, but the office of the boss seen in the background was lit with Chroma 50's gelled with 1/4 Plus Green and 1/8 CTB. I then graded to make the office or the boss "neutral" in color so that the rest of the sweatshop would still be cyan/green but not as extreme as if I had left the office Chrome 50's without gels and graded to that. Rodrigo.
  2. Hi Phil, That was the color of the wall. It is a small doctor's office, and it was lit with an 18 K through the window out of shot with Full Grid Cloth diffusion just outside the window, and a flag inside to darken one third of the wall behind Bardem. He was also lit with an overhead 4x4 Kinoflo with Cool White bulbs gelled with 1/4 Minus Green. On the dark side of his face, I placed a black 4x4 card for negative fill. Cheers! Rodrigo.
  3. Hi Yaztj, I guess I can answer your question as I graded the film with colorist Miguel Pérez Gilaberte in Barcelona. In general, my approach to digital intermediate color timing is quite simple, using it mostly as an interactive form of grading using printer lights. I like the Lustre configured so that the individual clicks on the keyboard represent points of color or density. Only rarely do I change color saturarion or contrast, and if I do it is to match shots rather than affect the look. So I test different combination of camera stocks with print stocks to determine the look I am after for every project. In the case of Biutiful, after much testing, I settled on Kodak Vision 5260 500T camera negative pushed one stop, printed on Vision Premiere. The result is a contrasty image with saturated color and visible grain. For the scenes on the snow I used Kodak Vision 5201 50D to have a pristine, transparent image in contrast with the rest of the movie. Night scenes I shot with Vision3 5219 pushed one stop as I found the blacks to be cleaner in very dark scenes, whereas the pushed 5260 resulted in blueish blacks. So, the look of Biutiful could have been mostly achieved photochemically, but since I combined aspect ratios, shooting anamorphic for some scenes and spherical for others, we had to do a DI. Of course, once you have the tools of the Lustre at your disposal, I did do windows to control some areas of the frame in a few scenes. I am no purist. Whatever works best for a final image is the approach I will take. It is just that I feel that once you start tweaking contrast, saturation and sharpness, the image starts to look "digital". This is why I rely on photochemical methods to find an image that I like for every project I shoot. Thanks for your interest, Rodrigo Prieto.
  4. I have not posted in a while. For a film I am prepping, the VFX supervisor suggested shooting Day for Night background plates for a train interior scene (through an open door) with the RED camera with a fish eye lens to crop into the image for the different angles of the foreground plates shot poor man's process on stage. Since the background images will be darkened quite a bit and will be soft focus, he thinks the resolution of the RED will be good for cropping into the image. I am curious about the Phantom 65 for this application instead of the RED. I have no experience with either one of these systems, so I would appreciate any input in terms of comparative resolution and latitude of these two cameras. Can I use some sort of Fish Eye lens with the Phantom 65? How do the two cameras compare in noise levels? The foreground plates will be shot with G Series Anamorphic Lenses. Any thoughts? Rodrigo Prieto, ASC
  5. Great ideas, thanks! I will shoot tests next week, and hopefully will have several options to try out. I am looking for black and white infrared stock here in Madrid, as well as the mini infrared litepanels. Still waiting to hear if they are available over here. I am also waiting to hear if there is any HD camera to remove the IR filter for the test (be it Genesis, F23, Viper... still looking). Also working on getting over here the image intensifier from Panavision in London. I am also contacting the representative of FLIR Systems here in Madrid to ask about the P640 camera. Many interesting options... I will let you all know the result of the tests (if I can get any of these cameras or devices by next week!). But one question: Anyone have an idea on how to measure exposure with Infrared light (the mini infrared litepanel). I imagine that on HD I can use the waveform monitor, but on film??? This is what I love of our job... always something new to learn... Rodrigo.
  6. Thanks for all these ideas. I did see the Roller Ball scene that David mentioned when I was researching for Babel. I will test that device ("image intensifier") from Panavision, but I have a feeling it may be to "military" for our purpose. This is a scene where the characters and they are in complete darkness, and the director wants the actors to really feel the anxiety of not seeing anything (if possible). No stunt or danger involved in this case, so I am quite intrigued by the idea and the challenge. Does anyone know if the IR filter is removable on the F-23, the Viper, the Genesis or the D-20? Or any other high end Hi-Def camera? I want an image of the highest possible quality, that can be somewhat colorized in Post, but has the odd eyes of night vision, and is slightly reminiscent of the military and security cameras (but more "realistic"). Andreas, I have not seen The Time of the Wolf, but I also played with the idea of shooting blackness, but the director does want to see the action, that becomes quite emotional. Perhaps I will shoot some of it with regular film, as at one point a character lights a cigarette for a moment, but has to turn it off. It may help remind the audience that indeed they are in a completely black environment. The trick is how to do the transition... Anyway, all the ideas are welcome at this stage. Thanks! Rodrigo.
  7. Thanks Tom! I will contact Francis. Anyone else heard of this "Super Harp"? Rodrigo.
  8. I have not posted in some time, but I am now starting prep on a film in Spain, and an interesting challenge has come up in the script (as always). The scene happens in complete darkness, and the characters can't see what the others are doing, but, of course, we want the audience to "see" the action. Talking to the director, he wants the actors to really be in total darkness so that in fact they can't see each other. Hmmmm.... I once tested a night vision device at Panavision that is placed in front (or behind?) of the lens, which was used in the remake of Roller Ball. It essentially means shooting a low-rez night vision video signal with a film camera. I was wondering if anyone knows of any new developments in this field. Is there a high end HD camera capable of shooting with IR lighting, for example? Ideally the images look like a very high quality Night Vision, which we would colorize a bit in post to make the image less monochromatic. We don't want a military style image, but rather a stylized, high quality version of it, where you can distinguish some color, but the eyes still have the weird look of Night Vision. Am I making sense? Any ideas? Rodrigo Prieto.
  9. I beg to differ. Of course, everyone has a different path, and what works for one may not for the other, but my experience has been that excelling will always give you an edge. My first big break came after working as a PA and stills photographer in a small commercial in Mexico City many moons ago. I worked very hard, and at the end of the shoot, the owner of the agency remarked on what a smooth production we had ran (the UPM and myself... small crew those days.) I told him that I didn't want to be a producer, that I really wanted to be a DP. I was in my second year of film school and had just turned 22, having only shot Super 8 and 16mm, but he asked the Production Company to hire me as the DP for his next campaign!! I had no reel, and was obviously very green, but I did it, and it turned out all right, and that launched my career as a Commercials DP. A few years later, I shot my first feature, and eventually met Alejandro González Iñárritu in commercials. That let to Amores Perros, and so on. Yes, I was very lucky, but if I had done a mediocre job as a PA on that small commercial back in 1987, my career would have been different. When I see someone working with passion at brooming the set, or making the best slate you have ever seen, I make a mental note of that person and who knows when I may be asked for a reference of someone to do some other job. I see your point about wanting to keep someone at a position he or she is good at, but when that person is ready to move on, and expersses the desire to do so, I will be sure to help that person along if I consider the talent is there (I can only speak for myself, but I am sure most people would do that.) I truly believe this is the best way to live your life and career, with passion and joy, every day...
  10. My two cents: Enjoy what you are doing NOW and do it to the best of your abilities. Even if that is making sandwiches for the camera crew, if your attitude is one of being where you want to be that instant, putting all your effort into making the best sandwiches, someone will notice and ask you to do another job later. There is a spark you see on certain people that makes you want to have them in your team to make your job better or easier. Recommendations are very important, but you only get recommended if the person recommending you is confident that you are professional, serious about your job, and have a good attitude. I also think that there is never really a moment when you know or think you have "made it". There is no arriving at your "goal". I have the same excitement and fun working on the films I do these days as when I was in film school in Mexico City. It is all about doing the best you can every moment regardless of where you want to be in five years. Annie makes a good point about slowing down and this not being a race. Just work hard, enjoy the people around you, shoot anything that comes your way (I filmed all kinds of horrible no budget stuff for a long time, but always felt it was an opportunity to learn and to me it was no different than shooting Gone With the Wind), and forget about the "future", it has a way of becoming the present constantly. Good Luck!
  11. I just saw NCFOM and was awestruck by Mr. Deakins' cinematography. Just like the day I saw Fargo, I was reminded of the magic of apparent simplicity. Sometimes I find myself trying too hard to invent fancy lighting, and then I am humbled by how effective, riveting and poetic stripped down lighting can be. It is not easy to make naturalistic lighting work dramatically and emotionally with the story and the performances, and Roger pulls it off again. I was looking at the actors eyes to find clues of how he lit them, but only found the reflection of what looked like the real sources. It is like watching a magician perform, trying to catch the tricks, but not being able to! I was thrilled to be so inspired by his work once more, it shows me that there is always so much for me to learn and strive for. Thanks Roger!
  12. Thanks David! It is very exciting! I have not seen any of the other nominated films yet, but I am looking forward to it! Rodrigo.
  13. Hi Francisco, Thanks for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed the film. As you point out, I did set out to emulate a film noirish feel, but with soft light, so the challenge became controlling the soft sources without the use of forests of flags. Lighting each character to emphasize their state of mind and intentions was a fun process. For example, there is one scene where Mr. Yee walks into the room where Wong Jiazhi is unpacking, he comments on how she has changed as he moves from a "godfather" soft top-light into a soft side-light in one step. Instead of dimmers, I used egg crates and "baffles" on the diffusion frames to make the light directional, but soft, keeping it concentrated in pools of light. I used custom made baffles for our kinoflos and soft boxes, and "soft-tools" egg crates for the bigger frames. It is funny you mention eye-light, as I usually don't use eye-lights, but in this case I did in some instances. The scene where Wong is told she has to gain "experience" by sleeping with one of the guys of the student theater group was one example, as we wanted the intensity of the eyes of the two girls as they talk about it to be enhanced. I used a mini-kino with heavy diffusion. For Mr. Yee I used a gag we called the "Killer Pizza Light" which you can read about in the October issue of the American Cinematographer. In terms of references, strangely enough, we did not look at movies, just paintings and photographs of the era. I agree about the slow motion, it is a technique that I usually shy away from, except for very specific moments (like in Alexander where we only used it for the scene where Alexander is wounded and nearly dies). Anyway, thanks for your comments! Rodrigo.
  14. Alex and Tom, It is good to hear that you each liked a different part of Babel. I personally don't have a favorite section, but I must say that shooting in Tokyo was quite a treat after suffering the heat in Morocco and Northern Mexico. Tom, maybe it is best if you see the film first (in a cinema) before you read the article, although I was careful not to reveal much. If you pay close attention, you probably could figure out the plot points of the scenes I describe is in the story. It is just hard to talk exclusively about what you are trying to do technically, as it is all in the service of the story and what the characters are going through. Every decision made on the way the movie should look and how to approach it photographically is based on story points, so it is not easy to describe it without spoilers. Anyway, I hope you enjoy Lust, Caution when you do see it. David: You have read every issue of the AC since 1924?!!!? You are a walking encyclopedia on cinematography! No wonder you are so knowledgeable! Amazing! Rodrigo.
  15. Good point Tom. When I looked at the article for Lust, Caution before it was published, I realized it had several spoilers, so I tried to rewrite them as to not reveal important story points. I am curious to hear if you think that I made the descriptions abstract enough so as to explain the intention of the specific photographic techniques without giving away important story information. Thanks! Rodrigo Prieto.
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