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austin smoak

Shooting Snow

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Hi All-

 

I've recently been asked to look at a script for a film that takes place in Maine in Winter- all in the snow.

 

I've been meeting with the director about shooting it and seem to pretty much have the job. the question now becomes- what do we shoot on.

 

Obviously, my first choice would be film. Especially considering a majority of the film takes place outside- at night- in the snow. I'll definitely need the latitude. And so much time in the cold suggest that I'll need the durability of a film camera.

 

However, I have a feeling the film will be fairly low budget- and am looking at the possibility of shooting HD- specifically (and I realize it would be difficult) with something like the Canon D5. That way maybe the money production would save on renting the camera I could devote to lighting it up.

 

What I need to know is- what are your opinions on shooting HD in the snow? Should I totally abandon the idea of HD and convince these guys to shoot Super 16 if they can't afford 35 mm? Or- if the HD is worth a shot- does anyone have tips for shooting in the white, white snow?

 

Thanks

Austin

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I'd lean towards film acquisition, though with HD you'll just have to adjust your contrast ratio which perhaps might be easy enough considering it's mostly at night. A lot will depend on how you're planning on lighting it up for the night exts. If you can get a nice balloon light if you go HD it might be worth it to consider HD for the night shooting... though I'd not want to shoot on the D5, personally...

I'd suggest sitting with them and going over their options, budget, and how they want it to look.

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Guest Glen Alexander

Shoot film, the latitude will give you much more than HD.

 

Especially in snow, you'll tend to blow out pixels if you don't balance the gain correctly. Film is more forgiving with the log roll off at the top and bottom of the response curves. Use the correct filters on the lens.

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If budget to shoot 35mm is a problem, you could look into shooting 3-perf or technovision. The stock savings is pretty significant and may be the difference.

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Guest Glen Alexander

Look at that old Disney film, Snow Dogs.

 

Even though the editing and continuity is truly horrible, they mixed shots of blue sky and snow storm. You'd be hard pressed to get any video close to those images.

 

Shoot S16 if you can't afford 35mm with current DI, you'll easily get HD.

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The Canon D5 in HD mode has pretty poor dynamic range even compared to other HD cameras. It doesn't record RAW, but a very compressed 1080P version that is difficult to color-correct.

 

If you had to shoot HD, I'd try to at least find an HD camera that either captured RAW, LOG or something like HyperGamma.

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