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Stefano Bianchi

Maps to the Stars - which filters?

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Hi to everybody and thanks for reading.
I've recently watched Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and I've been touched by its photography.
I had a question to better understand a detail: in some scenes highlights are a little glowing (there's an interior shot where a subject is placed in from of a window with some venetian blinds that is representative of what I mean, but I can't find a frame on the web to post it in here). How do you think they achieved this kind of look? Maybe with some kind of (Black) Promist filter? I'm not a filter expert (for now!) so I could be wrong.
I'll post here some pics captured from the trailer where the look of the image is quite soft. Same question about this too. And maybe, same answer also.

Thanks a lot, and cheers from Italy!






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Suschitsky sometimes uses a very light diffusion filter on the lens, something like a 1/8 Tiffen Black ProMist, as he did on "After Earth" (or maybe it was a Schneider 1/8 Black Frost).

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Check Shane Hurlbut's article on his Hurlblog:.......

I was momentarily confused reading the Soft Effects Filtration Rules, with "tighter lens" seeming to mean wider.


.."Typically, the rule of thumb is to use heavier diffusion when using a tighter lens and a lighter diffusion when going to a longer one, pretty much like the net being stretched looser or tighter. So for a 24mm, I would use a number 2 SFX. Then on the 50-85, I would use a number 1 SFX. For anything above a 100mm, I would use the number 1/2 SFX..."


Re the idea of scaling the filter grade according to the focal length. It does sound like common sense, but seems at odds with the methods cinematographers often descibe. For example reducing diffusion on wide shots where the eye will like a lot of detail.


So I wondered if the idea of scaling the filter grade (mesh density etc) was part of cinematographers thinking process at all, with other factors perhaps over-riding it? Or is it all just instinct and experience choosing a particular grade to suit the lens, subject and desired effect?


Is this issue of scale (grade relative to focal length) more pertinent to filters like nets, where the mesh size in the filter itself is scaled with the grade? Do some of the other filters just change the dot/spec density rather than size?


Hopefully this is an interesting enough extension and doesn't distract from the thread.

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I certainly don't get his logic on that @ all either, and perhaps it's a typo? I would always use a lighter grade diff on a wide shot because there is more fine-detail one would want to hold, -v- a close up shot, where I am actively trying to knock down details (wrinkles ect).

However in my own personal experience, I vary rarely vary filtration. I tend to shoot with a certain level, say a 1/4 WBPM and leave it in for both the wide and the tight. Then again I never get too aggressive with my diffusion in the first place (unless for effect)

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The "rules" are contradictory because they are describing different issues -- focal length versus shot size. Diffusion looks heavier on longer focal lengths so the idea is that you reduce diffusion as you go longer to maintain a similar level of sharpness. However, that is speaking technically. Aesthetically and practically, our eyes tend to want to see more detail in wider shots and need to see less detail when the camera is focused closely on a single object and the rest of the frame is out of focus. And generally wider shots are done on wider lenses and closer shots on longer lenses. So the "rule" here is the opposite, use less diffusion on wide shots and more on close-ups.


But the same diffusion on a close-up can act differently when a 75mm is used versus a 135mm lens, sometimes it looks heavier on the 135mm lens if the shot size is the same as the 75mm version (as opposed to the 135mm version being tighter.)


Ultimately this is why there are limits to following rules and you have to make judgement calls based on the shot, does it "feel" too sharp or too soft, etc.


Or you can just keep things simple and use the same filter on everything, figuring it becomes the new "base" level just as if you were using no filters at all, within reason.

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.... Diffusion looks heavier on longer focal lengths...speaking technically....

Thanks David,

Why is that? Is there an easy explanation or any pointers to where to learn more about that?



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Probably because the spots of distortions (like dimples) in glass diffusion designed to throw that portion of the image out-of-focus become larger relative to the lens when a longer focal length is used. Of course, the clear areas in the glass (which allow the sharp image to pass through) are larger as well, so maybe my theory is wrong. Or maybe it's just that front focus is more critical on longer lenses just as back focus is more critical on shorter lenses. I don't know.

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Hi everybody, and thank you very much for your precious opinions.


I hope not to sound rude enclosing my reply in one unique post.


@Adrian Sierkowski: you're right: I admitt the posted pictures are not the most representative example to support my questions, unluckily I couldn't find better examples in the movie trailer I found on YouTube. Thanks a lot for the link, I will have an (hungry) look for sure!


@David Mullen: thank you so much for sharing such precious informations. Any further step in my knowledge and experience will be thanks to your support too.


@Igor Trajkovski: thanks again for the amount of material you're giving me to deal with... and thanks also to Gregg MacPherson for the (for sure appreciated extension)!



Too late to make it short, but thanks a lot again to everyone: really, really kind from you all.




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