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Roger Alexander

Lens Suggestions For Gritty Web Series?

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I'm putting together a pitch for a digital webseries that will start with a profile/bio of budding rap stars and lead to a "Cypher" on the grand stage. The overall feel of the episodes will feel gritty, rough, hardened to give the idea that these guys are "from the streets". (Think "8 mile" movie rap battles) It will be shot on RED Dragons. The look will feel like a stylized music video. Initially it will be digital content but we will push to try and get it on TV. I'm curious to hear any suggestions on lens choice to match something like this?

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I'd probably want to go with a pretty sharp lens set, and turn up the sharpening in the res as well, perhaps. If you go primes, I'd say Ultra Primes, however, Zooms might be a bit more versatile if you're not staging the whole thing and can lead to a more "documentary" and "immediate" feel if used properly-- and in that case I'd look at maybe the EZ series zooms from Angenieux.

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Zeiss Super Speeds

I wouldn't say that Super Speeds are particularly 'rough' or 'gritty', in fact, these day they are getting used more and more for their 'vintage' look.

 

I think that kind of look comes more from lighting choices and color timing than from a particular lens set.

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I'm new to video but I've been shooting stills for a while... And I don't think there is such a thing as a "rough and gritty lens", except one that needs sending in for repair. There just isn't an official lens of Gangsta.

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Well, yes. I might avoid anything low contrast or warm and friendly, though. Probably not a moment for Cooke, for instance.

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I wouldn't say that Super Speeds are particularly 'rough' or 'gritty', in fact, these day they are getting used more and more for their 'vintage' look.

I suppose where I come from with that suggestion is the notion of vintage meaning gritty.

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To be honest, I can't really think of a lens that's going to help things feel 'gritty'. I've shot gritty stuff with super-sharp lenses, and I've shot it with soft and funky lenses. I've also shot 'soft' and 'luscious' looking stuff with clear, sharp glass and I've shot it on murky vintage lenses too.

I really think it comes down to colour palette, set dressing and lighting WAY more than camera or lenses.

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Well, yes. I might avoid anything low contrast or warm and friendly, though. Probably not a moment for Cooke, for instance.

 

Most people wouldn't interpret low contrast as friendly, just as low contrast. If high contrast was unfriendly, then the average childrens' cartoon would be terrifying... The best animation house in the world, Trigger, went for a lower contrast look on Kill La Kill, which was definitely their grittiest production, and animation houses are masters of colour schemes. And warm is a surely a product of lighting and post - and white balance - rather than the lens.

 

From the samples I've seen, Cooke makes skin look good and they have an exceptionally pleasant focus fall off - so much so that when I was still concentrating on stills I looked up their prices. (Which was an interesting experience, I can tell you..) I don't know if a "civilian" would really see anything retro about that look. And I'm even less sure that retro conflicts with gritty. As a look gritty could be low or high contrast - gritty is a property of a look, not a look in itself.

Edited by David Mawson

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