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Frank Wylie

Does No One Shoot Camera Tests PRIOR to a production anymore?

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Film or Digital, I cannot IMAGINE embarking on a project without shooting comprehensive camera and film stock/digital media tests PRIOR to shooting!

 

Am I just an old fossil and out of touch?

 

I just don't get it...

 

When you can't afford to test, you surely can't afford to re-shoot the entire project; so it doesn't make sense, now does it?

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You’re not a fossil. It’s never wrong to test expose with a camera.

 

The better option is to have a personal relation with the technician who hands you the camera.

A proud professional gives out only perfectly working gear. She or he had film run her/himself

for final inspection. I always run about half a roll of film through the cameras I have just serviced.

A first foot of clear leader I inch through slowly by hand, in both directions.

 

If there’s only one thing precisely comprehensible with filmmaking, it’s technics.

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I think people do the same lens /focus checks etc.. but camera checks are obviously different.. I mean your not having too do scratch checks on mags .. if there s a problem on a digital camera I think usually its something pretty major and apparent .. but with no moving parts there is alot less to go wrong.. most problems are usually with the cards /card readers/down loads.. than the camera.. and its alot easier to reformat a card before down loading it than opening up and exposing a whole mag.. and your going to lose more than 10 minutes too..!

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I think the real problem is that, on the whole, budgets are going down, and with the whole "what you see is what you get" mentality, it's often hard to convince producers that you need to run camera tests/make up tests/wardrobe tests. Sometimes, it's even hard to get a full prep day for the 1ACs around to make sure everything is working well-- and as for marks lining up, these days, it seems, there's more a want to rely on monitors for focus vs measurements. All this, really, comes down to money, and the fact that while there is much more content being made now than probably ever before; there really hasn't been that much more money injected into filmmaking.

Now, I would say, for any well budgeted shoot, sure, you certainly can and should do camera testing-- but let's be honest here, when was the last time you really had enough budget for what you needed (as you planned) to shoot.

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I understand about the issues of money; never had a lot of it myself and never worked on a production dripping with it either, but I always saw to it the basics were tested somehow.

 

You can easily perform a basic film camera test with about 100 feet of a 400 foot magazine of any type of motion picture film; registration, focus, basic exposure, scratch, etc.

 

Clip the last 5 feet off (in the dark of course) and retain it to compare with the processed film to double check the lab for processing scratches.

 

No need to blow an entire magazine of film as long as you have a darkroom or changing bag on hand.

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Films a little bit of a different animal than digital-- with film you almost certainly would run the basic tests on the mags and lenses. This would be budgeted for since with film you can't see the problem before hand (and any producer who didn't want to do this is just, honestly, not fully familiar with film -v- digital shooting). But we are increasingly in a digital world-- for better or worse.

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I understand.

 

I have a friend who shot his first feature on the new Red One. It was an adventure, for sure! Seemed like every day he had a firmware update sent to him by the manufacturer for a problem discovered the day before!

 

Don't think you get quite that level of service anymore, but similar problems remain with modern generation digital cameras.

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The usual suspect camera,s have been around for a while now and their firmwares/codec,s are pretty mature .. they are amazingly resilient/ robust.. you could argue more than film camera,s..now they are all solid state.. there its alot less that can go wrong .. and you have backups straight away.. the problem is producers on low budget shoots.. assigning interns/assistant dir. to do the down loads ..not seeming to realize its importance.. its always where the problems happen..

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Most productions I deal with do camera/lens tests before the shoot, certainly all features or long-form series will spend up to a week or even more in prep. No doubt it's more common in a rental house situation where we have test bays set up for it, and the production budgets are generally sensible.

 

But we still see our share of woefully underprepared productions that don't budget for testing, or are still deciding on the gear list the morning of the shoot.

 

In the film days even a one-day commercial on 16mm would often shoot a steady test first.

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OP...you are a fossil.

 

In the old days they would shoot many days of lighting and color tests before attempting the final takes.

 

Nowadays it is 'fix it in post.'

 

Here is a shot of a Bishop that was accused of sex molestation and retired.

 

I only had 1 shot to bring it home. It was done as a candid via self-timer. Everything was by chance except the exposure. Which I tested numerous times while in line.

 

Pushed 1-1/2 stops...

post-72141-0-04885700-1543197006_thumb.jpg

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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I test every lens I use at the first 5 stops and keep a log on them in the lens box. I seldom use a lens closed down all the way. And even if so, closed down is not a big worry to me when it comes to sharpness. Some lenses are crap wide open. So if I know I have low light shots that may need a wide open aperture I wont use lenses that don't perform well wide open.

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OP...you are a fossil.

 

In the old days they would shoot many days of lighting and color tests before attempting the final takes.

 

Nowadays it is 'fix it in post.'

 

Here is a shot of a Bishop that was accused of sex molestation and retired.

 

I only had 1 shot to bring it home. It was done as a candid via self-timer. Everything was by chance except the exposure. Which I tested numerous times while in line.

 

Pushed 1-1/2 stops...

 

 

Sort of shoot on a wing and prayer then..

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I insist on the prep/testing. My producer has said nobody else does it, but I still insist :)

 

I test every lens and every filter. We keep a log of each filter's color balance and correct it in the camera settings (we're shooting Arri LogC)

 

We make sure we have all the parts for radio focus, hand held rigs, matte boxes, etc.

 

We check the function of all tripods and fluid heads.

 

We run a workflow "rehearsal" to make sure the cameras record correctly, and the video playback guys and the audio guys have what they need.

 

I do not want any technical failure on the first day of shooting.

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I even do that with my own gear! :) Preparation is key!

Checking out the entire workflow from start to finish is something I find very important..

 

There isn't always budget for it though (it always come down to money, does it not :( )... But still I insist!

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I work mainly as 1 AC. I had several times a hard time explaining to production on short commercial shoots (1-2 days) why I need a day in the rental house to prepare and check all of the camera gear including lenses, monitor, backups for sometime a A & B cam shoot. It's like they don't imagin the whole bunch of cables and accessories needed to make it smoothly trought the day and imagine rental house has already donne all the checks. But generaly after a small explanation, they agree it's safer and accept it. But often, they don't include it in the initial budget, so it's something they discover.

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