Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
On Saturday we lost Ric Waite. He passed away at age 78. He was a great DoP (Red Dawn, Footloose) and a lot of the people I met while teaching at the Colorado Film School– where Ric taught cinematography before– really admired him. I was always disappointed that I never got to meet him.
I heard the sad news through a small snippet on ASC's Facebook page, and they linked to a story on his very under-appreciated blog about his first day as a DoP, which was also his first day in "the industry." I found it inspiring, funny and endearing, and helpful to those who are nervous entering into a big, often overwhelming industry.
Here's the excerpt ASC used from his post, "Getting into the Business":
"The director gave my my first set up. A nurse leaves a room down the hall, comes toward us to the nurse's station, chats with another nurse for a moment, then walks away up another hall. I thought to myself - she's going to move? Hell, I'd been photographing people - mostly girls - on a seamless background using strobe lights. How the heck do you light a person to get fom A to B? I hadn't the foggiest. So I confessed my sins to the Gaffer. (He's the guy in charge of lighting, usually how the cameraman tells him, but not always.) His name was Cal Bassin and what a terrific guy he was. He just smiled, told me to follow him around and pay attention to what he did and how he did it. I followed his advice. Finally, he announced we were ready and I should tell the director so. I did and he - the director - said fine Ric - just climb on the dolly and we'll get a rehearsal. I took one look at this huge camera mounted on this funny looking device that had a hand wheel in the back and another small hand wheel on the side. I thought to myself, what the hell's that? I'd been used to a small tripod and either a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad. So, I conjured up myself and said to the director: "You know, I really like to sit in a chair and watch the actors - make sure they're hitting their marks, staying in their lights, etc." He said "okay, we'll get an operator over here right away." They did (And he subsequently taught my how to operate what I eventually learned was called a Worral head) and we were off.
Well, that's how it went for the first six months I was there. A bit of lying, a hint of cajoling; a little bit of stalling and a lot of watching, learning and keeping my mouth shut - but a smile on my face - Always! And I began to learn how to be a cinematographer. My "lessons" continued for another what? Twenty years? Thirty? Hell, you never stop learning. And when you do, you're dead."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Is focus pulling going to be a thing of the past eventually? (via geeksaresexy.net)
Also, have you guys seen the latest Hobbit Production diary? Mr Jackson talks about shooting 3D on the RED Epic in 48fps. It's pretty fascinating. I'm still on the fence about 48fps as well as 3D but I am interested in seeing what talented filmmakers try and do with it.
Note that there are several shots where the camera changes inter ocular distance during the take. Maybe all the out of work focus pullers can move up to inter ocular distance pullers.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Shot on a 7D and an iPhone :)
"Somewhere Else" is off of Mesita's new album, "Here's to Nowhere" available here.
Friday, March 18, 2011
IT'S UP, YOU GUYS!!!
This is the video I shot for the talented Jimmy Wong using both purchased and home-made bokeh kits!
On Shooting With Bokeh:
All the light and bokeh effects for this video were done in-camera for cheap. And this is something you can easily do yourself. (Skip down a little if you already know the basics and just wanna know how we did the words!)
Bokeh is basically how your camera lens renders out of focus points of light created by shallow depth of field. You've all seen it before, mostly in out-of-focus picture of car lights:
The shape of your bokeh is created by the shape of your lens' aperture. What a bokeh filter does is change the shape of your aperture to something other than a circle.
"Aperture", in its most basic form, is an opening to let in light. A camera lens has two. The actual front of your lens, and the adjustable aperture inside your camera that you can make smaller and bigger to let in less or more light. We're changing the size and shape of the front aperture, so the inside aperture needs to be as wide open as possible in order for us to see that shape. This means you need to have a lens with both a wide aperture, and a longer focal length to hide any masking effect the filter may have. This brings us to what lenses we used:
Bokeh works best with 50mm lenses, with apertures f1.8 or wider. The Canon EF 50mm f1.8 is great for this— it's under 100 bucks, has a wide aperture (making it a fast lens) and perfect for bokeh. (Note: If you want better glass, the Canon 50mm f1.4 is also fantastic, but pricier.)
This made us have to deal with problems early on: shooting photos with just a 50mm is great and all, but an entire video? 50mm lenses are not very wide. We'd have a LOT of close ups and possible problems of not having enough space to get the shots we wanted.
18mm lens vs 50mm:
Turns out it was pretty restrictive and we had to be creative with our angles whenever we needed to be on a 50mm for bokeh. We tried attaching our bokeh filter to a 35mm lens with poor results. The length of the lens is too short, and the bokeh shape gets split in two.
So! Now that we knew we had to be on 50's, we had to get a filter!
We looked around the net on various DIY bokeh filters, but we decided to check out the Bokeh Masters Kit. It seemed simpler than creating an entire lens hood, and it had interchangeable shapes— we knew that for the video we would have to be switching out a lot of different shapes and words, so easy replacement of the bokeh filter was key.
We liked the kit's design for the matte (the thing that covers the lens and holds the filter in place), but we were going to have multiple cameras going, and we didn't want to shell out more money for filters. So Jimmy whipped out his xacto knife skills and replicated it using cardboard. (You can easily make this yourself just by measuring the size of your lens.)
And he even had the genius idea to improve it, creating a backing for the matte to ensure no light could enter through the tabs that hold the filters:
Then you place the filter flush against the lens (if it's not exactly flat, it's not really a huge problem) and secure it with a tight rubber band.
Put the filter into the matte and center it.
Fantastic! Throw open your aperture as wide as it can go, set your exposure using ISO and shutter speed, and you've got a great start.
However, Jimmy and I weren't interested in the usual run-of-the-mill bokeh. We needed something that would make this video stand out. It was a music video with a great song— why not have the lyrics in the bokeh itself?
CREATING WORDS WITH BOKEH
I found this video a while back by Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher. They made a bokeh rig using a matte box, glass filters and vinyl die-cuts of the words they wanted. I thought this was brilliant— it looked FANTASTIC. They solved the main problem of creating cut-outs of words: the letters with "floating parts" like R's and B's and O's. However, I didn't want to have to rent the matte box and create glass filters or die-cuts. Like most of us, I'm broke. So here was my not-so-elegant solution.
I created a bokeh filter template in Photoshop based on the ones in the Masters Kit. I made one with the words we needed (placed specifically in the center, making sure it was small enough to fit inside the hole in the matte) and I added more shapes for fun.
However, the first problem we ran into was that the transparencies were... too transparent. You could see a faint glow around the words of the circle in the matte:
So I made a few more copies and we doubled them up to make them more opaque. Here's the original, then doubled up:
The problem of actually getting them to stick together was interesting. Super glue didn't work (it never fully dried and ruined the ink), so we eventually resorted to tape and staples. High-tech, right?
We made a lot of them:
REMEMBER to place word filters on the matte "backwards" so the it will read correctly in the viewfinder!
OKAY! SO! MORE PROBLEMS!
The disadvantage of using cheap little transparencies over nice glass and vinyl die-cuts, is that transparencies are not completely "clean". Once we got outside into less controlled light, the fogginess of the clear part of the transparency appeared much more distinctly. You can see it here:
We actually ended up pulling out ALL THE STAPLES AND TAPE from the doubled up filters and just using the singles! The fuzzy circles didn't show up as much when we were outside in the dark anyway. It led to all of us sitting in Jimmy's car, shivering from filming out on the beach near Santa Monica, trying to pry the filters apart with freezing cold fingers. Hilaaarious.
Anyways, we learned a lot. Cutting shapes out of filters gives you a crisper look, but the transparencies did the job, and only cost me about 3 bucks at kinkos. Plus, the foggy look gave the video a more dreamy feel, which I felt was appropriate this time around. If I were to do this again, I'd definitely spend the time to make a better rig and do some more tests. The depth of field needed to get really clear bokeh can be tricky. Getting both Jimmy and Meghan in focus with clear bokeh at the same time was nearly impossible unless we were super close up.
So that's it! All in-camera! Hope you guys liked it. I learned a ton.