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Old September 18th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #1
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Tiffen Filter Set Part 2

Day for Night Filter

On the other end of the spectrum, there are times when you’ll want to give your warm, sunny days a cool look and for that you can use either a pair of 82A and B filters or simply the DFN ort Day for Night filter. This filter does exactly what the 812 filter does only in reverse. Be careful not to include a sunny sky in the background and the blues that are exacerbated with the DFN filter will cool your shots enabling you to effectively match shots you took on an actual gloomy day a few days later when time and schedule permit. And finally, another note; Watch your shadows! Overcast days don’t produce pronounced shadows and while using a DFN filter will give the esoteric feeling of a cooler day, jusrt as accidentally including the sky in your shot, shadows will scream “FAKE” just as vocally.

Neutral Density Filters
As previously noted, all lenses have a “sweet spot” where the lens performs most predictably and best. What is that for your lens? Only your lens manufacturer knows for sure but know one thing; there are so many myths out there that confusion reigns supreme. What is “sweet spot”? It’s the aperture of “F” or “T” spot at which the lens performs best between the available apertures and there are a number of variables that determine the sweet-spot; focal length zoom vs. prime, glass quality, resolving power, contrast of the lens glass, longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration, refractive index, low-dispersion glass, volume of fluorite in a lens, diffraction and acutance just to name a few. And just to clear up some confusion, "F-stop" refers to the theoretical amount of light transmitted, and "T-stop" refers to the actual amount. Of the two, "F-stop" is more commonly heard so, get with your manufacturer on their web site and find out where your lens’ sweet spot is. There’s no sense saving every penny to invest in an new HD camera and HD lens and not know where they are performing best.

Cameras also have a range within which they too perform best separating dark grays from blacks (crushing) and, at the other end, bright whites from blow-out white (blown out). Perhaps not curiously, the more expensive the camera, the wider the range. Our Sony F-350s for example are performing thus far to a bout a 7-stop range where a F-900 would have a 9-stop range. Now, for argument sake, the 900 will perform to an actual 11-stop range but accounting for roll-off, the safe zone is at 9. The human eye, for reference, is capable of instantaneous (where the pupil size is fixed by looking at only one image in constant light without moving the eye) range of 10-14. Move the eye to allow for pupil expansion and contraction and you have a 24-stop range. The trick is to discover what exactly is the range of your camera and lens and light to that range where the highlights and lowlights are within the limits. For this reason, ND filters are indispensable in controlling the scene to fit your camera and lens and where the light meter, waveform monitor or well-lined up studio-grade monitor comes in. My personal preference is such that nothing beats a great studio monitor that’s well-aligned. The down side is that they’re expensive. The Panasonic 2600 for example is about $4000 BUT what you see is what you get.

Now, with all that said, ND filters allow you to control the amount of light coming in through the lens such that you can better balance the shot to keep it within the camera’s tonal range and closest to the sweet spot. True, your camera will probably have three settings on the internal ND wheel but what if your needs exceed that or what if your camera doesn’t have an internal set of ND filters. This is where the Tiffen ND filters come in. If I want the sharpest picture I can get and I know that it has the sweet spot at 5.4, then I’m first going to deploy the internal ND filters to get me as close as they can and then add an external filter to get me the rest of the way there. What remains is taken care of by the lighting I use. Further, the ND filter, by its very nature, allows for the reduction in the depth of filed. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field giving the shooter the ability to draw the attention to a particular part of a frame, something desirable but not always available in video. By reducing the amount of light entering the lens, the wider the aperture need and the shallower the depth of field.

Now, your question should be, “Why Tiffen?” And I’d say because just like the clear glass protectors, all glass isn’t created equally. Good, clear glass in an ND filter cuts just the light without affecting any other part of the image and on a bright, clear day, you’ll appreciate the filter more than you can know.

Before we leave this filter, there are a couple of things you should know about lenses and the cameras that use them. First is relative to the aperture system itself. Just because there’s a “16” aperture available, it doesn’t mean you should use it. The smaller the lens opening through which the light of an image passes, the more subject it is to “diffraction”. Diffraction refers to the breaking up of light or other waves and when an aperture is very small, it can have a more profound affect on light waves because the edge of the aperture interacts with the waves of light. Generally speaking, without knowing from the manufacturer what the exact sweet spot is, the more towards the center you are, the cleaner the image that will be recorded. And about the tonal range of your camera, there is a relatively easy way to determine where your camera’s is. First, for a few bucks at virtually any camera store, purchase a standard Kodak 18% Gray Card Plus. When you do, you’ll note that it has a black and a white patch on both sides of the gray. Set it in front of you camera and light it evenly at a mid-range t or f-stop, 4 or 5.4. Now, this is where a good, lined-up monitor comes in but if you don’t have one, use the side swing out or viewfinder. It won’t be exact but it‘ll give you a pretty good idea. Now, without touching the lens, reduce the lighting until the grey is only fractionally lighter than the black patch next to it and, using a borrowed, bought or rented spotmeter, test the light at the board. The resulting number will be the camera’s lower end of the tonal range. Now reverse the process raising the light until the gray area of the card is only fractionally darker than the white patch and take another reading. This will be the upper end of the camera’s tonal range. By keeping the colors just darker than and just lighter than the gray, you avoid the lenses limits and it is by this testing that I know that the F900 is capable of 11 stops and the F350 is capable of 9.

So there you have it. The first of three filter sets being prepared for 2nd Unit. They can be ordered through this site before the store goes on line by just e-mailing us and letting us know you’d like one and after the store goes live in the usual fashion.
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Old September 27th, 2006, 08:23 PM   #2
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Hi Jonathan,

I'm a little confused. You discussed the polarizing, 812, day-for-night, and ND filters, but said the kit contains 3 filters. Which three?

What is the e-mail address for more information on these (pricing, time frame for delivery, etc.)?

Thanks for the opportunity to take advantage of this...
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Old October 1st, 2006, 04:40 PM   #3
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The freighter turns slowly so we're still working with Tiffen on the pricing. I'm hopeful we'll get it out this week though. As for the error, the three filter set includes the 812, DFN and polarizer. The NDs are a must-have but the severity depends on your specific needs. Some cameras come with built in physical or electronic NDs and some don't. And those that do are typically of differing strengths. Unfortunately a 1/3 from Sony isn't necessarilly the same as that from JVC so selecting an ND set dependes on your camera and on your predomminate shooting. Take for instance DOF. If you're shooting exteriors and want a shallower DOF than you can typically get with video, then the idea is to open your lens all the way and start adding filters. If you can run through the camera's built-in filters and still have some room on the f-stop scale, slap on the Tiffens until you're at full open. This will reduce the DOF so you can control the audience's atention and it looks more like film but there are, of course, caveats to this like the lens' sweet spot. All lenses look best at a specific F- or T-stop and most lenses don't perform optimally at full open. So, there are trade-offs like everything in life I guess you cold say.

In selecting one of the "right" lenses for "El Papel" for example on a shot that I dearly wanted to open with, Fujinon had given me $200k worth of glass for the Sony F350 we're using; a 1/2" camera that, with the 2/3" adapter I simply love. (Here's a perfect example of where people who are discounting the 1/2" camera should really reconsider. It's half or better the price of a 2/3" and we can get it to do everything it's big brother does which is why we're shooting the feature with it when we could have asked for the F900 just as easilly from our sponsor at Sony.) Anyway, with all this glass, I still couldn't get the exact look and feel I wanted. I could get close with the great zoom I had and even closer with one of the magnificent primes I had but still and all, it wasn't that pop...that "got it" feeling you get when you have the right set-up. Then Paolo came up with the same lens George Lucas used in Star Wars from Big Vision Studios; a 2/3" HAe 10X10 and there it was. With the adapter ring I had juat the right sweet spot at the right lighting at the right distance from camera to subject 1 to subjet 2 to background and wham, there was that old, familiar "got it". Of course it's a $56k lens but, as I said, it's all a trade-off. I needed the right sharpness so I needed a specific expensive lens but if I didn't need exact HD, I could have gotten the same thing by opening up the iris on a different lens to max and ND'd the lighting.

So, what I'm trying to say is that control of the look and feel of your overall project from one day to the next is the prime focus (no pun intended) and thus the need for the 812 and the DFN. Then comes the polarizer; a must-have for the exterior shots that really, really separate your work from everyone else's. Then, depending on your camera, come the NDs. So start with the Pol/812/DFN set and then add the NDs as needed. Hope this all helps.
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Old October 19th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #4
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Any idea where I can get the DFN filter? I need a 72mm and have looked everywhere I can think of... maybe I'm not looking in the right place. Is it always called a DFN filter, or does it use a number?
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 10:09 PM   #5
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I'm sorry l or not geting back to you sooner. it's no excuse but we're doing, without exageration 18-20 hour days on El Papel in Spanish and English and, well, you know the rest. Let me call Tiffen and see what's what and get a couple out to you on me for making you wait so long for a response. Your payment to me as reimbursement will be to read up on them, understand the whys of their existence and use them to make some knock-out content. Expect to hear back from me tomorrow and again, sory for the delay. On the upside, those long days are turning out some Killer and I mean Killer results. You can't believe the latitude of the F350, a 1/2" imager using an adapter ring and 2/3" glass. I'm talking hair and rim lights in darkness lit by candlelight and LitePanels minis w/ CTBs that result in the viewers' abilities to count the numbers of hairs on the actos' hair. We couldn't be happier with our choice of cameras, filters and glass. Talk to you tomorrow.
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 10:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
You can't believe the latitude of the F350, a 1/2" imager using an adaopter ring and 2/3" glass. I'm talking hai and rim lights in darkness lit by candlelight and LitePanels minis w/ CTBs that result in the viewers' abilities to count the numbers of hairs oon the actos' hair. We couldn't be happier with our choice of cameras, filters and glass. Talk to you tomorrow.
I certainly can. What gamma curve do you guys use most? I'm a sucker for Cinegamma 4 and HISAT matrix. Have you updated the camera's firmware yet?

-gb-
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Old November 24th, 2006, 08:53 AM   #7
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Let me have Paolo respond to this as he's been working with Sony and their SEE on really stretching the limits of this camera. I walked on set one day and he had the side panels unscrewed from both cameras and their circuit boards were just hanging out. After I freaked, I found out the guy on the phone at the time was the SEE tech and he was helping Paolo throw switcheds to get exactly the look I wanted. So, that being said, I'll have him fill you all in today but whatever he's done, no one wioll ever be able to tell me a 1/2" imager can't capture virtually everything the 2/3" can in the hands of 99% ofg we mere mortals. Shooting Miami Vice or Collateral, that's different but for 99.9% of the shows 99.9% of us shoot, the F350 is plenty of camera.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 03:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
I'm sorry l or not geting back to you sooner. it's no excuse but we're doing, without exageration 18-20 hour days on El Papel in Spanish and English and, well, you know the rest. Let me call Tiffen and see what's what and get a couple out to you on me for making you wait so long for a response. Your payment to me as reimbursement will be to read up on them, understand the whys of their existence and use them to make some knock-out content. Expect to hear back from me tomorrow and again, sory for the delay. On the upside, those long days are turning out some Killer and I mean Killer results. You can't believe the latitude of the F350, a 1/2" imager using an adapter ring and 2/3" glass. I'm talking hair and rim lights in darkness lit by candlelight and LitePanels minis w/ CTBs that result in the viewers' abilities to count the numbers of hairs on the actos' hair. We couldn't be happier with our choice of cameras, filters and glass. Talk to you tomorrow.
I look forward to hearing a lot more about your projects! Let me know what you find out about the filters. Thanks a million! I don't post hardly ever, but lurking on this thread is awesome!
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Old November 24th, 2006, 04:53 PM   #9
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All right, I'm a believer of keeping the camera as neutral as possible. That was the philosophy behind my TrueColor camera config for the HD100 and I applied the same principle to the F-350. The reason is simple. Film has a huge latitude, you can shoot on film and later on decide to transfer to a Digital Intermediate and, if thinsg are dones correctly, you'll end up with a logarythmic color space that retains the latitude of film and allows you to manipulate the hell out of it. HDV is not like that. While the camera has generally more control in the dark tones, the overall latitude is more limited. Of course the advantage of the digital workflow is that it costs virtually nothing to have a DI.
Given the limited latitude of digital cameras I don't want to modify the signal. I want the maximum amount of unmodified digital data that I can get. I can change the gamma in post. very easily. I cannot recover it if I change it in camera. For this reason I programmed the F-350 cameras to have the widest latitude I could obtain, by using a WFM, and I left the gamma to standard.
The camera's cinegamma settings are good looking but they reduce the diital signal and I rather not do that. I can obtain the same look in post and, more importantly, I can apply that gamma settings at any point in the effect chain and I can dinamically adjust it to match camera moves.
Hope this makes sense :)
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Old November 24th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #10
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Makes good sense, I hope you weren't referring to the F350 as an HDV camera. It's not HDV!

Thanks for the info, I'll be learning a lot more in the coming week.

-gb-
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Old November 24th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #11
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Makes good sense, I hope you weren't referring to the F350 as an HDV camera. It's not HDV!
When it records to disk it is. It's a better HDV but the substance is the same. The main difference is the presence of 4 audio tracks instead of 2. Now that I'm thinking of though I have to say that I use the same approach when recording in 4:2:2 via component/SDI signal.
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Old November 25th, 2006, 10:54 PM   #12
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This is where monikers get confusing. If you're talking strict categorization, at 4:2:0, the F350 is an HDV camera where the F950 is an HD camera. That being said, it's what you do with the camera and how you employ it that matters. I selected the F350 because I knew, after speakng with Jody Eldred, what it was capalew of of and set out to prove it by scripting the first 18 minutes of El Papel as night interior shots illuminated only by a single source window which isn't a traditinal single-sourge at all because the wall is flat against an exterior stage wall which meant we couldn't use it to illuminate the set in the conventional way. (Blast a 10k and diffuse to give the illusion of streetlights, etc.) plus candles and LitePanels minis. So we made a green screen so the window could look out on an "exterior" that will be shot by Scott's 2nd Unit team and edited in synthetically at post ...a challenging endeavor at the very best which makes the F350's performance all that much more incredible when it separates darks in darkness. A complete knowledgte of cinematography, lenses and the camera are a must if you're goping to get the result we're getting with this camera but then again, that's what 2nd unit is all about; teaching the tricks of the trade so you don't have to rent a 950 set up but own a 350 set up and rent the rest. Shooting El Papel with a 1/2" camera, by conventional logic, in insane, and yet, when you see it, as so m any others have, you'll be stopped dead in your tracks, the camewra's that good with Fujinon glass and Tiffen filters. Yes, they're our sponsors but you all should know me better than to shill for a company for the money. A $25k camera withg the right Fujinon glass shooting scenes that have been properly set up by someone who knows lighting yields amazing results and I hope you feel the same as I do when it comes out.
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Old November 26th, 2006, 10:15 AM   #13
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Also, in response to Tim Connors' e-mail to me on the 2ndUnit website, not to counter what Paolo had to say but there is another definite "main diference" between a sub $10k 4:2:0 camera and the Sony F350's 4:2:0. Technically they're supposed to be capable of producing the exact same image but when you push each of them to the extremes exacting EVERYTHING out of them relative to latitude, the Sony simply shows far more than the sub-$10k cameras. I've said it before and I'll say it again; I was blown away at the stretch the Sony has in going from the grays of a character's shirt in darkness lit only by a candle with an assist from a LitePanels' Mini through the blues of "moonlight" and droping off into the blacknes of an apartment interior at night. As you all recall, we use JVC 100s all the time and, in fact, have snuck a couple of shots into the series to play "Spot the JVC shot" when the show comes out that we shot with the 100HD because the JVC is that good of a camera. But the Sony F350 is simply incredible as I hope you'll see in El Papel. I know I'll get an argument here but the fact of the matter is that 99.9% of the people out there including me shooting 99.9% of our stuff don't come close to using all the potential of a camera capable of 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 . Why not save the money on the camera body and put it into glass. On a 23-day shoot like El Papel is, you can practically save enough money to BUY an F350 by not renting an F950 camera package at $2k a day and in stead employing an F350 package that goes for about $1k a day. or, better yet, take the savings and buy an F350 body and then just rent the rest. Believe me, you'll come out way ahead.
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Old November 26th, 2006, 02:11 PM   #14
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Ummm, you're forgetting the 35mb VBR which is not HDV. I suppose if you are using 25mb CBR a la HDV, then the comparison can be made.

Also, the HDV specification requires a tape based media so anything not recording to tape can't officially be labeled HDV.

True, the F350 is a 4:2:0 head, but it upsamples the HDSDI output to 4:2:2.

As I've posted elsewhere, Discovery HD will not accept programming aquired in HDV, regardless of delivery format. They have however, certified the 35mb XDCAM HD format for full program aquisition.

I'm not putting down HDV, as I think all of the HDV cameras produce some fine images. But the F330/350 is in a different league and the price reflects that.

As Jonathan stated, there is a pretty good leap in picture quality over the sub $10K cameras. This was born out in our Texas HD Shootout.

-gb-
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Old November 26th, 2006, 03:49 PM   #15
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Greg is, as always, right on the money. I was comparing apples for apples @ 25mbs to 25 mbs. At 35, it's in a completely different league which is exactly why we're shooting in the highest format VBR with the results having to be at at 4:2:2 whichi is certainly 35mbs. We had to because, as I said, we have 2 walls flat against the cinder block, exterior stage walls which means we don't have the luxury of bouncing in a 10k diffused through a window to simulate a source of light. The solution was to green screen a "window" lit with a dado light into which editing will drop a 2nd Unit exterior shot of the front yard and street against the wall lit by a Dado light cut exactly to fit the screen which was surrounded by a white moulding border. That doesn't however solve using the window as a sole-source of illumination for the apartment which really posed a problem. Fior that, we mounted 4 Lite Panels 1X1s high with full CTBs on them and added another Dado emanating from the window beaming with doors and a snoot that cut a perfect window-sized beam into the kitchen capped with a 1/2 CTB for the nighttime look. The result is that the interior is lit by the LitePanels sufficient to shoot wide open at 1.6 I think on a new Fujinon C-series zoom on one 350 and a 20mm Fujinon prime on cam 2 that covers the action to and at the dining room table and the walk over from the table into the kitchen. When the actor enters the kitchen, the Dado pickes him up and he's further lit at the fridge by candles augmented by a LitePanels Mini w/ full CTO hidden behind the fridge. As he exits the kitchen and walks bvack to the dining table, the 1Xs w/ full CTBs provide sufficient illumination to carry the shot and as he sits back down, he enters light emitting from candles and the m ini LitePanels w/ CTBs in place. It's a very simple, inexpensive setup that just takes planning and an understanding of lighting. But that being said, at apples for apples and 25 v 25, there's still no comparion. The Sony has any sub $10k camera beat like a rug. The Texas Shootout still stands as the stardard comparative test by which all others are and should be judged.
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