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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:31 AM   #1
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Matte Box for Outdoor Documentary Interviews?

I'm a new XL2 owner and I'm also relatively new to the whole video scene so I apologize in advance for the newbie questions...

In August I'll be filming a documentary in NYC with my XL2. I'm planning on shooting 60i & 16:9. The vast majority of my interviews are going to be outdoors and in public places in Manhattan... imagine a combination of park benches and coffee shops. Would a matte box be an essential item to reduce potential sun glare and blaring blue August skies?

Also, if anyone could provide any other technical advise for a documentary of this this type, I'd appreciate it. My current arsenal of equipment includes wide-angle and telephoto adapters, UV filter, a sturdy tripod, and shotgun and clip-on mics. Oh, and also... if I was planning to transfer to film, would I be better off shooting in 24p? I'm not positive whether or not I'll definitely need to transfer (guess I'll have to figure that out soon!)... but I'm curious as to your comments! Thanks!
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Old July 7th, 2006, 01:47 PM   #2
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You know that old saying about armpits and opinions (this is the polite version of the old saying)... Well here's my opinion. ;-)

A mattebox is nice to have, but if you've got to choose, I'd be thinking about buying a couple of good reflecors and/or if your budget can afford it, a reasonably priced 3-light setup before I bought the mattebox. You can do a surprising amount to change the look of your footage with just a couple of reflectors/screens to 'push around' the natural light on a location. It's not that a mattebox is completely useless, but the most important thing that a mattebox gives you is the ability to add filters in front of the lens. If you're not planning on doing that, then using screens and reflectors is typically a much cheaper way to control the light.

Here's a recient thread on the whole 24p question: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=69743, which may shed some more light on which format you should shoot in.

Regards,

~J
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:33 PM   #3
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Black hole it - gamma rays and others need to be blocked

Considering the number of light aberrations caused by stray rays.
If it didn't have to be wind resistant, I'd say make one out of a cereal box/black flock paper and tape it on. You'll see the difference.
Don't let a gamma ray burst ruin your shot.

Last edited by Wayne Masters; July 7th, 2006 at 02:37 PM. Reason: scientific clarification
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #4
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Hi Charles

You can pick up budget priced Matte boxes for 400 dollars or so... Formatt, TLS, Chroziel... to name but a few... the flag will help in bright light...

but also my main reason for getting a Mattebox was to add a few filters... As I do a lot of fishing videos, a polarizer was a must for me, but also a couple of ND's as the built in once have their limits in bright light... And ND grad or two will be my next acquisitions for stopping down the skies a bit...

I'd agree with Jeff get a reflector ot two..Lastolites are brilliant and fold down small... they such a difference for filling in interviewees...

I got a Lowel light kit for indoor work and it is excellent .. especially the Rifa... a three point kit in a case for under a grand...

The camera is just the start, audio and lighting are what really make or break your film, it takes time to build up a complete kit... but all aspects warrent attention...it's what will give your doc a professional feel...


Happy shooting

Gareth
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Old July 8th, 2006, 06:50 AM   #5
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I've read some positive reports from DVi member owners of this particular well-made Matte box kit from India and sold regular on Ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/72mm-Sunshade-...QQcmdZViewItem

The Chroszeil, like Gareth mentions, has also received good feedback. View one on Ebay here:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Chrosziel-S100...QQcmdZViewItem

I prefer to use a circular glass screw-on 72mm polarizer that fits directly to the XL2 lenses. The internal ND filters on the 16 Manual Servo lens and 20X lens + polarizer filter generally provide enough control on light levels to not need to buy extra ND filters; however, I do like to use square ND-grad and colour grad filters for outdoor work.

Be careful of vignettes at the extreme corners if your are using a fixed hood or large Matte box combined with a wide angle lens on the XL2 set in 16:9 mode (4:3 mode is generally OK). That is why I prefer to use a Bellows Hood, as this allows you to adjust the bellows to shade for sunlight and avoid vignetting for wide angle, medium telephoto and full telephoto lens settings.

Gareth's advice about a reflector is spot on - I saw recently just how much a simple single Lastolite improved skin tones and avoided harsh shadows when shooting during harsh sunlight at midday during our recent shoot.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #6
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Reflectors

How would you use one in outdoor sunlight? Would you just use it to block sunlight to the subject?

David
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Old July 8th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #7
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Exactly the opposite... The reflector would throw additional light onto the subject. Having said that, a screen is similar to a reflector in size, shape, etc., but its purpose is to block, or diffuse and reduce light (depending on what kind you get).

You can spend a bunch of green on reflectors and screens, or you can do it on the cheap. I filmed my first 2 or 3 productions strictly using large pieces of cardboard with one side painted white (reflector), and the other side painted black (screen).

Regards,

~J
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