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Old March 17th, 2002, 11:22 PM   #16
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Ozzie,

Have you tried adjusting the gamma in Cleaner?
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Old March 18th, 2002, 12:21 AM   #17
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<<<-- Originally posted by zchildress : Ozzie,

Have you tried adjusting the gamma in Cleaner? -->>>

Yes, and it has worked.
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Old March 18th, 2002, 11:11 AM   #18
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<<<-- Originally posted by steadichupap : Gents:... Those exteriors that Ozzie referred to--if it makes you guys feel better, even the top of the line HD cameras suffer from the same contrast issues in bright sunlight. It's a royal pain in the ass. Ozzie, far be it for me to second-guess your DP, but usually we shoot the reflectors through 4x4 diffusion frames (opal, 216, light/heavy grid etc) if they are kicking into an actor's face, it's a more natural light and much easier for them to look into. -->>>

True, high contrast lighting is a problem with any camera, film or video. In film, for example, the old 25 ASA Kodachrome (is it still made?) was very unforgiving. It created beautifully sharp and color saturated pictures but it had a very narrow latitude. In contrast, Ektachrome with a 160 ASA was much more forgiving and for a long time it was the stock of choice for many journalists.

A parallel exists between the film world and the realm of video we find ourselves in. I've never worked with HiDef cameras but I been working with top of the line DigiBetas since they first appeared. Although controlling contrast is a necessity with all video cameras, as with film, some are more forgiving than others. The top of the line Sony DigiBeta camcorder allows the operator to play with the gamma thereby giving the operator a certain degree of control over contrast range. We can bring the highlights to the peak without danger of clipping or tearing. The same is undertandably not true of the MiniDV cameras. After all, these are some $45k less to buy. There is no comparison.

I asked out DP about diffusing the reflectors. He had tried that but the contrast was so strong that even a small amount of difussion would absorb too much of the needed fill.

The best way to have shot this scene would have be to do the opposite - instead of trying to fill the shadows it would have been easier and faster to diffuse the sunlight using a scrim. This is the method commonly used - it cools down the actors while reducing the brightness of the sunlight. Unfortunatelly we didn't have a large scrim the day of that particular shoot.

Speaking of scrims - they come in very handy for more than just controlling incident light. They can be used in the picture to dull down and diffuse distracting backgrounds. For example, if you're shooting in the shade but the background is bright, instead of pouring tons of light on your shaded subject, try putting a scrim right in the background. If placed at the right distance, the camera won't "see" it and the background will suddenly be naturally darker and diffused. All this with no lights and without having to open up the iris to reduce depth of field. An old cheap trick that works.

BTW - a "scrim" (the term used in theater) is nothing more than gauze or cheese cloth. At times it's loosely woven silk, the term usually used in film. "Bring the silk over here!" is a cry often heard in sets when shooting outdoors. They caome in any size you need. The only trick is to keep them framed since you don't want them flapping around in the wind. If the silk moves, the camera will see it.
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Old March 18th, 2002, 08:58 PM   #19
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Ozzie:

Yes, contrast is an issue in film as well as video--but to a substantially less degree where highlights are concerned. The films you mentioned are slide or reversal film which have a limited contrast range similar to video, but motion picture negative is much more forgiving. It is possible to overexpose by as many as five stops and still hold detail...lower contrast stock such as 5277 (320 ASA) and 5284 (500 ASA) have an even greater latitude.

Yes, silking actors is certainly the preferable way to go rather than filling against raw sunlight, but as you know it requires a certain amount of expertise and personnel to safely fly a 20x20! Of course, for a simple headshot a 4x4 silk can probably do the trick, supported by two C-stands.
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