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Old November 30th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #1
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BBC Top Gear Grads

How are they doing the grads for Top Gear these days.

Are they using graduation filters in front of the lens or doing it in post.

Iíve seen some very strange shaped grads going on that almost look like dodging and burning around the presenter. To me that would suggest its done in post as I canít believe you can find a grad filter exactly the shape you need it.

Iíve been paying a bit with grads in Vegas 9 and its possible to get most of the effects they use in Top Gear, but some of the grads I see look very complex to do in post unless there is a special grade FX pack Iím not aware off.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 01:34 AM   #2
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They live in the land of Lee. Lee filters that is.

And post production is several times shooting time for TG.

You choose, or guess, what you're seeing.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 03:57 AM   #3
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and...a lil bit of Magic Bullet
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Old December 1st, 2009, 03:58 AM   #4
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You can get grads with clear circular and oval shaped centres.

However, I expect they're using a mix of techniques.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 07:13 PM   #5
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I had a look at the magic bullet looks software and I think thats whats going on.

I can't find any Lee filters with grad patterns other than straight grads. Cokin do a P141 which has a clear oval center. Schneider do some great looking dual grads but I can't see any ovals or complex shapes.

The BBC could have commisioned someone to make some complex grad filters. I have experimented making my own, but didn't get anywhere with a can of black matt spray and some clear plastic filters, ha ha. I've seen the Cokin P141 and its made up of tiny black dots that get bigger as they move out from the center. So I was thinking about making some patterns in photoshop or even a CAD program and then getting them printed on to some clear plastic.

Oh well, for now I'll just sit back and envy the grads they use.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #6
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Formatt filters used to sell the oval shape about 10-15 years ago, although I notice they don't mention them on their web site.

I expect you could get them made as a one off, or you could make your own using a gelatine filter cut to shape and sandwiched between two pieces of optical glass.

Much of this stuff is now done in post, so it's hardly worth spending the money on a specialist filter for a one off TV job. Although, some DPs do have strange things in their personal filter box.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 11:23 AM   #7
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Any of these Grad fx you see can be very easily created in photoshop or any pro editing app without added plugins like magic bullet if you know your keying modes.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #8
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Check at 1.25 in. They'd do a lot of stuff on location to save time/cost in post, also keeps the shooters interested and happy.

YouTube - Top Gear - Ford Focus ST - Jeremy Clarkson - BBC

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Last edited by Allan Black; December 5th, 2009 at 04:30 PM. Reason: typo
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Old December 5th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #9
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Allan:

I personally think that it is much easier to do these kinds of crazy grad/vignette effects in post. The tough part is shooting on bright days and not losing your sky detail. This makes me want to shoot with grad NDs, which is fine if they help you hold some detail in the skies.

Many of the TG track clips like this one are shot in the rainy U.K. where it is often easier to hold some sky detail since it is rarely sunny and cloudless in comparison to most of the U.S. or Australia. The secret is to hold a bit of detail and color in the sky, then enhance in post with MB/Photoshop/FCP/etc/ there are a dozen ways to add these sorts of soft edged vignettes, even the vignette filter in FCP can do this.

Back in the day, I recall using as many as three soft edged ND grads in one matte box on my S16 cameras and just cutting with them like a cookie cutter with various strength grads overlapping and doing bottom and side cuts as well as just cutting the horizon. But these days, much easier to do it in post.

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Old December 6th, 2009, 03:19 AM   #10
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Dan: I agree.

That Focus clip is nearly 3 years old and my guess is that's what TG did on location back then, when the show most likely had less budget for post.

Also the post rigs have evolved a lot, today they'd do it indoors.

Cheers.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 04:03 AM   #11
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There can be an element of do the camera people want to hand interesting grad effects to the post people. In the end I suspect (as been said) it's a mixture of the camera end keeping highlights and doing quick grad effects and post doing the quirky stuff. Top gear has a high shooting ratio, so I can't really see them having the time on set to do any really time consuming grad configurations.

For our dull days grads can make what could be a white out overcast sky pouring with rain a lot more dramatic.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 06:15 AM   #12
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I watched an Ep tonight and the show is everything isn't it. There's not one dept that lets it down, not one. Whoever selects and lays the music up does a sterling job.

Clarkson et al must be making heaps with their books, discs etc. Cheers.
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