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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Heiko Saele View Post
However, the rule not to dim below 70% serves the purpose of staying in a very small range of color temperature. For some purposes (exact color reproduction) this is definitely welcome, you can't say there is anything wrong with that.
No, that of course makes sense. It sounded like there was no specific reason to observe that in the given example though.

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Originally Posted by Heiko Saele View Post
And they just needed to set some rules - how else would they be able to give grades for what is mostly a creative process? Let everyone do their thing and in the end say "hmm I like the looks, I give it an A"?
Well, yeah, that makes sense doesn't it? If it was a creative writing class, wouldn't it be appropriate for the teacher to say "I like the story, I give it an A"?

Now, had the example dictated that it needed to match the other studio lighting, or specifically that the color temperature needed to be within a specific range, then absolutely it would be appropriate to dock points for an overly dimmed unit. My point being that it is important to distinguish the purely technical side from the creative side. If one is asked on a test, "which draws more power, a 1K or a 2K?" then the answer is black and white. If the question is "which is a better key light, a hard or soft source?" there's no right or wrong answer.

I'm a film school dropout myself, so I will admit to some bias when I hear about this sort of thing. It's important for students to learn certain "rules" as long as the teachers are pointing out the entire time that they not only can be broken, in this day and age nearly all are. I myself teach Steadicam operation and outside of some basic universal guidelines, much of what I prescribe I will constantly define in terms of "there's many ways to approach this other than what I'm giving you--try a lot of them and see what works for you".
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Old January 27th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #17
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Interesting thread.

I'm gonna play devil's advocate here and suggest that the awful teacher might have had it precisely right to require their students to tow that arbitrary line. (dim below 70% and fail!)

For some odd reasons...

Not because of issues of "right or wrong" but mostly because that kind of rigid, inflexible thinking is pretty much par for the course of what you confront in much of life - particularly bureaucracies.

They just LOVE metrics based rules. Makes it easier to score stuff and give financial rewards to the players who simply score best without pondering messy less tangible stuff like "quality" or "creativity."

The reason I think those RIGID systems are really valuable is because they give two great gifts to TRUELY creative people. First, they FORCE them to confront what is wrong with the RULES - something you can hardly do if you're never actually LEARNED or been subjected to them.

And second, because when the constraints get too stupid, that's when the smart kids push them over and actually re-invent the wheels.

It's kinda a Zen take on teaching and education.

Without up you can't have down.

There's no good - unless you have bad.

Without steeping yourself in the hide-bound traditions of an industry and gaining an understanding of why those standards developed - how does anyone move on to ACTUALLY improving stuff?

If there's no scoring system, nobody's gonna decide that not only is the SCORING screwed up - but maybe the whole damn GAME is screwed up and needs to be re-invented.

If you START OUT with a free flowing system, how do you know that the teacher that gave your project an A+ didn't do so because the story, or the politics, or the clever use of sound effects didn't float his or her boat - and gave them license to overlook the fact that all the dialog floated on a sea of 60hz hum? Teacher: "Uh, Johnny, I was particularly excited by your use of sonic drone-scape to underscore the bleakness of the street life of the teen-age hooker." Johnny: "uh, oh, uh, sure....glad you liked it." (mops sweat from his brow.)

So here's to the traditional video production education where some Bozo tells you what's RIGHT and what's WRONG.

The ideal spawning ground for angst and annoyance - and the launch pad for guys like Charles - who after being dipped in that for a short while - figure out how to escape and go out and actually do something useful in the real world! Including breaking the rules they're already mastered if the situation dictates it.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 04:54 AM   #18
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Interesting points Bill.

My film school experience was possibly along the lines of what you describe--at that time NYU was pretty anti-Hollywood, and I was subjected to a stream of avant-garde cinema, from the classic (Buenuel, Maya Deren) to the obscure (a friend of my professor, whose film consisted of her standing in a shallow stream with the camera pointed straight down and zooming in and out for 10 minutes). It was after suffering through the latter film that I had had enough. I decided to make a film that thumbed its nose at this seemingly anything-goes, no-rules philosophy of filmmaking. So I made what I thought was a completely obtuse and random film, but it turned out that my aesthetic was too steeped in traditional filmmaking to be as "out there" as I thought I was being and the result was actually a pretty good piece that, while being a collection of images, did actually tell a story and was quite strong visually. The class and the professor loved it and I unwittingly became the class darling.

For my next attempt I was determined to avoid a backfire so I decided to really go for it this time. I made a film about two girls sitting in a diner talking and eating for 5 minutes; the kicker was that it was silent. I screened it and the professor seemed unsure--probably sensed I was up to something. I said that it was exactly what it appeared to be: a study of a conversation between these two people where the viewer wouldn't get caught up in the actual discussion because there was no sound, something like that. The professor said, well, if you really stand behind that film as an artistic statement, I'll go along with it. I think I pretty much lost it at that point, started laughing and said "no, it's just bulls****".

Between that and the fact that via a friendship I had forged with a very successful Steadicam operator I was spending my free time hanging out on the sets of movies like "Ghostbusters", my film school days came to a quick conclusion, a decision I have never regretted.

So what of teaching the "rules"? Again, nothing wrong with it as long as it is made clear that to be a visionary in this business it's all about invention or re-invention. Take camera blocking, specifically "the line"...it's taken me years to feel confident that I have seen just about every variation of how to observe the line and work within it with ease, but I swear that it will take me the rest of my career to understand how and when to break it (I will rewind scenes from certain current films and watch, jaw agape, as I see two actors facing each other and looking the same screen direction in their closeups, the single most blatant disregard of the line, and yet it works, somehow...). In the instance we are discussing in this thread, again, a simple mention that in for this lighting setup the color temperature should remain above 3000K would have achieved the same result without forcing a judgemental label into the mix--"creative" almost being a dirty word here, like "don't get all fancy on us now boys, we're in TV land, just blast 'em and we're good to go".
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:36 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Interesting points Bill.

My film school experience was possibly along the lines of what you describe--at that time NYU was pretty anti-Hollywood, and I was subjected to a

(SNIP)

judgemental label into the mix--"creative" almost being a dirty word here, like "don't get all fancy on us now boys, we're in TV land, just blast 'em and we're good to go".

There you go.

Film school did it's job. It's excesses got you comfortable questioning EVERYTHING.

Then life on the set exposed you to TRADITIONAL PROCESS in a way that didn't make you give up, but rather encouraged you to master those traditions.

And learning the traditions while questioning them constantly and looking out for improvements sounds to me like a pretty darn good recipe for becoming really excellent at anything.

So for those considering film school, I just have one gentle suggestion.

Try to figure out, in advance, what you'll say to calm your parents down when you tell them their tuition checks financed an education that was largely BS.

That kinda stuff is pretty hard on the people footing the bills!

FWIW.

:)
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