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Old December 26th, 2008, 03:33 AM   #1
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Shooting day-for-night with the SI2K

Has anyone been there done that with the SI2K?


The scenanio is an aircraft landing without nav lights or landing lights at night in a third world country, a real-world event that will not happen here for obvious occupational health and safety reasons, hence shooting day-for-night is the only option.

There will be a fair chunk of sky in the shot. The aircraft will side-slip and execute a short-field landing, something that should obviously be done in daylight for safety. I hope to compose in some Afghanistan hills in background from some high quality stills or motion video another member here may be able to get for me.

I also have a scene where a guy chases after and scrambles in through a right-side cargo door and is assisted in by having a cabin seat-belt handed to him to haul in with. The camera will track in past the door pillar which is quite thin. Hopefully this move will sell convincingly. The motion will be achived by handlers pushing the aircraft slowly and speeding the pace up in post.

For those with an aviation interest, the aircraft will be a Maule and the entry will be through the rear half-door behind the rear passenger door. Will shoot with the rear right door off, hence crew pushing the aircraft for safety reasons.

Am hoping to be able to work the camera on a short cord remote from the main unit, heaps more convenient in a confined workspace.

Here's an extract. Initial spoiler. A pilot who gets what work he can in the third world has come out on the wrong side of a custody dispute and subsequently taken his son out of the country.


INT. LIGHT AIRCRAFT STOL MAULE - NIGHT

Lucas sleeps soundly in the right seat he shares with a
sleeping bag and a drawstring bag of clothes he now sits
on top of, strapped in by the seat belts.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
(narration over action)
Some of your dreams are not dreams but
memories which mysteriously elude you.

A blinding spotlight scorches the scene bright. Rick is
dazzled, night vision totally ruined.

TACK!! A bullet strikes the airframe eight inches behind
Lucas. He wakens lazily and double-handedly scratches his
head.

SLAMM!! Another round comes through the rear door window.
Lucas yelps.

RICK
SHYTE!!

Rick rams the throttle to full. A man, DAVRO, is trying to
climb in through the rear cargo hatch of the moving
aircraft. His feet give way and drag the ground.

Lucas slips his seatbelt, turns through the gap in the
front seat and hands a spare seatbelt end to the man who
hauls himself in on top of the load.

A bag rips and a kilo of raw opium in clear plastic tumbles out. Lucas studies
the man wearing afghani clothing in the rear. DAVRO smiles the biggest
grinful of shiny teeth.

DAVRO (CONT'D)
Hi Lucas.

LUCAS
Hi Davro. -- Rick. What's happening?

RICK
Later. I'm busy.

DAVRO
We winning our little war. The other
side not believe and they get little
bit crazy
(in mutilated Bob Marley
accent)
but not worry be happy with God's
willing.

EXT. ALPINE COTTAGE FARM MACEDONIA - DAY

An old man's fingers run along the skin of the plane, then
dwell upon the bullet hole in the window.

INT. ALPINE COTTAGE FARM MACEDONIA - DAY

DUSAN, a grey headed man of about sixty years, dismounts
Lucas from a shoulder carry onto a nearby benchtop and
moves to a seat at a plank table. Dusan's voice booms in
the confined space of the hut.

DUSAN/FOULSHAM
(Grunts on landing.)
Harrgh!! Gott is good.

RICK
Ayy-menn to that if you say so.

DUSAN/FOULSHAM
He is give man seven perfect holes in
his body for his good life.

Bullet hit little more forward into
door of your airplane and you are have
eight.

What use you make vrom that beside to
die for, hmmm?

RICK
Eighth hole? -- Ohh yeah. -- Lucky
strike is all.

DUSAN/FOULSHAM
More lucky lucky-strike and this boy is
strand twelve s'thousand kilometre from
home and end up in Macedonia orphanage
if he not first one of you dead.

FADE TO:

Script extract is and remains the copyright property of Robert William Hart, 19th September 2008.


Any hints as to how to compose these required shots and suggestions that will short-cut the day-for-night experimentation process will be greatly appreciated. The SI2K is looking attractive because of its ability to lose weight and use less space than the EX1 and the more powerful post-production toolset to be had.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 26th, 2008 at 04:25 AM. Reason: errors
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Old December 26th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #2
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I think your biggest challenge will not be anything camera related but how to light the scene. There must be some light sources else no one is going to see the plane to shoot at it and nor would Lucas see Davro.
Based on that I'd assume the only light might be starlight. That means not shooting in full sun else it's going to look like moonlight due to the shadows So I'd shoot the plane landing before / after the sun is up. For the closeup action I'd shoot at night using beefed up practical lights as much as possible if your plot allows for some light in the plane else also shoot as for the landing.

Have you thought about having the plane land at night with lights on and compositing them out in post. If you take my above suggestions on board at that time of day the navigation lights might be visible anyway, I think air safety regulations require lights on regardless of time of day.
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Old December 26th, 2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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Bob


Thank you for your kindly response.

The scene is moonlight.

The Maule has incandescants (I think), not xenon strobes, so they should be subdued by daylight. The Savannah is on AUF registry not GA but it is not the aircraft I want to shoot day-for-night. Some of the experimental aircraft at Serpentine do not have navigation lights fitted.

The Maule will have red instrument lights so I will probably light the Maule interiors naturally with some red gel over the screen, ND the sidewindows and let the outdoors blue light stay that way for Davro's scramble through the doorway.

On previous older MiniDV footage shot at Jandakot, the incandescants rarely showed unless there was deep overcast in background. It may be a different story with HD.

I want to try to avoid effects as much as I can. I am stuck with greenscreening some of the interiors with the Savannah and the Maule for safety reasons and it is already a heavy go for the limited computer resources I have access to.

The close-ups are a bit of a problem because I will be using a vollie cast and crew and Serpentine is an hour south of Perth on a highway that is not the safest after dark.

Two of my actors are chaperoned minors and will be travelling an additional 35 minutes from the northside. It is not a journey I want them doing into or beyond midnight. Daylight saving is a real curse in that regard.

We will have a hangar I can close up but the landing and the climbing-in shots will have to be day-for-night as they happen outdoors. The grass runway runs east-west so I may get lucky and have the full moon in my shot if I do it in the early evening before last light.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 26th, 2008 at 11:23 AM. Reason: error
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Old December 26th, 2008, 12:22 PM   #4
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Not sure where you will be actually shooting it - in the real Country? but the old fashioned deep blue filter and then tweaked in post to alter the contrast works quite well, and was convincing (but obviously not real) in many big budget movies. If you have cloud to prevent deep shadow it does look quite as we expect night shots to be. before you try expensive exotic mthods, have you tried to see the 'look' a filter effect has on your Sony? I'd guess a bit of gamma tweaking and the look would be quite ok.
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Old December 26th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #5
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Hi Bob,
Shot a small amount of DFN for a music clip - if you want I could send over the look file but you should be able to grade one up yourself (mine still needed a bit of a tweek but was a starting point)

Having any sky in shot is a real no no with day for night shots (unless you are going to comp it out later) This could be a big problem with a flying plane !!
The close ups should be less of a problem
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Old December 26th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #6
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did some day for night test in bright daylight with the SI

the SI offers great latitude but still NOTHING , no magic camera, nor magic filters , nor magic post production techniques can equalize the shadow areas and the highlights in order to achive what is "considered" night-time realistic lighting without strong directional shadows.
i say considerd because there are actually very strong shadows in a full moon lit night, but no one really notices that

saying this, my suggestion would be to shoot all the land shots with a strong black net hung with grip stands/combos/wind-up's and framed above the plane,thus reducing exposure and softening shadows. you could also add a big silk or muslin and that combined with the black net can create very soft lighting. i would look for industry grade material since anything with the word "cinema equipment " costs twice..
once you have created a "controled" outdoor situation, you can add as much lighting as you want back into the shot for effects or "dashboard" lights

try shooting only the long shots at dusk - if you are really accurate , try shooting only in the few minutes AFTER the sun has set, when the skies are blue. but no sun at all. as you have been advised , shooting with skies is a big no no for day for night

having the SI at your disposal is really the best option, because you can create on set a suitable look with bluish cast and very few reds, then use it or dont use it in post. really no reason to stick anything in front of the lens when using the SI other then ND's.
and...dont use ND's! they will lower exposure but increase contrast - a dead give away for day for night...

and most importantly...TEST IT. do a mock up, shoot before hand people in a convertible car, whatever you can but test it before hand..

best of luck
Lior
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Old December 26th, 2008, 09:07 PM   #7
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Thank you folk for your kind responses.


It may only be the EX1 I get to use on this but I may be able to have the SI2K for the pre-prod trailer shoot pro-bono. Obviously if the project moves on it will be expected that the camera goes on the full job as an earner.

Not having to go through all that file conversion hassle is a real bonus. Like a first taste of the drug, you get hooked.

My enquiry is as much about the system perhaps not being able to do something. I'm going to take it down to YSEN in the next few days to do a propellor test with it.

If I can't shoot some shots through the propellor disk, I may be able to use the EX1 as this does not seem to faze it with the shutter selected "off". As it is also CMOS I am hopeful to be able to do the same with the SI2K.


Rohan.

If you could email me the .look file this would be much appreciated. I'll send you an alternative email address which has no download limit. My account with bigpond has a limit.

I somehow managed to corrupt the operating system the first time I tried to implement a new .look file. We now have a recovery key, courtesy of the kind people at SI so that bogey is not so scary any more.


Lior.

I have bought some black backed polyfab which is silver on the oopposite surface.

Shooting the landing at dusk is a good notion. The aircraft may however still be in direct sunlight and then drop into the earth's shadow so I may have to split the shot. I'm doing it with a long lens for safety and cinematic reasons.


Paul.

I will not be shooting it in the "real" country. This is a no-budget pre-prod trailer. I had hoped to get some stills or motion vision for a background plate for the landing from another dvinfo member but I have not heard back in a while.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 12:27 AM   #8
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Thanks again all.


I have played around in Premiere Pro 2 in the cineform metadata place and have got to a look which vaguely replicates what I see as night. The sharp shadows are a dead giveaway.

However this look may prove to be totally weird to anyone else. This is what the dark looks like to me with brightness cranked a bit. My eyesight is next to useless in the dark.

All the changes are in metadata, not added effects.

The issue I now have is how to save and rename this as a new .look file that I can take back to the SI2K and try out. Can this be done out of Premiere Pro and the cineform metadata utility?

I also stumbled onto close to the evening Gevacolor XT320 with 81EF filter appearance but lost it.

Any clues are most welcome.
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting day-for-night with the SI2K-day-night-5pm.jpg  

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 29th, 2008 at 12:31 AM. Reason: added text
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Old December 29th, 2008, 02:46 AM   #9
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Hi again Bob,

I haven't tried this but there is a way to export a look from Prem Pro with Prospect 4K installed.
With the look you want applied to a clip select File/ Export Movie/ select CineForm Look Exporter.
This is ment to give you a look file that you can then use.

I'd say you are on the right track with your DFN look but the sky and lack of car lights don't help sell the look
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Old December 29th, 2008, 04:10 AM   #10
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Rohan.

Thanks for the export look tip.

Hopefully after-sundown may fix the day-for-night fakery a bit. The Maule pilot has suggested a very short burst of landing lights as if a "signal" on final approach. I may be able to make a second layer of the same clip, crop out the rest of the image and bring up the brightness on the landing lights to make it more convincing.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 29th, 2008 at 04:13 AM. Reason: added text
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Old December 29th, 2008, 10:44 AM   #11
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Dusk as dark as you dare with fast lenses, combined with practicals usually works extremely well. Without the practicals the ground can appear very dark, but car head lamps etc give a sense of realism missing from a mid day day for night shot.

It helps if you shoot away from the brightest part of the sky away from the setting sun, however, the light from this brighter area (out of shot) of sky can help lift the landscape blacks a bit.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #12
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Bryan.


Thanks for your advice. I am fortunate in that the weather conditions usually mean wind along the east-west grass strip towards the east which puts the setting sun behind and lighting the hills in backdrop and the aircraft approaching on final, dropping down through the hills when a long lens is used. The downside is that this time of year, the evenings are pretty hazy.

The Afghanistan stills or motion video may be clearer furthur into distance. If I end up using Bhutan stills as a substitute, those are heaps clearer. However there is bound to be a way.

One of the shots will be the aircraft suddenly being lit by a powerful spotlight. This I will shoot in real darkness. I might throw a bit of smoke around if the breeze is not still up - one more thing to have to remember to put on the list.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 29th, 2008 at 11:25 AM. Reason: ewror
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
The issue I now have is how to save and rename this as a new .look file that I can take back to the SI2K and try out. Can this be done out of Premiere Pro and the cineform metadata utility?
No, you must use SpeedGrade OnSet, etc. for .Look file creation. We are actually running the SpeedGrade engine inside the camera, so it needs the settings from the XML file in order to properly regenerate the .Look file in-camera. A CineForm LUT on the other-hand is just the 3D LUT portion (or at least it is not a IRIDAS SpeedGrade compatible XML).

Thanks,

Jason
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Old January 1st, 2009, 06:30 AM   #14
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Thanks again Jason.


A timely intervention that has probably saved me from driving the camera into a gibbering screaming heap and me along with it, as there is a shoot this coming weekend, a drum tuition course apparently.

Will Steve (SI2K owner) have a desktop or notebook Speedgrade Licence like his Prospect4K licence or does Speedgrade have to be separately bought in?
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Old January 6th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #15
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You have to separately purchase a SpeedGrade OnSet license. It's $599 U.S. I believe. You can see more info at IRIDAS SpeedGrade OnSet 2007 - Overview
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