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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:56 AM   #1
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48 Hour Film Project, Boston 2009, EX-1 and Letus Extreme

Check out my latest 48 Hour Film Project. I was the DP on this film. Our genre was Superhero. Like many 48 HFPs it's not perfect, but I am pretty happy with this one. Enjoy!

A Perfect Fit - 48 Hour Film Project Boston 2009 on Vimeo
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Old May 10th, 2009, 11:46 AM   #2
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I've done four of these now, and this one really is polished.. nice job. Are they showing in HD these days ?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris. This was actually the 5th one I have shot (although this time with an entirely new team). I was quite pleased with how this came out.

Unfortunately they only accept SD as the submission format. We had our screening group at a theater in Cambridge on Wednesday and the stuff looked fine, but certainly not as great as it does in HD.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #4
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Nicely shot and excellent clean colours. Can you supply a few technical details, shooting format, settings etc.

Thanks
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Old May 13th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #5
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It was all shot 1080p24. I use a PP by Bill Ravens that is at least a year old, so he may have altered it since (but I haven't). I used Cine4 Gamma inside typically and Cine1 outside, but sometimes that changed (but always one of the 2). I had detail On at -7. I was using a Letus Extreme with Nikon lenses. I have a 28, 50, 85, and 105. I used the 28 and 50 for everything except one shot when I used the 85. I was surprised by this as I love my 85, but it just wasn't the right lens most of the time. I want a 35 as I think that will be nice in between my 28 and 50.

We had a large array of lighting gear including 4 or 5 Kinos (Divas and 4 foot 4 banks), probably 6 or 8 Arri fresnels and open face lights and a couple Zylight LED lights. We ONLY used the Kinos and never more than 3. Kinos are absolutely an essential light for fast shoots. They are simple, they look great, can be mounted a million ways, and can change color temp. Cannot say enough about Kinos.

I think that does it. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:19 AM   #6
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Thank you Benjamin, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information.

Up until now I have been shooting everything in HDV 1440x1080 50/60i (for a DVD project) but over the last few days I have been experimenting with progressive shooting and have seen a marked improvement in the quality. I must do so more experimenting before my next project.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 02:03 PM   #7
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If you are shooting HDV on the EX-1, I think you are really missing out on what this camera offers. If you need interlaced you can still shoot HQ in interlaced, but I absolutely prefer the progressive modes.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:04 AM   #8
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No question about it, you are absolutely right. The trouble is that my DVD project was started almost immediately after purchasing the EX3. The results using Progressive mode at the time just looked jerky and I also needed to produce SD DVDs. At the time I thought HDV quality was my best option, and HDV on the EX3 was better than shooting in SD on my Canon XH A1 - the project also needed to be in NTSC, hence the EX3.

I guess the bottom line is, know your gear inside out before you embark on any project.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #9
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Great job Benjamin! I've been toying with the idea of getting involved with one of these. I think you did a great job shooting it, but the clever (and still realistic) script writing must have helped a lot.

Can you go into more detail about the lighting? I've been using a 3 x 1000wt Arri kit for many years now and I'm sick of dealing with hot lights and blowing breakers. I've been looking at the Kino's but I want to make sure they put out plenty of light. Maybe 3 x 4-bank Diva lights? What did you use for the various shots and what would you recommend for shooting a project like this?
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Old May 15th, 2009, 04:34 PM   #10
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Thanks Mitchell.

Kinos are great. They are very versatile, and put out a good amount of soft light for a lot less heat and power consumption. A 3x1000 watt kit would lack some versatility because there are many cases when smaller lights are called for. My kit ranges from 150s-650 fresnels, some 1k opens, Kino Divas, and a couple Zylights. A lot of cameras (especially the EX-1/3) are so light sensitive that you can often get away with keying with a 650 for, say, an interview. I think the Diva 400s are approximately equivalent to a 1k softlight, and they are dimmable and use (I think) about a third of the power. The non-Diva Kinos (I guess the standard 2 and 4 banks) are great because you can take the fixtures out of the frame and stick them in tight spots, or tape them to ceilings, etc. I find the only real downside of Kinos for a lot of my work is the size/weight. They don't pack up so small.

I hope that helps. I would say 3 of them (entirely dependent on what you shoot) would be overkill at first. Get one Diva to start and maybe some smaller fresnel lights, and see where it goes from there.

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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:31 AM   #11
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Thanks Benjamin. I should point out that I normally shoot with a Letus Ultimate adaptor and that kills about 2 stops of light. So I've found I need a fair amount of light to get a nice look. Hopefully Letus will release their relay lens for the EX3 soon. That's supposed to bring be the 2 stops I've lost.

What I'm also looking forward to with the Kino's is working with a daylight balanced light kit. I'm embarrassed to say that I've never used daylight balanced lights before (always been too expensive). Hopefully that will give a more natural look to our lighting, by being able to mix the natural light in the room (from a window for example) with our lights.

But that's why I'm thinking of three Diva's. Because they will be daylight balanced, I can't mix them with our current lights. So I figure we'll need a key, fill and backlight. I might go smaller with the backlight though. Maybe the Bar Fly?

I've also been looking at the Lowell Case Lights which are very similar to the Diva's but they look to pack up more easily.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #12
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I find the Caselights to be definitely less superior from a build quality than the Kinos. If you have the cash, go Kino.

Yes, it's great to have daylight-balanced lights, but fortunately with color-correction gels, you can get tungsten lights to match daylight (or any color temp in between). I certainly have to rely on gelling my lights quite often to match any existing color temps in a room. Yes, you lose light (sometimes quite a bit if you put a Full CTB on) but usually I am using 1/4 or 1/2 CTB. CC Gels are an essential part of your kit even if you have daylight and tungsten lamps.

You may also want to look at some of the new Rifa or Sypder lights that have interchangeable CFL bulbs that can be tungsten or daylight balanced. I will probably get one of the new Rifas for that purpose. Since you can get away with a lot less light for a backlight often, gelling one of your 1Ks to daylight would totally work in many situations paired with a Kino as a keylight.

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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #13
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Wow, that was awesome. All that in 48 hours is amazing. Did you win? The Allyson character was terrific BTW. If I had a project, I would cast her in a heartbeat - great acting and very expressive.

Having never done one of these, I'm curious as to how much time was devoted to writing, shooting, editing, etc. Could you share that please. Also, would that be typical of the other 48s you worked on.

Was everything shot through the Letus?

Finally, what did you use for sound recording, mics, etc. The audio was very good and the music fit perfectly.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #14
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Thanks Paul,
We don't find out until we win anything for a few more weeks. We did win the audience prize for our screening group though so that was nice.

This is actually the 5th one of these I have done, but the first with this group of people (almost all of whom had never done a 48 before). I gave a little advice before we started on how to structure the weekend, and it went something like this.
Friday 7pm find out all the requirements (genre, character, prop, line of dialogue)
Friday 7pm-1 or 2am (I dunno, I went to bed) - write the script
Saturday 9am-midnight (in this case...longer than I would have liked) - shoot the film (while giving footage to the editor throughout the day. In this case she started cutting around 12 or 1, once we had a scene or two shot).
Sunday 12am-5:30pm - edit

In this case we had a main editor so she cut late into the night Saturday night, and I got up Sunday around 7am and took over. She had a full cut and I could come in and tweak stuff. We had a guy doing music (who was actually in Nashville, TN) and he started writing stuff Saturday night, but most of it was done Sunday.

There are lots of teams who treat the weekend as 48 hours of no sleep, but I think that is silly and unnecessary. If you have enough people and enough planning you can do it on a more or less normal schedule. (I also think that 90% of the people who visit DVinfo probably have superior technical skills than what I saw in many of the films in our screening group. I have come to realize that the 48HFP often caters to complete novices. I don't say this as a criticism, but mostly a point of fact.)

And to answer your last questions, yes everything was shot with the Letus Extreme, and our excellent sound guy (John Garrett) used a combo of mics mostly Schoeps and Neumann, and I believe Lectro wireless mics for a couple scenes. I did not have the opportunity to check out his mixer situation, but we were going line level to the camera. The sound this year was the best of any of the films I worked on, and goes to show the importance of quality sound.

I really recommend trying the 48HFP out at some point. It can be very fun and you can learn a lot.

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