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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old February 16th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #61
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Sony Australia seem to be matching the US deal for S-Log now. Videocraft are offering the same huge discount.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 05:00 PM   #62
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

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Originally Posted by Vincent Oliver View Post
My concern is that we can become too dependant on instruments that measure exposure or colour temperature etc. Sometimes our own eyes and judgement skills are the best instruments.
Not to sound too snarky but try telling the DP or Gaffer with a light meter around his neck all day long that he's 'too dependent on instruments' . . .

and yes, our eyes and judgement skills are important, and more accurate when used in conjunction with those instruments.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 05:36 PM   #63
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

The reality is that our eyes/brain combo is one of the least reliable instruments for measuring light there is on the planet. Great for seeing under varying conditions that cameras can't handle but horrible for an absolute measurement. We see relative and a camera sees absolute.

Real light measuring instruments (either in camera or not) are mandatory tools that our eyes just can't replace.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 12:45 PM   #64
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Yeah, but a hand held light meter and measuring tape are both 'old school' film techniques when you couldn't see what you were shooting in the camera.

It's struck me more than once that the light meter and measuring tape in their hand isn't going to tell me more than the spot meter in the camera, the wave form, histogram, zebras, peaking and focus assist in the monitor. Plus they usually take longer.

Often I have the aperture and focus set when those types are still futzing around.

I'm not saying it doesn't work IF your lenses are marked accurately and IF the spot meter is used correctly. There's just no need to do it that way anymore because we can see the results of any adjustment and double check it.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 01:26 PM   #65
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

I've filmed plenty of musicians with well tuned guitars that still made crappy sound. I believe it will always be a combination of the available tools and your eyes that make it work.

Oh yeah... and your experience.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #66
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Duke, that's all assuming that you are able to use the camera itself as the meter--doesn't help much if you have to light one set while shooting on another.

I'll admit that I use my meters far less often than I used to, but they still come out when needed.

As far as focus, that is a changing art but I have yet to see a focus puller be as deadly accurate just by working off a monitor as the best of the guys who came up the old-school way (who are all now incorporating monitors into their workflow, but they still will generally pull a tape from time to time). And I have yet to see an operator consistently pull their own focus on a large sensor camera with enough speed and accuracy.

Technology has changed a lot of how we used to shoot in the film days, but there's a lot of relevance left.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 02:26 PM   #67
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

I think in this case it's important to separate focus from exposure.

I once watched an "old school" AC pull focus by eye on a gymnast running directly towards lens and doing flips along the way - not once in many takes did he miss even a frame of focus & all done without a monitor. Now trying to do such a thing with exposure would be suicidal not to mention stupid. Horses for courses, use your instruments, be they in-camera or external meters in whatever way is most efficient and double check it by your subjective and experienced photographic eye.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 02:56 PM   #68
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
And I have yet to see an operator consistently pull their own focus on a large sensor camera with enough speed and accuracy.
That's strange. I do it every day and have a number of friends who manage to be able to do it too. I have never used a focus puller in my life. I can see the advantage of that luxury, but I have never found it necessary.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #69
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

adding another .02 cents on focus -
When you see the actor in the monitor starting to go soft it's too late - the take is blown.
With large format sensors and long, fast lenses your depth of field may often be far less than an unexpected lean or head turn -- the types of actions that are often easier to sense and adjust for when looking at the actor and not concentrating on a monitor. Combine this and actor improvisations with 'let's shoot the run-through' and an AC with magic fingers is worth his or her weight in gold.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #70
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

I'd love to have a focus puller on all my s35 shoots. Doing it yourself is hard, not impossible, but when your also trying to judge framing, exposure and checking for all those other things that can spoil a nice shot, it's not really surprising that when doing it yourself you don't nail focus on a moving subject all the way through the shot. But focus is different to exposure. Focus is either right or not. Exposure is much more subjective, some people will prefer a brighter or darker image to others. When shooting a night scene you will want an overall darker look to a sunny beach scene. Faces in the night scene might want to be darker than in the day scene, then again you might need the night time face to pop against a dark background. A meter won't tell you how the exposure "feels" all it will tell you is the level.

If it was really as simple as exposing using a meter or scope, setting point "a" for level "b", then there would be no great cinematographers, as it would be something that anyone and everyone, including an automatic camcorder could do, just follow the rules and you'll have the perfect shot. But that's not how it works in reality. It's the personal touch, the DoP's "eye" that makes the difference. That's part of the reason why people like Roger Deakins and Conrad Hall get paid the big bucks that they do.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 05:09 PM   #71
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Doug, I stand by my statement. I simply haven't witnessed anyone pull their own focus with moving subjects consistently on a S35 or greater sized sensor camera to the degree I consider as accurate as a good focus puller can. I think that as usual, we are talking about different worlds, different expectations, different kinds of shooting.

I've spent the past few years watching 5D and 7D videos online and seeing shots that are lightly to horrifically buzzed, and I fully expect to see the same with C300 and F3 and whatever else down the road. I'm talking about bringing someone from head to toe into a closeup on, say, a 50mm at T2.8 and focus being solid all the way through the walk, for multiple takes. That's for starters. Then try it at a 75mm, or even 100mm. Granted, few focus pullers would be able to nail that last one. There actually is a threshold where it does become "easier" for the operator to ride the knob themselves, at very long lenses.

Pulling focus on a S35 camera is no different than it is on a 35mm film camera. In fact, when we started working with S35 HD six years, we all felt it was slightly shallower and thus more focus-critical than 35mm film (something about the depth of the emulsion vs the sensor). I never saw anyone pull their own focus on 35mm film, except perhaps in a documentary situation. AC's were never considered a luxury, they were a necessity. I can imagine that there are those out there who are learning the ability to pull their own focus out of their own necessity but whether they have achieved what I would consider critical success at it; there's the rub.

I spend my days buried in a 24" monitor, switching between two cameras and whispering focus notes to the AC's over the walkie. Two years ago I was the one with my eye in the finder, hearing the DP doing the same and me and AC looking at each other and shrugging because we weren't able to see what the DP could see in his monitor. Critical, dead-on focus is very hard to see in today's viewfinders and onboard monitors, focus assist notwithstanding.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 05:40 PM   #72
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Charles, yes two different worlds, but not with different expectations. As Alister says, there's really no debate about what is in focus and what is not.

It is my theory, and you can correct me if I am wrong, that focus pullers were needed back in the days of geared heads because the operator did not have a free hand to control focus. And often the cameras were too big and bulky to physically make it possible to reach the focus barrel and look through the viewfinder at the same time. But with a nice fluid O'Connor head, and an F3, I can pan, tilt, and focus simultaneously.

So, whether they are really needed or not with today's equipment, focus-pullers are grandfathered in and expected to be part of a high-end shoot. I totally understand that. And if I was used to that way of working, I'd be making your argument. But that doesn't mean they are absolutely necessary for focusing.

Hey, I'm not trying to change anyone's way of working, I'm just saying that I DO know operators that can pull their own focus on large sensor cameras. Perfectly every time? Nope. But, then again I I see plenty of soft-focus shots in big budget films, so nobody is perfect . . . even when they have only one thing to do.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 06:47 PM   #73
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

I was going to mention something about soft focus shots in studio features. Usually that's a function of a bad take that was noted and discussed and then rectified, but in the edit, the choice is made to go with performance even though there are sharp takes to choose from.

Obviously focus pullers are fallible. And it is possible for an operator to pull their own focus for certain kinds of shots. But I do maintain that there are many, many instances when it is simply not practical to attempt to do both. Has nothing to do with union requirements or grandfathered-in traditions. Here's an example from one of my last operating jobs, on the short-lived series "No Ordinary Family"; we are pushing in on young boy walking down a hall towards us; camera is low to play the adjacent railing as foreground. As he moves to a doorway, camera pans around and booms up to his eye level and as he opens the door, the shot becomes over his shoulder to reveal a girl sitting inside the room.

In the film days, where one had to keep an eye on the viewfinder at all times, this would have required me to start the shot hunched/leaned over to the left, viewing a sideways image, then contorting through the 120 degree pan and three foot boom up. In the digital era I became more inclined to use the monitor for a shot like this, in fact I believe I removed the onboard and mounted it directly to the dolly so that I could pan the camera without having to twist my body around. Still, it took 100% of my attention to operating to make the shot perfect, with all of that happening in a matter of a few seconds. In that time, the actor was moving towards the camera that was converging on him; by the time the frame had landed, focus had shifted from foreground to background at a specific point and speed. The chances of any operator getting the converging focus part during all of that let alone the rack to the background, while performing a difficult move, would be extremely slim. That's just a reality.

Obviously not all shots are that hard. But on any given project, you never know when something tough might be thrown in there. Add to the complication that a job that doesn't include an AC is probably going to require the DP to operate himself, and that's a pretty heavy workload for one person.

If anyone has links to shots that they have operated and pulled focus on that are demonstrably difficult, please post.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 07:37 PM   #74
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

That does sound like a tough shot, and I have to admit that I have had no reason to attempt anything at quite that level. All I'm saying is that for the vast majority of what I shoot, and what I see in films and broadcast TV, there is no reason why a focus puller would have been needed to obtain the shot. But, they do earn their living in a few isolated instances.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 07:47 PM   #75
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Re: Does S-Log need to be graded all the time?

Can't speak to what you shoot, but as far as what you see in prime-time and on the big screen; we are going to have to agree to disagree on that end. Things are simply not what they seem. Any given piece of coverage may be just part of a much longer shot that runs the length of the scene, with multiple camera moves and other challenges. Plus, these days we get far less time to finesse anything. Schedules are getting absurdly tight. Rehearsals have been replaced by "take 1" and it's not uncommon to move on with a single take in the can.

I'm not going to say that one type of production is harder than another. I spent ten years shooting largely as a two-man band, so I understand that world as well. All I'm saying is that there's a lot of factors under the hood that make this much harder than it may seem and having an operator pull their own focus is not appropriate in many cases. There's a lot of interest on the manufacturing end to simplify the process of pulling focus and I'm sure we will see technological advancements that will make this a much more likely scenario in the future.

I recently shot a project that was spoofing reality TV on F800's, think it came up in a previous thread. I had two operators; one who had shot plenty of times with that form factor of cameras and had done some network reality, and the other came from an episodic/feature operating background, and no focus pullers of course. Without question the first guy was more attuned to pulling focus on the fly. But I still needed to constantly micromanage focus to get it absolutely tack-sharp.; mmany times it was off just a tiny bit. And that's on 2/3" cameras.

While closeups are tough to maintain focus when the person moves slightly, the harder stuff tends to be medium shots where the subject's eyes are quite small in the frame and it's hard to see in a viewfinder or onboard if you are 100% of the way there.

Anyway--we should probably get back to the subject of the thread!
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