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Old October 25th, 2007, 03:41 PM   #1
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Shallow DOF with a gel?

I know about the indietoolbox Soft Screen... but it's way over priced (in my opinion)... and I was wondering if anyone here has ever attempted to get a "shallow DOF" look on an interview or something by putting Hampshire/Hamburg Frost gels behind the subject...

Anyone think this would work? I don't have any on hand and didn't feel like ordering a roll only to have it not work...
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Old October 25th, 2007, 08:52 PM   #2
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I have used a fine black netting from a material store to knock down a background. But for most projects where I want a shallow depth of field,
I will use a Brevis 35.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 12:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kevin Dooley View Post
I know about the indietoolbox Soft Screen... but it's way over priced (in my opinion)... and I was wondering if anyone here has ever attempted to get a "shallow DOF" look on an interview or something by putting Hampshire/Hamburg Frost gels behind the subject...

Anyone think this would work? I don't have any on hand and didn't feel like ordering a roll only to have it not work...
Seems like regardless of what camera you have, keeping the iris open and moving the camera far away to zoom in would be infinitely easier...
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Old October 26th, 2007, 01:03 AM   #4
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I've covered doors/windows with a see through black mesh like material to knock down the light coming in. Allowed me to keep the iris open and get actual DOF control...it also served as a diffusion filter for the background a bit.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #5
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I've covered doors/windows with a see through black mesh like material to knock down the light coming in. Allowed me to keep the iris open and get actual DOF control...it also served as a diffusion filter for the background a bit.
I've looked for that mesh material for a while now...where do you get it?
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:49 AM   #6
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Seems like regardless of what camera you have, keeping the iris open and moving the camera far away to zoom in would be infinitely easier...
Seems like, yes... but there are times when you just can't get the shot and/or DOF you're looking for that way.

I know about camera adapters and I know all the physics involved in getting a shallow DOF... I'm looking to see if this is another tool to put in my toolbox.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #7
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Seems like, yes... but there are times when you just can't get the shot and/or DOF you're looking for that way.

I know about camera adapters and I know all the physics involved in getting a shallow DOF... I'm looking to see if this is another tool to put in my toolbox.
I commend you for your ingenuity and ambition for getting the shot! But it seems like draping expensive hazy material behind a subject seems a little extreme, in a situation when I would use lighting and set decoration instead to separate the subject from the background before finally accepting the format I'm shooting on.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 05:14 PM   #8
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Fine black netting is called bobbinette. It was recommended to me to get it at rosebrand.com. I'm guessing that you can also use mosquito netting if you buy black. You can get enough mosquito netting to cover a doorway from an online auction site for about $15. The hard part is going to be holding it taught so it doesn't fold and cause dark spots where it doubles over. I guess a door frame and gaffer's tape should work, but if you want a frame to put the net anywhere it will be a bit tricky.

Considering that to get one more f-stop of lighting requires twice the wattage, netting over a window or door is going to be a lot cheaper than doubling your lighting budget.

I can't think of any other material that can go in the background that will add any diffusion at all without looking milky. Black net disappears and does cause just a bit of diffusion but you need to have it slightly out of the focus area.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #9
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I haven't tried it, but Hampshire frost has been used to soften the background in interviews by quite a few DPs. I suspect the main problem would be preventing stray light from hitting it and making sure that it's smooth, so it would need to be mounted in a frame.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 10:38 PM   #10
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Thanks Brian. I didn't think I was the only person ever to have thought of that.

Interviews are pretty much what I was thinking... You don't always have room to move the camera way back and zoom in... and still get a decent head and shoulders or even a tight 2-shot...
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Old October 27th, 2007, 01:38 AM   #11
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I've looked for that mesh material for a while now...where do you get it?
Fabric store, remnants...look for something with a fine-ish weave that you can still see through. I have a tent pole with screws shot through the ends of it perpendicularly...this sets into the top of 2 lighting stands (1 at either end) to make a lighting bar that can be used to hang lights, or clamp fabric/backdrops etc.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 02:04 AM   #12
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Here's an alternative; shoot the interview against a blue/green screen, then shoot a background plate - with as much defocus as you like - and composite the two together in post. Simple.

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Old November 5th, 2007, 07:16 PM   #13
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Here's an alternative; shoot the interview against a blue/green screen, then shoot a background plate - with as much defocus as you like - and composite the two together in post. Simple.
Simple if you have good green screen with even lightning, enough space (the closer the subject to the screen the more spill), and good (read: expensive) software.

After watching a segment on the Digital Juice how about that: shoot against whatever you have, then shoot the background alone (do not move the camera! a remote control should be helpful) then put background shot along the main video, blur the background and combine the two. This should work for static backgrounds, though I haven't tried it yet myself. Anyone tried something like this?
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Old November 20th, 2007, 02:56 PM   #14
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You would still have to matte out the person. And you wouldn't have a plain backdrop to make it easier.
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