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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old February 25th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #1
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Splitting the Difference

I have been working with the HMC-150 since it first hit the streets and I am very pleased with the images, but I am at a crossroads. I want to create more picturesque images, manipulate light more and more, and get the shots that say, "this is an award caliber movie." The problem is that, where setting up my DVX takes no time at all, setting up the 150 is extremely difficult for me. Now, I know how that sounds, but seriously, it is, and I think it's because I am cognizant of the fact that it is HD and supposed to look a certain way and the 150 looks very different from the other DV, HD and HDV cameras I have used. Certain things about my DVX I coudn't help so I worked around it or adjusted the use of it, but my limitations are night and day with the HMC. Also, I don't have the budget or the space to throw millions of watts of light at the issue, but I still want those images from this camera.

There are a lot of different aspects that go into this, and many of them I am well versed on. Where I am most torn is in low light scenes. I'm not trying to make Barry Lyndon here, but I really, really want to use as much natural and practical lighting and diegetic sound as possible. I want the scenes to be very realistic because I intend to tell a supernatural story and I want it rooted in reality, and I also want a very low key feel to the overall world. Sort of a No Country for Old Men guy in the truck death scene mixed with almost every Kurtz scene from Coppola's Apocalypse Now, but I don't want it to look cheesy and amateurish... I want it to look like a series of moving pictures from the world told in the story- each frame a separate portrait (to be dramatic), and each portrait a window into the narrative (because all of this should serve the narrative).
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Old February 27th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #2
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Do I have a booger on my face?

Oh well, sorry for asking.

I'll figure it out.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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Short answer... It's not your camera.
You just need to learn how to light.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #4
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I know it's not my camera... It's me. For this movie, for the budget, I can't set up HMIs and have a Musco 15 head array with a 5000' throw on a 20 ton truck. Filming in Houston is, for the most part, free but I still have to be conservative and I know that the stuff I could get away with with my DVX I can't with my HMC because I can no longer blame the camera. So, I was seeking out the opinion of others in dealing with this scenario- Low key lighting in a city scene moving down alleys and streets and then into buildings in one continuous shot that feels like a picture that is moving. The image I want to capture is beyond typical 4 point, or 3 point lighting because if it were that easy I would have just done that, but all of my tests are not coming out the way I want them and I am reaching out for help
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Old February 28th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #5
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Melvin, it's time to get realistic about your expectations.

You want a cross between No Country for Old Men & Apocalypse Now but lack the budget & talent to pull it off, but don't want it to look cheesy and amateurish.

Reality check 101... Rather than pick scenes & locations that you can't shoot properly with your tools/talent/budget, pick locations and shoot scenes that you can shoot properly with your given tools.

For example... Don't pick a dark alley at night if you lack the lighting gear to support the scene.

Instead pick scenes that you have gear and budget to support.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvin Harris View Post
Where I am most torn is in low light scenes. I'm not trying to make Barry Lyndon here, but I really, really want to use as much natural and practical lighting and diegetic sound as possible.
Susanne Bier used natural light and hand-held cameras in "Things We Lost" and her other movies. Lars von Trier has done it also.

Look up "Dogme Film Style".

Dogme 95 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


J.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 11:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
Melvin, it's time to get realistic about your expectations.

You want a cross between No Country for Old Men & Apocalypse Now but lack the budget & talent to pull it off, but don't want it to look cheesy and amateurish.

Reality check 101... Rather than pick scenes & locations that you can't shoot properly with your tools/talent/budget, pick locations and shoot scenes that you can shoot properly with your given tools.

For example... Don't pick a dark alley at night if you lack the lighting gear to support the scene.

Instead pick scenes that you have gear and budget to support.
See, this is the reason why from April 2007 to March 2009 I have only 26 posts. If I needed a reality check about reality, I would check reality and I wouldn't work in an industry that rewards imagination.

Rather than take the low road, and insult my level of talent and intelligence by making the erroneous assumption that I would be too stupid to shoot a mere 2 hours earlier to get the shots that my tools/talent/budget can afford, how about you offer up some solutions. I am not ignorant. I have studied and I can read. I know when dark falls and the problems inherent in shooting in my particular tool/talent/budget class. What I was mistakenly looking for was some support in trying to do something ambitious rather than a yet another internet professor playing the Simon from American Idol role.

Now, I know what you're trying to say, and I know what you're trying to do, but I am not a 17 year old high school dropout with a digital camera that shoots MPEG video and Windows Movie Maker. My future depends on me figuring out how to make things happen beyond my tools and my budget, and how to make them happen faster than the other guy. My stories also require that I not make excuses for not having the budget or the tools, but that I find a way, an intelligent and well planned way, to tell them.

I am sorry that I asked such a question here. Thanks again Jacques, I have done extensive research into the Dogme movement, but hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it just then.

I respect this site and I respect the opinions of the members, but this is over. I am done. I am sorry to waste your time, and I will work to solve my own issues from now on. It's funny, I found a way to do it while I was waiting for answers; pity I had to waste your time. Don't beat a dead horse. Please let this thread die.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 06:58 AM   #8
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Melvin, sometimes the correct answer is not what you wanted to hear.

How can you expect help, if your not going to help yourself?
You want to shoot these great scenes but your having trouble doing so.

What you fail to tell us are location points or diagram out what you are trying to achieve.
A rough storyboard would even be helpful.
You also fail to inform us of what tools you have at your disposal to achieve the results you are looking for. Do you have a Honda generator, a 6x6 reflector, 2 diva lights, an Arri 1K, and a 420 Pepper, Are you using a DOF adapter with Master Primes, or?

The internet does not endow it's users with the power to read minds.
If you do not provide enough information for an "internet professor" as you put it, to give an intelligent answer, then these are the answers you will get.
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