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


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Old May 1st, 2006, 07:04 PM   #16
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"No, the techniques that have evolved are mostly designed to make the audience experience the story the director is trying to tell."

If your sentence didn't have the "no", I would also agree. The reason I stick with my statement that camera technique is largely to simulate the human eye/brain combination is that the distracting elements found in poor home video and inelegant amateur productions are distracting largely due to those factors being unnatural.

You brought up the exceptions for which "errors" are tools, but when the camera is persistently shaky and exposure is consistently wrong, the audience will feel that the look is bad.

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"That's like saying "I prefer wrenches to screwdrivers." Depends on the job!

For sports I prefer a higher frame rate for a feeling of realism. For movies I prefer 24 fps for that effect that lets me feel like these aren't just actors standing around in a soap opera.
Today 05:03 AM"

Actually, I would prefer a higher framerate (not necessarily shutter) for all scenarios. The only look I detect from 24fps is stuttering during motion. Stuttered framerate really removes me from the action. Fortunately, it is mostly apparent in large tracking shots where an object passes through the foreground. Ideally, I would like a camera with about 60fps with 1/60th shutter. This practically impossible combination would retain motion blur while eliminating stutter.

The factor that makes me realize actors aren't standing around in a soap opera is good lighting technique and decent writing. Soap operas often have wretched lighting with three distinct hard shadows cast from all the actor's facial features. Also, the background is often underexposed by about two stops. The writing is...well, we don't need to go there...

I'll say this: The most important factors to the effective and "natural" look are good lighting technique and non-distracting camera moves and image composition. Bad lighting, poor composition (often excessive headroom), and persistent erratic camera movement are the hallmarks of amateur video that many people can't tolerate watching.

My answer to the original question is that I intend to do exactly what you describe, Aviv. I can't afford 35mm, heck I can't even afford HD right now. I CAN afford some reflectors, diffusers, and some homebrew lights. With a lot of help and a mildly-amusing script, I think I can come up with 15 minutes of entertainment without spending a fortune and without compromising the overall quality.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
If your sentence didn't have the "no", I would also agree. The reason I stick with my statement that camera technique is largely to simulate the human eye/brain combination is that the distracting elements found in poor home video and inelegant amateur productions are distracting largely due to those factors being unnatural.
Ah yes! In this case it was each other's wording. I agree that camera technique exists to better tell the story AND to eliminate distracting elements.

I kind of agree too, re: detectable stutter removing one from the action. In some cases, it does for me too, but more often than not, for me it lends a more beautiful look to the movie - I use this term since they're not all on film ;-) - than high frame rates. Part of the magic of movies is making real-world things and locations somehow look more beautiful or compelling than they are in reality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
The factor that makes me realize actors aren't standing around in a soap opera is good lighting technique and decent writing. Soap operas often have wretched lighting with three distinct hard shadows cast from all the actor's facial features. Also, the background is often underexposed by about two stops. The writing is...well, we don't need to go there...
I agree. And you forgot the horrible audio. You sure know a lot more about the soap opera look than I, though! You must watch more. ;-)

In the words of Marge Simpson on soap operas, "I just dip in and out. I'm only watching today because Randi is coming out of a coma, and she knows the phony prince's body is hidden in the boat house."
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:03 AM   #18
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I now try to analyse all lighting setups on everything I watch. I flipped by a soap one day and was shocked by the poor quality. I can almost understand why they did things that way 30 years ago, but there is no excuse doing such a poor job of lighting on those actors. Yes, the content is fluff, but have some pride in your work! Those shows have written off all those old lights years ago and have no excuse not to update their equipment and technique. Heck, they could switch to softer fluorescent lights and probably save enough in electricity to paypack the investment faster than they can depreciate them on their taxes.

I think it might be time to start a good/bad lighting and cinematography thread to learn from good lighting scenarios and to shred the unprofessional works.

I just thought of another reason for "fake" lighting. In harsh sunlight, people will squint and that will be annoying for your actors almost as much as it is for the audience. People look especially bad squinting when it accentuates their wrinkles. I've noticed people in my age group (late thirties) still look young when relaxed, but seem much older when squinting due to crows feet and such. Put a diffuser between your talent and the sun and they will look and feel better.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 10:13 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
think it might be time to start a good/bad lighting and cinematography thread to learn from good lighting scenarios and to shred the unprofessional works.
Done, I had started a thread over at indietalk.com and have duplicated it here called lighting by example. I've also started it off:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=66451
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Old May 4th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #20
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Poor lighting and bad camerawork...Ever watched Passions? Porno quality, just less.

I think some of us need to start a Neorealism revival :D
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