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Old June 4th, 2002, 05:08 AM   #31
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lighting for me

Hi all-

I have two of those 2x 500w home depot sets and a 500w (low to the ground) light, as well. I don't like them very much anymore because they are heavy and the light is a bit green and stark, for my taste. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm not crazy about them. If you are in Los Angeles and you want them, hit me up- I'll be glad to sell them for your production for next to nothing.

What I do use is a small team of smith victor 650w's. I love these babies. I 7 of them. They all have barn doors and they all came to me as unwanted orphans and found a much wanted home in my little studio set up. I love them for a few reasons, they are:
a. they don't use much juice so I can plug any 3 in and not blow someone's house fuse (if I'm working inside a home).
b. they are small and not bulky. easy to transport and move on my own, since almost all of my productions to date have not had the luxury of an asst in the budget for me.
c. they are easiy controled (they have barn doors which are great ways to attach gels and diffusers).

Just a note, I was able to get really nice light from he home depot set by hanging 20lb copy paper over the lights. It didn't catch fire and burn us all to a crisp (although use your judgement or someone else if you are going to do that), but instead added a really nice light that wasn't green or ugly, anymore. Just a note, for what it's worth.

I also use a light meter. It's crucial for me for two reasons, they are:
1. eyes lie. my eyes will adjust to perfect lighting to many situtations that really dim and horrible. don't trust what you see.
2. you can work backwards by recreating a certain temperature that worked well for a certain character or mood or turning point in the script knowing what your numbers where in the last scene you did (where you saw the dailies and they were right on). You just try to get as close to that number as possible and you'll come pretty close to the look.

In addition to my little smith victor team of lights I also have a smaller light (with a white umbrella on the front) that is light and not as strong (only 200w) and I use that to add a glow to the actors eyes or to light them head on with a softer light (sometimes a wall take this light incedibly well).

A note, you will want to have some fans handy. These lights are all hot lights and your actors are going to sweat and get annoyed and thirsty and their concentration (regardless of how great they are and how great their focus) will wane a little. Turn off the majority when you break and get those fans on to bring everyone back to comfort level.

I won't mention power and temps because previous links talked all about basics.

Also, I almost always always always shoot in -3 exposure. My xl1 and the 14x lens harmonize and I get a very sweet and coldish picture this way that is nothing short of beautiful.

Good luck to everyone.

Christian Calson
Nebunule Films
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Old June 24th, 2002, 05:41 PM   #32
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does anyone happen to know the color temperature of those halogen lights (home depot and walmart style)? i saw a few the other day..okay i confess, i was in there to look for cheap lights...came across some 250w and 500w halogens that looked like they could be mounted on stands. my DP hasn't called me back yet about it. i left a message on his answering machine, "please tell me we can use halogens." BTW we're using a PAL XL1.
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Old June 24th, 2002, 05:46 PM   #33
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Guys, I don't know jack about lighting, but couldn't you gel the cheapy lights and somehow achieve the correct color temperature that way? Some kind of light-correction gel or filter?
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Old June 24th, 2002, 06:44 PM   #34
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i just read on another thread (is that what it's called?) here on dvinfo.net that the halogen color temperature is 2900K, and that if you put a 1/4 CTB gel over it, it should approximate 3200K, which is the color temperature of tungsten.
so why should i buy a "real" light kit, made by lowel or arri, etc?
if the light is bright enough for me, and the right color temperature, what is the difference?
i know that it's going to be a pain to rig barn doors and scrims, etc, onto a homemade light, but that's not what i'm asking.
as far as the light itself...what is the difference?
(calling all DPs...calling all DPs...help!)
BTW, using PAL XL1, FCP3
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Old June 24th, 2002, 10:09 PM   #35
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I know when I eventually buy lights, I'll go with the real thing simply because I'm a retarded engineer.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 01:11 AM   #36
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XL1S-Film Look Tricks?

I am about to embark on a major doc using the XL1S, I have done some tests and shooting in Frame mode is clearly more "filmic" than in regular movie mode. Are there any drawbacks to shooting in frame mode, particlularly when the finished edit is transfered to 16 mm film, and what about combining frame mode and 16:9? Also, has anyone found any advantage to replacing the 16x Optical lens with the 16x mechanical servo zoom lens...I'm so used to using broadcast quality glass with external focus I just can't get acustomed to the 16x optical lens. Also, besides setting the camera to -3db gain and shooting in low light with the aperature wide open and getting as far away from the talking head as possible, what else can i do to throw that background out of focus with the 16x optican lens?
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Old July 24th, 2002, 01:19 AM   #37
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Move away from the background?

But seriously, there's not much more you can do short of going to prime lenses. If you can afford a silk (scrim) you can always place it between the subject and the background but it requires careful lighting and no wind to blow the "invisible" silk.

I've found the frame mode to significantly soften the image, so be very careful with your focusing. Don't even think of using the EVF. Use a hires monitor. These are not the sharpest of lenses, especially when wide open, that will add to the softness. I started a project in frame mode and switched after two days. The editors who were looking at the images on a large hires monitor were very unhappy with the softness.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 01:50 AM   #38
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Ozzie:

Going to prime lenses vs the zoom to decrease depth of field...how? Only if they are longer focal lengths. A 25mm prime will deliver the same DOF as the 25mm marking on a zoom.

May I amend your reference to"silk" to "net"? We commonly use double nets (with the red border) outside windows and occasionally behind actors to knock down the background, which will also soften it slightly, as you are indicating. A silk will photograph as a barely translucent white.

The softness issue with Frame mode is one of those debatable things. I like the look of Frame mode so much, it's the specific reason I bought an XL1 (and put up with no XLR inputs and the myriad of little annoyances which of course are present in any "prosumer" camera). I have seen images in this mode projected on a 30 ft. screen, and had no issues with their sharpness. Considering that many feel that the answer to creating a "film look" is to arbitrarily slap a Promist filter up front, which has a very specific effect on the image in areas like highlights that is not so much filmic as Promist-ic...I feel that the Frame mode does a tremendous amount of good and virtually no evil. Smoothing the edge off the fine lines present in video IS filmic, to me. But, as I said, it's debatable and purely a matter of taste.

James, I have not had experience with it yet but have heard the majority of those who have say that Frame mode is NOT desirable if you are intending to finish out to film, due to frame rate extrapolation. Even if you shoot in standard 60i ("normal" mode), the transfer to film will take care of the "filmic" look at least as far as motion characteristic is concerned.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 01:51 AM   #39
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Also, if you're really planning to do a transfer to film you'd be strongly advised to consult with your transfer shop BEFORE you shoot. Some prefer normal (interlaced) footage.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:34 PM   #40
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Charles,

Correct - primes don't give you any better, or worse, depth of field than a zoom. I was thinking the quality of the image as seen through, say, a good qality 50mm prime lens will be much sharper and the contrast a little higher than seen through the 50mm marking on a Canon zoom, and any other "inexpensive" zoom. $1200 may not seem inexpensive but it is. Better quality can be obtained from Canon primes.

The silk/net issue - either or both. I called the silk a scrim (fine cheese cloth) since, with proper lighting (i.e. no light falling on the scrim) it does become "invisible" if it is far away enough from the subject and out of the focal range. I've had occasion to use this to bring down the background as well as diffuse it with very good results. It works best with CUs and MCUs, not so much with wide shots since the depth of field is greater.

While I'm at it, I've never understood this "video looking as film" thing. Video will NEVER look like film, no way, no how. Film has a much wider latitude than any video. That alone makes it impossible to get the exact same results. Just the other day I was making a dub of some of my old work. I was dubbing material shot with DV, BetaSP, DigiBeta and then came an old show from the 80s. The fact that it was film was immediatelly apparent. It was rich, saturated, and well, film. The closest a video camera ever came to looking almost like film was with a DigiBeta (I forget the model) - it accepted chips that, when inserted, would change the entire profile of the camera, and someone had spent the time to change the parameters to make it look like film. It almost did. I have some samples of this material I'll put up for viewing sometime.

The XL-1s and others can approximate the "film look" but never duplicate it. The Canon creates a soft, smooth image that is very appealing as such, but it's not film. No one will be fooled, if that's what's intended. For film, just raise the budget by 25% to 30%and get an Eclair or an Arri and shoot with fine grain negative stock. ;-)

Why can't video be video and film film? We just need to make them look aesthetically great.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 03:58 PM   #41
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Nice going guy. . .now you've just gone and made a bunch of people mad at you. (Myself excluded).
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Old July 24th, 2002, 04:35 PM   #42
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I think we've gone after this one before, but it's always worth working over in case something new falls out.

Imagine a controlled lighting setup such as a woman sitting next to a floor lamp, shot in a studio setting. Let's say the scene is first lit and shot on film, and the film transferred to tape, and the tape played back through a waveform monitor. Now the same scene is lit for video (we've rented the studio for the intervening couple of days, so everything is just where it was!) and we toggle back and forth on the waveform between the film scene and the video scene. We adjust the lighting so that the levels are as close to each other as possible. I think it would be intuitive to assume that the lighting ratio will be less for video since it has a lesser dynamic range. Let's say we even manipulate the gamma of the video camera to mimic the film image.

Now, we have two pieces of footage in which the contrast is effectively identical. The question is, have we made film from video? Of course not. Making an a/b comparison between the images will show that there is a substantitive visual difference between the mediums that transcends contrast, frame rate and depth of field issues. It's like the difference between a Polaroid and a 35mm print (well, that's being a bit unfair to the video side in that analogy, but you get the idea).

I think, Ozzie, that the idea may be as you said, to make video look as good as possible--and having a film image in mind as the ultimate goal is not a bad way to go. Wait until you see Rodriguez' new 24p film, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". That's pretty much the best video-originated material I've seen yet.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:57 PM   #43
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Cinematic Look

I just read repeatedly in this forum that if you are gpoing to transfer to film later, do not shoot in Frame Mode, yet I just read in the DV to 35 mm article on the Watchdog site (article by CHris Hauser) that if you are going to transfer to film that you must shoot in Frame mode first. A contridiction no less. Of course he was assuming for the purposes of his article that we are using a PAL XL1S not the NTSC, and I am using the NTCS XL1S.

What about this scenerio...shoot in Normal mode, and make two clones for output from the final edit, one to go to film transfer, the other to be de-interlaced and then mastered for video/televsion broadcast. I sort of agree that if you are going to transfer to film later, (which will give your "film look") there is no need to "create" an artificlai film look by shooting in Frame Mode despite what Chris Hauser says in his article....and if indeed the transfer labs want the original DV footage shot in Normal Mode, that seems pretty clear to me...but what about getting that "film look" for the video/broadcast version which will not be from any film transfer....Pro Mist and Lighting alone will not cut it...I've been there...If the difference between Normal and Frame mode is essentially the same as interlaced and de-interlaced, would it be possible to shoot in Normal mode and keep the film transfer labs happy, and then de-interlace the final edited master or one clip at a time, for the video/broadcast version??? I'm sure is not as simple as that though. One thing I have decide not to do, is shoot in the non-Native 16x9 on the XL1S, I'll just compose for 16x9.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 07:23 PM   #44
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Charles,

There used to be a post facility, in Texas I believe, way back in the late 70s or 80s, that would make video look exactly like film, at great expense. I actually had some video processed by them. Their secret, among many, was to actually introduce a slight, imperceptable weaving and jitter to the picture to imitate the mechanical process of the film passing by the sprockets. Tape is rock solid and film isn't. They also added subliminal negative dirt and an occasional scratch besides messing around with the gamma and who knows what else. The process was quite effective but the question was - why not shoot it on film to begin with? At their rates it was almost a wash.

James2002,

I can't comment on what's best for transfer to film. All I can say is that NTSC video has been transfered to film for years with hardly any problems. I'm assuming 24p might be better but I've yet to see the results.

My only experience is with shooting DV in frame mode, and the image does get slightly softer. Again, I'm looking at the picture on a 21" broadcast Barco monitor. A monitor that has a higher resolution than the camera. So these problems become more apparent. Most consumer TV sets actually enhance the picture. Almost anything will look good on a home Trinitron.

I'll second what Ken said earlier - check with the film transfer facility and get their opinion before you start. You might even run some tests for comparison.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 09:27 PM   #45
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Guys, since we're here, this is just to satisfy my curiosity. I heard 35mm film was 216 dollars for about 6 minutes. . .correct? Furthermore, that transferring video to film was 500 dollars a minute. . .also correct?

What does a 16mm film camera run for. . .and 35? Just curious, not lookin' to buy anything.
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