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I’m sorry for the delayed answer. Now I understand your process, it is interesting and I never thought about it in that way. Usually I “pick” an ISO level that “looks fine” to me for the project and stick with it (of course depends on the different situations and how I can control the light).
I will try your method and shoot some tests with my BMPCC6K which I usually use for low-mid projects.
To answer also to Jakob, I like the result of your framing. It is dark but I like the tone. It has some grain but I think it is acceptable.
What I understand is that low-key scenes (especially for not high-end cameras) are often tricky, what I often noticed is that a lot of cameras struggle in the underexposure areas (like when there is -2 to -3 STOPS in the reflected light) but in areas falling in the black looks clear.
As Stips says probably cameras like Alexa don’t have this problem, I never shot on Alexa so I can’t say but if I also want to refer to Mr. Deakins movies there are a lot of scenes in Skyfall, Sicario, Prisoners, 1917, The Goldfinch and Empire of Light (to mention some) with low-key scenarios and those have zero noise and stunning details! The unparalleled talent that has Mr.Deakins is the principal aspect of those results but I think also a great camera can help a cinematographer to “take his risks” and underexpose areas with an “extra pinch of serenity”.
I apologize for my bad English and I wish you all a nice weekend.
I’m interested in your process. Tell me If I understand correctly: you lit your scene and exposed it for the native ISO of your camera (let’s say 800) then you dial down one or even two STOP of sensitivity to 400 – 200 before hitting rec.?
The result would be underexposed footage that you can “digitally restore” in post-production, but won’t this result in a loss of details?
Maybe I don’t understand correctly your process because my English is not good enough.
Have a nice Sunday,
In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, this is a topic with a lot of point of view.
The thing I met in my experience (not a lot at the moment, I have been DP for only 2 independent feature films, a few short films, and some local commercials) is that is a “battle” to gain more information from the file (of course you have to know the camera you use, the pros and con.) and so maybe overexpose “a bit” or get “the look” in camera.
In the last feature that I was involved in, a data wrangler guy who was also a DIT often came to me and “advice” for overexposing a bit or pushing information in the shadows, so maybe in post-production, the colorist can darken with tools.
In my opinion, and I repeat this is my opinion, this is something that I never understand 100% because, if it is true that some camera has noise problems in underexposure areas (I was using a Red Gemini) it’s also true that if I want a “dim” atmosphere it’s is strange to put “fill” everywhere, this can change the “look” I’m after.
So, what I consider (and I ask also to people in this forum, I remember there was an experienced and skilled DIT that often answered) is to think about the “contrast ratio” and try to go for it, and maybe overexpose a 1/3 or also 1/2 or even 1 STOP (depending of the characteristics of the camera) everything, and not adding bounces fill here and there that I constantly see in post-production and “alter my look”.
I don’t know if there is a good solution, this is my consideration and I’m glad to read other opinions.
I apologize for my English.
Have a nice Sunday,
If I can join in your topic, of course, I’ve not even a 10th part of the experience that has Mr. Deakins so my words are probably useless.
Reading your question, I’ve to say that maybe a cloudy day in the woods can help you a lot to avoid direct “harsh” sunlight. You can of course use a blue filter in front of your lens but usually cloudy light is already slightly blue (around 6000k) so I probably want to use the “full spectrum” of that light instead of limiting wavelengths of the red channel of the sensor. If your camera can record Raw it’s better in post to shift color temperature, if not it’s regarding to you and how “saturated” want your dusk to set the color temperature on camera.
For the second question, about the torch, my “concern” would be the total amount of natural light that you will have that day because sunlight is very “strong” also on a cloudy day, so your torch effect could appear not visible as you probably want.
For the volumetric effect, In my opinion (and I repeat I’m not as experienced as a lot of cinematographers over this fantastic forum) it will depend on how long your scene is. Temporary fog from a spray, in a wood, could be visible for a few seconds (if it is windy also less time) so maybe if you do not have so much budget to evenly “fill” your space with a haze/fog machine you could use a diffusion filter as you wrote to “bloom” that highlights and give a bit of “volume” of the torch.
Maybe it would be better if you test the two solutions to see the results, as I say, in my opinion, a lot will depend on the light condition that you will have that day.
This is just my opinion so it’s just for talk and learning. Apologize for my English, it’s not my first language.
Have a nice day,
Merry Christmas Mr. Deakins, Mrs. James and to all the forum members!
Vanniyan if you search on Google for these words: Robin Barton beam angle calculator, you can find a page with a calculator of two scenarios, and roughly you will have an idea of the area that the beam angle cover at a certain distance (and a height).
But, in my opinion, you have to consider the diffusion that you would to use because, in my opinion, could alter your final beam angle and so the whole area that you will cover with your light.
About the conversion FootCandle/Lux to exposure, Mr. Deakins tells you that if you want to expose an aperture of T2.8 at 800ISO 180° ShutterAngle you need something like 12.5FC. With this in mind, you can consider if the amount of FC/Lux that you will have in your action area is enough to expose what you want to expose (If you want to shoot at T2 for example you need the half of FC because you open your lens by a STOP but if you want to shoot your scene at T4 you need the double of 12.5FC).
As I said before, this is what I think should be, but there are masters and legends on this forum like Mr. Deakins and Mr. Mullen that can be more precise than me.
I hope this can help you.
I wish you a nice day,
I would also share with you what I think is a powerful source and tool that helps to calculate beam angle/cover area/distance, height etc.:
Search on Google: Robin Barton beam angle calculator
Just for fun, I will try to do this calculation based on your situation, just to train my mind and also since I haven’t “DP” something in a long time (Lol but also sad😅).
As you probably already know, the photometric specs are without any diffusion in front of the lamp, and the light drop of your source will depend on how thick the diffusion is.
The same is applied, I think for the “spread”, a thick diffusion will spread the light more, basically changing the “beam” angle of your original source.
Of course, like you, I will wait for an eventual answer from Mr. Deakins that are way more experienced and talented than me in this kind of situation so I can learn from his words.
As I said before I’m only trying to train myself and my brain for a tricky but interesting lighting situation like yours so don’t be severe with me 😁.
If I can ask myself a question to Mr. Deakins or whoever knows the answer. If we have a lamp at a distance of 100′ but a height of 120′. At this point should we have to calculate the falloff based on the furthest point? I don’t think it’s possible that the fall is somehow “added” between the two distances.
Apologize for my bad English,
It seems I can’t able to post a reply with a link to a tool to calculate beam angle/distance.
I will retry soon.
Here is the photometric chart of the M40
I hope this can help.
I wish you a nice day.
Thank you very much for your reply Mr. Deakins.
So for sure at this point, it’s a slight shift due to the YouTube “compression” that boosts a bit the green tonality in the highlight more than the “normal”.
As you said, it is one green or the other one magenta? 😁 it’s a fine line.
Thank you again for your reply and your kindness as usual.
I wish you a peaceful day,
If you double the amount of light (lux/fc) you will obtain a stop of increment in your light measurement so you have to “compensate” with your “triangle” or nd.
But I waiting for an answer of DP’s more expert than me.
Have a nice weekend.
Thank you so much for your reply and clarification Mr. Deakins. As usual thank you again for your time, your patience, and your availability to share your experiences and knowledge. It is fantastic.
I wish you a peaceful Sunday,
Thank you so much for your reply Mr. Deakins. It is always fantastic to read your answers!
If I can ask some more questions, did you have the solid inside the two cafés as a negative fill or did you use solids outside the cafés and outside frames to control the light that comes inside?
For the “first” café scene, your two LEDs bounced off the ceiling are pointed over the table, or were just pointed up “straight” to the ceiling at either side of the table? In the close-ups, that warm “fill” that is in the shadows comes from the practical overhead light (the spheric one) that is in the Cafè? It was part of the location or it was your choice with production design to have an “omnidirectional” light there?
I love the natural feel of the whole movie but with beauty and elegance that always sets you apart.
Thank you so much again for your reply Mr. Deakins and I wish you a peaceful weekend,