Can you see the flaws? (7 replies and 6 comments)
Hi Roger and David,
I just finished up shooting a short that I plan to use to show proof of concept. I would say it's a thriller about a charming and mysterious young man that is seemingly "american" but quite possibly a young James Bond. However, due to time restraints, and the DP and I having different styles of lighting/lens choice, can you notice the flaws? I applied lut which actually highlights some of them a bit more as opposed to raw ungraded. It was filmed on an Alexa 4:3 w/ cineovision anamorphic but to me a lot of the images aren't wide enough.
I can pick it apart. Is that something you do as well with your own work, or do you make sure to get it right on set, in post, in reshoots so at the end of the day you're confident with what you create? You both are extremely technical so I'm really mostly curious to know how you feel about your work after it's all said and done. Do you think "I should have?" or "I could have done it this way.." or "I shouldn't have put that light on, or I should have used higher wattage" etc.
You guys are on the biggest stage, how do you press print? Thanks both.
It’s Roger’s forum so I’d either address a question to him or to everyone, I’m just part of the group here!
I’ll wait for Roger’s response, all I can say for now is that it is hard to judge whether there are flaws in your approach from three stills. And what seems like a technical mistake in the abstract can be exactly what is needed for a particular moment in a story.
Hi David, if I could edit it I would address it to everyone because I'm really loving the feedback and critiques. This forum and the members can somehow do it in a way where it's extremely welcoming! So lemme have it whenever you're ready. There's a vimeo link of the scene, but I can also add more stills.
I'm neither Roger or David, but from watching the clip on Vimeo I noticed a flicker in the background, and the the way you lit the dark side of the man's face in the video, I can see the rectangular pattern cutting across which seemed deeply artificial and not natural. I think the best lighting is invisible, but when you notice odd patterns on someone's face, or the light striking the women's eyes too low to her center, I found that a bit distracting and unnatural as well. That's simply what I noticed as a viewer.
We definitely noticed the flickering at the time. The DP was trying to change the shutter speed to rectify it. I think it's definitely distracting for people in the know, but I don't think it'll be much of an issue for others.
When it comes to lighting, when on set, we didn't apply any luts. Actually, I think it was rec709 if anything. That didn't really pick up any harsh lighting at the time. When I applied a lut in post, it definitely made things obvious. I believe when properly graded it should be okay, but I'm not quite sure as of yet. I'll post a finished copy when I get one
I thought that the short was perfectly acceptable with regards to lighting although her face could have been toned down somewhat but I really couldn’t find any problem with it except for the slight flickering in the background. Talking heads never have equal lighting as they are facing each other. The DP and Director seemed to have accepted the shots when they monitored playback so why worry. The real issue of this scene is capturing the woman’s grief as she dominated most of it. Her acting distracted me and her performance would have been more convincing if she had shed a few tears but again you can blame the Director for that one. If you are not happy with the lighting then you should have mentioned it during the rehearsal. Once they go for a take then it confirms that any issues regarding lighting the scene and talent have been resolved. Don’t worry about it too much, if it’s a TV production then the audience certainly wouldn’t notice any lighting mistakes as the strength of the dialogue would override that.
Don’t be afraid of the Director or DP it’s your reputation on the line here so let them know your lighting issues, then you can resolve them together. Work as a team.
I liked the images except for the flickering!
Thank you! I do feel bad about the flickering now though ;P.
The flickering came from the ceiling LED lights in the background. I wasn't sure how to fix it--we could have just played around with the shutter until it went away but that would have taken time that we didnt have plus I'm not much of a fan of going away from 180.
Also, we could have just turned the lights off, but the background obviously wouldn't have been lit and we were using all our lights to light the actors. Time management is such a factor!
I also don't like that the background looks very fuzzy, that's one of my pet peeves in movies these days, I saw that too in The Orient Express remake, where the background looks absolutely flat and fuzzy, it's as if we were watching actor acting in a stage, there should be more dimension in the background, as we saw in westerns, or even in a film like East of Eden. Just look at this amazing scene, Jo Van Fleet was amazing, I mean she used her entire body, the body language in the scene. When there's this much emotion involved in a scene, you have to make the people feel it! You can't just have them sit in a chair, there has to be some true confrontation that people can get behind. Look at her office in this scene, we see detail and it's not distracting at all! Look at James Dean's body language, the way he's tuckered in, his hands in his pockets, all of this is how stories are told visually. The fuzzy out of focus background is more distracting, and I hate that in new movies, I don't know why everyone keeps doing it.
I mean, in life when someone tries to confront you about something deeply personal, you can't just sit down and take it, unless you're in a police station being interrogated by the police. There has to be a level of uncomfortableness, this is why I love Kazan, his scenes were always deeply imaginative and engaging, he was able to play drama perfectly. Close ups and tears don't mean anything, nobody goes to the movies to watch people cry, it does nothing for an audience unless the tears truly mean something.
Well, this is complicated. We were using such a fantastic house. It was absolutely stunning. Definitely shouldn't have had the lens at f2.2- 2-4 because obviously you cant tell how amazing the location is. If I had more time I would have more footage, more choices but I didnt. With the small team of 15 to shoot 8 pages/3 locations in 24 hours wasn't easy. But yes, it's one of my regrets not showing it more. What comes to mind is the scene in skyfall when Bond is in M's home and you can pretty much see it all. Personally I think the shallow depth is a cop out and the pros like Roger can frame the heck of out a scene. Come to think of it I do have footage where it's not as shallow but it's unusable :/
As for the acting. They're cold. But that's the story. Stoic in nature.
East of Eden is a very high energy film with some very powerful scenes by actors who knew their craft. It’s one of my favourites.
The purpose of this forum is to share information with like minded members with the intention of improving or sharpening film making skills with the understanding that the advice is given as guidance only and not to ridicule or chastise other members work as that will defeat the object of the forum. It only an opinion and should be taken as it is given with no malice whatsoever.
The reason I mentioned the above is that when passing advice or suggestions, it can be misconstrued as a criticism but it’s not if applied to the issue at hand and used to improve the quality of film making. Being wise can only be a good thing.
I enjoyed watching ‘Echo Parks’ short film but couldn’t really understand what the lighting issue was, yes, there was flickering in the background but not really enough to distract me from the main characters performance. There were other issues besides lighting here that caused me concern. The female actor did not understand her character part. There were some elements of her acting that were good but she did not feel the grief or anxiety that she should have shown to make her character convincing. She nodded her head far too many times and her timing was out. To do a scene like that you really have to concentrate and dig in deep and pull out your inner emotions, nodding your head numerous times is not going to do it. I do blame the Director for not getting this right as she was very close to achieving it. Perhaps more rehearsal time was needed but as you say it was a lot of dialogue for a one day shoot. This scene could have been shot anywhere so why the elaborate location. I could understand it if you wanted a quiet location but this house had passing traffic which was picked up. The soundman or woman should have done a sound check before hand and switched microphones. Traffic noise is nearly always present when on location but can be avoided. The room tone does not match up either from one scene to another. I thought the male actor was quite good but only had a few lines. But you have to see the completed short to see how he fits in.
It is not clear if this short is a test run on the actors or your lighting skills or both but overall I was impressed by your lighting although it does need tweaking on her face imo but still rather good.
So if you do another one make sure change your soundman or perhaps your Director if you really want to impress. You are very close to getting it right and the next one I’m sure will be even better.
I would never submit projects on ‘YouTube’ if I knew it had technical issues, all you are doing is advertising yourself as an amateur film maker and I think that you are better than that. By all means, let the forum see and admire your work as we can appreciate the hard work you put into it, albeit just a short.
Thankyou for sharing. Perhaps next time you will be the DP or even the Director, now that’s a thought.
I think the plan was to show more of the house. And while the short was shot primarily in that location, a lot of the wider shots weren't able to be used. Just from being on this set, it takes trial and error to frame a wider shot, closer shots are a lot easier to frame--and unfortunately we didn't have the time to make sure we can get usable wider angles that shows off the house.
The audio was an issue which I am admittedly not versed in. While the video you are seeing is simply the audio transmitted to the camera, it hasn't been cleaned up or mixed properly with a master room tone. Still waiting on the audio from the recorder. But from what i'm understanding from you, is it possible to get cleaner sounds on location? We had to stop a lot because of passing traffic noise and eventually had to play through it. Heck, the house was all synced up through apps and ipads so it was hard enough to get the AC to stop turning on. How much can be done in post? This is a question I'm asking while waiting to get the final audio feeds. Could the sound man change the levels on set where it wouldn't pick up as much background noise?
As for the performance. You're absolutely right about the head movements from the female actor. We have since cut it down so you hear her but don't see her unless the expressions are absolutely perfect. Moreover it's his film, he's the star, he has since become the focal point after being in the editing room. I'll post another link shortly--but it still won't have fixed audio, and the transitions aren't yet smoothed.
We haven't submitted it anywhere other than sources to get feedback. So privately on vimeo and youtube so that you guys can receive links. With that said, when you're done with a film do you have regrets on your choices?
But I don't think being an "amateur" has got nothing to do with it, because even with big budget movies that are glossy and photographically gorgeous, the moviegoer can quickly pickup wether a movie is working or not. I don't consider lighting to be the crux of a film's success, because that alone won't save a movie from its other shortcomings. I think what is most important is the camerawork and how it relates to what's happening in the screen with the actors and their surroundings.
When everything works uniformly, it becomes like something of a classical piece of music, there's a rhythm happening, and there's a structure behind it, but when all of that is broken, it becomes something of a broken tune, and that's when you're taken out of a movie. The editing should be seamless and blend perfectly. This is one of my favorite sequences ever put together in a film, every time I look at it, I realize that not everyone can be a cinematographer, there's a level of genius involved that can't be taught or learned, perhaps it's all about imagination and being a good enough craftsman to fully realize it into reality.
A wise soundman (either gender) always carries the right tools to get the job done. His aim is to record dialogue tracks or sound effects and supply copies to the sound editor and various other departments including the lab if applicable. As he uses reference headphones, he will be the first to pick up any unwanted sounds and even terminate a take if he thinks an unwanted sound may spoil a take. It takes a brave man to shout out ‘STOP’ during a take but the Director should be experienced enough to know that he is doing it for a good reason. Mild traffic noise or squeaky floors is not a problem but a plane flying close by or scenery falling over (very common) cannot be ‘punch out’ when editing.
An experienced soundman will carry enough tools in his/her bag to enable them to switch microphones or reduce decibels so that noises can be controlled before they reach the recorder. You will find that location recording can be a rather noisy place, you may think it’s quiet but once amplified by a transducer it can then be a nightmare to control. Sound blankets can be extremely effective at reducing reverberation. Knowing which microphone to use at a specific location will also reduce unwanted noise. Most microphones that are used on sets these days are usually Sennheiser 416’s or 816’s. These are Super cardiods which ‘reject’ sound from behind the capsule and pointed at the right angle to the talent will drastically reduce traffic noise or any noise for that matter. There are other mics on the market ie, Schoeps, Bayer, Sony, Akg etc that will do a similar job. Infact, there’s over 200 mics to choose from all having different pick up patterns and rejection values. In addition, on the mic mixing desk you have other tools ie, filters, DB pads that will clean up your tracks before they reach the recorder. In a studio you should not hear any ambient noises at all, not even a mouse but on location it is normal to hear traffic noise, airplanes, sheep, cows but at a level which is acceptable knowing that these can be eliminated during editing or if you cannot take them out then they can be disguised with another sound that can fit in the scene, This is done quite often through ADR or the SFX people. You cannot always eliminate unwanted noises entirely but it must be at an acceptable level so as not to be reproduced by a TV or Cinema speaker. Today’s TV’s will block any unwanted sounds due to their amplifier circuits being programmed not to reproduce certain frequencies.
You cannot record sound effectively on a film set without spending at least $50K minimum. That’s 2 recorders, Sound cards, mixer, cables, a box load of microphones and batteries, recordist trolly, UHF transmitters, receivers, Panamic’s, 4 Headphones, batteries, battery chargers, aerials, hand radios, etc etc. And a nice soft cushion. Anything less than this and you will be heading for trouble. You will find that most recordists have spent over $100K. This is a major investment for people just trying to earn a living!
A dialogue track should be totally clean and crisp without any ambient noises. Any extra noises will be logged and frequencies identified and zapped by the sound editor.