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Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Reel Education: Lighting

A Reel Education: Lighting: "Lighting is one of the most important things that you can do to make your film look good. Don't ever believe some camera manufacturer when t..."

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important things that you can do to make your film look good. Don't ever believe some camera manufacturer when they say that you don't need to light your film. Hands down, the most time consuming thing that happens during production is good lighting. It has been a long time since the need has existed, where lighting was just necessary for exposure. With most modern camera's and film stocks we can now get exposure with very little light, but the mood, and feel of your film can be greatly affected by the lighting.
Think about this:
Even without an actor on screen - your audience in just a few seconds can gather a lot of information about the image they see on screen. A dark shadow filled shot is mysterious and scary. A bright low contrast shot is inviting and safe feeling.
Do you like walking around your house in the middle of the night with the lights off? Or do you prefer to do it in the middle of the day? Remember your audience feels the same way.
A few pointers:
Flood lights with a Fresnel lens produce hard single shadow beams of light. They are the best for lighting people because they produce only one shadow. You can soften this light by shooting it through a diffusion frame or clipping a diffusion gel on the doors of the light.
The larger the beam created by a diffusion material the softer the light will be.
But any type of light can be used to light your scene, candles, work lights, neon, florescent. It doesn't really matter, but remember the more you shape the light the better it will look to your audience.
Also remember to white balance your camera. Sunlight is 5600 degrees Kelvin which is blue in color. And Tungsten Quarts lights are 3200 degrees Kelvin or orange in color. Florescent lights have a puke green color of about 4500 degrees Kelvin, even color corrected Kino-flo tubes will generate this green spike the longer you burn them and the hotter the tubes become. It's always good to have some minus green on hand when using florescent lights.
For those who do lighting for a living there are four properties that are important to always remember.
  1. The Color of the light.
  2. The Direction the light comes from.
  3. The Quality of the light, how hard or soft of a shadow it makes.
  4. And the Intensity or quantity of light that that exists.
If you can master these four properties you are well on your way to being able to produce good lighting in your films.
I'd wager to say that good lighting is more important overall to the look of your film than what type of camera you shoot it with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Reel Education: HCC Filmmaking Students

A Reel Education: HCC Filmmaking Students: "This is a series of interviews with students enrolled in Houston Community College's filmmaking program. Listen to their own words about wha..."

HCC Filmmaking Students

This is a series of interviews with students enrolled in Houston Community College's filmmaking program. Listen to their own words about what they think of the education that they are getting. HCC is very innovative in its approach to teaching filmmaking. Providing real world, on set instruction. Students are able to learn more in the few weeks of production than in entire semesters work of lecture and class work.

"The only way to learn how to make a move is to make a movie," Robert Rodriguez.

video

A Reel Education: The Preachers Daughter - Changes On the Production...

A Reel Education: The Preachers Daughter - Changes On the Production...: "This week The Preacher's Daughter film is undergoing some major changes. The show was to wrap on 10/20 but it is two weeks behind schedule. ..."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Preachers Daughter - Changes On the Production

This week The Preacher's Daughter film is undergoing some major changes. The show was to wrap on 10/20 but it is two weeks behind schedule.
As I had stated before I normally work as a DP but was talked into being the Gaffer on this film. (The gaffer is the head of the lighting department.) The current DP isn't able to continue on the film, he has a conflict with other work.

Michell Mower the director

Tonight I met with the Director who approached me about taking over the position of Director of Photography. I am sorry to see the original DP go.

Unfortunately, I am unable to step-up and be the DP. I have to return to my regular teaching duties on Thursday and Friday's at Houston Community College. As such the film is taking a long weekend break and looking for a new Director of Photography to take over.

Best of luck. I hope they can find someone who will be able to continue the beautiful look started by my good friend John Sherren.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Caveman Theory

In the Spring of 2010 Houston Community College's Filmmaking program used it's students and equipment to help Aqua Foxx Productions produce a TV pilot for the show Caveman Theory. It is currently being shopped in LA, and there is buzz about the quality of this single camera comedy.

The following video is interviews with the producer and some of the students working as crew on the 10 day production.

video

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Preacher's Daughter - The 5 P's

There is a term that I learned when in film school back in the 1980's. It has stuck with me since I first heard it. It is referred to as the 5 P's. The five "P"'s are Poor Pre-production Produces a Poor Production. This film is suffering from it in a bad way. They are in denial. The script calls for maybe 30 to 40 shooting days and they are trying to cram it all into 20 days. With multiple company location moves. Major Hair and Make-up changes that take over an hour to do. Wardrobe changes and a lead actress that isn't available for more than the twenty days of shooting. This ship is in rough sees. Camera, Lighting & Grip are usually set and waiting on other production departments but since they are the visible on-set entity its "G&E that is the reason this show" is running behind schedule.
I wish I knew what cool-aide they were drinking, so I could get some and maybe it would help me deal better with the blame that I have been receiving.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter - Moving Along

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter - Moving Along: "We are starting day 6 of a scheduled 20 day shoot. Again we have been shooting inside a the Church, and will be there today. This old struct..."

The Preacher's Daughter - Moving Along

We are starting day 6 of a scheduled 20 day shoot. Again we have been shooting inside a the Church, and will be there today. This old structure was built in the 1930's in Kileen, Texas on Fort Hood. It was the forts chapel for a long time. In the 1960 it was moved to its current location in Alvin, Texas and a few years ago was purchased by the Prep-school that we are filming at. They use it for graduation services but most of the time it sits empty. It's a nice place but small with limited access. Getting power and equipment inside has been a challenge.


Below is a picture of the films DP - John Sheeren.
Below is a picture of the films Director Michell Mower.
As talked about in a previous post. The film is recording digitally to AJA's KiPro. Here is the unit at the video village set-up. It is the small unit on the right side of the frame with bright blue text display. Below the KiPro is a audio recording unit sitting above the audio mixing board. The film Soundman has been tasked with pressing the recording button. In the center of the screen is a HD monitor and on the far left are video scopes and wave form monitors.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter - First Few Days

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter - First Few Days: "The film has been in production for a few day now and things are moving along. There have been some production problems. Transportation had ..."

The Preacher's Daughter - First Few Days

The film has been in production for a few day now and things are moving along. There have been some production problems. Transportation had the wrong pick-up time for a principle actor on the first day. Which caused us to start the day late and caused things to get behind schedule.
On the second day there was some kind of problem with make-up and wardrobe that caused the first shot to get started late. In the middle of the day the generator went down. Turns out that the company that production rented the generator from sent out one that was smaller than the one ordered. The lighting department ordered a 35KW and generator company sent a 20KW one out. When the lighting department turned on all of the lights needed for an exterior set-up they overloaded the generator and it went down. The overload also affected the quality of the electricity that the generator produced once it was turned back on. Good thing that production was close to a building where they could get at least on light and video village working so the day could continue while the generator supply company sent out a new generator.
This is a picture of a branchalorous, which is a cookie or a gobo and is a type of light break-up. The shot was set up with this tree in the background. Just bright light on the tree by itself was not natural looking. This branchalourous makes the light on the tree look like it is sunlight streaming through the trees branches and makes the tree trunk look natural in the back ground.

This is a shot of a lighting set-up in a park scene. The large white square on the right of the frame is a 12'x12' white reflector that bounced the natural sunlight onto the actresses who were sitting in the swings. The overhead material is a 12'x12' Highlight plastic material like a shower curtain, that it translucent and helps take out the glare from the sun light and allows the actresses to open their eyes. Out of frame to the left is a HMI back light that added a nice rim light the the actresses faces and helps add shape to them.

This is a lighting set up inside of the church building in The Preacher's Daughter. Their is a smoke machine known as a hazer that creates a even particle field in the air. This smoke allows the camera to see the beams of light. The lights in the back ground simulate sunlight coming through the buildings windows. Very pretty and beautiful scene.