Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Filters, Digital & Food For Thought

>Hi!!! Hank Harrison here...........Food for thought.............

>Is it possible to rediscover the personal pride and satisfaction of making pictures in the camera, of controlling the finished results at the time of exposure? And at a lesser cost than computer manipulated computer images? Filters and filter effects are as old as photography, so why pay hundreds of dollars per hour for computer effects when many of the same results can be obtained using filters on the camera? When photographic filters are used, their functions are absorbed, combined and dispersed throughout the visual energy carrying the images of the picture. Their results cannot be separated. Try as we may, the influence of the filters become part of the original image and any attempt to change or alter the results will change and alter the entire picture. Audiences are not concerned as to how pictures are made, the are concerned as to how much it is costing to go see a movie! The future of the industry is to find methods and equipment, to turn out a good product, at a cost commensurate with the publics budget set aside for entertainment.

>Agree--------or-----------Disagree?


>Hank Harrison:

>Filters and filter effects are as old as photography, so why pay hundreds of dollars >per hour for computer effects when many of the same results can be obtained using >filters on the camera?

>Consider these two scenarios:

>1. Shooting 35mm - primes or high quality zoom, careful set-up of the filtration for each shot / change of FL, etc. The argument for "in-camera" is strong here...

>2. Shooting 16mm/S16, zoom lens, shooting fast, director inventing shots on the fly etc: I think a strong case can be made for doing some of your filtration in post production, especially diffusion, promist type filtration..

>I just gave these examples as extremes, there's a whole realm of ground between, in the real world of shooting, but this was one (out of many !) of my thoughts after seeing the Primal system.

>I have my own preferences in terms of what's best in camera, what's not (hey I like B&W reversal stocks, in camera DX, and so on !)

>But to take examples from still photography, there's work that's essentially finished at the time of exposure (Cartier-Bresson) & there's is work that only begins to take shape in the darkroom... and these two disciplines are as "old as photography" also...

>-Sam Wells


>Filters and filter effects are as old as photography, so why pay hundreds of dollars >per hour for computer effects when many of the same results can be obtained using >filters on the camera?

>Hank, do you sense that filters are less popular today?

>While there are a few more cases of having to shoot clean for efx compositing reasons, or doing some filter effects in post, I think for the most part cinematographers employ filters more as less as they have in the past -- other than the fact that current tastes in general are towards sharper, less diffused photography. It's not the 1970's anymore when Geoffrey Unsworth could shoot a mainstream big-budget feature with a #2 Fog Filter (although "The Grinch" came close to doing that -- Peterman used #1, #2, and #3 Black ProMists.)

>Certainly I see new lines of Polas as being very popular (an effect you can't just do later in post) as well as new diffusion filters for close-ups, and of course, 85's and ND's are always going to be used.

>Post-production has increased the number of image-enhancement options, but I think that in-camera filter effects will also continue to be popular. Not all of us shoot films that have digital efx work in them... The trouble with leaving the filtration until post is that it might not get done if you're not there to supervise it...

>David Mullen Cinematographer / L.A.


>Hank, You are right! How would one go about re-creating the effects of a 4-point Star filter in a computer? Why would you want to anyway?

Cheers, Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.

http://www.barklage.com


>Sam Wells wrote:

>But to take examples from still photography, there's work that's essentially finished at >the time of exposure (Cartier-Bresson) & there's is work that only begins to take >shape in the darkroom...and these two disciplines are as "old as photography" also...

>Imagine poor old Jerry Uelsmann -- decades of amazing (but perhaps cliched and uninteresting) darkroom mastery made obsolete by Photoshop.

>Jeff "prefers Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Danny Lyon, and Wm. Klein" Kreines


>Hmmm, I think you may be on to something. I work on the digital effects end of the business, as a compositor/supervisor. I've been compositing for a good 7 to 8 years now. Recently I set up a darkroom and started shooting 4x5 and medium format, black and white stills. I spent a lot of time developing and printing and I must say there really is something about perfectly exposing and composing a shot, right there in camera, as opposed to shooting something that is 80-90% right and then fixing it in the computer. Now, digital retouching almost feels like cheating. It's just not the same thrill.

>To me glows and hallows look much better when they are achieved through analog filtration, be it glass or netting, and a b/w inkjet print doesn't hold a candle to even an average photographic print. Of course there are some fantastic composites that couldn't be achieved with the traditional methods, but speaking as a craftsman there certainly is something about getting it right the first time without "the digital crutch".

>feli


>Imagine poor old Jerry Uelsmann -- decades of amazing (but perhaps cliched and >uninteresting) darkroom mastery made obsolete by Photoshop.

>Jerry now uses Photoshop.

>Al Satterwhite


>Filters and filter effects are as old as photography, so why pay hundreds of dollars >per hour for computer effects when many of the same results can be obtained using >filters on the camera?

>Although some of these effects can be created in camera with filters it's not so easy for others.

>I've just finished a digital grade of a short film and we used a mixture of filters on camera and TK filters/windows to get the look we wanted.

>On the camera we used Tru-Pols, H&H NBRA's and some Custom Coral Filters from Formatt.

>In Datacine we used desaturation, what were effectively grads of very weird shapes and a bit of variable contrast.

>The filters on camera were used both to contain the scene brightness within the capabilities of the film and to bias shots in the direction we wanted. the graded use of corals, from way over to way under 85 type correction forced the grade to go in certain directions.

>And I think I've made my point we should use ALL the tools available to us at ALL times.

>Also, post has become such an important part of the image creation process that we have to try and cost into a job our time to control the post.

>Cheers

>Geoff