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Day For Night Sequences

>Published : 16th Auguts 2006

>(OK, this topic has been done before but there are some worthy points)

>So here's a challenge. We have a long potential DFN sequence in this movie I am just starting in NZ with the Rings/Kong crowd at Weta Digital. The Director wants to see a successful day for night sequence involving water and/or landscape which he likes the look of. He doesn't like Perfect Storm. The film must have been made in the past few years and involve sky replacement etc. It must be a landscape sequence and not involve city lights. It should be dark, moody and dramatic: foreground real night elements with DFN backgrounds would be ideal.

>Any ideas?

>Oliver Stapleton
DP - currently in Queenstown, NZ.


>It's a long time since I've seen it and it's not recent, but "Jonathon Livingstone Seagull" had some good day for night. I seem to recall that it was shot in B & W with red filters and then colour added. These were sky & Sea shots, so they were basically deep blue.

>Brian Drysdale
DP & Steadicam
Belfast


class="style14">>We have a long potential DFN sequence in this movie I am just starting >in NZ with the Rings/Kong crowd at Weta Digital.

>I'm certainly not intending any disrespect here, but have you considered creating a test shot to try out your own approach, and that of Weta Digital?

>I also try to find previously shot footage to use as a reference, but if the question here is can this be done to the director's satisfaction, it really doesn't matter what someone else has done in the past, other than as a visual starting point - but that can be done with concept art just as easily.

>We all know that there is little today that cannot be realized, especially when you have the services of a good visual effects hop at your disposal - and you have one that is arguably the best in the world. I don't think anyone has done more CG water shots than Weta (possibly ILM, but even that's arguable). The rest is up to you and how you feel you need to shoot the live action, given your own particular production circumstances and locations.

>Anything done in the past is, frankly, irrelevant. Or am I missing your intent here?

>Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


class="style14">>"Anything done in the past is, frankly, irrelevant."

>What a strange attitude.

>I am not asking this question because I intend to copy anything: I am asking it because the Director has asked me and Weta for some reference material.

The process of preparing a film with a Director is one of looking at Art, Music, Movies, Painting.. just about anything that guides the movie towards where you want it to go. We have indeed already shot tests and have extensive concept art prepared.

>If you have any contribution please name a film where you like the day for night work. Advice on how to shoot the movie is not required.

>Oliver Stapleton
DP NZ.


class="style14">>If you have any contribution please name a film where you like the day >for night work. Advice on how to shoot the movie is not required.

>I thought that some (only some) of Cast Away was reasonably well done.

>Please forgive me if I sounded like I was trying to give any kind of shooting advice. I was not trying to do anything of the sort, a person of your experience certainly doesn't need that, especially from the likes of me. I was simply curious as to why you were looking specifically for
celluloid reference material, particularly when you inferred that the director hasn't seen any motion picture day for night work that he particularly admires.

>In any case, I'm sure you'll come up with something that works for everyone, and I'm curious to see the result.

>Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


>Cast Away had some pretty good dfn with water and no city lights in it.

>Florian Stadler, D.P., L.A.


>Hello Oliver, you wrote:

class="style14">> If you have any contribution please name a film where you like the day >for night work. Advice on how to shoot the movie is not required.

>Good for you

Your question is one of the more pertinent professional questions I've read on CML in a while. As a result of your post, I went out and got a DVD copy of Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Wages of Fear" which I remembered as having some pretty startling DFN work. Unfortunately for the present discussion, Wages is in B&W, but it shows you how good it is, because I would have sworn I saw it in colour. I'm just glad I didn't post that before getting the DVD.

I'm still trying to think of a really good DFN in Colour, of course.


Unfortunately DFN work in the Truffaut film by the same name is not terribly good, but the film is wonderful.

>Best of luck with your shot,

>Brian Heller


>Hi Oliver,

>I liked the shots at the beach house in The Insider. Actually, I remembered loving them the first time I saw it and then thinking it wasn't all that I'd remembered the second time around, but then I was looking for it.

>Best Regards,

>Anders Uhl
cinematographer
the DoP shop
http://www.thedopshop.com


class="style14">> If you have any contribution please name a film where you like the day >for night work. Advice on how to shoot the movie is not required.

>Oliver,

>Caleb Deschanels work in The Passion of the Christ and The Patriot are both far from "reality DFN" but I love it. Conspiracy Theory and Braveheart also ring a DFN bell for me. CT was John Schwartzman and Braveheart was John Toll. Philippe Rousselot's cinematography for Intvw With A Vampire is a beauty for period work and heavy stylised DFN. There is also really nice DFN work in Chris Menges Shy People and I think The Mission. Shy people was shot in deep bottomland Louisiana swamps. It is THE most beautiful cinematography

>I have ever seen shot in southern Louisiana.

>I hope this helps a bit. Good luck on your shoot.

>Joseph T McDonnell III
Cinematography/High Definition
IATSE 600
New Orleans, La
Los Angeles, Ca
818-675-1501


>I love "Matewan" for it's day for night work. Apologies if it's already been mentioned. But the scene in the woods is a beautiful combination of day for night & night for night work.

>It was great fun to read about it in "Thinking in Pictures" 18 years ago and then to re-watch the scene.

>Best,

>Patrick Cady
DP LA


>Oliver Stapleton wrote :

class="style14">> If you have any contribution please name a film where you like the day >for night work.

>I think Slawomir Idziak shot a lot of the night scenes in Black Hawk Down DFN and the green tint looked quite interesting. Granted it's in a city, but it doesn't have any typical city lighting.

>Stefan Kubicki
DP NYC


>Oliver Stapleton wrote :

class="style14">> Any ideas?

>I recently saw "Far From The Madding Crowd" on TV in letterbox after many years. Some good landscape DFN in that. The great Nicholas Roeg, DOP.

>Greg Lowry
President
Scopica Inc. / Scopica3D
Vancouver


>I think that BLACK ROBE
( www.imdb.com/title/tt0101465/ )
shot by Peter James, has unique, magnificent DFN that
I find worthy of inspiration.

>Chris Chambers
LA, CA


>Deliverance, shot by Zigmond, and Tell them Willy Boy is here , Conrad Hall, both 70s movies .

>John Holland ,
London.


>Brian Heller wrote:

class="style14">> Unfortunately for the present discussion, Wages is in B&W, it shows <you how good it is, because I would have sworn I saw it in colour.

>Are you sure you're not thinking of 'Sorcerer', the pointless William Friedkin remake from 1977...

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


class="style14">> Cast Away had some pretty good dfn with water and no city lights in it.

>......what I was going to say too.

>In fact Cast Away (the Robert Zemekis film, rather than the Nic Roeg one) is a great example – especially the sequence with Tom Hanks rowing in a storm. One of the earliest and best digital sky replacement jobs I can think of.

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


>Tom Townend wrote :

class="style14">>In fact Cast Away (the Robert Zemekis film...) is a great example - >especially the sequence with Tom Hanks rowing in a storm...

>Its interesting how the night looks were organized relevant to his discovery of fire, which changes the night lighting treatment, of course. Great example of night work overall on a large scale picture, sky replacements and all, as a remote Pacific isle is where the stars and milky way do look like that.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


class="style14">> Its interesting how the night looks were organized relevant to his >discovery of fire,

>Ha! Yes. You can practically *hear* a sigh of relief from the DP and ILM when he finally cracks his fire lighting skills.

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


>Tom Townend wrote:

class="style14">> Are you sure you're not thinking of 'Sorcerer', the pointless William >Friedkin remake from 1977

Probably not, Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, and Peter van Eyck are still
vivid.

I do agree that The Sorcerer was pointless.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>I've only had time to look at Castaway & The Patriot so far: thanks so much for the Castaway suggestion as the post-plane crash sequence has a lot of relevance for us with the tank work and the CG lightning BG's which give flashes of depth to the frame in all the confusion.

>The mix of night lighting and DFN lighting (before he discovers fire!)is also a good reference to show the Director: I thought some of it worked better and some was not so good: at least on my laptop balanced on a pillow at 1am.

>I also looked at The Patriot - I'd forgotten what a fantastic job Caleb did on that film. Some of the night-time "beams of light" were not to my taste, but the use of Magic hour in the Island camp was amazing. It's a great example of getting together with the director and AD and doing some serious planning about when sequences are shot.

>Roland Emmerich is in the valley over the mountain having just started 10,000BC: they had to be evacuated after getting snowed in!

>Oliver Stapleton
DP in NZ


class="style14">>Roland Emmerich is in the valley over the mountain having just started >10,000BC: they had to be evacuated after getting snowed in!

>I for one am glad to hear that NZ is attracting more large pictures. It's good to know that the terrific resources that were assembled over the last few years for Lord of the Rings, Kong, Narnia, and other projects will continue to be utilized.

>Best of luck on your project.

>Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


>Kaos(Chaos), directed by the Taviani bros, photographed by the great Giusepe Lanci, is an exercise on DFN; no sea though, just huge DFN set-ups in fields.

>Good luck with your shoot. I always admired your work.

>Dimitris-fun of "absolute beginners"-Theodoropoulos
DP, Athens-Greece


>Hello Oliver,

>I do not have a copy of the DVD with me, but there was always this unforgettable scene, when you mentioned water and without city lights, in me....... it was Jan de Bont's the Hunt for Red October, approaching the end, I remembered.

>But may be you have a lot of references already, best of luck !

>Henry Chung
HKSC
http://www.stereoscopy.com/henry/


>Does anyone know how the DFN was done in Deliverance?

>Rick Tullis
Beijing


>Castaway has proved useful: the Director HATED the DFN work but really liked the tank work (after the plane crash) so that got us moving along. Couldn't find any DFN in Conspiracy Theory..

>Trying to track down some of the older movies but of course anything pre CGI tends to be less useful. We are beginning to wonder if the lack of examples is because it is so difficult to make it work well if the requirement is for dark, contrasty and dramatic. I guess we'll just have to be the first.

>Oliver Stapleton
DP in NZ.


class="style14">>it was Jan de Bont's the Hunt for Red October, approaching the end, I >remembered.

>Ahhh but that was THE worst composite shot in that film! The close-ups shot with zero DoP and the background in perfect focus. That always stands out in my mind as a snafu from an otherwise great looking film. I always wonder what happened on that shot...

>Joseph T McDonnell III
Cinematography/High Definition
IATSE 600
New Orleans, La
Los Angeles, Ca


>Dear Oliver,

>John Pytlak answered a post where someone was wondering about using print film for camera original.

>(JP QUOTE) "I assume you mean using Kodak VISION Colour Print Film 2383/3383 as a camera film? Kodak VCP is balanced to make prints from colour negatives with orange-coloured masking, in a printer using a tungsten lamp operating at low colour temperature. So to get a "neutral" image, you need to start off with considerable orange-coloured filtration, perhaps two Wratten 85 filters. The film is quite slow (single digit Exposure Index), and very high in contrast. It also normally come perforated "long pitch" for use in a contact printer, as opposed to "short pitch" used for camera originals.

>Bottom line: Kodak VCP is not intended for use as a camera original film, but its very high contrast may be suitable for making title slides or other specialized applications."

>That might be worth exploring for DFN - run very slow, contrasty print film with built-in correction for orange masking. If 2383/3383 requires a bunch of 85 filtration to come to neutral balance it must produce bluish prints when used as camera negative film without filtration - that would help DFN. DOF would also look more "wide-open" since you would have to open up a bunch even in bright sunlight. I'm not certain about the pitch - a good camera tech should have an answer about that.

>Hal Smith
Edmond, OK


>Rick Tullis wrote :

> does anyone know how the DFN was done in Deliverance?

>---A high light matte was pulled off of sky and bi-packed with an I/P. There might have been some rotoscope touch ups.

>That wound up giving the posturised look. The entire movie was desaturated by printing the CRI's from the OCN and a B/W dupe neg.

>Leo Vale
Pgh. PA


>Hello Edmund,

>I did think about this for awhile: I shot a Mick Jagger video like this with b/w title stock at 6ASA or some such rating in the early 90's.

Weta have been quite insistent on delivering a "normal" negative for them to have maximum leeway in the manipulation process - this follows the notion that you can do more or less anything given that you have all the tonal information. This has de-railed me somewhat from testing things like print stocks, infra red etc but now that you've brought it up, I might as well give it a try.

>Curiously the new Fuji Print stock has reduced the visible grain from any camera original in our tests.

>Oliver Stapleton
DP in NZ


class="style14">>>"Kodak VCP is not intended for use as a camera original film... That >might be worth exploring for DFN - run very slow, contrasty print film with >built-in correction for orange masking"

>I've shot print for negative before, and I would say it's not for DFN - the colours are way too whacked. Perfect, though, for a dream or hallucination sequence. The stuff is slow, you'll be out in full daylight with SuperSpeeds, and when I did it labs weren't enthusiastic about running OCN print developing, due to the increased danger of torn perfs, print lines run at much higher speed than negative and they don't want to lose a bunch of print rolls - and nowadays I'd be worried about the danger of lunching a movement on Estar. Also, don't think you can easily print from a print stock neg; if you shoot print for OCN, you're really shooting for DI finish.

>If it were me, I'd shoot normal negative to protect all highlights (make sure nothing blooms) with a fat polarizer, then get busy in digital to make the look. We did a bunch of this on a feature recently - you've got to light up windows and streetlights, etc. - it's really a VFX thing these days.

>"Weta have been quite insistent on delivering a "normal" negative for them to have maximum leeway in the manipulation process".

>As above, I wouldn't go ABNORMAL, but I would make sure any chrome doesn't bloom out, and I'd polarize the living eff out of it to suppress reflections and deepen blue sky. Channel ops can take that down to black, suck 80% of the colour out and tint to blue, etc, etc. In digital, keep a weather eye on the black point.

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>There were some scenes in Bandits, dir Barry Levinson, dp Dante Spinotti, that were shot at the beach and were supposed to be nightime in the film, but I don't know if they were real night shots very well lit or DFN. Anyone know? I've always remembered those as very striking.

>Bryan Donnell
dp, la


>I was always fairly happy with the DFN sequences we did for Elizabeth a few years back - the one starring Kate B.

>Steve

>Steve Shaw
Digital Praxis Ltd
+44 (0)7765 400 908
www.digitalpraxis.net


class="style14">>We are beginning to wonder if the lack of examples is because it is so >difficult to make it work well if the requirement is for dark, contrasty and >dramatic.

>I think there is a long car interior DFN scene in "ExistenZ", the David Cronenberg film. Peter Suchitsky says they pretty much had no other choices, if I remember the gist of the commentary.

>David Perrault, CSC


>Caught one scene of "Down Periscope" on TV today. Believe it or not it has some nice day for night ocean sequences with submarines. Not sure if there was sky replacement or not, I suspect not. Silly I know, but maybe it's a good reference.

>Erik Messerschmidt
CLT, LA


>Fairly recent, but there's a fantastic scene in "The Proposition", DP Benoît Delhomme, where Guy Pearce is riding in the Australian outback, drinking heavily and periodically looking up into the stars. One shot in particular is a low shot looking up with Guy Pearce in the foreground. Fantastic, beautiful stuff, and "The Proposition" is discussed in May's (2006) American Cinematographer.

>William B. Demeritt, III
Orlando, FL