Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

class="Paragraph" Flash Frame Look For Commercial

Published : 4th June 2004


I have a spot coming up where the client wants the camera to drift a bit (on the head, not necessarily hh) and occasionally 'flash', as in the look you might get by turning the camera on and off. Think I've seen this in Coke spots before.

Does anyone have a clue as to what I'm mumbling about?

If so, is this look as simple as turning the camera on and off?

I plan on tests but could use some insight.

Taggart Lee
DP/LA



Taggart A. Lee wrote :

>If so, is this look as simple as turning the camera on and off?
>I plan on tests but could use some insight.


If you are shooting film, the camera coming up to speed or slowing down from speed to a stop results in a series of frames from over exposed to correctly exposed or correctly exposed to over exposed. The beauty of mechanical transports. 1 observation I can make about this is that the older the camera the longer it takes to get to speed or slow down from speed, hence the effect lasts longer and is more recognizable.

Newer cameras like SR3's and 435's hit speed so fast that the ramping exposure effect via stop and start is a short lived phenomena.

Somebody has figured out a ramp for these cameras that no doubt will mimic the older cameras doing a stop start.

Mark Smith



>If so, is this look as simple as turning the camera on and off?

Or, depending on the camera, opening the door and closing it, but that might create a larger than desired effect.

Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/


class="Paragraph"
You can also drop flash frames wherever you want when editing on your NLE. Shoot a bunch of on and off shots, so you have quite a few flash frames to pick from. Turn the camera on and off repeatedly, experiment. If you decide to do them in time while shooting, I think the 35III does them well (Aaton's do too).

class="Paragraph" Good luck and have fun.

John Babl



>occasionally 'flash', as in the look you might get by turning the camera >on and off. Think I've seen this in Coke spots before. Does anyone have >a clue as to what I'm mumbling about?

>If so, is this look as simple as turning the camera on and off?

Like Mark said, an older camera will help the effect. To help it a bit, you should also quickly pull your eye from the viewfinder (provided you're not using a "distant viewfinder" á là Aaton A-minima).

We've done this with an SR2 on a video-clip and it worked quite well. Oh, I think the effect is overused nowadays, so come up with something better. But hey, if your client (the one who pays your check, insists, there is no choice...)

Cheers

Martin Heffels

Filmmaker/DP/Editor/Filmschool Techie
Sydney, Australia



Taggart A. Lee wrote :

>I have a spot coming up where the client wants the camera to drift a bit >(on the head, not necessarily hh) and occasionally 'flash', as in the look >you might get by turning the camera on and off.

You will have to test to determine if a particular camera body will give you the flash effect you are looking for. My Aaton gives pretty unimpressive start/stop flash frames. Guess I should not be complaining!

I had to do something similar. I did it on a Avid during Post.

Tom McDonnell
DP/Operator
New Orleans, La



Post flash frames are tricky because more often than not they are just dissolves to white, when in reality they should reflect that everything in the image is getting crushed into clipping starting with the highlights and ending with the blacks. You have to emulate that effect of all the black and dark tones in the image gaining exposure until they white out, and they shouldn't all hit clip at once but in quick succession.

I wonder if one could shoot flash frames of a dark surface and then use the result as some sort of additive exposure layer in post: somehow tie the black levels in the primary footage to the flash element.

Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



>Post flash frames are tricky because more often than not they are just >dissolves to white

To emulate this in post I usually do a lift of the blacks, with a "easy-out"-curve (linear, fast in the beginning, but at the end of
the effect a bit slower) & also speed up the action gradually (this to emulate the stopping of the camera of course).

I use Combustion, but any program which can keyframe and set the black-level can do this.

Cheers

Martin Heffels

Filmmaker/DP/Editor/FilmSchool Techie
Sydney, Australia



Hi

>Post flash frames are tricky because more often than not they are just >dissolves to white, when in reality they should reflect that everything in >the image is getting crushed into clipping starting with the highlights and >ending with the blacks.

You can do this with any of the Levels or Histogram filters that the modern NLEs have. Keyframe once with everything at "normal," then keyframe again where you want the peak of the effect and drag the leftmost control all the way down. This will progressively clip everything to white.

For example:

http://www.1159productions.com/test182/Demo/flashframe.mov

This is a Sorenson 3 QuickTime which will require a recent version of QuickTime for replay.

I extended the effect to make it more obvious how it works; normally on an effect this length you'd speed ramp as well.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



>Post flash frames are tricky because more often than not they are just >dissolves to white

Agreed. I keyframe the effect using Avids color effect or Advanced Color Corrector in Symphony. Lift the blacks while crushing whites works pretty good. You have to play around with the timing. Dropping frames helps to create the jump cuts.

I'm sure Jeff Kreines could point us to the best camera that creates flash frames.

Tom McDonnell
DP/Operator
New Orleans, La



It certainly make more sense to add this effect in post. It gives the editor MUCH more flexibility in cutting. Otherwise the DP ends up trying to execute what often amounts to in-camera editing.

The question is, how exactly does generating the effect in post look different from doing it in-camera?

Thomas Burns
Director of Photography
Austin, TX



>Post flash frames are tricky

If you are trying to emulate a film camera artefact, why not use one?

You'd get a very accurate effect making a dupe neg on an optical printer, dramatically increasing exposure on the required frames.

Funny how digital technology continues to mimic photographic effects - even the bad ones.

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia



I've simulated this effect in post by doing the speed ramp-up and -down in the After Effects, and applying a Levels control to 'overexpose' it, plus a Blur filter to soften the 'overexposed' frames (Since blowing out the Levels control usually causes jagged color edges in the image).

All three filters are keyframed, so it ramps up/down while simulating the gradually decreasing ... increasing overexposure with decreasing  ... increasing levels of blur.

Cheers,

Paolo A. Dy
Director / Cinematographer
Manila, Philippines
http://www.paolody.com



I have found the best way to create flash frames with the newer Arri(435,535, SR3) cameras is with the RCU: do a ramp without any exposure compensation, usually with the hand wheel on the fly. With the RCU you can play and make the flash frames last as long as you want.

With the older Arri (SR2,BL4) you can use the older analog VSU(variable speed unit) and adjust the speed on the fly for the flash frames. There will be no crystal sync with this method.

I love the flash frames, even if they are overused. I saw in the mini-series Traffic they did a flash frame montage, and one of pieces flash frame film they used was when the AC stuck his hand in front of the lens to burn some extra film. I don’t think I would have ever caught it if I haven’t done that myself a thousand times. I had to Tivo it back to see if that was exactly what it was. I was impressed that the editor had the balls to edit it in.

Cheers,

Steve Smith
Camera assistant/Cameraman LA


class="Paragraph"
If the original poster would like it, perhaps I can burn a DVD w/ real camera flash frames and send it by mail (or what about e-mailing a QuickTime file...?)

class="Paragraph" As mentioned, you can drop flash frames anywhere in the time line.

They can be duplicated for longer lengths

John Babl



For the "in camera" version, you will also find that shooting high speed will give you better flashes (more over exposure as the camera ramps up to and down from speed). the fact that the image speeds up during the "flash" also makes for a kinetic feel.

Be patient...wait 'til the shutter comes to a complete stop...these ensure the "hottest" flashes. I will some times do a whip pan as the camera is turned off and on.

Dylan "two cents" Macleod, csc
www.dylanmacleod.com
Toronto, Canada


class="Paragraph"
Thanks for the info.

class="Paragraph" I think I'll push for the in-camera method, but knowing I can cover my rear.

More fun that way anyway...ain't it!!

Taggart Lee