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Shooting B&W or Colour

Published : 5th July 2004


Hi guys.

I accepted to shoot a short movie because I liked the script and the ideas of the first time director. Its kind of a short art movie full of pictorial elements and a desolate ambience. We are in a battle of arguments about shooting color (my argument) and desaturate and he wants to shoot Black and White.

The look is going to point in the direction of Dark City although is not going to copy that, its just a direction.

Anyway, there are a few interesting things like a landscape of the "death city" with a big storm approaching.

And I am confused about this. Waiting for a real storm and shoot may be difficult since we are going to rent the camera. Are there any ideas about doing this in camera? or Post? Is there a trick for this?

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks

PD. Congratulations DAVID MULLEN, I am very happy about your brand new last name. It was just a matter of patience and justice.

Miguel del Valle Prieto S.
Camera
Mexico City



Miguel Del Valle Prieto S. writes :

>And I am confused about this. Waiting for a real storm and shoot may >be difficult since we are going to rent the camera. Are there any ideas >about doing this in camera? or Post? Is there a trick for this?

Post may provide the most flexibility.

IF you wish to do it in camera, I think your best bet would be a multiple passes, as opposed to a glass shot.

Shooting this at night as opposed to day will provide you with more possibilities. Remember anything that is bright - such as sky will not allow you to put any image into it - you can't remove exposure once on film, so you can't put darkness into a bright spot.

I shot an "Avant Garde" film with multiple exposures on beach, there were some amazing images, and some very washed out ones as well. So be careful about reinforcing exposures.

If you wanted to do a model shot, I've seen some interesting things accomplished with a model submerged in water, and either milk or another coloured liquid poured into the tank.

Best of luck.

Hope this helps get you started.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
Brooklyn, N.Y. U.S.A.
East Coast List Administrator - Cinematography Mailing List



>IF you wish to do it in camera, I think your best bet would be a multiple >passes, as opposed to a glass shot.

>I shot an "Avant Garde" film with multiple exposures on beach, there >were some amazing images, and some very washed out ones as well.

Thanks Steve.

With multiple passes you mean marking a frame, shooting and then "rewind" to the mark and shoot again?

Landscape first covering the sky than shooting the clouds closer?

How about a fish tank in front of the lens and then throwing some milk inside?

Will the distortion of the landscape trough the water be unacceptable? A little can be interesting though.

Miguel del Valle Prieto S.
Camera/editor
Mexico City



Miguel Del Valle Prieto S. writes :

>Landscape first covering the sky than shooting the clouds closer?


If you are shooting outside, I would not try to mask off the sky, it will be difficult to get it to work right. Shooting that pass at dusk might work well though.

All the other stuff sounds like a lot of fun, and you are headed in the right direction.

Remember Forced perspective can be an amazing tool.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
Brooklyn, N.Y. U.S.A.
East Coast List Administrator - Cinematography Mailing List



>Post may provide the most flexibility. Shooting this at night as >opposed >to day will provide you with more possibilities.

Is this for in camera or post? If you do it in post you could adjust the contrast, saturation, and exposure to how you wanted and create a matte to put in the clouds, light rays, etc. What about getting someone to create CGI of the city and the clouds, etc. I'm sure if its interesting enough you could get someone to do it to build their reel.

I'd check www.vfxtalk.com and www.mographics.com to see if you can find someone to do that.

Chad Simcox



I agree with you that masking is not the best choice.

Thanks for the advice, I just got today an offer to shoot aerials with an Ultralight plane and I will shoot a "go trough a cloud" shot.

And then I will have to think and think and think again if I can compose with perspective those shots with the landscape. Or just use the aerials before or after the landscape shot. Lots off thinking from now on.

I will make a test with the fish tank and milk with a video camera first and let you know.

And the biggest question:

Do you think is correct to answer all of this questions while on your "dreaming state" week?.

I just feel gratitude, it is great, congratulations. Please forget about the milk and think about Champagne.

I wish you all the best.

Miguel Del Valle Prieto
DoP/A. Producer
ACA Films/Vapsa
Mexico City



Two Thoughts ~

First, I'm assuming this is being shot on 16/s16. If you have the budget for it doing the skies, etc in post is probably your best idea especially if you can really scrap together film scanning and have a friend do the online work. It could work out to be fairly cheap and look excellent. The major limiting factors to this are probably:

1/. The shots aren't static. Anything with movement, and god forbid, handheld, will require motion tracking in post to get the CGI and camera original to gel. If you don't have the people/ resources to do this for credit/free its probably a bad plan if anything is handheld or there's a fair bit of camera movement.

2/. You can't get your film scanned. If you can't afford/scrap together film scanning, the 2K/1K image frames are going to be pretty depressing for your CG artist to work with and much harder to pull roto on. That translates to more money or a grumpy pro bono artist.

3/. CG won't "look" right. Getting that "Dark City" ambient feel in a "slick" way requires a lot of pre planning and someone who knows how to plan the seams between your set and the virtual space (whatever it may be). Lighting is crucial here and frankly your art director/director/ who is in charge of the end vision may not be looking for a polished image ( I don't mean nice looking set, just a polished frame). In camera effects might look excellent depending upon the look they're going for.

I might suggest two films to look at to compare almost identical storylines with VASTLY different storylines: the well known "12 Monkeys" and the film it was based upon (ripped off of) "La Jeteé." Figure out what the director wants and your life will get a lot easier. In the end if you have a massive budget or friends with deep pockets, get the film scanned, hire a(some) CG artist(s) and prepare that way. Prepare for some cost though.

Cheers.

Adoniram Sides
Photographer~ Motion/Still
Massachusetts