Art and Culture Articles - Cinematography Tricks : By Indian Cinematographer Rajeev Jain ICS WICA
TO WARM A PICTURE: The easiest way to warm a picture is to simply add some degree of a Coral filter, a degree of an 85 filter, or any number of similar filters like LL-D's, or 812's to your lens and shoot. Filters are made in varying degrees depending on the intensity of colour you desire. For instance, Corals are made in various intensities of the Coral colour with the number 4 Coral being similar to an 85-correction filter. 85 filters are made in 1/4, 1/2 and full depending on the intensity. If you'd like to have a very, very warm picture then you might choose a full 85 or a #4 Coral. If you'd like a slightly warm picture then you might choose a #1 or #2 Coral or a 1/4 or 1/2 -85 filter. Filters are a fine way of adjusting colour but they are costly and I wouldn't suggest you make a large purchase until you experiment. Following are several less expensive ways: Add various shades of colour temperature orange (CTO) gel to your lights. Use a CTO gel as a filter. Cut a piece to the size of your lens and shoot through it. You must be very careful with this one because lighting gel isn't optically clear and will distort your image slightly. But it is a cheap way of achieving the goal and the distortion may enhance your effect. For this to be affective, you must white balance before you add the filter. If you white balance after you add the filter then your camera will compensate for the filter and the image will no longer look warm. Paint a white card a light shade of blue and white balance. Your camera will compensate for the blue and make your overall picture yellowish. The blue you choose should be similar in hue to a CTB gel. (Now several companies have developed white balance cards with a light blue tint that will do the same) And now covering a white card with a 1/8, or 1/4 CTB gel and white balance. Put your lights on a dimmer and dim them down to less than 80%. Incandescent and tungsten lights turn yellow when they are dimmed. Many non-linear editors have colour correction functions built in or as add-on software. Check with your editor before you decide to do this one. This process may take a great deal of time to do.
TO COOL A PICTURE Basically, you want to do the reverse of warming a picture. You can add a degree of an 80 filter, which is a blue correction filter. Again, this is a great way to achieve the effect but it can be costly. Add various shades of colour temperature blue (CTB) gel to your lights. Use a CTB gel as a filter. Cut a piece to the size of your lens and shoot through it. You must be very careful with this one because lighting gel isn't optically clear and will distort your image slightly. But it is a cheap way of achieving the goal and the distortion may enhance your effect. For this to be affective, you must white balance before you add the filter. If you white balance after you add the filter then your camera will compensate for the filter and the image will no longer look cool. Paint a white card a light shade of yellow and white balance. Your camera will compensate for the yellow and make your overall picture bluish. The yellow you choose should be similar in hue to a CTO gel. Again, Don Warren suggested covering a white card with a 1/8, or 1/4 CTO gel and white balance. Many non-linear editors have colour correction functions built in or as add-on software. Check with your editor before you decide to do this one. Sometimes this process takes a great deal of time to do.
WORKING WITH FLUORESCENTS In our world, there are two types of fluorescent lights. Colour-corrected fluorescent and everything else. Several professional film and video lighting companies make excellent fluorescent light products, colour corrected to give you either a 3200 degree Kelvin light or a 5000 degree Kelvin light. If you are lucky enough to work with these then do so and use the procedures I explained above. Many times though, you'll find yourself in an office building lit by hundreds of fluorescent lights. These lights and the ones found in many homes are not colour-corrected for film and video and will usually yield a poor image on your final product. Many times the image will either be greenish or colourless. I dislike shooting under fluorescent lights because it tends to make people look as if they are dead. Their skin is pasty and drab. If you must use them, there is a way to correct for this and bring back some of the colour. As normal you will need to white balance your video camera then add a slight amount of a warming colour to the lens. I'm partial to using an 812 filter to enhance skin colour. Again, filters can be a bit pricey; another way to do this would be to use a 1/4 CTO gel as a filter. Remember that you have to choose a clean, new piece of the gel and you'll probably distort the image slightly. This is one area where a colour monitor would come in handy. These tricks are easy and effective, if you are careful. Some of them are debatable and some downright cheap. My mantra has always been to do whatever necessary to get the desired effect without sacrificing the image. With these ideas and the ones you'll discover you should be able to inexpensively do the work that needs to be done. First lets take a look at softening or diffusing your image. For years, professional portrait still photographers and professional motion picture camera operators have known and understood something many video professionals don't. Some people look much better and the psychology of the picture is enhanced with various degrees of softening or diffusion. For instance; if you are shooting an elderly CEO or if you are shooting most women, the talent's image can be enhanced with diffusion. Diffusion tends to help soften and hide the wrinkles and blemishes your talent may find unpleasant. Diffusion also helps to promote the psychology of your work by giving the viewer a feeling of pleasantness and beauty. You can easily see this for yourself by setting up an experiment using any of the suggestions below. With a middle aged or older talent carefully light the subject with a key light and fill. Shoot for a minute or two without any diffusion then shoot with diffusion and edit the two scenes together so that you can see each scene alternately. Another way might be to use two similar cameras and two monitors, one camera without diffusion and one with. Compare the two. With any of the effects I've mentioned in these articles, it's important that you be able to control the amount of the effect. A little bit goes a long way. Experiment, to find out for yourself. Along with diffusion, the colour of the material you choose will also lend to the effect. For instance; choosing a white material will tend to diffuse and raise your black level. If you choose a black material, then you will get diffusion with little to no change in the blacks. Again, experiment and see for yourself. Check to see if your iris setting changed, check the picture to see if your blacks look black, check to see if you see a flaring of the highlights of your image. All of these things can be useful or un-useful depending on the situation. The overall "feel" of your production should determine which suggestion you use. Carefully remove your video lens and secure a single layer of panty hose to the back of the lens. You cannot put panty hose on the front of the lens because you will probably see the hosiery. I've tried black panty hose with great success. Other colours you might want to try are white and peach. Peach is similar to skin tones and help to colour the overall picture to make the subject more pleasing. If you are looking for that once-in-a-lifetime effect then go with some of the wilder panty hose colours available on the market. By the way, many professional motion picture Directors of Photography prefer Fogal 110 Noblesse -210 Noir panty hose If you don't want to spend over $40 for a pair then by the cheap stuff at your grocer. None of your viewers nor most DP's will be able to tell the difference. Using a clear piece of plate glass about the size of a filter, spray paint it any colour you want. This gets a bit messy and you have to do it where there isn't a breeze. Lay the glass flat on the floor and spray the paint up in the air directly above the glass then move the paint can as the mist lightly falls to the ground. Some of it will fall to the glass. Repeat this until you are satisfied. Because it is paint mist, it should dry rapidly allowing you to test it on your camera. Do several of these in different densities to give you options on your next shoot. As with the panty hose, you may want to experiment with different colours. This one I dislike, but it may give you the desired effect. You can actually reduce the enhancement on many professional video cameras. The reason I dislike this is that you can never repeat the effect exactly and you may never get the electronic control back to its factory setting. If you decide to do this, I strongly advise that you consult a qualified video engineer before proceeding. Some of the more expensive professional cameras have menus and remote boxes that allow you more control. I still tend to shy away from this and prefer the panty hose and filter route instead. Many non-linear editors have software functions built in that will soften your picture. This process usually takes considerable time but will give you the right amount of diffusion for your whole project. Experiment, before you decide this route. While all these will give you similar results, each has important characteristics that the others don't. Over time, you should try all of these in a controlled environment, then experiment again on different shoots. You'll quickly learn which you prefer. Other interesting effects. Here is a couple of tools you might find useful. Along with these, you need to also familiarize yourself with post-production software that will also give you interesting effects. One thing film cameras have over video cameras is a limited depth-of-field. I find a limited depth-of-field very useful. When I shoot something I want the viewer to give all their attention to the talent or object of most importance. To do this, I sometimes concentrate the brightest light to that subject, I frame the subject to make it most important, and I make it the subject with the sharpest focus. Going back to Video 101, depth-of field and the iris opening are indirectly proportional. As the iris gets larger (moves to the smaller numbers) the depth-of-field (DOF) gets smaller. I force my iris to 1.4, 2 or 2.8 to give me the limited DOF by: Reducing the amount of overall light in the picture - but this tends to make your image look muddy. Use neutral density (ND) filters which reduces the amount of light coming into the lens. I have 0.3 ND, 0.6 ND and 1.2 ND filters to do this. These three are equivalent to a 1 stop, 2 stop and 4 stop reduction in the amount of light. The solution is a good one but to do it effectively you'll have to spend several hundred dollars. Increase the shutter speed of the camera. This requires the iris to open to allow more light. On newer professional cameras you can set the GAIN switch to give you -3dB and -6dB gain. Negative gain is the same as using ND filters without the expense. I prefer using negative gain and ND filters over shutter speed adjustments because I find the strobe effect of a large shutter speed distasteful. But in a pinch, I'll do whatever necessary to get the job done. If you are careful, you may substitute ND lighting gel for the ND filters to obtain a similar effect. Remember though, lighting gels are not optically clear and may cause distortion to your image. You'll need a good colour monitor close by. I've always loved the mirage effect when you shoot in the desert. The heat waves coming off the road or hot desert floor really look neat. I found that you can mimic this by holding a Sterno in front of and under your lens. The heat rising off the Sterno will mimic the heat waves of the desert. Be careful not to heat up your lens or camera with the Sterno. These tricks are easy and effective, if you are careful. Some of them are debatable and some downright cheap. My mantra has always been to do whatever necessary to get the desired effect without sacrificing the image. With these ideas and the ones you discover you should be able to inexpensively do the work that needs to be done.
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