Guess who isn't dead.
Despite what I'm sure many of you believe, I am still very much alive. An extra difficult semester and a conference in Mississippi, combined with a total computer failure have set me very far behind. ALAS! We will continue forth, marching onward into the night. RAGE! Rage against the dying of the light. Or something like that anyway.
For real though, things got crazy but I'll hopefully be on the ball from here on out. Thank you everyone for sticking around! Now that my ridiculous intro is over I'd like to have a little talk about how size under the hood, makes your image look good.
Sensor sizes: Size very much does matter.
Below there is a chart, that shows most common (and many uncommon) sensor sizes. The varying size has many effects that can entirely change the properties of your image. Focal length, depth of field, light sensitivity, and resolution are all effected by a sensors size.
Imagine you have a full frame, 50mm lens. This lens is designed to only focus an image to the distance and size of a full frame sensor. If you were to adapt this lens to say, a Micro Fourth Thirds (or M43), you would receive a tight crop on the available image. Because the lens focuses the image to an area larger than the available sensor, part of the image is lost. This is how Metabones Speedboosters work. The speed booster is designed to focus the image onto a smaller image plane, allowing for a crop reduction and a boost in available light (since the light is focused more, it usually raises the image an entire stop, that's double the light baby!).
"Rylee!" I hear you cry, "How else does sensor size effect available light??" Well, let me explain. On a smaller sensor, there is less room for photo-receptors. Therefore, it is difficult to include high sensitivity ISO on a smaller sensor, resulting in a generally noisy and unusable image. Take for example, the GH5, in comparison to say a Sony a7s 2. Because the A7s has a larger sensor (almost double the size) of the GH5, it is able to interpret low light images much better, and has a much higher effective ISO. So while it may not directly effect the actual ISO, the effective use of a high ISO is considerably lower on a smaller sensor.
All of the research for this has kinda made me want a GH5, so I may write a blog post defending DSLR filmmaking after all, despite my best efforts I made clear in an early blog post. Thank you all for reading! If anyone has any questions feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to help out in any way possible, and who knows, I'll probably learn a lot along the way too. Hopefully blogs will be more regular from here on out, so get ready for more camera related geek sessions like this one.
Lets face it, lights are fucking awesome. While I may endlessly rave about the cameras I "need," I should be raving about all of these lights. During a recent interview I conducted, I realized just how important lighting is to create a quality image. Therefore, today we will do just that; take a good hard look at lighting.
Lighting, isn't that expensive?
But it doesn't need to be. The first lights I purchased cost me roughly $20 a piece. You've likely heard it from every other film blog on the internet, can lights from the hardware store are a great starting point for any new cinematographer. While you won't see any cool features like dimming or a Fresnel lens, you can take the first step in your lighting journey; placement of lights and light modifiers. Again, you may not be using fancy CTO filters and soft boxes, but you can easily purchase diffusion paper, or even use some DIY solutions to diffuse your light, which I recommend.
This leads me to what some basic controls with light you can achieve. Diffusion simply makes the light softer, and generally more attractive. These are often used on faces and in portraiture to make the skin appear smooth, while not cutting down the amount of light reaching the subject too much. Light placement also carries a lot of obvious changes in addition to some more subtle ones. It is a common mistake of new filmmakers to place lights further than they need to be from the subject of their shot. Even some experienced photographers may not realize the effect distance has on their image, which is rather understandable. The biggest effect of a light placed far from the subject is a harsh shadow pattern. This has an effect on a subject's shadow on the background, in addition to subtle shadows on the subject, such as a nose or small bumps on the skin. While there are many situations in which you may want a harsh, moody shadow (i.e. film noir, expressionism, and horror), you may want to consider moving your lights closer to your subject.
The last major overlook I see in new cinematographers is the size of the light itself. Unfortunately this isn't something you can change with a can light, it is something to consider when you begin to look at your first light kit. Simply put, a larger source of light creates a more wrapped feeling in your light, making your shadows softer and more subtle on the face of your subject. This can be achieved a few ways, such as a soft box, a large panel such as an LED, or a fill card bouncing toward your subject.
Lights are expensive as hell, and using them takes years of practice. This shouldn't discourage you, as the sooner you begin, the sooner you can take a real grasp on the craft. The good news, is the challenging nature of cinematography makes it even more rewarding. On a personal note, the craft of an image into something you find aesthetically pleasing is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. I am far from mastering my craft, and hardly an authority on the matter. However I feel the knowledge I have picked up in my lifelong studio experience, (yes, I have lived near cameras and lights my entire life) gives me the ability to pass my knowledge onto anyone willing to listen. I try not to get sentimental, especially not in my blogs, but I am thankful for being able to find my craft and being able to share it with all of you.
Now that all of that bullshit is out of the way, that's it for this week. Have fun with your dad Morgan next week, and for the love of god stop eating spaghetti! s t o p i t p l e a s e
The question of color seems to be straight forward, however under a lens of heavy scrutiny, color can begin to become one of the most used tools in an experienced artist's tool belt. While color in paintings serves a slightly different purpose than that in photography and cinematography, their ultimate feeling remains the same. Color is a major driving force for emotion and impact, and when used properly, can help influence how a viewer perceives an image. Today I am here to talk about how to use color, to make your images more meaningful.
Color as a storytelling tool
Let's take a look at Arrival by Dennis Villeneuve. Shot on a very flat color profile like most other movies, Arrival was able to take full advantage of color to help move the story forward. Upon multiple watchings, one can see a trend in the color of the image, as different scenes contain an entirely different color profile in order to not only set the mood, but help the audience understand the films interpretation of time. As Louise experiences more and more visions from the future, you begin to notice a stark between the image in the future and the image of the present. The future is warm, yellow, and relatively comforting, while the present is a cool blue, with hints of green from florescent lights and grass surrounding the ship and the military camp.
While this trend is not 100% accurate the entire movie, its meaning holds true. As Louise begins to realize what has happened to her (and what will happen to her, so to speak) the audience receives subtle hints to let us see a distinction between the two stories in time.
What Does it all Mean??
While not everyone is a colorist or film analyst, everyone is able to perceive color. Its subtleties mix with the shape of light can be used to tremendous effect, and some of the best cinematographers in the world understand its intricacies and use its power to accelerate their story. Ultimately this is the goal of any good filmmaker.
I apologize for the shorter nature of today's post, but I have been slammed with several documentaries, photo projects, and work. It is highly likely I will revisit the topic of color, as I feel it is one of the more overlooked aspects of many indie filmmakers. If you guys have any suggestions, comments or concerns, shoot me an email at email@example.com, and I'll see you guys in two weeks, when I discuss how to achieve interstellar travel using only organic foods you can buy at Trader Joe's.
Rylee's First Blog; a case study of the antiquated hopefulness in Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras and their use for video production
Hello my constituents, today I am here to discuss the pros and cons of DSLR's for film and video production. While the title may appear to be long winded and convoluted, I assure you that was my goal. However, that is not what I intend to continue doing.
With my theatrics out of the way, lets break down what may inspire you to pick up a DSLR. The most obvious use for these cameras is their ability to take photographs. Until 2008, this was essentially the only function of these cameras. While some have recorded video before, Cannon was the first camera manufacturer that embraced video in their system. The 5D mkII was a true pioneer of a camera, and many shooters still live by its strength. For the past 10 years, DSLR film making has become a respectable and common trend among internet video creators. Their versatility, ease of use, approachable form factor, and relatively inexpensive cost have pushed them to the front of the consumer industry for years. In 2016, 2017, and early 2018 we see not only an increase in options, but an increase of focus on video, in systems like the GH5S, A7S, and 5D mkIV. These are fantastic systems that regularly impress consumers with their abilities.
I am here today to warn you about these cameras.
I too, am a DSLR video shooter. While I did inherit my 5DmkIII, I would choose it again as my primary camera, unless I decided to opt for the newer 5dmkIV. In addition to the videos I make, I regularly take photographs, for work, hobby, and school. I need versatility, just as many others do, because my work covers a wide array of topics and media. While I would recommend DSLR's without any hesitation to friends who ask about photography, I am wary of those who wish to begin film making and freelance videography. While a DSLR is FAR cheaper than a cinema camera, and is not a tool for beginners, I would like to suggest some of their appeal.
As I get older, people have become far less impressed with me. As a beginner in high school, my age contrasted with my professionalism was the only strength I had as a freelance videographer, apart from possibly my dirt cheap prices of the time. However as I am now officially an adult, I must actually be able to back up my credibility. As I stated above, a DSLR is hardly an imposing camera. While in the beginning, any camera that wasn't a handicam or a silver point and shoot could give off a professional impression. While many would like to tell you, "It's what you're able to make with a camera, not the camera itself!" I am here to remind you that to a client, appearance DOES matter; even if just a little bit. A client is always looking for a way to save money, or justify their spending. In 2014 someone with a DSLR and a professional attitude could sell their product without question. Today however, everyone is relatively comfortable with DSLR cameras, and sees my professional system that I have built from the ground up to suit my shooting needs, as the same type of camera their aunt or brother in law has to shoot photos of their kids. This assumption is 100% true, they are the same form factor, but not quite the same system. This leads me, to a possibly preferable alternative; the low budget cinema camera.
I'll preface this section with a warning; these cameras are expensive, and difficult to use, and generally not recommended for beginners, or even medium level shooters. But lets say you're like me or similar, where you have used the same camera system for 4 or 5 years, and are slowly realizing your need for an upgrade. While these newer DSLRs may appeal with their claims of 4K, 4:2:2 compression, full frame cameras with high frame rates, they still suffer from the inherent flaw that these cameras were first developed for photography, and added video as a feature. This is perfectly reasonable for college students, who like me, need to shoot photos and videos equally. However if you never plan to use your still photo function, or think you may need better video performance but are satisfied with your cameras photo quality, I turn you to cameras like Canon's C200, Blackmagic's Ursa mini, and Sony's FS7. While each of these cameras boast amazing image quality and varried shooting features, they each serve a rather specific market. I wont break down the pros and cons of each of these systems (at least not today) however I will suggest them as an alternative to a high end DSLR.
These cameras solve many of the problems people in my situation face, a need for a more professional appearing camera, and a camera that is dedicated to high quality video, and nothing else. Features like RAW recording, XLR inputs, built in ND filters, and professional battery solutions (at least in the Ursa mini's case). These are the cameras I recommend to someone who understands their needs, and understands professional video shooting, who own a DSLR, or who have the money to invest in a strong camera system from the beginning. If you are a beginner and you only intend to shoot video, there are still low budget cinema options for you. Canon's C100 costs similar to MY 5D mkIII with a new body costing around $2000.
There are truly options for everyone, and there is no end all be all of cameras, only the correct solution to your individual problems. While the equipment doesn't have to be the best quality for every shoot, and there is no shame in iPhone filmmaking ( I have also participated in this craze). Telling your story should be your first concern. However if you are confident in your storytelling, and have built up the experience you feel you need, the equipment does make a difference, as long as you know what difference you need to make.
Thank you for suffering through my writing, if you made it this far I'm proud I've held your attention. While right now I don't plan on writing about cameras in every blog, I will likely write about film making and cinema in some facet every time I write. My name is Rylee McNemar, and thank you for reading my first blog post in a VERY long time.
I like cameras more than I have liked almost everyone I have met. I am too technical for my own good and almost never take anything seriously. My blog will feature long winded rants about things that have no real impact on the world.