» Posts Tagged ‘lighting’

Description image

FogContrary to popular belief, fog machines are not just helpful tools used to set the mood at awkward middle school dances. In fact, as many of you might know, fog (or haze, but we’ll get to that later) is widely used on film sets for a number of reasons, one of which is, yes, to set a specific tone, but it can also be used to pull off many different stylistic, technical, and aesthetic effects. In this helpful video, Film Riot’s Ryan Connolly shows us how using fog can help you add depth to your shots, diffuse light, or simply create a creepy atmosphere befitting of a slasher film. Also, learn how to get the most out of your fog machines with a couple of cheap, DIY tricks. More »

Description image

Roger DeakinsRoger Deakins is one of the most highly regarded cinematographers living today (which is probably why we like to talk about him here at NFS). He has photographed  aesthetically breathtaking films such as The Shawshank RedemptionFargo, and No Country for Old Men (he has been nominated for 11 Oscars, but he has yet to win a single one), and has always been very open and willing to share the wisdom he has picked up throughout his almost 40-year career. In a very helpful, very inspiring BBC News article, Deakins shares his top 10 tips for young cinematographers, and we’ve chosen a few gems to share with you. More »

Description image

DIY Ring LightOne of the biggest components that contributes to making a film look cinematic isn’t just a great camera and lenses — it’s lighting. Many times, however, lighting kits are the pieces of gear that are rented thanks in part to their large, awkward storage requirements, as well as their high price tag. But, having lights available whenever you need them can save money and headaches in the long run, and what better way to stockpile lights than through dirt cheap, DIY builds! Continue on for a handy tutorial on how to build a $30 ring light. More »

Description image

Ari and EmmaLighting your scenes can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re just starting out, and many times, despite your best laid plans, setting up your lights turns into a learn-as-you-go experience. That’s why it’s supremely helpful to see how other filmmakers created the looks in their own films. DP Nathan Blair shares the versatile lighting setup he used on a comedic short, in which he captures 9 different visual styles with just one shot composition. More »

Description image

Lol CrawleyCinematographer Lol Crawley, who has shot such films as Ballast, which won for Best Cinematography at Sundance in 2008, and last year’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, has a true knack for capturing painfully personal and intimate images. He took some time to share some cinematography advice back in 2012 for his BAFTA Cinematography Masterclass in Bristol, and Anna Hoghton highlights and paraphrases the key ideas he shared, including how to light and finding your voice as a DP. (And we’ve taken a few of our favorites to share with you!) More »

Description image

Scorpion LightAt this point, there should be little doubt that LED’s are going to play a crucial role in the future of film and video production, especially considering their benefits over traditional lighting technologies. It should also come as no surprise that we now have the ability to light with smaller fixtures as our cameras become more and more sensitive. It follows that small LED fixtures will be an essential tool for discerning cinematographers as time rolls on. A new company called Blind Spot Gear is taking this concept to a whole new level with the Scorpion Light, a tiny, high-intensity/high-CRI LED that can be easily modified and mounted anywhere (and I mean anywhere). Read on to see what all of the fuss is about. More »

Description image

NebraskaA little while back, I shared an ASC podcast that featured Nebraska cinematographer Phedon Papamichael. In that interview, Papamichael talked about many of the cinematic techniques behind the well-received Alexander Payne road movie. For those of you who love to hear cinematographers talk about their work and the theory behind it, you’ve probably seen many of the fantastic interviews that Cinefii puts together. Well, dear cinematography geeks, the fine folks at Cinefii have done it again, as they’ve just put out an extended interview with Phedon Papamichael in which he reveals even more of the techniques that he used to bring Nebraska to life. More »

Description image

Conan DP

Last month, Conan O’Brien dedicated an episode of his show to the return of The Walking DeadIn honor of the widely loved AMC zombie drama, Team Coco put together a comedic Walking Dead-based opening sketch, featuring a decomposing, flesh-eating rendition of Conan. As a cinematography geek, I was blown away by how the production team managed to both emulate and parody the cinematographic style of The Walking Dead. Luckily for you, No Film Schoolers, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dylan Sanford, the talented DP who lensed this cold open. Stick around to hear Dylan explain exactly how it was done, from pre-production all the way through post. More »

Description image

Infinite Black BackgroundHere’s a cheap, simple, and professional-looking technique to add to your arsenal — the infinite black background. Because its visuals add a level of surrealism and style, we’ve seen this used in music videos, dream sequences in narrative films, art films, you name it — and chances are if you’re not wondering how to pull it off, it’s because your curiosity has already led you to find the answer. Filmmaker Lewis McGregor shares his insight into how to create this effect inexpensively and simply by using black material, three lights, and editing software. (No need for a huge soundstage!) More »

Description image

Eric Kress Lighting WorkshopA few weeks ago, we shared the first installment of an absolutely fantastic lighting workshop led by Danish cinematographer Eric Kress (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). In it, he took us through the beginning stages of lighting for matching closeups using just a few bounces and a well-placed fill to create some stunningly soft, yet dramatic lighting with a minimum of tools. Even though part 1 of the workshop stopped there, Kress had quite a bit more information to impart on the audience. Luckily, Benjamin B over at thefilmbook has now posted part 2 of the Gokinema-sponsored workshop, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys, because it’s even more of a masterclass in subtle lighting techniques than the first installment. More »

Description image

12 Years a SlaveOf the many excellent films to hit theaters last year, few were as powerful (or as well shot) as the Best Picture Oscar winner, 12 Years A Slave. It’s one of those rare films that transcends its utterly brutal subject matter and makes a powerful statement about the resiliency of the human spirit. Although much of that power is derived from terrific acting and direction, Sean Bobbitt’s masterful cinematography plays a critical role in allowing the emotionality of the story and its characters to emanate from the screen. In a pair of excellent interviews with Cinefii and Time LightBox, Bobbitt explains not only how he managed to craft such a gorgeous film, but also his theories behind portraying violence through film, working with Steve McQueen, and much, much more. Stick with us for a crash course in dramatic cinematography. More »

Description image

Igor MartinovicTelevision cinematography has come quite a ways in the past 10 years. In the arena of episodic television, where multi-camera shoots with high-key lighting were once the norm, incredibly cinematic single-camera cinematography has now taken hold. Although many of HBO’s and AMC’s offerings started the ball rolling with this delightful trend, the Netflix original drama House of Cards is the absolute epitome of dramatic cinematography in an episodic show. Igor Martinovic, the cinematographer from the second season of House of Cards, recently sat down with our friends at the GoCreative Podcast and he shared quite a bit about the cinematography of this world-class show. More »

Description image

Lighting For CloseupsThere are few educational resources for cinematographers that are as rock-solid as the various publications, blogs, and podcasts from the American Society of Cinematographers. Last time we checked in with the ASC, we heard a podcast interview with Phedon Papamichael about his work shooting Alexander Payne’s delightful black and white road film, Nebraska. This time, accomplished Danish cinematographer Eric Kress DFF, (who shot the fantastic Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) walks us through his approach to shooting matched closeups in this excellent workshop from Gokinema & thefilmbook. More »

Description image

FlagsLighting is complicated, to say the very least. While there a numerous things that make lighting difficult, one of the most overwhelming aspects of lighting is just how many different tools there are. Without a practical knowledge of the various tools at your disposal and how to use them to sculpt light, your lighting can never reach its full potential. However, breaking the process down into small pieces and learning one tool at a time can make it far more manageable. Today, we’ll look at one of the most underrated and under-utilized lighting tools, the flag. More »

Description image

cleantechnica led street lighting lights lamps sodium vapor mercury clean green la los angelesAfter Michael Mann set out to direct Collateral, the story’s setting moved from New York to Los Angeles. This decision was in part motivated by the unique visual presence of the city — especially the way it looked at night. Mann shot a majority of the film in HD (this was 2004), feeling the format better captured the city’s night lighting. Even the film’s protagonist taxi needed a custom coat to pick up different sheens depending on the type of artificial lighting the cab passed beneath. That city, at least as it appears in Collateral and countless other films, will never be the same again. L.A. has made a vast change-over to LED street lights, with New York City not far behind. Read on for why Hollywood will never look the same again — on film or otherwise. More »

Description image

NFS Reviews

Last month, I had a chance to talk with Andy Waplinger, the founder of Strahlen, about his brand new LED lighting solution, the ST-100 series of lights. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to not only have some hands-on time with the prototype ST-100′s, but to formally review them, and shoot with them on a personal project. Needless to say, the ST-100′s and I became quite close during the few weeks that they were in my possession, and I have quite a few thoughts to share about these unique lights. So, let’s get to it. More »

Description image

Lighting Header Photo

Lighting on location is almost always a challenge for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s difficult or impossible to rig lights in the places you really need them. Other times, power management and distribution prove to be problematic. More often than not, however, the most irritating part of lighting on location is that there just isn’t enough space to light with traditional studio methods, which forces you to improvise. I ran into such a situation recently when shooting a screen test for an up-and-coming Denver actress named Emma Moody. With 15 square feet of space, two high-powered LED’s, a little bit of natural light, and a MacGuyver-esque mindset, we managed to get it done. Here’s how. More »

Description image

Grip it Good Mark VargoMark Vargo, ASC has been on a roll with his educational content recently. First he graced us with an incredibly informative short documentary called Let There Be Light, which is an excellent starting point for anyone just getting into lighting for cinema. He also has another extremely helpful piece about metering light and exposing properly. However, Vargo’s most recent short documentary is more of a personal love letter to the entirety of the grip department than it is an instructional documentary — but, it’s entirely possible that you will learn more about being a grip in the next 11 minutes than you ever have in the rest of your life. Check it out: More »

Description image

A057C003_120515_R2C5.0137578.tifIt seems as though people can’t stop talking about Spike Jonze’s newest movie Her — and rightfully so. The film’s story overflows with a certain humanity and honesty that may be expected from Jonze, but not as much from a contemporary love story. With such a great narrative, the visual storytelling should certainly echo its sentiments — a task given to cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who has worked on films such as Let the Right One InThe Fighterand Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy. In an in-depth piece, the International Cinematographers Guild plunges head first into the beautifully lonely world of Her and asks Van Hoytema how he built it. More »

Description image

Airbox-light-1As much as the right camera plays a role in getting cinema/professional quality images, lighting also plays is a key factor. Getting that much desired diffusion applied to your light source to avoid harsh light and bold shadows (unless that’s what you’re looking for), means using diffusion tools, like a soft box and/or an egg crate. Enter the Airbox inflatable softbox. News Shooter has done a great review of the Model 1×1, which works with 1×1 LEDs, offering accessories, like a honeycomb grid diffuser and puncture repair kits. Continue on to check it out. More »