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Setting up ProLost Flat for your HDSLR

Stu Maschwitz explains how to set up Prolost Flat picture profile for shooting more gradable HDSLR footage.

For shooting video, I’ve set up every Canon HDSLR I’ve owned the same way since the very beginning, and the 5D Mark III is no different.

Start with the Neutral Picture Style
Set Sharpness to zero—all the way to the left
Set Contrast all the way to the left
Set Saturation two notches to the left
That’s it. That’s Prolost Flat—the Picture Style of choice for Vincent Laforet, Philip Bloom, Jason Wingrove, and many others.

HOW DID YOU COME TO THESE SETTINGS? HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY’RE RIGHT?

They’re not “right,” they’re just good. Prolost Flat has been tested the only way I care about—by shooting stuff and trying to make it look great.

WHAT ABOUT [SOME OTHER CUSTOM PICTURE STYLE]?

It’s probably great. But it is possible to over-think this stuff, and there is such a thing as too flat.

All we’re trying to do here is bring back everything the camera has to offer in an easy-to-color-correct package. To put it another way, what you want from a flat profile is to eliminate the contrast s-curve that the most Picture Styles bake into the footage. Some custom Picture Styles go so far beyond “flat” that they actually invert this curve. This not only makes the image harder to grade, it can cause quantizing and compression artifacts to show up right in the middle of your tonal range, where they’re most noticeable.

ProLost | Read the Full Article

Stacking Cookies (and we’re not talking Oreos)

Art Adams explains what happens when you stack several pattern-making devices (cookies) in front of a light.

I love stacking cucolorii (plural of “cucoloris”) and I thought it was time to write an article about how this technique works and why I like it so much. I was a bit stretched for ideas that would illustrate this concept… and then an eclipse happened. Why that made a difference is a very interesting story…

First of all, if you don’t know what a cucoloris (AKA “cookie”) is, look here.

Nature abhors a flatly-lit surface. Negative space in a composition can be stunning but generally our brains prefer variety to plainness. Legend has it that the first cucoloris was invented when the shadow of a ladder fell across a bed by accident, and the cameraman liked it so much he started hanging ladders in front of his lights. At some point his crew said “Enough!” and cut a bunch of random shapes into a piece of wood.

Cookies aren’t the only way to break up flatly-lit surfaces. I’ve seen crews use textured fabrics stretched across 4’x4’ frames to create an almost imperceptible shadow texture on blank walls. I’m also a fan of LightBreaks. I’ve used all sorts of random objects to create interesting textures, including empty milk crates, glass bowls and random bits of tape on windows.

For a number of years I shot a lot of corporate videos, and those were a great training ground as I could try out sophisticated lighting techniques without fear of failure—because, if I failed, I was the only one who noticed. The cornerstone of corporate video production is the “talking head” video, and often the most interesting thing in a talking head video is the background. I’d often find myself in a white conference room with blank walls and it was quite a mental workout to try to create a background that didn’t look like… well, a white conference room with blank walls. I’d empty equipment cases looking for something that would cast an interesting shadow.

ProVideoCoalition | Read the Full Article

How to Light a Beauty Headshot

You want to create a stunning beauty-shot? The lighting actually is actually deceptively simple and it has you shooting directing into a softbox.

There are only two lights used for this look:

You’re actually using a large softbox as your background (you can see the subject standing in front of a large Octabank above), but you tilt the light back at a 45° angle (as seen above). NOTE: For the shot in the Westcott catalog, I used a 36?x48? Westcott softbox behind the subject instead of the Octabank. Worked just as well (the Octa is actually a little overkill). By having your subject stand directly in front of the large softbox behind her, it makes the light wrap right around her face on both sides.

The 2nd light in this case is a Beauty Dish (the one shown above is actually a White Lightning strobe with a beauty dish attachment, but we’ve since replaced that rig with an Elinchrom strobe and beauty dish. I’ll discuss why in just a moment). NOTE: In the Westcott catalog, the front light was another Spliderlite TD-5, with a smaller 16×22? softbox, but in the same overhead position as you see here. This light you put up high—directly in front of your subject, but angled down at her at a 45° angle (so basically, the two softboxes are aiming at each other).(2a) You also need a reflector down low bouncing some of that light back into your subject’s face (as shown above. By the way; that’s a celebrity guest-reflector holder; Photoshop World digital video instructor Rod Harlan). The reflector should be placed about chest level, just below the bottom of your frame (I just kept telling Rod “Lower….lower…lower…until I couldn’t see it in my frame any longer). NOTE: Since this shot was taken, I’ve gotten a Lastolite Tri-panel reflector (which reflects from three angles, using three different reflector mounted on one stand, and I would now use that instead—-that thing works wonders!).

Scott Kelby | Read the Full Article

Artist Turns His Cat into a Helicopter

Dutch Artist Bart Jansen has the purrfect way to memorialize his dead cat – by meow-nting the kitty on a Lotus T580 Quadcopter Kit.

Dubbed Orvillecopter, after the cat and the famed aviator Orville Wright, the flying feline will be spending his remaining 8 lives will be buzzing dog parks and terrorizing bovine.

Via NY Daily News

And if you want your own copter frame to mount your taxidermied buddy to… here’s the copter kit

Misdirection is the Key to Special Effects (the Wrap)

Multi-million dollar special effects budgets can make anything imaginable – but for the limited budget filmmaker, we must rely on creativity and tricks to sell our special effects.

Episode 53

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Shownotes

From Humble Beginnings

Here’s the final hero shot of my space ship:

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6. Limitations can trigger a really creative side in you…

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5. What happens on a Tech Scout doesn’t stay on a Tech Scout

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4. The Dark and Dream-like Title Sequences of David Fincher Films

Keith Link runs through the memorable Title Sequences from David Fincher’s films.

3. It’s Hard to Stop a Trane: Shooting Action Sequences

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Electrical wiring can be intimidating to a DIYer (and it should be because it could potentially be very dangerous). Here’s a DIY softlight you can build that doesn’t require anything more than off the shelf electrical components.

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Go behind the scenes of Hugo and Larry McConkey steadicam work.

The final shot:

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