One of the most enjoyable parts of being a cinematographer is getting to work on a wide variety of projects each with its own unique demands and circumstances.
In today's breakdown episode we take a behind the scenes look at a recent job that had its own challenges and we discuss our solutions as we discovered them on set.
Advanced Cinematography: On Set Training
I am excited about our new course launching in a few weeks as it has been a long time in the making. The feedback from early students has been very positive and I can't wait to share it with everyone.
In the meantime if you want to level up your skills be sure to check out the training below. The courses are my best attempt to condense everything I know about cinematography and pass it on in an easy to follow format.
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Patreon Podcast: The Wolf of Wall Street
This week on Patreon we are looking at The Wolf of Wall Street shot by Rodrigo Prieto ASC AMC.
I was looking for a film that used techniques not common when just starting out and this film perfectly fit the bill. There are a number of scenes involving harsh sun and overheads and this is always a delicate balance to get believable results in.
Rodrigo and team did a great job by playing to the strengths of the diffusion with specific coverage and angles and that is what we focus on for most of the breakdown.
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The Balancing Act - The Spot
We shot two cameras for this job because time with the horses was limited. This was also the final S35 tvc for a while now
The Spot - Shot by Shot
Shot 1 - The Group Shot
The group shot of all the friends watching the big game on the sofa.
We had a number of different units in this shot to set ambient and create some depth inside the room.
We used a combination of Creamsource Vortexes and Sky Panels for the interior and then outside we had a small HMI pushing level through the background.
All the practical bulbs were changed out to Astera lamps and we added our own downlighting in the kitchen to help extend the mood.
Set Up #2 - The Realization
Our main hero talent looks towards his friends as they all enjoy the game offscreen.
Here we wanted more control in the kitchen so we used to diffusion to soften the key and then controlled the ambient with some light haze and negative fill camera right.
The flat backlight is a result of the anamorphic frame and the actor needing to be framed on camera left. This meant we couldn't get the edge light far enough behind his head so the look appears flatter.
Set Up #3 - Family Night
Our hero family sits on the sofa watching the television
The main challenge at this location was setting the ambient where we were happy with the levels. In situations like this I always play a .6 ND in front of the sensor to allow for a little bit more control at 1280 ISO.
We didn't want the sensitivity creating too much ambient so the ND helps to counteract that.
We used the same TV gag as before with the sky panels and vortexes and then from outside had a Filex 800 and our Astera practical bulbs.
The narrow height of the anamorphic frame meant we could cheat a little Astera tube for backlight above the sofa to help seperate the talent from the back wall.
Set Up #4 - Offshoot
The son gets a text message and leaves the room.
Same as above except we added diffusion to the front tv gag and brought the level down and used the tube above the practical to give this shot a more directional push from the lamp side.
In the BG we played with some backlight but it looks like in this still it was left off for mood.
Set Up #5 - Cafe Break
A young family enjoying a break at a local cafe.
This was a very challenging location logistically. We had limited access time which meant we couldn't start building at an ideal time.
That coupled with poor weather on the day meant we had to make due with a plan that was less than ideal.
We used an Arri M90 pushed through some light diffusion to create our key light frame right and then tried to push ambient inside from frame left with a Vortex.
In the end we scrapped the ambient for the wide as it started to feel very lit.
Shot #6 - In Tight
We used the Easyrig float to grab some tight details of the hero talent's reaction.
Same as above but softened at the window. We also used the Vortex from frame left at because of the position in the frame you can see it ends with the same result as Shot #2 in this breakdown.
To have a more rounded effect from the back edge light the lamp must be further behind the subject. It wasn't possible here because if we pushed the lamp to where it needed to be it would have ended up in shot.