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Scott Spears Articles
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Low Budget Light Kits Cinematography advice from ScottSpears.net
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Pulp Diction from SONNYBOO

Filters For DV

by Peter John Ross

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One of the problems with making a narrative movie on video is that fact that most viewers have subconsiously learned to view video as "reality". Reality shows, documentaries, the news, and talk shows are all shot on video. Most narrative pieces, meaning feature films, drama TV shows, and even sitcoms are shot on film. Although the average viewer has no clue what format they are watching, I can assure you they will identify that something is wrong. One way to make your video look less like video is to use standard photography filters on the lens.

I have used several filters on my Canon GL1, but the main one used for NEW WORLD was the "Enhancing Filter" from Tiffen. That is the name of it. This filter brings out the flesh tones & the gradation of the color of leaves in the fall (oranges & yellows & browns). We also used "Neutral Density" filters to soften the video look, but it darkened the image a lot (so open up your IRIS on the camera).

For other projects, unrelated to "New World", I have used the RED, YELLOW, and BLUE filters to get that "Soderberg/Traffic" looks to many shoots. It saves time in post, if you already know what looks you want ahead of time. I also extensively use the 80A filter when I know I am going to convert the footage to Black & White. For a title sequence to a short film called "CONCUPISCENCE" I used the HORIZON FILTER, which is what TONY SCOTT and MICHAEL BAY use all the time in their commercials and feature films to make the horizon line look a gradient colored sky.I used it for an effect on titles printed on paper. This saved me hours of Adobe After Effects render time.

Filters may say "For Daylight Use" or "BLACK & WHITE STILL PHOTOGRAPHY USE", but experiment & try them anyway with color video.One filter can yield multiple uses and tons of varying looks. The CIRCULAR POLARIZOR is made to do two things. One, it kills reflection on glass surfaces at an angle. You rotate the lens until the reflections are cancelled out (which is really cool). A Polarizor's other use, which is why I bought it, is that it gets the richest, most realistic BLUE SKIES out of whatever camera you use. I used this on my Super 8 film camera on this 30 sec commercial I did. Shooting in July, aiming at the sky, this filter brought out so much BLUE and looked like a perfect sky, without compromising the other colors..

Another tip for similar effect if you cannot afford the $15-50 filters for your lenses, is using your MANUAL WHITE BALANCE to colored sheets of paper. If you white balance to colors or even GRAY sheets of paper, you can get some really wild results and cool looks if you need something more radical. If you want something subtle, try using soft yellow or off white colors to white balance too. Tinker around & find what works and what doesn't.

Too many DV shooters don't study Cinematography in general or learn some basic techniques borrowed from Still Photography. Filters work on a DV lens, and they make them in every size so even the cheapest DV camera can take filters. I learned this from Emmy Award winning D.P. Scott Spears. He taught me tons about filters and affecting the image with LIGHT, which is the cinematographers best friend (even when shooting DV). Too many people take for granted the nearly automated process of video and forget that the use of FOCUS, LIGHT, FILTERS, and ZOOM are brushes in the hands of artists, not buttons on a machine.

- Peter John Ross
www.sonnyboo.com

FROM THE TIFFEN PAGE :

UV Protector - Protects lens from dust, moisture, scratches, and breakage.
SKY 1-A - Popular general use protection filter. Absorbs significant amount of UV light. Slightly warm- tinted for better colors. Useful when shooting outdoors in shade and on overcast days.

Haze 1 - Reduces excessive blue haze caused by UV light by absorbing 71% of UV. Great all-around UV control.

Haze 2 - Absorbs all UV light; reduces haze; maintains color and image clarity. Best for high altitude and marine scenes.


POLARIZING FILTERS

Polarizer & Circular Polarizer - Essential for outdoor photography; deepens intensity of blue skies; reduces or eliminates glare. Use circular polarizers for auto-focus cameras, as recommended by the camera manufacturer.

Warm Polarizer - For color imaging, a combination of exclusive Tiffen 812 filter and polarizing filter; warms skintones & scenics.

.SEE IMAGES USING POLARIZER & WARM POLARIZER FILTERS

LIGHT BALANCING FILTERS

Neutral Density .3, .6, .9 - For all film types, color or black and white. Absorbs 1, 2, and 3 stops, respectively. Provides balanced exposures and depth-of-field control. Eliminates overly bright, washed out images. Great for video.


SPECIAL EFFECTS FILTERS

Soft/FX® - Ideal portrait filter. Softens and minimizes facial imperfections while retaining overall clarity. Available in several grades.

Warm Soft/FX® - Combines Soft/FX and Tiffen 812 warming filter. Smoothes facial details while adding warmth to skin tones (for color imaging). Available in several grades.

SEE IMAGES USING SOFT/FX FILTERS & WARM SOFT/FX FILTERS

Center Spot - Clear central area for dramatic focus, surrounded by ring of moderate diffusion to minimize distracting background detail.

Warm Center Spot - Combines Center Spot with 812 warming filter. Clear central area for dramatic focus, surrounded by ring of moderate diffusion to minimize distracting background detail. Warms image for more vibrant results (for color imaging).

SEE IMAGES USING WARM CENTER SPOT FILTERS

Pro-Mist® - Most popular motion picture effect. Creates special "atmosphere" by softening excess sharpness and contrast; creates pearlescent glow around highlights. Great for portraits and landscapes. Available in several grades.

Warm Pro-Mist® - Combination of Pro-Mist and 812 warming filter. Warms (for color imaging) and softens. Gives skin a healthy, natural glow. Available in several grades.

Black Pro-Mist® - Similar characteristics to Pro-Mist, providing a more subtle effect. Less lightening of shadows and reduction of contrast. Available in several grades.

Warm Black Pro-Mist® - Combines Black Pro-Mist with 812 filter to include a warming effect (for color imaging). Available in several grades.

SEE IMAGES USING PRO-MIST, WARM PRO-MIST, BLACK PRO-MIST & WARM BLACK PRO-MIST

Ultra Contrast - Recognized by an Academy Award® for Technical Achievement, this filter series redistributes ambient light to capture details that would be lost in shadows. Lowers contrast evenly throughout image with no flare or halation. Available in several grades.

Low Contrast - Spreads light from highlights to darker areas; leaves bright areas bright; lowers contrast, mutes colors. Makes videos look more like film! Available in several grades.

SEE IMAGES USING ULTRA CONTRAST, LOW CONTRAST, AND SOFT CONTRAST FILTERS

Star Filters - Achieve dazzling star effects from any direct or reflected point light source. Add sparkle to water scenes, candle flames, product shots and more. Choose from a variety of exciting patterns.

SEE IMAGES USING STAR FILTERS

Fog Filters - Adds drama to your scene by producing misty atmosphere. Lights flare, softens contrast and sharpness. Available in several grades.

Double Fog - Creates the natural look of fog, especially on overcast days. Available in several grades.

SEE IMAGES USING FOG FILTERS

Sepia - Creates a warm brown tone (for color imaging) for that old time feeling. Grade 3 adds a light fog effect. Available in 3 grades.

SEE IMAGES USING SEPIA FILTER

COLOR GRADUATED FILTERS
Half color, half clear with a graduated density transition for a smooth blending of color, Tiffen Color Grad® filters enable you to add color to a selected part of the scene (with color imaging). The perfect solution to transform a pallid sunrise or sunset into something spectacular. Available in a rainbow array of useful colors; also in .3, .6, and .9 neutral densities, which also find use in black & white imaging.

SEE IMAGES USING TIFFEN COLOR GRAD® FILTERS

FILTERS PRIMARILY FOR COLOR IMAGING

COLOR CONVERSION FILTERS

80 Series - Use with daylight film to shoot indoors, with tungsten lighting, without a flash, and achieve correct color in your image.

85 Series - For shooting tungsten corrected film outdoors. Produces natural colors in your images.

FL-D®/FL-B® - Provide pleasing skintones and corrects color under fluorescent lighting. Use FL-D with daylight-corrected media; FL-B with tungsten-corrected media.


WARMING & ENHANCING

812® Color Warming Filter - Exclusive Tiffen filter. Improves color of all skintones; absorbs blue cast often caused by electronic flash or outdoor shade. Adds warmth to pale, washed-out flesh tones. Ideal for portraits.

Enhancing - Creates brighter, more saturated reds, browns and oranges with minimal effect to other colors. Ideal for fall foliage, earthtone rock formations, rustic barns, etc.

SEE IMAGES USING ENHANCING FILTER

COLOR COMPENSATING

Magenta CC05M, 20M, 40M, 50M & Red CC30R - Balance excessive green cast and produce creative effects. Great for early morning tint. These filters can be combined to achieve additional densities. Use the CC30R to produce warmer or more accurate colors when shooting underwater photography.

FILTERS PRIMARILY FOR BLACK AND WHITE IMAGING

#8 Yellow - Most natural tonal correction; improves contrast. Ideal for landscapes.

#15 Deep Yellow - Enhances landscapes, marine scenes and aerial photography.

#11 Green - Universal asset for all scenics. Especially suited for portraits photographed against sky.

#25 Red - Creates dramatic sky effects and simulates moonlight scenes in daytime. Great for use with infrared film.

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About award winning filmmaker Peter John Ross & Sonnyboo Productions – Founded in 1999, Sonnyboo short films have played on 3 continents and at over 50 film festivals world wide. Projects directed by Peter John Ross have appeared on Tech TV, National Lampoon Networks, Movieola the short film channel, The “U” Network, and Vegas Indies TV. Sonnyboo films have been noted in such publications as RES Magazine, Ain’t It Cool News, Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, Film & Video Magazine, LA Weekly, Film Threat, the Village Voice, & Internet Video Magazine.

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