Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Film and Video

Starting last Friday April 4th at 8:30am I was pretty much on set till 5:00pm Monday April 7th. Friday and Saturday was a Super 16mm film shoot for the script "Beautification" . Sunday we had our first shoot day for "An Axe to Grind" which is a HDV Video shoot. And Monday was a Super 16mm Film shoot for the script "The Rock".

I am the Director of Photography on all these shoots. It was very different working with Film and then working with Video. Each has a very different work flow.

Working with film was a very time consuming process. I had to take light meter readings and then fix the lights according to what I wanted at the particular F-stop. I would then see what would be over/underexposed in the frame and adjust as needed.

After the exposure was set, I had my 1st AC measure the distance of the Actor or Object that we wanted in focus and set the camera to that distance. At that point I would refer to my Depth of Field Chart to see how much would be in focus. For this I factored in my F-Stop, Focal Length, and Distance. If I wanted less or more in focus I would have to adjust one or more of the three factors.

A Can Of Exposed Film

Figuring out these settings took time and precision. If one of the factors is set wrong you can have an unusable shot. On the shoot Monday I later learned that I had improperly acounted for the speed of the lens and underexposed the footage by 3 stops which will leave the shot very dark. This is a problem that I may be able to fix in development by "pushing process", which means to leave the film in the developer longer, but this is still a mistake that could of easily been avoided and will be expensive to fix.

When working on a Video shoot it is easier to avoid mistakes like this. I set up the camera, flip open the view finder, and adjust my settings with instant feedback as to what my shot looks like. I can see on the screen and what my exposure will look like and turn Zebra on to see if I'm heavily overexposed in an area.

On Film you can look through the Diopter (eye piece), but you will not see what the film will see. You have to go off of your light meter and depth of field charts to get an idea of what your shots will look like. The only thing the Diopter can tell you is framing.

Film also requires more crew because there are more positions that need to be filled. This was a lesson hard learned on Monday when half the crew decided not to come Each shot took 3 times as long as it should of to set up, we had to shoot without sound, and little details were overlooked or missed. Had we been shooting video we probable would of been o.k. with the lack of crew.

All and all it was a very exhausting yet experience giving weekend.


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