Last week I did an almost 2 hour long Webinar with Visual Impact on Gamma and gamma curves. The webinar was recorded and you can view the full session by following the link below.
After a test run starting and finishing in Alta last year I have decided to run the trips from Alta again next year. The hotel is nicer and the itinerary more relaxed. Starting and finishing at Alta gives us more time at the cabins.
2017/2018 Northern Lights Expeditions to Norway, travelling by road and snow scooter, staying in mountain cabins. Including food for 4 days, ice fishing, snow scooter use and optional photo/video tuition. You must book your own flights to Alta, Norway.
2018 Tour 1: Arctic Dawn. On this tour we will see the very first sunrise of the year. The moon will be absent during the night, so best suited for shooting and viewing faint Aurora. Arrive Friday 12th January 2018, depart Thursday 18th January 2018. £1,350 per person. Max 8 people. (cost of flights NOT included). You must arrange your own transport to and from Alta, Norway.
2018 Tour 2: Moonrise Tour. On this tour we will have a rising moon (after new moon) The moon will start at 18% illumination and increase to 53% illumination over the course of the tour. This will provide interesting possibilities for moonlit landscapes, but if the Aurora is very, very faint it will be harder to see. The days will be longer during this tour than the first tour. Arrive Thursday 18th of January 2018, Depart Wednesday 24th of January 2018. £1350 per person max 8 guests.
These really are amazing adventures. Not just a chance to see the Northern Lights but also a chance to experience some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Full details can be found by clicking here.
A busy couple of weeks coming up with several FS7 and FS7 II workshops in the USA. I’ll be covering all the essential stuff including gamma curves, log, CineEI, Rec2020 and HDR.
Austin Texas, Omega Broadcast, Tuesday 28th Feb. http://www.omegabroadcast.com/product-p/event-sonyfs7iimasterclass.htm
Dallas Texas – VideoTex systems, Wednesday 1st March. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sony-fs7-m2-master-class-with-alister-chapman-tickets-31938387577
Minneapolis – Z-Systems. Thursday 2nd March. http://zsyst.com/2017/02/event-alister-chapman-3-2-17/
San Francisco/Bay Area private full day workshop Saturday 4th March. Use the contact form for full details.
Boston – Rule Camera. Tuesday 7th March. http://www.rule.com/
At the end of March I’ll be in Dublin for the Camerakit event.
I’m running some workshops for Singapore Media Academy in September. Spaces are limited and I don’t get to visit Asia as much as I used to. So if you are interested in attending one of my highly regarded and popular workshops here is a great opportunity.
In case you missed the webinars I presented yesterday here are recordings of the 2 afternoon sessions. The first one on HDR, what is it and what does it mean for you. The second is a question and answers session on Sony’s large sensor cameras, from the FS5 to the F55. There were quite a few a6300 and A7s questions thrown in there too!
Hopefully I will be able to find a sponsor that will be able to make these a regular event.
This post might be a little controversial, I am often told “you don’t need to know the technical stuff to be a cinematographer” or “I don’t need to know about log and gamma, I just want to shoot”.
I would argue that unless you are working closely with a good DIT a modern DP/Cinematographer really does need to understand many of the technical aspects of the equipment being used, in particular the settings that alter the way the camera captures the images. Not just things like “set it to gamma x for bright scenes” but why you would want to do that.
Now I’m not saying that you have to be a full blown electronics engineer, but if you really want to capture the best possible images it really is very important that you truly understand what the camera is doing. It’s also a huge help to understand how your footage will behave in post production. Any craftsman should understand the correct way to use his tools and not only know how to use them but how they work.
Part of the understanding of how your chosen camera behaves comes from testing and experimentation. Shooting test clips across a range of exposures, trying different gamma or log curves and then taking the footage into post production and seeing how it behaves.
Film cinematographers will shoot tests with different film stocks before a large production under the kinds of lighting conditions that will be encountered during the film. Then the film would be processed in different ways to find the best match to the look the cinematographer is trying to achieve. Digital cinematographers should be doing the same and importantly understanding what the end results are telling them.
Most of the great painters didn’t just pick up a paint brush and slap paint on a canvas. Many artists from Da Vinci to Turner studied chemistry so they could develop new paints and painting techniques. DaVinci was a pioneer of oil painting, Turner used to make his own paints from base pigments and chemicals and patented some of the unique colors he created.
This doesn’t take anything away from the traditional skills of lighting and composition etc, those are just as important as ever and always will be. But modern electronic cameras are sophisticated devices that need to be used correctly to get the best out of them. I believe that you need to understand the way your camera responds to light. Understands it’s limitations, understand it’s strengths and learn how to use those strengths and avoid the weaknesses.
And that’s a really important consideration. Today the majority of the cameras on the market are capable of making great images…… Provided you know how to get the best from them. One may be stronger in low light, one may be better in bright light. It may be that one camera will suit one job or one scene better than another. You need to learn about these differences and understanding the underlying technologies will help you figure out which cameras may be candidates for your next project.
It’s not just the camera tech that’s important to understand but also how to manage the footage all the way from the camera to delivery. While you don’t need to be an expert colorist, it certainly helps if you know the process, just as film cameramen know about color timing and film processing. A trend that is growing in the US is high end cinematographers that also grade.
This has come about because in the days of film the cinematographer could determine the look of the finished production through a combination of lighting, the choice of film stock and how it was to be processed. Today a cinematographer may have much less control over the final image as it passes through the post production and grading process. Often the final look is determined by the colorist as much as the cinematographer. By also becoming colorists and staying with their material all the way through post production, cinematographers can retain control of the final look of the production.
As HDR (High Dynamic Range) delivery becomes more important along with the need to deliver SDR content at the same time, a good understanding of the differences between and limitations of both systems will be needed as you may need to alter the way you expose to suit one or the other.
So, there is lots that you need to know about the technology used in todays world of digital cinematography. Where there is a big enough budget DIT’s (Digital Imaging Technicians) can help cinematographers with guidance on camera setups, gamma, color science, LUT’s and workflows. But at the low budget end of the market, as a cinematographer you need at the very least a firm grasp of how a modern camera works, how to correctly mange the dat it produces (you would be amazed how many people get this wrong). Finally how the material handles in post production, if you really want to get the best from it.
It isn’t simple, it isn’t always easy, it takes time and effort. But it’s incredibly rewarding when it all comes together and results in beautiful images.
If you disagree or have your own take on this please post a comment. I’d love to hear other views.
Just a reminder that the full sets of traing films for the PXW-FS5 and the PXW-FS7 are available for viewing for free on YouTube.
There are 10 videos taking you from basic setup all the way through scene files, cine EI and the effects shooting modes.
There are currently 2 PXW-FS5 videos.
I am currently working on a further video on using the FS5’s raw output and this should be available in the next couple of weeks.
Don’t forget if you have any questions I have my Webinar day coming next week.
On Tuesday the 26th of July I will be hosting a series of free live webinars giving you the chance to ask me questions about many of the things I write about here. This is a trial run, I’ve done webinars for many people in the past and they have always gone down well, but these webinars are going to come live from xdcam-user HQ.
If they are a success I will make this a regular event with a webinar day once a month with new subjects covered each time as well as an open Q&A session. This will give you the chance to ask questions on any aspect of video production, so start thinking about what you want to ask.
If you haven’t attended a webinar before here is how it works: You log in online to the webinar using the link provided. You will hear me and any guest presenters and see any pre-prepared information slides that I have on your computer/tablet/phone screen. You ask questions by typing them into a question box, nobody will see or hear you. I will try to respond to as many questions as I can within the one hour time limit. The session will also be recorded and can be downloaded later if you wish. There are dedicated online versions of the webinar page for computers, tablets and smart phones, so you should be able to log in almost anywhere where you have an internet connection.
There will be 2 webinars where I will take questions on any of the Sony large sensor cameras, including the FS5, FS7, F5 and F55. If you want to know about settings, exposure, LUT’s, slow mo, lenses or anything else you can ask me on the 26th. These are timed so that there is an opportunity for people in most countries around the world to join one or the other at a sensible time of day.
Click on the appropriate link below to register. Please only register for sessions you will actually attend as numbers are restricted.
If you can’t attend I will make the recordings available after the day. If you think this is a good idea then please share this page so others can also join in.