Monday, April 4, 2011

The diary of a film school student - Cinematography

"What'd you do this weekend?" she asked me.
"Well, I put rails on the ground then pushed a guy with a camera down the rails on a little wagon called a dolly."
"Why'd you do that?"  I can smell half a carton of Camels, or whatever they smoke here, on her breath. Its nice.
"Well, so we could get the shot we wanted."
"Why didn't your mate just carry the camera across?"
I'm feeling quite patient tonight...
"Well, cause your footsteps make the camera sort of bounce on your shoulder, so we make like, tracks sort of, and then it moves smoothly"
"Yeah well, maybe your camera guy should practice. Sounds like a waste of time to me."

I guess that's what you get for drinking at the local bar on a Sunday night. Not that I was out drinking on a Sunday night. I went out for a beer down the street to get out of the house for an hour after spending about 5 hours struggling with a POS computer that doesn't like it's new 3D program.

This weekend was actually pretty damn cool. Spent Saturday working indoors on a set setting up camera arrangements, and light readings. You ever notice those little numbers on an SLR camera lense. 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6 and so on? Those control the aperature. Each number is a stop. That means that if you move from 2 to 2.8 you've gone 1 stop, and you've just cut the amount of light getting into the camera in half. You knew that though.

Here's something you might not know. Film only sees about 7 stops. So if you're looking at something kinda grey, you can go 3 stops in either direction before that grey thing looks pure white or pure black. Thats what those little light meters photographers use are for. To figure out if what you're taking a picture of is going to turn out.

The next day we went outside. Shooting with film outdoors can be a nightmare. A cloud can turn half your picture into shadows. Clouds come from no where. Clouds don't care what we're doing down here. Oh, and here's something else. The moves. So, that great reflection you got at 1, its no longer there by two. Which sucks because your focus puller needed to take measurements, so did your DOP, and the actor wasn't quite getting it, and for some reason the camera guy couldn't see through the eyepeice, turns out it was simply the shutter position, and  it took about 40 mins to get set up. Oh and the guy in the corner, now he's so far in the shade that he's completely dark in this aperature. Damn.

But the cool thing is learning from people that actually do this for a living. People that have seen the pitfalls, know what's going to go wrong, and think of things you haven't thought of. Even cooler, is they don't tell you, they let you flop, and figure out where you went wrong.

All in all a very good weekend.
Oh, the chick from the bar thinks I'm pretty stupid. I told her I'm American.