“There’s an artistic validity to this for anyone interested in experimental techniques”
same approach simply by magic- arming a light off the matte box and aiming it at a diffusion filter. It works with almost any kind of diffusion, creating combinations of glow and veiling depending on the specifics of the set-up. It’s not even a very expensive choice, given the options in small, powerful LEDs from the likes of Aputure. Small sharp lights do different things to big soft lights, and all of them have the potential to interact with lenses if we pair our filtration tricks with lenses that flare, ghost, veil and glow. It’s also pretty easy to control: sitting on a folding chair and remote-controlling how much contrast reduction there is and what colour it takes feels like the most live form of live grading imaginable. Combining classic optical effects with modern technology like that somehow feels appropriate to the early 2020s. All of these are techniques that could get past the producers on most productions for most distributors. Even the pickiest streaming service tends to specify pixel count long before quibbling over lens resolving power, regardless of how much sense that
DUST TO DUST Revar Cine’s Scarf Dust diffusion filter (right) gives an organic look to your images
makes. Take heed, though: we’re now going thoroughly off-piste, into the sort of optical chicanery that mostly makes sense for short- form work, for commercials and music videos – and which might take a bit of explaining even then. Consider IB/E Optics. The company is unquestionably capable of incredible feats of optical precision, particularly HDx35 adaptors which let people use broadcast zooms on Super-35 cameras. IB/E makes a series of extenders too, and the Raptor range of macro cine lenses. The company is also capable of compressing some dandelion seed heads or pieces of fabric between two optical flats in such a way that the resulting flares put us in the world of a cosmetics or confectionery commercial. There’s a certain artistic validity to this for anyone interested in unpredictable, emergent, experimental techniques. No two filters will ever be the same, though there’s probably more commonality in the textiles than there is in the organic debris. The results are bold, with significant flares and veiling, and it’s the sort of filter that really needs to live in a rotating tray so the effects can be lined up
appropriately with the subject. It seems likely that people who are really dedicated to getting the best out of these will be willing to shoot a variety of options under a variety of lighting conditions and find the right result in the edit, but they certainly create something that no- one else will be able to duplicate. It’s just that sort of bold design which demonstrates that if the picture on the monitor looks right, it is right, and there are no prizes for achieving that in any particular way. It’s hard to object to a push for innovation. In some ways it’s a vote of confidence in camera technology: in 2023, we have so much picture that the biggest problem is simply finding ways to make that picture our own.
AVANT-GARDE IB/E Optics’ effect filters (bottom) feature fabrics and materials
for experimental cinematography
Of mist and monitors If we’re here to discuss the non-electronic ways of doing interesting things to pictures, we need to discuss physical effects. On a big production, adding a hint of mist to a set is the job of the special effects department, though the camera people would naturally take a keen interest. On a smaller show – the kind most people actually get involved with – a simple disco fogger is likely to be more financially achievable than any filters. Mist creates a complex, subtle relationship between depth, light, sharpness and contrast in a way that filters physically can’t. There are other effects that do similar things – rain, steam, even snow. Challenges involve maintaining consistency over time and over large areas, which is a good job for the intern, if the intern has a good enough eye for the task. And that’s one of the problems with atmos and almost any filtration which may affect contrast. One of the hardest things to evaluate using on-set monitoring is contrast, with exposure to ambient light, variable size and precision of monitors conspiring to trick the eye into seeing things that aren’t there. The more outlandish the filtration, the better the monitoring needs to be.
61. JUNE 2023
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