Hard lights are great for textures, but soft lights are great for defining spaces.
By Art Adams | December 21, 2011
In a previous article I described how to place a hard key light. In this article I'll look at why soft sources are a bit more realistic in color cinematography, require less precise placement, and can help define the volume of a space.
What you don't know about PWM may ruin your next shot--particularly if you're using a camera with a rolling shutter!
By Art Adams | December 15, 2011
Here's the deal: there's this thing called "pulse width modulation," and under certain conditions it doesn't play well with rolling shutter cameras. Most of the time it's no problem, but we don't get phone calls from post when there's no problem. Here's how to avoid that phone call.
Hard light and faces... do they go together? The short answer is yes... but be careful!
By Art Adams | December 13, 2011
The most important thing you will ever learn about lighting is this: LIGHTING IS NOT A FORMULA. Learning about lighting, though, is a process of becoming aware, and in this first of many articles I'm going I'm going to try to increase your awareness of one specific thing per article. The more awareness you have the more easily you'll be able to adapt your lighting to your circumstances because you'll see, with your own eyes, what you need to do to make an image that satisfies your inner artist.I think the best place to start is with classical key light placement. This knowledge is not something you will use verbatim as this is not a style that is in vogue at the moment. The underlying principles, however, should be of daily benefit.
Years in the making, this technique works in almost every situation and makes almost everyone look great. That's about the best you can hope for when shooting talking heads on a tight schedule.
By Art Adams | November 17, 2011
For a long time my primary source of employment was shooting corporate marketing communications videos. As these consist primarily of "talking head" interviews, I tried every lighting setup I could think of to make people look their best quickly, as many of these shoots have tight schedules and not much turnaround time between interviews. This setup is the result of years of experimentation.
New toys are great, but what's more important is who plays with them.
By Art Adams | October 31, 2011
Technology is always advancing, and we're at the point in this industry where we'll always have new toys on the near horizon. My question is: how much do these toys matter when it's the people who use them who provide all the creativity?
Fill light isn't just for controlling contrast; its quality and placement can make or break your shot.
By Art Adams | September 27, 2011
The day I stop learning about lighting will be the day my EKG goes flatline. There's an extraordinary amount to learn and absorb, and I doubt I'll ever learn all of it. That's okay, because it means I'll never run out of new things to learn. My most recent fixation is on the one light many think about the least: the fill light.
One more chapter in my "It's not the camera, it's the creativity behind the camera" series.
By Art Adams | September 19, 2011
One of the best things about this business is that greatness lurks around every corner. If you are resourceful and creative you'll find it well enough.
Yup, I got interviewed. If you have an hour to spare, here's where to find it.
By Art Adams | July 13, 2011
Izzy Hyman, of the website Izzy Video, interviewed me yesterday for his "Meet the Shooter" series.
What's the best camera to use when shooting in an elevator? A small one. Hellooooo Canon 5D...
By Art Adams | June 19, 2011
Over time I've come to respect the Canon 5D. It's not the most user friendly of cameras, and it has some fairly serious faults, but if you can avoid the pitfalls it can make very pretty images.
Wouldn't it be great if someone designed an easy-to-use color chart that could be quickly and easily used in the field? Well, someone did. And they call it The Hawk.
By Art Adams | June 17, 2011
It wasn't until I worked at the DSC Labs booth at NAB that I discovered The Hawk... and it blew me away. It's a very simple chart, but it offers a colorist (professional or amateur) the most critical information necessary to accurately neutralize your raw, log, or even WYSIWYG images.
The project started out as a web-only teaser. When the client saw it they added another shoot day and turned it into a national spot. Here's why, and how.
By Art Adams | June 11, 2011
Originally slated to be a web-only spot, the first shoot day went so well that when the client saw the results they ordered a second shoot day, added an actor and made a $1m+ national ad buy.
If you've always wanted to find out if I present on video as well as I write... click here to find out!
By Art Adams | April 20, 2011
I spent a lot of time in the DSC Labs booth at NAB, giving Chroma Du Monde demonstrations and teaching basic waveform/vectorscope tricks. PVC's Scott Gentry stopped by and asked me to say a few words on video, and this is the result. Enjoy!
By Art Adams | April 18, 2011
The client wanted contrasty toplight against seamless white, and then they wanted to intercut that with stock footage shot on film. Thanks to Arri's Alexa, what the client wants--the client gets. In spades.
In case you want to play "meet the troublemaker," here's how to find me.
By Art Adams | April 08, 2011
I'm constantly amazed at how many readers I have, and if you'd like to amaze me more by stopping by and saying hi I'll be in the DSC Labs booth (C10215, near Band Pro, Tiffen and Abel Cine) on Monday and Tuesday, with shorter appearances Wednesday and Thursday as I'll be wandering around a bit more. I'm also on a DP Track panel with Geoff Boyle, FBKS, Roberto Schafer, ASC and Michael Bravin on Sunday in room 258, which I'm told is to the rear of the north hall, second floor.And for those of you who are on the Cinematography Mailing List, I'll be at the CML Party Tuesday night--although I'll probably stop by the latest camera assessment screening first.See you at NAB!
Take these to heart and become the editor's best friend.
By Art Adams | February 28, 2011
Slate training was my introduction to one of the most important tenets of filmmaking: always think of the next person down the production line. In the case of slating, this means taking care of the poor assistant editor who has to sync and track dailies based on your notes and your slating technique.
Of all the apps I've found, these are the most helpful.
By Art Adams | February 18, 2011
It seems everyone and their sister's friend's cousin has made a list of indispensable cinematography iPhone apps. Now it's my turn. Let's see how original I am.
Director Ian McCamey, Adam Wilt and myself take the AF-100 out for a spin in real world conditions.
By Art Adams | February 08, 2011
The Panasonic AF-100 is getting a lot of buzz as a possible HDSLR killer. We used it in the real world in place of an HDSLR, and now we know. And soon, so will you. Read on...
The true barrier to cinematography success isn't youth-it's experience. Here's what a budding DP needs to know about building a career.
By Art Adams | January 09, 2011
This is my response to a question posted to the Cinematography Mailing List by a young film student who is chafing at the bit to be a director of photography as soon as possible.
A $250,000 camera, 60,000w of tungsten lighting, 1000fps, kids, animals… what could go wrong? Not much, as it turns out.
By Art Adams | December 14, 2010
A while back I wrote this article about some high speed tests I did in preparation for an upcoming regional spot. The results convinced the client, Rambus, that the extra expense of shooting their upcoming spots at 1000fps was well worth it.
Changing an HD camera's ISO has a greater impact on an image than simply affecting exposure. Learn what's really happening... and take advantage of it!
By Art Adams | October 08, 2010
My previous Arri Alexa article showed you how the camera's dynamic range responds to different ISO settings. In this shorter article I'll show you why that's useful and practical information.