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Stunning Good Looks

by Art Adams

Cinematographer Art Adams has worked in the film industry for 25 years. He shoots spots as well as corporate marketing, visual effects, web and interactive/mobile projects. He also consults for a variety of motion picture equipment vendors in the areas of usability and interface design, equipment training, and scientific comparative testing of products. Art likes to write articles that explore the hidden side of the tools and techniques many take for granted. He's been published in HD Video Pro, American Cinematographer, Australian Cinematogra...

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LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Placing a Hard Key Light

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. Read More

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The Simplest, Fastest Interview Lighting Setup—Ever.

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. Read More

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The Future of Technology is You

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? Read More

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Fill Light: The Underdog of Lighting

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. Read More

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Blue Nile Shines Thanks to the Canon 5D and Apple Color

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. Read More

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You’ve read my writing, now hear my talking

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. Read More

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Anatomy of a Spot: T-Mobile

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. Read More

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DSC Labs Hawk Chart: The Simplest Color Chart That You Can’t Live Without

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. Read More

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Arri Alexa and Rosco LitePads Come Through for OnLive’s First National Spot

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. Read More

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The Secrets of the Chroma Du Monde, Explained Live (on tape) at NAB!

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! Read More

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A Mix of Film and HD Doesn’t Scare Arri’s Alexa

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. Read More

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Where I’ll Be at NAB

Where I’ll Be at NAB

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! Read More

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The Secret Art of Slating: 25 Tips to Help You Slate Like a Pro

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. Read More

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iPhone Apps: The Short List for the Average Cinematographer

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. Read More

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Panasonic AF-100: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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... Read More

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Career Advice for the Young DP

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. Read More

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Phantom Adventures: 1000fps on a Budget

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. Read More

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Alexa ISO Settings: The Least You Need to Know

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. Read More

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Arri Alexa’s Dynamic Range: It’s All in How You Use It

Arri Alexa’s Dynamic Range: It’s All in How You Use It

Always push exposure to the limits. But learn where the limits are first!

By Art Adams | September 28, 2010

Knowing that the Arri Alexa has 15 or so stops of dynamic range is nice, but it's hardly useful information unless you know how those stops are arranged at different ISO settings. Fortunately I've done the hard work for you. Read More

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The Best of Stunning Good Looks

A directory of my best articles, sorted by topic.

By Art Adams | August 30, 2010

This entry is a guide to my best articles, sorted by topic. Enjoy! Read More

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