How does this guy's camera get so bright at night?

I wish I had some footage to show but was not able to get any from him yet. But I viewed some of his night footage and it looks insanely good at such a high ISO, with very little noise. On a downtown lit street 800 ISO at f.1.4 is acceptable, but what about doing skyline shots?

His camera can open up to maximum ISO without noise, and with the aperture very sharp. It's a Panasonic video camera, but he did not remember the model number. But I saw it on a big screen HDTV and it looked fantastic. Any cameras I can get that hopefully are not too much that has such good ISO? Cause doing night shots of city skylines, are too dark with a DLSR. A lot of cameras have to be ordered, so I don't know what the ISO is like till I see that camera.
 
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No I don't mean shots like that. More like this, at 0:33 into the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUfPdoBDPCw

The city is so far away, yet they get it very bright. The establishing shot I posted before, was Vancouver with downtown not too far away, across the water, but I guess Vancouver is not a bright enough city at night.

They used 10.000 blue lights to light the crossing ;)

Just kidding.

Shanghai is a vast and enormous metropol like New York or even bigger with a lot of light in certain parts of it.
(You should be aware that the blue crossing / highway is a deliberate choice to use as a location, so they could shoot those shots at night. That's why locationscouts have work ;) )

What Knightly says: expose for the light, not the buildings.

When looking straight into a light the distance only makes it smaller, not really less bright. (Just like looking at the stars at night. Or why you can see carlights from a great distance.)
When lighting an object with that same light, the light on the object will look darker as the distance increases. (That's why day is brighter than night, although the sun is just a star, like the 1000000000s you can see at night.)

Red and black dots are noise produced by the electronics of your camera.
(And "no": it's not called 'soft'. Why would anyone call such dots soft?)
Those dots don't live in a lense... they live in chips...
 
Besides that. After (almost) 2 years (?) you should have figured out that shooting at night isn't that easy (for you and many other with small budgets). Ergo: writing something for daylight would be a good idea to focus on directing and editing without worrying about too shallow DoF, too much noise or not enough lights.
 
(That's why day is brighter than night, although the sun is just a star, like the 1000000000s you can see at night.)

This is not correct. The night is dark because the universe is not static not because the stars are far. If the universe was static, the billions of starts you're referring too would lighten up the night sky to the same level than day.

It's referred to as Olber's Paradox.
 
Olber's Paradox only addresses the fact that we don't see all the stars in the sky - it's why the night sky is dark. But the fact that the stars we do see don't light up the surface of the earth like the sun does has to do with their distance and the inverse-square law.
 
Olber's Paradox only addresses the fact that we don't see all the stars in the sky - it's why the night sky is dark. But the fact that the stars we do see don't light up the surface of the earth like the sun does has to do with their distance and the inverse-square law.

That's right.

About the H44 phenomenon....
I think he has a true will to learn. But I can't understand how he has learned so little after so much time/posts? At first when I joined indietalk I thought he was trolling but then realised maybe he was not...
But if he's not trolling he must have some kind of "problem"...
I hope I don't sound offensive by saying this. Does anyone else feel the same?
 
This is not correct. The night is dark because the universe is not static not because the stars are far. If the universe was static, the billions of starts you're referring too would lighten up the night sky to the same level than day.

It's referred to as Olber's Paradox.

But wasn't "if the universe was infinite, it would contain an infinite amount of stars and that would mean the night sky has to be as light as day" part of that paradox?
The universe apparently isn't infinite, nor is the amount of stars :P
 
That's right.

About the H44 phenomenon....
I think he has a true will to learn. But I can't understand how he has learned so little after so much time/posts? At first when I joined indietalk I thought he was trolling but then realised maybe he was not...
But if he's not trolling he must have some kind of "problem"...
I hope I don't sound offensive by saying this. Does anyone else feel the same?

Sometimes.... he doesn't seem to be able to see the grayscales between black and white. As if he can only do (or better think) what he has been told, but can't find a creative solution...
Sorry H44:
We try to motivate you to do make stuff all the time, because experiencing is the only real way to get experience. And experience will make it easier for you to find solutions...
 
Well I keep learning new things all the time, but also hit a lot of roadblocks that I do not know how to get out of. I just got the 1.4 lens but wasn't sure how to get the sky brighter after going to 1.4, without pushing over 800 ISO, so I ask.

As far as coming up with my own creative solutions, every time I have tried that I have failed, and I was told before on here, that their's a reason why pros have to do things a certain why and that I can't 'reinvent the wheel' as it was put. So I figure I would ask, since their must be something other filmmakers are doing, to get the shot, rather than try to reinvent the wheel myself.
 
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In terms of exposure, I think some of the frustration is that we've presented the only 3 ways to change your exposure in camera (shutter, ISO, Aperture). You've maxed your aperture as wide as it'll go, and you're shutter speed is where it should be... that only leaves one option. If 800 isn't enough, then you have to increase your ISO and deal with the grain... or add light so that you can bring your ISO lower.

This is the same for EVERY shot you'll ever make with any camera you get your hands on. Some have more sensitive (read: expensive) chips and can be rented if necessary, but sometimes simply re-evaluating your needs will get you the shot you need.

The basics can be applied to every situation and get you a solution without anything else. Lighting is how you shoot... the camera can only capture what you point it at, and if it's not ready to be captured, you're going to end up with footage you're unhappy with.

The limits of 800 ISO that are mentioned are there to help reduce the amount of visible noise you've got in your image, but if you can't get enough light in your scene, you'll have to take the noise or nothing.

In terms of light itself, understanding how light travels and what happens when it hits things will really aid how you look at what your camera will see. Spend time with your camera on a subject in a room and move the light around, notice what it does when it's closer and farther, when it's directly pointed at the subject and when you're pointing it a bit off axis and using the feathered edge of the light to light them... watch what it does to the background while you're doing this. Use a piece of cardboard as a "Flag" to block the light from the background / foreground -- now at the different distances. PLAY with the light. Play is how we learn things. Hands on experimentation is how we as humans are hardwired to learn.

Fail a million times. Show those failures here and we'll help you rip them apart with possible solutions (which we've done here in the past)... in our filmmaking ground, we call it the smack down. Every shoot we do, we analyze our biggest failings as a focus for the next project so that we can continually improve. Accept that you may fail to achieve Mr. Greengrass' level of expertise at this juncture. The question becomes one of why does it work for him and not in this shot (I'd argue that the shot is out of context at this point and that when edited with the rest of the footage, it may be exactly what you need -- as a stand alone shot, it's wobbly; as a shot establishing an unsteady mindset or state of the world you're presenting, it could be brilliant).

The handheld look is a choice you've made: be confident in that decision, as it's no one elses job to do so for you.
 
In terms of exposure, I think some of the frustration is that we've presented the only 3 ways to change your exposure in camera (shutter, ISO, Aperture). You've maxed your aperture as wide as it'll go, and you're shutter speed is where it should be... that only leaves one option. If 800 isn't enough, then you have to increase your ISO and deal with the grain... or add light so that you can bring your ISO lower.

This is the same for EVERY shot you'll ever make with any camera you get your hands on. Some have more sensitive (read: expensive) chips and can be rented if necessary, but sometimes simply re-evaluating your needs will get you the shot you need.

The basics can be applied to every situation and get you a solution without anything else. Lighting is how you shoot... the camera can only capture what you point it at, and if it's not ready to be captured, you're going to end up with footage you're unhappy with.

The limits of 800 ISO that are mentioned are there to help reduce the amount of visible noise you've got in your image, but if you can't get enough light in your scene, you'll have to take the noise or nothing.

In terms of light itself, understanding how light travels and what happens when it hits things will really aid how you look at what your camera will see. Spend time with your camera on a subject in a room and move the light around, notice what it does when it's closer and farther, when it's directly pointed at the subject and when you're pointing it a bit off axis and using the feathered edge of the light to light them... watch what it does to the background while you're doing this. Use a piece of cardboard as a "Flag" to block the light from the background / foreground -- now at the different distances. PLAY with the light. Play is how we learn things. Hands on experimentation is how we as humans are hardwired to learn.

Fail a million times. Show those failures here and we'll help you rip them apart with possible solutions (which we've done here in the past)... in our filmmaking ground, we call it the smack down. Every shoot we do, we analyze our biggest failings as a focus for the next project so that we can continually improve. Accept that you may fail to achieve Mr. Greengrass' level of expertise at this juncture. The question becomes one of why does it work for him and not in this shot (I'd argue that the shot is out of context at this point and that when edited with the rest of the footage, it may be exactly what you need -- as a stand alone shot, it's wobbly; as a shot establishing an unsteady mindset or state of the world you're presenting, it could be brilliant).

The handheld look is a choice you've made: be confident in that decision, as it's no one elses job to do so for you.
 
Okay thanks. But the DPs camera, still looked very good under natural night light. Not professionally cinematic, but much less noiser than my camera for natural street light. It feels that would be a plus. I was hoping to just use natural street light since I am not allowed to light the street. But I can think of something else, if natural streetlight is unacceptable. His camera looked fantastic under natural light while walking around by himself, though. He did all sorts of things with the picture settings, and color settings, and even though the lighting is natural, it still had enough of a cinematic look to not look home video-ish. It was all in camera though, no post work. I wish he would post his stuff on youtube to show.

As for me trying to light the street myself without permission, I am unable to think of a do-able creative solution that will actually work, but I will keep trying to see if I can find ways to cheat.
 
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You still don't know what specific camera/lens combination he was using, so none of us could even possibly hazard a guess at the difference. For all we know, he was using a Sony F5 rated at 2000 ISO with a Master Prime wide open at T1.3.

Not only that, we also don't know if you are comparing the end result of your footage on your camera versus what you saw on your DP friend's LCD screen on his camera. On the LCD, it's going to look much less noisy than what it probably ended up being on a big screen, especially if any post processing has been attempted on it.
 
As for me trying to light the street myself without permission, I am unable to think of a do-able creative solution that will actually work, but I will keep trying to see if I can find ways to cheat.

Here are some ideas:

1. Get permission. Permits/insurance really aren't that expensive or unobtainable.

2. Shoot guerrilla with noise.

3. Shoot on a better lit street. There's an led billboard near me and at night I'd be willing to bet it's brighter than the sun.

4. Build a set. Use your garage or rent a big storage unit (with power) for a month for $150 and build your set in it. Then you light whatever you want.

5. Move the scene temporally. Have it take place in the daytime. Compromise a little like every no budget and big budget movie does in some way to get the movie made. Alleys are still shady in the daytime.

6. Move the scene physically to a restaurant or house or forest or something.

7. Cut the scene and write around it. "Where's John? I met him outside last night and he said he'd be here."

8. Live with day for night.



It's ok to make compromises on your first project to get it done. You aren't making a masterpiece. DaVinci's first painting was probably not all that great. But you have to finish and start again to grow.
 
Okay thanks. I will see how much permission is, but I was told don't do it, by filmmakers who have tried it before in my area, saying it's too much and undo-able. But I will look into it again.

As for building a set in a garage... a garage or storage unit would not be big enough for a convincing set, that is suppose to be, the city.

As for day for night... the sequence I want to do is undercover cops, tailing some gangsters, and the gansters park their cars and get out. An on foot chase later ensues on the streets. Where I live the streets are empty at night and we can get away with that. I did some tests with friends, and no one was around to make us move.

As for the shooting under white lights at night, I drove around and every light on the street where I live is an orange one. There is only a white one here or there, but I need more for a chase, and for wide establishing shots.

As for day for night, I could do that, but all the street lights and all the lights on the cars passing by will not be lit. If they are turned on, the sun will flush them out and they will not look like they are on, or naturally bright, if they are on.

Will this be too distracting to the audience, as it can look strange, like something is not right.

I will try car headlights, but I assume that might not work for wise establishing shots, though, or action shots. Stationary close ups it will, but not for other shots I would assume, but I will try it.

Well I asked the guy what his camera is, and it is the Panasonic HC-X920. He shot with a closed aperture it looks like as the focus is deep, in shots where it's not hyperfocal! I saw it on an HDTV, not an LCD camera screen.

I still am open to shooting at 1.4, but 1.4 is still not bright enough for some shots, and I am doing a chase scene though, and every focus puller I have talked to so far, says they cannot pull focus on an action sequence, at 1.4 No one wants to do it, or can't.
 
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Okay thanks. I will see how much permission is, but I was told don't do it, by filmmakers who have tried it before in my area, saying it's too much and undo-able. But I will look into it again.
Actually ask the people in charge - until you hear it from the horse's mouth, it doesn't mean anything.

As for the shooting under white lights at night, I drove around and every light on the street where I live is an orange one. There is only a white one here or there, but I need more for a chase, and for wide establishing shots.
Why do they have to be white? What's wrong with orange..?

I will try car headlights, but I assume that might not work for wise establishing shots, though, or action shots. Stationary close ups it will, but not for other shots I would assume, but I will try it.
-Depends how wide
-Depends on your shots

You're essentially getting two high powered lights that you can easily bounce.

Well I asked the guy what his camera is, and it is the Panasonic HC-X920. He shot with a closed aperture it looks like as the focus is deep, in shots where it's not hyperfocal! I saw it on an HDTV, not an LCD camera screen.
The HC-X920 has 3 1/2" sensors, which is why there's deep focus. We've been through this many times - smaller sensor means deeper focus.
What path had the footage taken to get to the HDTV?

I still am open to shooting at 1.4, but 1.4 is still not bright enough for some shots, and I am doing a chase scene though, and every focus puller I have talked to so far, says they cannot pull focus on an action sequence, at 1.4 No one wants to do it, or can't.
-f/1.4 is not enough at what ISO setting?
-You're either: Not talking to actual focus pullers, or giving them impossible circumstances. Either, you want them to pull on a still lens with no FF, no monitor and no marks wide open at f/1.4 on say, a 200mm lens. Possibly whilst handheld.
OR
You're not talking to actual focus pullers. I'd totally do it, but only if you understood that there's certain things that I need to be able to make the shot.

I don't live their so I don't know if I can find a street as bright and well light like that at night where I live. The noise is not bad though and that's with the T2i. But unfortunately I don't live in a city that bright.
Well unfortunately, you're going to have to find a compromise then, probably by upping your ISO. As I've said: cameras aren't magic. It's simple physics - if there's not enough light hitting the sensor, the image isn't going to be bright enough, therefore you either have to find some ridiculous, expensive camera/lens/lighting setup, or live with what you've got and figure out a creative solution.

Here, I'll fix this quote for you:
PaulGriffith said:
[Every Director must] make compromises on [all of their] project to get [them] done.


If no compromises were ever made, every single film that came out would be a masterpiece, but they'd take 2 to 5 years to complete.
 
Actually ask the people in charge - until you hear it from the horse's mouth, it doesn't mean anything.


Why do they have to be white? What's wrong with orange..?


-Depends how wide
-Depends on your shots

You're essentially getting two high powered lights that you can easily bounce.


The HC-X920 has 3 1/2" sensors, which is why there's deep focus. We've been through this many times - smaller sensor means deeper focus.
What path had the footage taken to get to the HDTV?


-f/1.4 is not enough at what ISO setting?
-You're either: Not talking to actual focus pullers, or giving them impossible circumstances. Either, you want them to pull on a still lens with no FF, no monitor and no marks wide open at f/1.4 on say, a 200mm lens. Possibly whilst handheld.
OR
You're not talking to actual focus pullers. I'd totally do it, but only if you understood that there's certain things that I need to be able to make the shot.


Well unfortunately, you're going to have to find a compromise then, probably by upping your ISO. As I've said: cameras aren't magic. It's simple physics - if there's not enough light hitting the sensor, the image isn't going to be bright enough, therefore you either have to find some ridiculous, expensive camera/lens/lighting setup, or live with what you've got and figure out a creative solution.

Here, I'll fix this quote for you:


If no compromises were ever made, every single film that came out would be a masterpiece, but they'd take 2 to 5 years to complete.


I was told before that white lights are brighter for the camera.

The footage didn't go through any post processing to get to the HDTV, is was straight from the camera.

I didn't know that the camera had that small of sensor. I thought the sensor might be bigger since bigger sensors mean less noise.

f1.4 at 800 ISO I mean. Even though focus pullers can make marks, actors can easily miss their marks a lot, and sometimes never get them right. For example, when one actor throws another, it's almost impossible for the actor being thrown to land on the mark just right.
 
I was told before that white lights are brighter for the camera.
Depends on the light, but regardless - if the orange lights are bright enough, why does it matter?

f1.4 at 800 ISO I mean. Even though focus pullers can make marks, actors can easily miss their marks a lot, and sometimes never get them right. For example, when one actor throws another, it's almost impossible for the actor being thrown to land on the mark just right.

I've focus pulled on many films, and recently on an action film shot at night wide open (T2.9 - Compact Primes).

THe stunt guys were professionals who had worked on many studio features doing stunts. They all landed on their marks perfectly, even when being thrown.

Also, a good focus puller should be able to compensate for actors not hitting marks. I'd take some measurements to different spots in the room, perhaps lay some marks at different distances, rather than for the actors to hit, and use that as a reference, plus my eye to judge their distance.
But, that's assuming you have decent lenses with proper witness marks.. It becomes a fair bit harder on still lenses, especially if you're not going to give me a monitor or potentially even a follow focus (for some reasons many productions see these as unnecessary luxuries on DSLR shoots, then wonder why it takes so many takes to get focus right on a 200mm still lens at f/2.0!)
 
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