This is why you buy the T2i.

All you rich folk (no disparity intended), with your expensive light gear, expensive crew, expensive camera, can take your expensive time shooting. Us poor folk need to move things along at a little bit more of a rapid pace. I'm not saying I wouldn't trade places with you. I'm just saying.

Anyway, the following was shot with nothing more than a regular-old household ceiling-lamp, on the T2i. No, of course it doesn't get as good a shot as any of the aforementioned expensive setup. But if you're really in a rush, and you can't do all that time-consuming expensive stuff, and/or don't have access to the needed gear, imagine how great it is to setup a scene by flipping a switch. Try getting something like this, under the same conditions, with a traditional HDV camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHhmXC6h1Ao
 
Honestly guys...people don't go to the movies to see 'natural.' They go to see unnatural--to see fantastical, unique, singular...If they wanted to see natural, they'd go to Kmart.

I just think the above shot with Monkey King is too flat, and too drab. I'd really have to see this thing cut together so I can decide if the story and actors are good enough to allow me to forget that I dislike the lighting (or lack there of). :)
 
Honestly guys...people don't go to the movies to see 'natural.' They go to see unnatural--to see fantastical, unique, singular...If they wanted to see natural, they'd go to Kmart.

I just think the above shot with Monkey King is too flat, and too drab. I'd really have to see this thing cut together so I can decide if the story and actors are good enough to allow me to forget that I dislike the lighting (or lack there of). :)

That is a perfectly fair thing for you to say. And, in fact, I think I'd have to agree with you.

I think I've said this before, but it's not a particular look I'm going for. It's a particular speed of shoot, and whatever look I can get the fastest wins.

Only thing I might add is that no matter how awesome your lighting is, you always need an interesting story with likeable characters. Not many people are watching movies for the lighting. As I understand it, lighting is a tool, or a device, that can be used to further the story, or add something to it. I don't think lighting should look good just to look good.
 
FWIW:

I only watched the first clip of this thread and the last one. Thread seemed to explode while I was away, so coming into this discussion late. What follows is strictly my opinion, nothing personal Cracker, but I respectfully disagree with your current shooting philosophy.

The last clip with the lighter in the f/g is a vast improvement over the first clip in the thread. Well done on that. It *is* a naturalistic look and a decent master shot. I am sure you have something to cut into it. Having said that, it *is* too flat overall, and the blown out light when the door opens is too expressionistic and breaks the naturalistic feel.

What I mean by that is that if the interior was that bright to begin with, the exterior wouldn't blow out. Were you shooting a darker interior, the blown out light from the front door would appear more natural. This is an instance, even though you are using a camera that can get decent images in low light, you needed to boost the light level in the room to prevent the blow out and still achieve that aesthetic.

That's not to say to avoid mixing naturalistic and expressionistic light, but that sort of thing is done with purpose. And far too large of a topic for this post.

Regarding flatness, which is the largest problem I see in the last clip.

Being able to shoot at low light levels does not mean just tossing up a light and calling it done, it means flexibility, smaller fixtures, less power requirements, more lightweight rigging, less heat on set. But it should still (IMHO) be done with a cinematic lighting technique that renders 3 dimensional space on a 2 dimensional image plane. That means creating separation between objects at different depths by manipulating light and shadow as in a painting.

Even conceptual works like that film that was shot all from surveillance camera angles benefit from manipulating light to create the illusion of 3d space where there is none.

Having said that, you've managed to improve upon the use of the single bulb in a short time. Good work.

RE: The need for solid lighting.

I'll never understand the concept that lighting and story are some sort of adversaries in the indie film making world. It is not a "one vs. the other" relationship. Lighting serves the story. It enhances it. It helps you to tell the story without having to resort to expository dialogue every 30 seconds. "Don't say it, show it." And, frankly, good lighting is essential in that ethos. I personally feel that to say that "My story is all that my film needs, so I can skimp on production quality." is a false economy. I don't mean the kind of production quality that relies on tons of gear, but the kind that emphasizes technique while maintaining practical efficiency for the scope of the project.

The indie film audience is a little more savvy in the language than the General Public. Also, a large portion of that audience are film makers, professional crew, enthusiasts, other guerrilla indie types, etc. These folks are less forgiving on production quality than one would think, regardless of the story, acting, direction, etc.

Finally, I mention all of this just as something to consider as you go along. I understand *why* you have chosen this method, but I think you are working from the wrong direction. Consider taking a few of your remaining scenes and flipping your perspective. Decide on a look you would like to achieve, and discover the fastest/cheapest way to get there.


Edit:

Also, I am one of those "not many people" who watch films and pay more attention to the craft than anything else. I am more likely to remember a camera move, or a time when flipping the 180 line mid-scene worked at a key point in the story, or a scene with great light and production design that work together to express an emotional state, or ... you know what I mean.

I also challenge the notion that the "General Audience" is more interested in a good story than eye candy. Perhaps in the indie world (see above on that), but I would argue the multiplex crowd is just the opposite. Put <insert random attractive actor/ress of the minute> in anything and folks will shell out cash. Add explosions, bullet time, and super heavy handed color grading to make the background teal so the actors skin tones pop out better and even more people will shell out even more cash.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I didn't go watch the Transformer's movies because they had a compelling story with solid acting. (lol). I went to watch cool robots on a giant screen and re-live some semblance of my childhood. ;)
 
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FWIW:

I only watched the first clip of this thread and the last one. Thread seemed to explode while I was away, so coming into this discussion late. What follows is strictly my opinion, nothing personal Cracker, but I respectfully disagree with your current shooting philosophy.

The last clip with the lighter in the f/g is a vast improvement over the first clip in the thread. Well done on that. It *is* a naturalistic look and a decent master shot. I am sure you have something to cut into it. Having said that, it *is* too flat overall, and the blown out light when the door opens is too expressionistic and breaks the naturalistic feel.

What I mean by that is that if the interior was that bright to begin with, the exterior wouldn't blow out. Were you shooting a darker interior, the blown out light from the front door would appear more natural. This is an instance, even though you are using a camera that can get decent images in low light, you needed to boost the light level in the room to prevent the blow out and still achieve that aesthetic.

That's not to say to avoid mixing naturalistic and expressionistic light, but that sort of thing is done with purpose. And far too large of a topic for this post.

Regarding flatness, which is the largest problem I see in the last clip.

Being able to shoot at low light levels does not mean just tossing up a light and calling it done, it means flexibility, smaller fixtures, less power requirements, more lightweight rigging, less heat on set. But it should still (IMHO) be done with a cinematic lighting technique that renders 3 dimensional space on a 2 dimensional image plane. That means creating separation between objects at different depths by manipulating light and shadow as in a painting.

Even conceptual works like that film that was shot all from surveillance camera angles benefit from manipulating light to create the illusion of 3d space where there is none.

Having said that, you've managed to improve upon the use of the single bulb in a short time. Good work.

RE: The need for solid lighting.

I'll never understand the concept that lighting and story are some sort of adversaries in the indie film making world. It is not a "one vs. the other" relationship. Lighting serves the story. It enhances it. It helps you to tell the story without having to resort to expository dialogue every 30 seconds. "Don't say it, show it." And, frankly, good lighting is essential in that ethos. I personally feel that to say that "My story is all that my film needs, so I can skimp on production quality." is a false economy. I don't mean the kind of production quality that relies on tons of gear, but the kind that emphasizes technique while maintaining practical efficiency for the scope of the project.

The indie film audience is a little more savvy in the language than the General Public. Also, a large portion of that audience are film makers, professional crew, enthusiasts, other guerrilla indie types, etc. These folks are less forgiving on production quality than one would think, regardless of the story, acting, direction, etc.

Finally, I mention all of this just as something to consider as you go along. I understand *why* you have chosen this method, but I think you are working from the wrong direction. Consider taking a few of your remaining scenes and flipping your perspective. Decide on a look you would like to achieve, and discover the fastest/cheapest way to get there.


Edit:

Also, I am one of those "not many people" who watch films and pay more attention to the craft than anything else. I am more likely to remember a camera move, or a time when flipping the 180 line mid-scene worked at a key point in the story, or a scene with great light and production design that work together to express an emotional state, or ... you know what I mean.

I also challenge the notion that the "General Audience" is more interested in a good story than eye candy. Perhaps in the indie world (see above on that), but I would argue the multiplex crowd is just the opposite. Put <insert random attractive actor/ress of the minute> in anything and folks will shell out cash. Add explosions, bullet time, and super heavy handed color grading to make the background teal so the actors skin tones pop out better and even more people will shell out even more cash.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I didn't go watch the Transformer's movies because they had a compelling story with solid acting. (lol). I went to watch cool robots on a giant screen and re-live some semblance of my childhood. ;)

Hey, David. Thanks for your thoughts.

I actually agree with quite a bit of what you said, and it's totally cool for you to disagree with some of my decision-making, no disrespect taken.

On at least one of your points, I agree and disagree with you, at the same time. "Lighting" vs. "Story", for example. Like you, I don't see this as any kind of dichotomy. Like you, I see lighting as one of many weapons in a directors' arsenal that can be used to help tell the story. I don't think it's any kind of either-or scenario. However, I feel like there are MANY weapons a director can choose from to tell their story. Bravo to the director who is able to use all of them. I'm not even slightly against using lighting in this respect; in fact I WANT TO. However, in my current place, I don't feel I really can, nor do I feel like I HAVE TO, in order to tell a good story. I've only got so much time on my hands, and I feel like the story is going to be better served by me choosing what to focus my energy on, and being diligent about it.

I can't effectively be DP, and gaffer, and key grip, and director, and producer, and assistant boom-op, and cameraman, and script supervisor all at the same time, and wrap this thing in any reasonable amount of time. To be frank, of those of you who are suggesting that I do so, I suspect you've probably not been in my shoes. Sure, you've worn lots of hats. But when's the last time you tried wearing all of them at the same time? For simple logistics sake, I've got to limit the amount of time that each hat stays on my head. And I've decided that the hat that fits best is the one that says "Director".

In 8 days (two of which were half-days), we've shot 48 pages. And we're moving at that pace because we have to.

David, I have to take STRONG disagreement with your assertion that "general audiences" are not interested in story. Why was "Transformers" so well received, while "Transformers 2" was pretty much universally panned? Because one of them had a fun story about a nerd trying to get the hot chick.

To those that've heard me mention it, I'm sorry for being repetitive, but I keep coming back to "Puffy Chair". That movie grossed almost $200,000. Their follow-up, "Baghead", grossed almost $150,000. If you've seen either of those movies, you'd understand why I'm so easily dismissing the allegedly ABSOLUTE NEED to use better cinematography. I'd be ecstatic if "Antihero" made a profit at all, and I don't think there's any question that I'm getting a much better aesthetic than either of those two movies. But here's the most important statistic -- forget how much their earlier movies profited -- the Duplass brothers have moved on to making relatively-larger-budget movies, with established big-name actors. And they started by making movies with NO LIGHTING at all. That's my inspiration, and that's the battle-plan I'm roughly following.

EDIT: Actually, after looking at them again, "Baghead" looks like it was lit considerably better than my current movie. "Puffy Chair" wasn't lit at all. Whatever. Original point remains the same.

I appreciate the input, but my decision was not made blindly, and the decision has been made. Cheers! :)
 
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Well,

The beauty of this is that there is no right or wrong way to create art, simply opinions. ;) I am sure, though I haven't taken the time to read the whole thread, that someone has already mentioned the low statistical likelihood of duplicating the success of any given "breakout indie hit" (RE: Puffy Chair, et al). So I won't re-hash that. If you've read any of my posts on this board you know my opinion on using a technique because it worked for someone else. ;)

Besides, as Michael pointed out, we can't make an judgment calls on narrative, etc because we only have clips to view. As one who aspires to direct you are focusing your personal energy on the right things, but I personally believe that you are shorting yourself by dismissing many aspects of the craft.

Also, the last time *I* personally wore every hat was for a disastrous failure of a 24hr film project. Prior to that it was for just about every film I did in college save for the ones where I was DoP and my friend was directing/editing. These projects were all 16mm, where 3 minutes of raw footage costs $100 for stock and processing alone. In those days we spent easily the cost of your camera just on film stock, processing, work prints, answer prints, etc for a simple 5 minute film. Very different world.

Anyway, I found it doesn't work out so great for me. I am too picky about the craft to simply point the camera at something and shout action. It's just not my style. I would never suggest doing a narrative feature without a crew (not sure who did). Solo film making is for experimental or documentary work. There's just too much to do for it to work well for narrative features - with RARE exceptions that require specific personalities, resources, and LOTS of time.

David, I have to take STRONG disagreement with your assertion that "general audiences" are not interested in story. Why was "Transformers" so well received, while "Transformers 2" was pretty much universally panned? Because one of them had a fun story about a nerd trying to get the hot chick.

Um. Actually I think our core disagreement resides in what makes a compelling story. :) Which is A: totally fine, and B: to be expected. Also, I didn't mean to suggest "not interested," simply that it is less necessary to "box office success" than you assert.

Sorry dude, but both of those movies were equally bland, cliche, and boring from a narrative standpoint. Both used the most obvious arc possible for every character, had bland predictable dialogue, and in generally were about as narratively compelling as a phone book. I mean come on. The stupid football "metaphor" at the end of the first movie when that little nerd is running around with the cube. Soooooooooooo lame. (IMO) But it looked cool, was edited halfway decently, etc... Come to think of it, I don't remember Txfrmrs1 being "well received." I remember a lot of people seeing it, and basically saying the same thing. Cheesy as all get out, but the robots were cool.

There's nothing wrong with "nerd gets girl," but their execution of it showed about as much imagination as repainting a white wall the same shade of white.

I'd blame the lack of audience for the 2nd movie on disappointment in the 1st movie. IMNSHO - in the narrative, directing, writing, and acting departments they both failed equally. Also, look at the success of the same re-hashed story over and over in the horror genre, or perhaps those <insert derogatory statement here> "pop-culture" spoof movies like "Date Movie" and their ilk. Compare the "success" of those films to ones like "The Killer Inside Me." (note here, also amazing film making to go with the amazing story) or perhaps "The Missing Person." which I CAN'T EVEN FIND except on their website. There *is* an audience for great stories, just not as big of one as there is for Michael Bay and the like. Every once in a while something great comes out and breaks all of these stereotypes, but the creators of those are the names of the greats to which we all can only aspire.

Again, opinions. ;) I do hope what you've got going works out for you in some way. About half of the reason I originally posted at all was for my own benefit. To put words to an idea that's been in my head for a while. ;)
 
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OK, well, as long as you're OK with the flack you may receive, and as long as you learn from the process, you're in the clear...for now.

At some point, you're going to have to turn to general film technique if you are to be taken seriously. How many films with 'no lighting' become known or profitable? Very very few--unless you're talking about an uber-viral Youtube video that led to future backing...and how often does that happen?

I would highly recommend you get some more crew on your next piece and work *all* of the elements you can use to tell the story. And give yourself plenty of time, so you aren't constantly rushed to shoot something. Don't be a lighting hater man. ;) It's all part of capturing the audience and not letting go...and lighting is a big part of that.

As I may have already said, you must first learn the rules completely, before you break them.

Look, I'll be honest man...when I click on a link to watch an indie piece...I'm instantly scrutinizing the production value. I do this as an actor, as a filmmaker, and as an audience member. There is SO much crap out there now...SO much content, that I don't *have* to spend time on an unappealing short or feature. I personally want to see an artist at work...not just a story teller. I want to see all of the bits and pieces of a good film come together in wonderous harmony. :) If I see visual and audio dreck...I'll turn it off quicker than you can say supercalafragalisticexbealidocious (unless it's a community sharing and learning together).

If you're banking on your story and actors alone to gain you and your production company respect, then you'd better have Stephen King writing, and Gary Oldman acting.

Cheers.
 
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"Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking."
-- Tim McMahon

“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.”
-- Win Borden

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”
-- William Shedd

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
-- Anais Nin

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000500/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0243231/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003620/

That's three success-stories. I can say that what I'm trying to acheive is possible because three people have done it before me. Now, you might think -- 3? That's it? Out of how many of thousands who are trying to break in, each and every year?

Well, how many of those thousands are following your methodology? Almost all of them. How many are following mine? Very few. 3 becomes a much bigger number, when you realize how small the pool is that it is taken from.

I'm not naive. I know the risks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E2hYDIFDIU&feature=related
 
Besides, as Michael pointed out, we can't make an judgment calls on narrative, etc because we only have clips to view.

And, finally, we stand on common ground. ;)


Also, the last time *I* personally wore every hat was for a disastrous failure of a 24hr film project.

I happen to be pretty good at it. Today's shoot: 8.5 pages, 6 locations, 2 tracking shots, 6 speaking parts, 1 action-sequence that required quite a bit of coverage, and 1 dog. And we wrapped half an hour early.

I am too picky about the craft to simply point the camera at something and shout action.

Whoah there, cowboy, let's reign it in. Please do not suggest that that's what I'm doing.

Solo film making is for experimental or documentary work. There's just too much to do for it to work well for narrative features - with RARE exceptions that require specific personalities, resources, and LOTS of time.

Oh? That's odd, because the three success-stories I've mentioned had almost no resources or time. Personality they had.

I do hope what you've got going works out for you in some way.

That's good enough for me. Thanks! :)

At some point, you're going to have to turn to general film technique if you are to be taken seriously. How many films with 'no lighting' become known or profitable? Very very few--unless you're talking about an uber-viral Youtube video that led to future backing...and how often does that happen?

Look, I'm definitely not talking trash about what you do. As of now, all I know of your work is the little tidbits I've seen of "Nun of That", and that's enough for me to say, "Hey, that's cool; I wanna see that". Not blowing hot air up your butt -- when I've got a little more time on my hands, that movie is on my short list to see in the near future.

However, if you wanna talk odds, how many people find success following your methods? Out of how many people who are following your methods? And that's out of how many people who'd like to try your methods, but don't ever find the resources to try them?

I would highly recommend you get some more crew on your next piece and work *all* of the elements you can use to tell the story. And give yourself plenty of time, so you aren't constantly rushed to shoot something.

I would also highly recommend that I get a bigger crew and take more time. It's not that I don't want it. It's that I don't have it. Silly goose.

If you're banking on your story and actors alone to gain you and your production company respect, then you'd better have Stephen King writing, and Gary Oldman acting.

I'm not banking on anything. What I hope for is to create something that people will have fun watching, and in the process, maybe we can make a few heads turn. Maybe. Only one way to find out.

By the way, I think you've unintentionally disparaged the work of a director.

looks pretty good.

Thanks!
 
Strictly my opinion. Citing 3 film makers out of who knows how many dozens of thousands who have tried the same thing simply makes my point for me. It's, as I said, a rare exception. In fact, anyone making it anywhere with any approach is a rare exception - but that's no reason to stop. I'm not telling you not to do anything, on the contrary working on your film is the best possible thing to be doing. That's something of value regardless of what happens.

I'm not a director, I'm not a writer, I'm a shooter. I'm an image guy, currently a freelance AC by trade. My approach is going to be inherently different and that's fine. It does make me a sad panda to see so many films that could have been really great suffer from lack of attention to the most basic of film making craft.

But in all honesty dude, in college I co-edited a feature on final cut (a friend an i split the thing in half because she was so behind schedule) that this young woman shot after spending all of her money on her camera (xl-1, at the time new). Similar no lighting, fast as we can shoot approach. The result was less than stellar.

I am certain though that you are better writer than she is and have more interesting folks in front of the camera. No, really, she was almost as bad of a writer as she was an actress, but I digress. You're already way ahead of her because you used the word coverage. :lol:

Either way out of it, folks come here for feedback and discussion - hopefully we're on the same page there. ;)
 
Strictly my opinion. Citing 3 film makers out of who knows how many dozens of thousands who have tried the same thing simply makes my point for me.

Ah. But what I'm saying is that it's not dozens of thousands. More like dozens.

The three filmmakers I cite as examples all have very different techniques from each other (as do I, from them). What they share in common is an unparralleled work ethic, an undying desire to tell a good story, despite any limiting production values. THAT'S what I'm trying to emulate.

I don't see dozens of thousands of people doing that. I see dozens of thousands of people joining rank-and-file to toe the line.

Either way out of it, folks come here for feedback and discussion - hopefully we're on the same page there. ;)

Damn skippy!

P.S. The XL-1 was badass. My first camera to really work with was the GL-1, and I loved it, yet I envied those with the XL-1.
 
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What if I bought 2 (I have the money) and place them really close to each other.

!!!

The footage looks good by the way. I like the theater scene.

But, how are you going to take out those 2 poles from the dolly track you made?
 
What if I bought 2 (I have the money) and place them really close to each other.

!!!

The footage looks good by the way. I like the theater scene.

But, how are you going to take out those 2 poles from the dolly track you made?

You'll still have to squint really hard.

Thanks. I wasn't planning on taking out the tracks. I shot it thinking I would either seriously crop the image, or just cut it in later, by which point the tracks are out of the shot. But then, Buddy Greeny sent me some quick work he did in AE, and it looked terrific. Makes me think that with a little time invested in post, I don't need to worry one dang bit about no stinking tracks in the shot.
 
What if I bought 2 (I have the money) and place them really close to each other.

Use one of those 90 degree half silvered mirror setups like this:

http://www.4rfv.co.uk/industrynews.asp?id=114169

Someone's gotta make one for dslr. :hmm:

Cracker: You should add Cannibal the Musical to your list of "Got people somewhere with basic stuff" films, speaking of South Park. Anyway, looking forward to seeing some edited scenes. Like I was telling my buddy the other day, whatever it is - just go for it. I tend to ramble to help me figure out what I mean. :lol:
 
The footage looks a lot better than what I had with my crappy camera and just house lights.

AHA!!! This thread has totally changed into something I didn't start it for, and that's fine. We've been debating producing techniques (to light, or not to light), and it's been a healthy exchange of ideas, so that's all good.

HOWEVER, rockerrockstar's comment is the ONLY thing I was really trying to say. I've used other cameras, and I'm just trying to let the little guys out there know that if you don't have much to work with (or don't feel you have the time to properly set up), this is your camera.

David, I look forward to showing something more complete. Thanks!

Shooting time! Gotta go.
 
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