Film Students

Last December somehow turned out to be Filmschool Month for me. 

Patrick Geeraerts, head of the editing department of RITS in Brussels, asked me to deliver a lecture on the Ikonoskop for some sixty 2nd year students (directors, screenwriters, multi-cam directors, …). I asked what the scope for this class would be and he replied: “Try to broaden their horizon!”

I don’t know if I succeeded in broadening their horizon but the lecture went somewhat like this: 1923 - Kodak - 16mm film -WWII - S16 - Eclair - Aaton - Ikonoskop SP-16 - Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. And of course on the matter of 16mm not only as an economic but also an esthetic choice. About workflow and more importantly about how filming is all about preparation and less about improvisation (some will find this debatable).

I also let Lennert De Taeye, film student at KASK in Ghent and by now experienced A-Cam dII operator, use a camera at his school for the purpose of shooting some acting exercices.

But I’ll let him speak for himself:

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In December the ikonoskop was used to shoot several acting exercises of third year film students at KASK . The school provided a RED 0ne (first generation sensor), but I’m not very fond of the image this camera produces. Luckily Joachim was so kind to provide the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII! After using it last year on a project I started to like the organic feel of the images from the Ikonoskop.  

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The first day I worked as a cinematographer. We shot everything,  except for one scene, on a dolly,  with the Vocas shoulder rig. This rig and the Ikonoskop work really well together, the counter weight on the Vocas rig is very effective to stabilize the camera movement.

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The second day the Ikonoskop was equipped with a TVLogic monitor. The compact size  of the Ikonoskop was excellent for the type of shooting: very close on the ground scenes. 

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The third day the Ikonoskop stayed on the camera tripod and rails. As director’s monitor we used a JVC monitor, the SDI-output gives a really nice image on the JVC we used.

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Last day was another shoulder cam day, this time with a very compact rig (the Vocas was unfortunately not availble).

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The data was transferred, and backups were made, on set with the express card reader to standard USB 3 drives (=fast!). 

The little camera did catch quite some attention. But everyone seem to like the image on the monitor. (Some even surprised that this little camera could produce such a great image).

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We shot with a set of Zeiss Superspeeds. Timecode generated from the Aaton Cantar. Resolve 9 and audio autosync is great! Little disadvantage you need to resync timecode every time you change the battery.

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Too handle the magenta issue I set the raw settings in Resolve 9 to BMD Film. Add contrast and saturation to bring back the image as shot. XML for round tripping between resolve 9 and FCP 7.

Looking forward to see the film’s projected in the school cinema!”

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- Lennert De Taeye

Starting Point for Grading in DaVinci Resolve

In a prior post about Resolve, I wrote about my quick fix to get rid of magenta in the shadows and I mentioned it’s only one of several ways to get rid of it. All you want is a good starting point for your grading.

It’s in the grading that lies the power of the uncompressed raw CinemaDNG of course. That’s why you bought or use the camera in the first place.  As Ikonoskop has always mentioned: the dII does the capturing, your computer does the processing afterwards. There’s no processing of the image in camera. No curves, no rolloff, no LUT. There are many things you have to be aware of to get the most out of your Ikonoskop footage. After all, it’s all about luminance and chrominance. And with the dII, it’s you who’s in control, not the camera. You not only need to be maybe the director, DP, editor and colorist, you’re also the guy or girl in the lab developing your film.

That doesn’t make it easy to get quick results at first of course. It needs studying and a lot of trial and error. But after a while you get better at it, you’ll make your own presets and LUT’s you can trust and most of all, you will have control over your images like you’ve never had before.

So if you see footage out there with whites that aren’t really white, with harsh highlights, with a magenta or green or blue or whatever cast in the shadows, and it’s difficult to assume it was an artistic choice, don’t go blaming the camera or the sensor. They’re quite alright actually. It’s all in the hands of the one who’s responsible for the grading.

Just watch this to see how nice Ikonoskop footage can look:

But anyhow, I started out by mentioning those other ways to get a good starting point in Resolve, in addition to my IkonoVinci.lut. Apparently not everyone finds it so easy to install this LUT. And I really suck at making tutorials.

So I’ll leave the making of tutorials to people more capable and this leads me, quite seamlessly, to another way to get a good starting point without magenta in the shadows. It’s written buy a new Ikonoskop owner, Jesse Borkowski, and it’s a great tutorial. I’m not quite sure about using the Linear Gamma setting, but that’s just my opinion. 

The third possibility I’d like to share with you is something you might like if you’re used to working with LOG style footage. Like ARRI’s LOG C or Sony’s S-Log. Set the color space, in the Camera Raw settings (see video above) to BMD Film and be amazed by the details you’ll see in highlights and shadows without any strange color casts, but with the all familiar washed out LOG type ‘look’. Now drop your familiar LUT’s on your footage, and I’m guessing you’ll find that the result will be pretty close to what you’re getting with other LOG footage.