Filtering by Author: Matthew Scott

YOU MUST HAVE A REALLY GOOD CAMERA! ( I do, but that's not the point )

"Wow! Cool shot! But of course it is, you've got a RED you lucky thing...what lens? "

You may have heard something similar before, and it does get frustrating. We spend hours, days, long nights, weeks away from our loved ones and years dedicating ourselves to the craft of photography (motion or stills) only to be summed up in a few seconds by the brand or logo on the side of our camera, which mind you, had nothing to do with luck - that logo cost a lot of money and required a lot of hard work to attain ;) Fortunately, I actually do think that most people, even the ones who say things like the quote above, DO know that the camera is only a part of the equation. "Wow, this food tastes delicious! You must have a really good oven..." Seems to expose the flaws of such a compliment even better, but you get my point ;)

I was a bit tricky when I posted these tests. Firstly, I knew that the Sony A7s had only just been released, which mind you, already has a reputation for being a low-light, full frame pocket sized monster. So I used words to describe this video that aligned with the strengths of the new Sony. I basically played on the hype that new camera's seem to get these days, and that's the point of this article.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II  Lens: Canon Kit Lens 24-105 f4 L  Light: Overcast daylight, Flames  Exposure: F4, 1/50th, 1250ISO

Download the above clip in 14-bit RAW .DNG and process it yourself (see DOWNLOAD SECTION), or grab a single RAW .DNG frame HERE :)

With a new camera/sensor being released every 6 months or less, it makes sense that companies push their product like there's no tomorrow - boasting new features like cleaner images, super sensitive sensors, higher dynamic range, amazing colour rendition, better resolution, etc, etc. The problem is, people seem to be getting carried away with the hype! Hype'd specs (or even actual specs) are NOT what makes nice images.

I was originally going to shoot this test with my RED Scarlet-X, but lately I've been playing with Magic Lantern (much love to you guys!!!) and the 5D Mark II. Being mindful of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the 5DII, using this super hack,  I've been getting some really, REALLY nice results. The workflow is SLOW, but the video quality is astonishing. I also revel in the fact that my 9yr old DSLR camera in some ways out-performs my RED. But I'll get into that later. For now, I just want you look at these test videos and think about how little the camera has to do with the shot. Actually, if you could imagine that these images were captured by the new Dragon sensor, or the new Sony A7s, how much would you want that camera? I mean look at the skin tones, the sharpness, how clean those blacks are at 1250iso (don't visit reduser if you don't want to talk about noise issues and the dragon), and look how much detail is in those flames! Could it be possible these clips were actually shot with a 5D Mark II through the 24-105 wide open (which has been through absolute hell)?? Absolutely.

Now days, the camera and the lens are not so important. Understanding light, contrast, exposure, composition and what is achievable in post is what really matters.

"Everyone who has a DSLR thinks they're a cinematographer" is the cynical sentence flooding blogs and forums of late, and let's face it, that's not entirely wrong. A more accurate one might be "Anyone with a DSLR can be a cinematographer, because now they have a powerful tool to learn with".

I was looking at purchasing the Panasonic GH4 to replace my trusty 5DII, but I've been holding back because I think I'd miss RAW too much, and the full frame. Maybe the next gen of DSLR's will offer something nicer? Meanwhile, I've been spending money on OTHER THINGS that I cannot wait to experiment with...blog post for that coming soon :)

Posted on October 30, 2014 .

I'M A DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY ( what does that mean, and is it okay with you? )

You know those conversations at parties where the discussion eventually ends up at:

"So, Matt, what do you do?"?

I've personally always felt uncomfortable labeling myself as a "Director of Photography", especially since I then need to go into detail about what that means exactly, and once that awkward explanation is done, the next question inevitably arises:

"Cool, how exciting! So what movies have you shot, anything that I would have seen?"

Hehe...no, probably not, unless you follow the indy circuit, or happened to be in Geelong for the two weeks THE NINJA was screening ;) I say. Either way, I just feel like I'm big-noting myself with the title "Director of Photography", only to end on what seems like a lack of success since I didn't shoot Skyfall or Transformers 8. But should I feel that way?

There's an interesting discussion going on over at REDUSER at the moment. While it tends to go off track and cover other topics, it got me thinking more about what it means to call yourself a cinematographer, or Director of Photography. 

Even though I've worked in Photography, television and post-production since my early 20's, I've really only got 4 years experience as a full time "Director of Photography", and it still feels a bit pretentious giving myself such a title. I know a title isn't what defines me, so how else does one make waves in this quickly rising sea of "DoP's"? Are you head of the camera department, working tirelessly to master the craft of lighting, camera movement, blocking, shooting for the story and post production techniques? Do you keep up to date with technology, learn new camera systems and test them? Do you work well with people, communicate clearly and enjoy collaborating with other departments, striving to bring a story to life with your own style whilst servicing the Director's and Writer's vision? Are you an artist, a technician and a teacher? Do you care more about the film you are working on than the #setlife pics of you and a zoom lens? And finally, is this what you do for a living?

Personally, I feel that if you think you think you're a DoP, then go ahead and call yourself a DoP :) I'm not here to enforce any unwritten laws - I'm just a guy who writes whatever he wants at a blog. I do however believe that with such a title, you need to understand the responsibility it carries. Remember, people like Roger Deakins use the same title. Does that mean by calling yourself a cinematographer or DoP, you're comparing yourself to the great masters of the trade? Not at all. But it's not a title that should be chosen lightly, or used without respecting/exploring what it fully represents.

Another reason this topic has been running around in my head of late, is because of this video: https://vimeo.com/100096260

Whilst I agree with some of the words and admire some of the beautiful shots in this clip, the whole thing just makes me shudder at the self importance it casts on "Cinematographers", and seems more like a "What it means to be a hipster" promo. We certainly are passionate about what we do, and there's more to it that positioning the camera and "lighting a couple of frames", but honestly this is NOT how I want to be perceived when I get asked that question at a party. Especially since the work I do relies so heavily on the involvement and collaboration of many other important departments.

Okay, wow, that got pretty heavy, pretty quickly. Sorry about that. I wasn't planning on having such a strong opinion...but it is Tuesday...that weird day of the week that doesn't seem to have much meaning.

Anyway, I guess I'm trying to make the point that you have to start somewhere, and if you're 100% dedicated to the job, respectful and professional, then when is it okay to define yourself as a DoP? How many years experience or IMDB credits do you need? And how many more times can I write the words DoP, cinematographer and Director of Photography in this post? AND! What is the difference between a Cinematographer and a Director of Photography? One sounds more important....and maybe that's my other point. Sounding important shouldn't be a big part of the equation, but I didn't invent the title! Anyway, back to what I love doing :) Got a Dragon in my grips this Thursday and look forward to seeing what it can do! PEACE!

Posted on August 5, 2014 .

GLOURIOUS BASTERDS ( a breakdown of the first chapter )

After the overwhelming response I got from my previous cinematography breakdown (see the Prisoners breakdown HERE) I've decided to dedicate another week of my life to creating a new one. It's really nice to know that people appreciate what I share here at the blog! When I started work on the Prisoners breakdown, I was not expecting it to be so well received and I'm really glad...

Posted on July 28, 2014 .

NEW DOWNLOADS SECTION (download that shit!)

RAW clips from 'Corruption' courtesy of Grass Valley.

It's been a long time coming but I've finally sorted out some sort of cloud storage solution so that I can share clips with you guys :) A few thank you's are in order too, because without the support and generosity from people like Steve Wise (Grass Valley), I wouldn't have quality content to share in the first place! Cameron McCulloch has also been kind enough to let me share a clip from his film "Sissy Boy", part of THIS popular DaVinci Resolve Tutorial (shot below)

Lucas Scheffel has also given me permission to share this shot from his film "Dead Therapy"! So excited :)

 They will be up soon, but for now, enjoy what is there. Over the next couple of weeks I'll upload more...but believe me you, it takes some serious time to organize this stuff. Many hours of research and design, and let's not forget it takes me about 5 hours to upload 1GB of data. Anyway, I hope this new feature of the blog helps you learn more and master your craft. It will be great for future tutorials too. Please respect that these clips are the property of either [MTS]Films or the corresponding writer/directors who have given me permission to share. Educational use only! If you would like to share your colour grading results, please mention the site and help me help you :) I'm always looking at ways in which I can serve the community. Thanks for visiting :)

Posted on May 16, 2014 .

DO YOU EVEN LOOK? (study your environment)

This morning I woke up for my first day in Dubai as I'm running a workshop for a production here. Ever since I was a kid, I've always been fascinated with my surroundings...how things around me worked, why they worked, how they got there and why...I would always ask mum, why? Mum actually reminded me of the day I would ask her what everything ate. What do trees eat? What do leaves eat? What do houses eat? How annoying I must have been hehe...anyway, that appreciation and fascination of my surroundings is still with me today. This morning I noticed a unique lighting design in my hotel bathroom, which got me thinking.... not what it eats or how it works, but how I could recreate it and use it for something like a Calvin Klein commercial...(me planning the future). And then I got thinking even more...the new generation's phrase "do you even lift" (google it if you're old like me) refers to someone who doesn't work hard enough at the gym, and also suggests that no matter how hard you work, it's not hard enough. I like it....and now I'm applying that same tag-line/humour/message to the learning and mastering of cinematography. Look at your surroundings. Appreciate what's happening in your environment when it comes to lighting, and get inspired. "do you even look?" is what I'm going to be asking my students today. Dubai day #1 FTW ;)

Posted on May 7, 2014 .

STUCK (A short drama I shot in Perth)

More than a year ago, Aaron Kamp (writer/director of STUCK) contacted me asking if I would be interested in shooting a film he had written. After a quick read I was sold! I love dramas...but before I speak too soon, I don't mean real life dramas. After agreeing to shoot the film in a few months time, about a week later I received a call from another producer asking if I would be interested in shooting a feature film. Problem was, the two film's dates clashed!! Now this next part is nothing I'm proud of, that's for sure. I sat with the idea for another week, thinking about the feature and how it might impact my career....and then I made the call. I was on the phone to Aaron, completely apologetic, telling him that even though I had already said yes to shooting his film, I had to cancel because I just agreed to go and shoot a bigger one. He took it surprisingly well (thanks mate)....but let's not forget that I also said that as a way of making it up to him, I would shoot his next film for FREE !!

Almost a year later, I got the call from Aaron, and as of yesterday we wrapped the 4 day shoot with great success :) Not to bore you too much longer, but since that experience I have decided to honor my commitments 100% of the time, no matter what. That means when I'm scheduled to shoot an indy short and I get a call from Cohen Brothers to shoot their next feature, I'll kindly and gently let them know that it will have to wait hehe ;)

So, Aaron was kind enough to let me share a few frames with you guys of which I've created some NEW LIGHTING SETUPS . We shot principal photography over three days and had a day of pickups, but it was well scheduled and things flowed on set. With 1 x 1.2K HMI, 1 x 575w HMI and 2 x 300 open-faced tungsten lamps, I had a lighting plan for the entire film. The curve ball was the direct sunlight on day 3, which was supposed to be overcast. That's where the 300x300 frame and silk came in handy, along with the 'we-are-so-lucky" free power outlet at the park, which gave me the 1.2K to help with contrast.

The other challenge was getting three car shots which REALLY required a proper car mount/rig. Something we didn't have. So with a pillow, some gaff tape and a single suction cap I managed to get two really nice shots, check out the vid below (coming soon) :)

I love playing with the grade and just going over the shots, looking for things I do and don't like about my work. I have a long way to go if I'm going to be working with the Cohen's, no doubt, but as I learn and experience things on different sets, I'm more than happy to share those things here, with you. Let's learn from each-other and lift the film industry all over the world. That's my plan!

For more info on the film, be sure to check out the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stuckshortfilm

Posted on May 3, 2014 .

NEW OFFICIAL TRAILER FOR 'Queen of the Bees' (fricken awesome short)

Last year was an amazing year for me as a cinematographer in Melbourne. I was involved in some very exciting projects and met some truly remarkable people. One film that I shot which was particularly challenging in terms of time and ambition was Queen of the Bees, written and Directed by Joseph Russell for Space Tourist Films. Although it's currently being submitted to festivals, here is the latest, official trailer for the film!! Enjoy :)

https://vimeo.com/93100489


Posted on April 28, 2014 .

HELP ME STORE STUFF FOR YOU (cloud storage for tutorial content)

I know I've been promising a lot lately in terms of downloadable footage and new tutorials but trust me, I haven't forgotten! I'm just trying to find time, but more importantly, I'm looking for a cloud storage solution that will allow me to share content with you guys, in gigs and gigs. Of course there is Drop Box and Google Drive, but they are slow and cumbersome. Also, if I'm to keep everything on my site absolutely free, I cannot afford to pay for a file sharing solution. Is there anyone out there with ideas or contacts that could solve this problem? Maybe a sponsor willing to support [MTS]Films? I'm looking into things like WE TRANSFER which is very nice.

In the mean time, I have a small tutorial coming with a project containing the first frame from every clip in CORRUPTION as a RAW .r3d snapshot. It's a nice compromise but nothing like being able to play with full clips.

Let me know your thoughts or any ideas, thanks!

Matt

Posted on April 22, 2014 .

GOOD PEOPLE AND GUNS (movie style poster shoot)

This post originally was going to have little to do with people, and more to do with lighting and art direction, but hey....

When the chips are down and life sucks I find it very difficult to actually ask for any sort of help or support. It's just the way I was raised - to be completely self sufficient. In some ways it's great because I always find a way to carry on, keep living the dream and pushing forward through what sometimes seems impossible. On other hand, it's rough because I FEEL like I'm literally on my own. That's clearly not the case since I have a loving family, wonderful friends and the best lover anyone could ask for :) 

I was going through a rough patch earlier this year, but whatevs, shit happens. What came from that was awesome though. My perspective on people and support became clearer and so did my vision of what I want to achieve with my career. The last shoot day of CORRUPTION was made possible by some awesome people of who'm I've already mentioned and thanked in previous blog posts, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to REALLY thank Paul Norton. 

I met Paul when looking for an armourer in Melbourne to get my film finished earlier this year and wow, what a breath of fresh air! There are really good people in this world and I feel lucky to have met and befriended Paul. Not only is he a talented DoP, but he also has one of the craziest gun collections I've ever seen. His respect and understanding of the craft of film-making sets him apart and makes working with him on any shoot an absolute pleasure, but on top of that, he's just a really good bloke :)

Not long after our first collaboration, Paul asked if I would be interested in shooting a poster for him to help promote his services as an armourer. We briefly spoke about the steampunk styled theme he was looking to achieve and what sort of lighting he would require. My job was simple since the styling and concept was left to their respective departments - all I had to do was light and shoot (and in this case it was a luxury only shooting for one single frame!). Below you'll see how I lit it, and some of the post processing I did for the finished shot.

I spent a lot of hours perfecting this shot, but I'm really happy with the results. It really is a luxury working on a still frame, as opposed to correcting a film which is constantly moving, but it does make the challenge more considerable since there seems to be no limit with what you can do in Photoshop.  

Finally, to give credit where credit is due, most of the "look", posing, styling, makeup, etc, was not done by me. Those things all add up to make something awesome, as does working with a crew who respect each other's job.  

Concept:  Paul Norton

Art Direction: Dan Johnson

Models: Kate Elizabeth Jean, Paul Norton, Steph Elkington

Makeup: Lucia Mammarella

Lighting, Photography and Post Production: Matthew Scott

Shot at: Portfire Studios 

Also a big thanks to Matt Weekes for his help on the shoot.

*For an overhead lighting diagram of this shot, click HERE and thanks for visiting :)



Posted on March 24, 2014 .

THE COLOR OF CORRUPTION ( grade almost done )

It's been a few months in the making but my first ever personal project is almost complete. A lot of ideas have grown since it's beginning, one of which is a film idea! Anyway, more on that later. In the mean time, here is a mosaic showing the basic color pallet I have chosen for the piece. Cliche for sure, but effective none the less. The piece is titled 'corruption', a spec perfume commercial I conceptualized, directed and shot (and now also coloring). I've always wanted to shoot a film about a detective, his love interest, slow-motion guns, rain and drama....so last year I decided to explore the possibilities of getting it done and here we are. I'll be releasing the finished film right after NAB this year, along with a new Resolve Tutorial :)

corruption_colours.jpg

Oh and BTW, if you're not following me on Instagram you're missing out on behind-the-scenes stuff and camera/set life :) Follow @mtsfilms thanks!

Posted on March 7, 2014 .

PEAKS & TROUGHS (sometimes it's shit)

2014. Since late last year It's been a shit-house couple of months...nothing is working out the way I planned, in fact nothing at all seems to be working out. I'm losing friends, loosing money and I'm apart from the person I love most (not for long honey!). I'm not sharing this because I'm looking for sympathy, I'm sharing it because it's real and it's part of my life. Ultimately, it's perfect I guess....Shit times like these give me new perspectives and a space to think. They also bring clarity to the bigger picture and my biggest dreams. Is it all better now? Time to take charge? No, not yet. I've still got some moping to do hehe ;) Keep'n it real!

Posted on February 27, 2014 .

LIGHTING FOR HIGH SPEED ( behind the scenes of "corruption" )

Grieg Fraser has been an inspiration for me since I stumbled upon this fricken awesome piece titled 'Burn', which he shot on a DSLR. From there I stalked him and found more of his television commercial work from a few years back. I really like his style and how far he has taken his career - especially since he's an Ozzie hehe :) Yep, he's an Australian DoP who is smashing it...Zero Dark ThirtySnow White and The Huntsman, and Killing them Softly are just a...

Posted on February 12, 2014 .

RESET (after seeing "HER" I got thinking)

Are you doing what you truly, deeply and desperately want to be doing with your life? If not, are you doing whatever you can to empower those around you? Just over 5 years ago I hit the reset button of my life. Not some soft reset, where most of your settings are retained. I'm talking, ripping the plug out of the wall reset, crash the system, total non-bootable, system failure, reset. It was quite literally my most terrifying experience to date (I just turned 33). At the time (2007) I had a long term partner, a house, my dream car, my own piano, an awesome cat, a big back-yard and I was just about to build an underground studio and buy a drum kit. The problem was, I hated my job(s), I wasn't happy in my relationship (after much effort to mend it) and I knew that my time could be spent doing much greater, much more rewarding things, or at least help others do the same. "Things" weren't even that bad.... I mean, I had great health, was relatively happy, had a reliable, disposable income and could basically do what most people enjoy doing - holidays at Christmas time, adventures on the weekends, movies on Tuesdays and take out twice a week. But let's go back to that phrase.... "relatively happy". That's the part that bugged me. To me now, that sounds like a living hell. I'd rather be depressed, than moderately happy. Sounds like a curse, right? Sometimes it feels like it. Sometimes, like this year so far (hate to sound negative hehe) it's shit. But I know those shit times aren't permenent, and usually a shit time means positive change is coming.

I have by no means figured out life, but I know that I'm now on a path that resonates with whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing on this earth and it's awesome. As I navigate my way through these uncharted waters (I'm a really bad swimmer), it's nice to remember that I'm lucky enough to have an amazing family that support me no matter what I do, beautiful friends to share experiences with and THE most perfect of perfect life companions to help me along the way - Laura McCann (love you maddly baby xx)

When life gets shit for too long, dont be afraid to change it... or better still, feel the fear and do it anyway. There really is no reason you shouldn't be doing what you love. These days with Facebook, Mini Magnums and 4K TV's, it's easier and easier to be "relatively happy". I say, fuck that. That's like watered down, diet cordial in a plastic cup. Grow some balls and hit that reset button. Or tell me I'm crazy and we can still be friends :) PEACE!

*you can Blame Spike Jonze for all of this*


Posted on February 4, 2014 .

LENS UP! (My Nikkors VS the Rockinon/Samyang Cine)

What's worse than a low light test? A LENS test of course!! Ahhhh tests. They are what fuels the internet when it comes to camera and film-making forums. So, here's one that's sure to get your argumentative type on. This is more of a comparison though, not really a test, but hopefully you'll get something positive out of it. Not long ago I purchased a Rokinon/Samyang Cine lens set which...

Posted on January 19, 2014 .

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? (dissecting the work of a master)

Can you imagine being a chef and going out for dinner to a new restaurant? Or a builder who's looking to buy a new home? What are they looking for in a meal? Or a house? I think it's natural for anyone passionate in their field to study and enjoy the work of their peers, but sometimes it gets in the way of the experience. I know I find it very difficult to watch a movie and NOT analyze the craftsmanship behind it....but you know you're watching a good one when all you can see is the story un-fold, but even then I can't help but notice...

Posted on January 17, 2014 .

TEASERS & TRAILERS AHOY!

I have never been good with patience. Ever since I was a kid I would get frustrated having to wait for anything! Now, don't let that paint any spoiled-little-brat pictures of me in my youth...I was far from it. The difference is that now I'm almost an adult (I'm 33), I have complete control over my life....right? hehe....again, far from it! I'm still just as impatient as I ever was.

When you're lucky enough to shoot exciting films like NINJA: Immoveable Heart, Queen Of The Bees and Dead Therapy (I also hear that something isn't too far away with Thrombosis, Daniel?? hehe) there's the frustrating part that comes with the job. Waiting. Sure you get to look through the lens and get a quick review of a shot, but waiting to see something from the depths of post can feel like a lifetime! That being said, when a teaser lands...it really does tease! Working on set as DoP is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had (and I've many)...but actually seeing everyone's hard work come together on the screen is something very special indeed.

DEAD THERAPY

Written by Brett Bentman, Directed by Lucas Sheffel

NINJA: IMMOVEABLE HEART

Written & Directed by Rob Baard

QUEEN OF THE BEES

Written & Directed by Joseph Russell

2013 has been amazing!! Bring on 2014 :)

Posted on December 2, 2013 .

[ DEAD THERAPY ] Colour Grading & The Film Look

For my presentations at InterBEE this year, (trade-show in Japan, kinda like NAB but smaller), I was demonstrating color correction at the Grass Valley booth. I talk about knowing your medium and how super important it is for DP's to understand the process of colour grading and what can be done in post. When you know the advantages and limitations of RED footage for example, it really does help you make better choices on set - shooting with optimal ISO's for a given situation, using the right white balance, understanding RED's resolutions, etc, etc. So knowing your medium is important, but so is actually having some grading skills under your belt. What bugged me over the past few days though, was that people were asking me to show them how to create "the film look". Or how to create a "Hollywood" look.

Lucas Sheffel, director of DEAD THERAPY (written by Brett Bentman) was kind enough to let me share this clip from the film with you before the trailer is even released! (Madness, thanks man!) I think it's a great example of "the film look"...but I also think it has little to do with how I graded it. Sure, it looks pretty slick (even if I do say so myself), but most of that "look" has to do with the AWESOME location, AMAZING acting, the blocking, the dust on the steps that I made sure was floating there before each take and of course, the lighting and lens choices I made. Let's no forget makeup and wardrobe either....and remember, this shot doesn't even have sound added to it yet. Can you imagine how much more engaging it could be with the first sound you hear being that shotgun shell falling into frame? Mad.

Anyway my point is, "the film look" isn't just some LUT and a few nodes that transform your shots into masterpieces. Yes, colour grading is amazing and adds huge value to any shot, but once again, it's about collaboration and dedication. It's about caring enough about what you're doing before production, during the take and later in post. When all departments come together and share the same passion and dedication, magic happens.

Below is a 30 minute tutorial where I show you step by step how to create this look :) Thanks for visiting!

(here is the youtube version if you have trouble with vimeo: http://youtu.be/lvRhE93aNS8)

 

Posted on November 15, 2013 .