So it's not like this hasn't been done before, but it was a first time for me. Deliberately distorting an image before it is captured is an art form...and I'm learning that the fun way :) We've all used ND filters or at least a UV filter right? Maybe even a polariser or a grad? The point being that the idea of placing something in front of your glass to enhance or change your recorded image is an idea that has been around for a long time. But let's dig deeper into that theory. You are preconceiving what you want to capture, and you have ideas about how you want your final image to look, before you are anywhere near your camera....now that's one powerful way to create. I mentioned that I'm doing this the fun way...and by that, I meant that it's fun to experiment. I knew that I wanted a warm and rich look for these shots, but I also wanted flairs and some distortion, maybe some uneven blurriness and who knows....lets just see what we get. With all experimentation, I generally at least have an idea of what will work and what wont, but I'm never sure...and with this shoot, I was more than happy with the results.
The unnerving thing about shooting with a RED camera is that you really have to trust your intentions with the RAW data and what is actually displayed on the monitor. The richness of colour and wonderful contrast you see in the image above is nothing close to what I was seeing on the back of the 5" RED Touch LCD. But...I knew that it was hidden in there somewhere.
What I wasn't completely prepared for was the beautiful red cast that came from the ND's that I purchased on Ebay! (great service, fast postage, thanks fotocola). I knew I was purchasing a cheaper variety and also knew from some research that usually, cheaper ND's have a color cast - something that usually is a bad thing. But for this experiment, I was pleasantly surprised and loved the result. One obvious thing that comes from experimenting is the result, but the other bonus is knowledge. Putting something into practice that you may have only read about really does solidify your understanding. That being said, I could confidently shoot with these cheaper ND's knowing that I have a jump in the red channel to deal with. Not ideal, but that knowledge just saved me about $200 per ND filter!
Remember in my last blog post I was talking about how fun it is to play with RAW data? Well, I've attached a frame from this shoot for you to play with so you can experience the fun all for your self! Check the "downloads" section above to find the file. You'll also need RedCine-X PRO, a free program created by RED that allows you to edit, transcode and play with R3D files (native files recorded from a RED camera). It's almost a color correction suite....for free! Obviously it's missing the high end features of a real color application like DaVinci Resolve Lite (also free) but it's the perfect place for you to check your clips, resize and re-frame and finally, adjust the color to your liking. I've prepared a quick tutorial below which will help you get started.
So, back to the destruction ;) The idea was to create some home-made filters that would slide in front of the lens and create some organic (that word is SO overused these days) distortion and flairs. My dad is a gun. He's always willing to help me create ghetto shoulder rigs or anything I need for my shoots....and this time he delivered above par. I was like "dad, I need a couple of pieces of glass, 100x100mm, 2mm thick.....can you help me?" And within 24 hours I had 8 pieces ready to go! They fit perfectly into my matte box and I was excited to get destructive. I tried a few things....literally smashing a whole into the glass, scratching it with stones, sandpaper and gravel, and even sticking some laminate over parts of the glass. I really only tried two of the six pieces so I'm keen to get out there see what else they have to offer. The other cool thing is you can rotate them to get variation in the effect. The best thing above all is that your filter will be different to anyone else's filter, no matter what! I love this shit :)
So, if you're still reading...thanks! I'll hopefully get better at writing and am thinking of hiring someone to proof read what I do. I have lots of adventures and knowledge to share and am looking forward to doing bigger and better things both as a cinematographer and a blogger :)
I couldn't have shot this without the help from my Producer Joel Buncle, camera assist Nick Hancock and our lovely model, Tiffany Riddell.