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Monday, 17 August 2009 01:00

HD Cinematography on "Inside the Box"

Written by  Count Alexander
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DP Lex DuPont is a highly experienced veteran of broadcast shows and lists among his credits “Saving Grace,” “Lincoln Heights,” “Raines,” and eight seasons of “NYPD Blue.” His recent work for ABC includes the show “Private Practice” and a pilot for the new one-hour drama “Inside the Box.”

DP Lex DuPont is a highly experienced veteran of broadcast shows and lists among his credits “Saving Grace,” “Lincoln Heights,” “Raines,” and eight seasons of “NYPD Blue.” His recent work for ABC includes the show “Private Practice” and a pilot for the new one-hour drama “Inside the Box.”

Had you shot a lot of HD before “Inside the Box”?

Not really. I’d shot some, but not a big project like this. This was my first big one.

What were the main challenges for you?

We shot it on the Disney lot and then on location for a couple of days in Washington D.C., and for me the biggest challenge was trying to figure out the workflow to get from the original recording to dailies, as there were various ways we could approach it. One was to do on-set coloring; the other was to have our post house, Westwind, do it. After a lot of discussion with Randy Starnes, my final colorist, we decided the best and quickest way –– because I didn’t want to spend time in the tent and get hung up with on-set coloring and matching –– was to forget all the Look-Up Tables and treat it just like film. And that’s what I did. I never sent any timed LUTs to postproduction. I did shoot grayscales at the head of every scene like I do with film. Randy and I had a nice discussion before production about the intended look. We had a clear mutual understanding of color and brightness, so I just sent him footage and he made it look great.

What HD camera gear did you use?

We shot with a Genesis package from Panavision in Woodland Hills. The camera package was pretty straightforward, and one of the truly great things about using the Panavision system is that I was able to use virtually all the same lenses that I’ve used on the TV series I shot, the Primo prime lenses and the Primo 11:1s. It’s a great way to go!

Any surprises?

The most shocking thing to me was just how closely the HD behaved like film in terms of exposure. What I mean is that if you underexpose the HD slightly, say by half a stop, it behaves just like film. The colors get more muted and everything gets a little bit softer and more pastel-ish. And if you pump the light up and overexpose a little, a stop, then just like film the blacks get blacker, stuff gets harsher and lines get more pronounced.

Are you a fan of HD now?

Absolutely. My biggest concern going in was that I didn’t slow down due to having to spend time in the tent, and what I found was that after the first day, I virtually never went in the tent. I treated it just like film using my light meter. And what’s so funny is that my dailies timers said, “Lex, it’s just as if you were shooting film. At the beginning of the dailies session we set the controls and didn’t touch them again. We found your keys were just as consistent as when you shot film.” I’ll tell you, HD is the future for sure.

Disney
www.disney.com

Panavision
http://www.panavision.com/

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