Where I’ve been and How to utilise your DIT

Wow, its almost a year since I was on here. Man what a year it has been and still is being.
I’ve been in constant work since the beginning of August straight through until now.

The shows I’ve worked on as Lab Operator and DIT are:
Will – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5734140/combined

The Tunnel – S3 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2711738/combined

Collateral – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6729080/combined

But unfortunately I’ll have to leave this until another day.

On the other hand, a DIT is valuable to very Production and Director of Photography / Cinematographer.
The reason why I’m saying this is not because I’m coming to the end of a shoot in two weeks, but I say this from the bottom of my heart because I’ve seen what can happen if you don’t and if you don’t employ the correct people.

The horror stories that I hear on a regular basis are:
*Drive backup not complete
*Card was not backed-up and formatted
*No error checking or Quality Control checks onset
*Hard Drives weren’t formatted correctly
*Renamed clips creating errors in post production

DIT’s are expensive but in the olden days you’d employ a lab to sort out your film processing, etc. Well thats what a DIT does, they help you to get all your footage to editorial in the safest and best way possible.
A good DIT checks the live image advises the Camera Department and the Cinematographer on any issues, gets your camera rolls / cards offloaded, quality controlled, grade added to the Cinematographers wishes, processed to your post production specs, including an audio sync.

All that including knowledge of the camera and all the technical details that is required for the image.

Now that is alot for 1 person to do, but its what any good DIT should be able to do.
I can’t stress enough the importance of a good DIT, in the long run they will make sure that your storage is suffient and that you will be able to jump from your edit straight into your VFX, DI and Grade with no issues. Infact I’d almost say that you’d probably save money on this as the metadata that the DIT has saved and captured for you will help everyone out.

All I can say if you are looking for someone to help you out with your data and editorial needs please do give me an email and I’d be more than happy to advise, or put you in touch with an amazing Digital Imaging Technician Agency.

As I always say. “I’m always happy to help” 🙂


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A Minute In The Mind Of Man

A new short film that I was the Cinematographer on.

“A Minute In The Mind Of Man”- Directed by Nigel Alred

Watch it now:

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Lighting and Lamps

The thing with Cinematography is knowing what your lights are and what they are used for.
Its like your paints and paint brushes for an artist and what you want to highlight and what you want to keep dark.

Before I get started, what you should understand is that LED lighting is taking over and have shown that there is a good need for LEDs. Although it is horses for courses as there seems to be alot of lamps to go through and many, many lamps doing different things.
So here is a little LED Lighting Guide to get your head around:

Resources that are helping me with this post are:

Tumblr/ Blogs/ Resources about Lighting:

Incandescent Lighting:
An incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe is an electric light with a wire filament heated to a high temperature, by passing an electric current through it, until it glows with visible light (incandescence).

Fresnel Spotlight:
Location-10Kw, 5Kw, 2Kw, 1Kw, 650W, 500W, 300W, 150W
*Studio- 24Kw, 20Kw, 12Kw, 10Kw
*Pole – 10Kw, 5Kw, 2.5Kw, 2Kw, 1Kw
Lamp Look:

Lamp Spread and useages:

Specs: (Location)

Rating 1000 watts, 120-240VAC
Socket (Lampholder) G22 Bi Pin
Lens (Condenser) 5.9″ (150mm) low expansion borosilicate Fresnel lens
Reflector (Mirror) Spherical specular high purity aluminum
Mounting 5/8″ Baby spigot
Yoke Tubular
Cable 10′ (3 m) Power Cable, switch, Edison plug
Focusing Front and rear mounted knobs
Weight 10.1 lbs (4.6kg)
Dimensions 16.8 x 11.4 x 8.8″ (42.7 x 29 x 22.4cm) (HxWxD) including yoke and mount

More information:

Also to add: Fresnels – LEDs:


Optical System Focusable Fresnel
Lens Diameter 175 mm / 7 inch
Beam Angle 15 – 50 (Half Peak Angle)
Weight 12.5 kg (27.5 lbs)
Handling Adjustable Sliding Stirrup, High Strength Tilt Lock,Pole Operation Option (Pan, Tilt and Focus)
Mounting 28 mm Spigot (Junior Pin)
Tilt Angle +/- 90
Power Supply Range 100 – 250V AC, 50-60Hz
Power Consumption 160 W Nominal, 220 W Maximum
Power Connection Schuko
White Light 2800 K – 10.000 K Continuously Variable Correlated Color Temperature
Colored Light Full RGB+W Color Gamut with Hue and Saturation Control
Color Temperature Tolerance +/- 100 K (nominal), +/- 1/8 Green-Magenta (nominal)
Color Rendition CRI 95 (3200K to 6500K)
Green-Magenta Adjustment Continuously Adjustable (Full Minusgreen to Full Plusgreen)
Dimming 0 -100% Continuous
Control 5-Pin DMX In and Through, Optional On-Board Controller, Mini-USB
Remote Device Management (RDM) DMX Setup, Hour Counter and Standard RDM Commands
Mini-USB Interface DMX Setup, Fixture Status and Firmware Upgrade Through PC Software
Housing Color Blue-Sliver
Ambient Temperature Operation Hybrid: -20 – 35 C (-4 – 95 F)
Protection Class IP 20 (Optional IP 23)
Estimated LED Lifetime (L70) 50,000 hours
Estimated Color Shift Over Lifetime -200 K
Certifications CE, GS, FCC, cNRTL, CB, ISO9001:2000

More Info at:

– Atlas Fitting – 1.5K, 500W

Broad – 1.25K
– Blonde – 2K
– Molette – 2K, 1K
– Nooklight – 2K, 800W, 650W
– Pulsar – 650W
– Redhead – 800W

All of these

Red Head – This was most commonly used in Film and Video production.

Using Flood light as a key source:

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that Flood lighting is mainly tungsten lighting and is used widely throughout many productions.
The uses are so broad but they mainly used as key light or to flood a scene with light to get an even amount of exposure once done correctly.
As I said before that these tungsten (32K) lights are being used as flood but if your mixing these lights with daylight(56k), you may want to add CTB filtration onto your lanterns.

An example of using tungsten bulbs for sunlight:

Lighting More Info:

Ideas on spot and flood lighting and how they have been used in films:

Talking about LED flood lighting and later Soft lighting, but for those who can’t afford lighting and who are starting out like myself. These are some videos that could give you inspiration and help you out with little or no budget at all:

I have lit a scene once just with flashlighting and torch lighting. This scene was one torch (1million candle power) “Immortal Longings”:
1Shot on a 5D mrkii it was pitch black as it was night. But the white shirts came in handy as this was a chase scene and the character is lit all the time by the light until the character who is going to kill the other character gets close, only then do you see her when she is close enough.
This film was for a 48hr competition. I had for lighting 3 Red Heads for indoor lighting but outside I had to rely on natural lighting, and bounce poly boards.
Then of course for the night-time shooting the use of the torch lights.
Here is the trailer for the short film – “Immortal Longing” by Lindsey Kennedy:

Immortal Longings: The Trailer from Lindsey Kennedy on Vimeo.

60 second trailer for TePonui’s horror-thriller, IMMORTAL LONGINGS. The 10 minute version was created in just 48 hours and screened as part of the 48 Hours Later film festival in 2011. The longer version will be released this Summer.

Cast & Crew

Written, Directed & Edited by… Lindsey Kennedy
Director of Photography… James Ian Gray
1st Assistant Director… Pedro Rilho
Production Assistant … Sarah Woolley

Cath… Shereena Glean
Emily… Charlotte Mulliner
Dr. Mandeville… Duncan Alldridge
Jamie… Michael Borch
Rochelle… Amy Joanna Shone

The amazing thing with YouTube is that there are so many good inspiring videos and analysing lighting, etc. This gives you a chance to understand how pros also light:

HMIs are possibly the most famous of all lighting.
(Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodide)
“HMI is a type of light which uses an arc lamp instead of an incandescent bulb to produce light.
HMI lights are high-quality and correspondingly expensive. They are popular with film and television production companies but their price puts them out of reach of those with modest budgets.
HMI lights require a ballast, an electronic (or magnetic) device which provides the ignition pulse and regulates the arc.”

*HMI (Discharge Lighting):
– Location Fresnel Spotlight HMI-SE (MSR) – 12K, 6K, 4K, 2.5K, 1.2K, 572W, 200W, 125W

– Fresnel Spotlight HMI-DE – 18K, 12K, 6K, 4K
– PAR Spotlight HMI-SE (MSR) – 18K, 12K, 6K, 4K, 2.5K, 1.2K, 800W, 575W, 400W, 200W, 125W, 50/21W

Here is a video on about HMI and new lamps, mainly explaining about the new technology and bulbs:

HMIs are widely used and are most Cinematographers favourites.
Here is how they work and how to set up the lamp:

Also more uses:

You can see that with a HMI is that it gives you a very soft but bright light. These HMIs can also be called Fresnel HMI which means that the glass at the front is a HMI.

Moving on now to Softlighting.
A lot light flood lighting but mainly used as fill light.

HMIs are daylight bulbs approx 56-62Kelvin.
“An HMI lamp uses mercury vapor mixed with metal halides in a quartz-glass envelope, with two tungsten electrodes of medium arc separation. Unlike traditional lighting units using incandescent light bulbs, HMIs need electrical ballasts, which are separated from the head via a header cable, to limit current and supply the proper voltage. The lamp operates by creating an electrical arc between two electrodes within the bulb that excites the pressurized mercury vapor and metal halides, and provides very high light output with greater efficacy than incandescent lighting units. The efficiency advantage is near four fold, with approximately 85–108 lumens per watt of electricity. Unlike tungsten-halogen lamps where the halide gas is used to regenerate the filament and keep the evaporated tungsten from darkening, the mercury vapor and the metal halides in HMI lamps are what emit the light. The high CRI and color temperature are due to the specific lamp chemistries.”

What does a HMI look like and its bulb:

*Soft Lighting:
– Aurasoft – 4k, 3k
– Northlight – 5k, 2k, 1.25k
– Obi Light – 500W
– Rifa-Light – 1K, 600W, 500W

– Softlight – 5K, 4K, 2.5K, 1.25K, 1K, 800W, 650W, 300W
– Spacelight – 4.8K– Top-Hat – 2K
– Zaplight – 5K, 2.5K, 1.6K, 800W

If your wondering the difference between hard (harsh) lighting compared with softlight, here is a photographic view of what it means:

For a video look at hard and soft light:


These kind of lights give a flat but even light and are normally used in Studios.
I guess that the location version of this would be:

The Genball/ Chinese lantern light.
These lights are very soft and extremely even, I would say only use these if you needed extra light to cover unwanted shadows.

Sometimes these lights are used in studios to give natural lighting say for an outdoor set or if you Green screening for an outdoor background/ environment.

I’ve also seen the Genball be used in walking shots, as these lanterns can be carried and have also been used as keylight on a close up.


A Rifa light is one of these:

As you may understand by now that softlight is very diffused light, giving you a gradual fall out of light instead of a harsh one.

Kino Flo / Tube Lighting:
Before I get going with Kinos these are possibly the most widely used lamp ever, they are so easy to use and so easy to setup.
Like LED they don’t admit too much heat unlike bulb lamps which I’ve mainly covered in this blog post.

The types of Kino Flo you can get are:
8Ft (Single or Double)
6Ft (Single, Double, or Blanket 16 Tubes)
4Ft (Single, Double, 4 Bank, or 2-10tubes)
2Ft (Single, Double,or 4 Bank)
15″ (Single, Double,or 4 Bank)

Also Kino Minis and much more.

I have used Kino Flos many many times in corporate work and have seen them been used on commercials or in Dramas where they need to add in light from above, eg fluorescent tube lighting.
They give a soft but bright light. They are also known as the lazy way of lighting sometimes, especially if too many are in use

For example of an interview that I shot and my lighting setup:
2014-01-20 10.28.41
I used x3 Kinos plus a Diva to make the subject’s face cast a slight shadow on the left side of their face. Therefore not giving you flat light but at the same time giving you an even exposure.
I wish I could show you the out come of the video but most of my corporate work is confidential and for internal use only.

The thing with Kino Flo and Diva lighting are that they come with Daylight and Tungsten tubes which are easy to take out and change.

On terms of Tube lighting these are like LEDs, in a sense of how they are used and what they give, for example here is someone that will try to sell you their light:

How to use a Kino Flo:

There are so much I could put in this blog and I’ve tried to do it in a visual way with tutorials of YouTube and me briefly talking about my experiences but I feel its only really touched the surface with lighting and to be honest as I have said before there are so many different lights out there with so many different uses, but in the end of the day it’s up to you and your style. It’s up to you how you light your scene and how you go about making it look good. 🙂


The main thing that you’ve got to understand is even though you have all these lights and you want the most newest and expensive lights, I’d suggest that you looks at what you want to achieve and what the location gives you as you might find that instead of using 10 lights you only really need 2 or 3 lights. For example as this YouTube video makes clear:

But at the same time Lighting is about practice and experimentation and more that I play and post on here, the more that I will learn and the more that others will too.
For example here is an amateur but good way of testing lighting:

ENJOY and Peace out. 🙂

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Short Film – The Brain Hack – Joe White

The Brain Hack – Short Film from Joe White on Vimeo.

DANGER View with extreme caution.
Two students create a short-cut to induce hallucinogenic visions of God, and find themselves hunted by a deadly religious sect.

For the full ‘Brain Hack’ experience, visit the website: www.thebrainhack.com
Follow us at facebook.com/thebrainhack
And listen to the soundtrack: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-brain-hack-ep/id963432873

WINNER – Best Short – Sci-fi London International Film Festival
WINNER – Best Short – Best Music – Best Actor – The British Horror Film Festival
WINNER – Best Director – Los Angeles Short Film Festival
WINNER – Audience Favorite – Seattle Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival
HONORABLE MENTION – Boston Science Fiction Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – BFI London Film Festival, Brussels Short Film Festival, Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival, Big Apple Film Festival, LA Indie Film Fest, London Independent Film Festival, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, British Shorts Berlin.

You have to watch this film first before you read on otherwise there are a lot of spoilers to this post.

All I can say is in my opinion this is an amazing piece of work. Just everything about it is top notch, high and professional. Its to be honest one of the best short films that you could ever watch. Its got a the feeling of a feature but in a small short film package.

The only thing that sticks in my mind is that it’s a short film, could it be made into a feature?
Does the twist at the end make it only a short or could it be made into something more?

I’d suggest that the shortness of the whole piece and the pacing it was only ever going to be a short, there could be a possibility of expanding it into a feature but I think it would change the story and not only that but the perfection of the pacing that it delivers.

The film offers you cinematography that breaks the fourth wall via documentary style type footage, with a mixture of horror camera techniques, simplistic drama techniques, CCTV and archive/ packshot book/ photo/ internet stills, with added computer graphics. That all edited together grabs the audience and keeps the story moving along with quite a bit of pace.
Although most of the story is dialogue heavy its very interesting that it takes place in many different locations, mainly being University and the guys flat, with a couple of exteriors for establishers and street for tension and running scenes.
The over all feel to the film has a British style to it, almost one that you get when your watching an British Independent Film.
The canvas for the Cinematography is 16:9 – 1.77:1. Cinematographer: Dan Stafford-Clark (http://www.stafford-clark.com/)

Dan is an NFTS graduate and I can only say that that Film School produces a huge amount of amazing talent and from looking at Dan’s work I have to say this guy has an amazing style and flair and I don’t even know Dan.

Anyway before I get too carried away lets have a look at a few stills of this short film:
Fig.1, Fig.2, Fig.31 2 3



This is where the point of the story begins, the unravelling of whats actually going to happen and what they need to find out starts.
I found it quite strange with starting with a MCU on the main character (Fallon) looking under a lamp, but at the same time it’s very human. The lighting is natural and simplistic. Most the light is coming from outside and being defused by blinds. I’m guessing HMIs outside directing like sunlight into the room to give a soft, non harsh, no sun or sun is bouncing off other objects around, evening/ late afternoon look. There are two practical lights on the desk and one in the distance which dirties the shot on the wide.
The room suggests it is a study area as this is what it has been decorated as.The grade through out is a very clean possibly just adding in colours that are already around, like this scene is very clean white with slight orange and brown undertones mixed in the blacks and mids.

The next part to the story is to find out where the God part of the brain is, but each and every time that they try to find it or activate it, it then shuts down.
Fig.4, Fig.5, Fig.6
4 5 6



This scene starts off with Harper with the head set on and Fallon looking at the screens, but having not much luck Harper comes over and confirms what Fallon is seeing.
The story is showing that there needs to be more for this to work, they have hit a rut and not until the end does Fallon make a creepy joke does the story start taking a horror/ thriller twist.

The colours through this scene are orange with dominant blue and red creating a purple tint. This technique was mainly used in 80-90s and it gives an artifice look which leads the audience into a mysterious outset and feeling.
The scene has lots of light and shade and extreme darkness, could possibly be that this is showing the audience they don’t have the knowledge as of yet and that they have more to find out.

The kind of lighting with in this is again light from outside through windows but only a hint, added with orange lighting from practicals. The main key light is from the computer screens, which I’m guessing was also added with extra LED lighting and a side red fill light with diffusion.

Even though the lighting from the mid to close up shots do change mainly due to the red light changing strength from each shot this is not distracting to the viewer.

The grade is very clean, clear and easy to the eye. I’d only say that the monitors have been adjusted in post as they are white. This would naturally make the practical lighting different more orange/ yellow as you can see in Fig.4 and Fig.8. It does seem in the scene that the saturation of the whole piece has been bumped up which would make the colours stand out and give that extra little ping to the scene, and enheightens the mystery.
Fig.7, Fig.8


One thing that I found strange is that there are two mid shots/ two shots of them both. Although I feel that it works very easily and is pleasant on the eye. Although to be honest even though it is a Mid shot of Harper and a close up of Fallon the wider shot in Fig.8 is Mid to both of them therefore giving the audience a feeling that this scene has finished.

Fig.9, Fig.10
9 10




These two Figures are of the cut aways to the screen. This breaks up the action slightly giving you an understanding to what the character are looking at. Also to see what they are seeing and what the results are. Therefore this adds tension and increases the mystery even more.

As I said before it seems that the grade or white balance has been taken from the monitors giving a clean look on them. Cleaning meaning that the whitepoint is on the Monitors.

From this the story takes a turn and Fallon disappears because he has seen people following him. This spooks Harper a little until he gets a call off Fallon, asking him to come around and then makes him fear him which leads to him finding God. This is the pinnacle of the story.

The audience wants to know more from this point, what are they going to find out? how are they going to use it? what happens next?

Fallon is tracked down and killed by the God people who don’t want this secrete getting out.
Harper checks up on Fallon to find out he is dead and is now on the run from these people, he is now being followed.

Fig.11, Fig.12, Fig.13, Fig.14, Fig.15, Fig.16, Fig.17, Fig.18
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18








This is the start of the ending. Harper is on the run and they are after him.
This is the first time that handheld (in a drama sense as it already has been used at the beginning when Fallon breaks the 4th wall) and possibly a steady rig is used to give the extra tension. Most Cinematographers use handheld to give tension, to add extra grit to the already grittiness. Some Cinematographers over use the handheld and steady rig movements, eg CSI on dolly cutting to another dolly shot as the scientists find out whats happening and discovering what is actually happening with the evidence that is in front of them. This technique can be easily distracting for the viewer and take the audience away from what they are watching.Although if done very well like in this case emphasises the chase and the gritty location with Harper’s escape.

The first thing as well that we are introduced to is the person’s mask that this demand like person is wearing. This then gives the evil person a face and a scary one at that.
The audience now know what we are dealing with and this is where the horror begins, the true thrill of the chase to run away and get the God effect out there and into the open for people to see.

The lighting in this is natural lighting, there are no added light other than possibly a bounce board or even a reflector of some kind.
The editing is quick and keeps the viewer interested and with most of the composition in the centre of frame keeps the viewer happy as they don’t have to move their eyes quickly or miss the action.

The grade is dirty, unsaturated and grudge. Its mainly grey, hint of green and brown.

The tension built up through this scene stays until the end, scaring the audience, gripping them into believing that something is going to happen to Harper as it did to Fallon.

This then takes you to the twist where there is a discussion with Harper and Fallon both speaking about the possibility of making a film part documentary, part drama and using that to put the God effect out there.

To conclude about this film, and I know I’ve only touched on this very briefly but mainly in the lighting sense.
Lighting is very simple and effective, lots of dark and shade. To be honest more dark than light and very natural.
Offering more light from carefully placed practicals, and extra light from computer screens.

But of course adding in the extra fill to pad out any unwanted shadows and bouncing light into placed that is needed.

I find this short film to be an amazing story, and the way it is told through visual stimulation of the Cinematography combined with fast editing makes it a truly professional short.

More short films analysis to come. 🙂
Let me know what you think by commenting below…..

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New Photos – Lake Side

Thought I’d share some of my photography photos on here.
These were taken while I had an evening off when I was out near Peterborough near the lakes.

Enjoy. (Shot on 5D Mark ii)





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Researching for story Ideas…..

This week I’ve been thinking that I need to make more short films, blogs lots more and make a big impact on my Cinematography Career to move it forward slightly.

So I’ve taken myself to Vimeo and started to watch lots and lots of short films.
As I figured out that lots of features are started from a short film.


District 9-


So with that in mind I’ve come up with an idea, every week or two weeks depending on how busy I am, I shall make a blog post looking at the ideas behind the story of a short film.
The lighting, the grade and how the camera angles have been chosen to show and further the story.
I’ll also be expressing my own opinion on how it could be made into a feature.

I know I’m not an expert in these kind of things but I’m hoping that we will all learn something from watching and expanding.

Here are a few that I’ve just been watching to wet your appetite.
Enjoy 🙂

Black Hole-

Short Film ‘The Black Hole’ from PHOTOPLAY FILMS on Vimeo.

Selfie horror

The Landing-

THE LANDING – Short Film from Perception Pictures on Vimeo.


Prospect (Short Film) from Shep Films on Vimeo.

Posted in General, posts, Research

Shooting a Feature Film in 1 Day

“What appealed to me on a purely human level, was that this director respected everyone equally, regardless of their rank, status or role in the process.” Cinematographer Tilman Büttner (On director Russian Ark director Alexander Sokurov) The last two posts were about shooting a feature film in four days, making a feature film in two days, so why […]


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Pepe Belmonte – Little Gig I shot.

In December last year (2015) I shot some videos for Pepe Belmonte at the Harrison Pub near kings cross (Such great music and such a lovely pub music atmosphere).
2nd Camera and Editing by Lotje Sodderland.

Hope you like the videos.

Posted in posts

New ShowReel – 2016

Hey all,
normally do this at the beginning of the year but have been a bit busy with DITing on Marcella until mid March, Austrailia for a few weeks, a few days here there and everywhere DITing and Corporate Cinematographying.

And now Jury Service which is always fun and games.

But here is my latest show reel/ demo reel so far.
I’ll be updating my website in the next couple of weeks to reflect my showreel, but thought I’d add this up there now. 🙂
Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.

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Galaxy Advertising – Controversially With Audrey Hepburn

I’ve always loved this advert, possibly naively not knowing who the actress was until finally thinking about stock and stock types, thinking of how they have graded to a particalar film stock type.
The main reason for liking this advert is down to the simplicity of the commercial and the calmness to the who advert.
OK you might be thinking why choose cotton when you get have silk…. Being their smooth tag line.

My ignorance was when beginning to write how nice and the grade is to this commerical was thinking that the actress was still alive, etc. But to find out when briefly researching into this that its a CGI face that has been added on, using old stock footage of Audrey and then placing it onto an actress later on, gives a whole new light to this commercial to me. Just watch and feel calm while your watching it, knowing that Audrey is dead and that the face on the actress is a GCI model:

Thats her head there, as a CGI head in the early stages.

You can watch the making here on a facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=623100452196

The CGI and VFX team at the Frame Store did all the planning for how the face was to sit on the other actresses faces and how they filmed it for a 3D mask was going to sit (Extract From http://www.framestore.com/work/galaxy-choose-silk-chauffeur ):

Described by Framestore’s VFX Supervisor, William Bartlett, as being “very much on the edge of what’s possible”, Framestore has used pioneering VFX techniques to bring the benchmark of beauty, Audrey HepburnTM, back to the screen, with every shot of the icon in this campaign for AMV BBDO and Galaxy / Dove chocolate entailing full CG face replacement. The project also saw Framestore reunited with Rattling Stick director, Daniel Kleinman, after collaborating on Skyfall’s stunning opening sequence.

The process started with an exhaustive search for the perfect Audrey HepburnTM double. The hope was to find someone who could give Kleinman the performance that he needed, and ideally to share as many of her features and characteristics as possible. Framestore then completed a round of extensive pre-shoot facial scanning at its in-house Capture Lab in order to deliver the complexities demanded by this project. This included a FACS (facial action coding system) session that allowed the team to record more than 70 possible muscle movements and capture high resolution textures for building their CG Audrey.

Once this groundwork had been completed, the shoot then took place at various locations along Italy’s Amalfi coast. VFX Supervisors, William Bartlett and Simon French, were both on location alongside key members of the Capture Lab team to make sure all necessary tracking and lighting data was collected. Witness cameras were used to cover action from multiple angles allowing the team to obtain an absolutely perfect track of the actress’s face.

After the shoot, Framestore set about building a facial rig using the FACS head scans as reference for the multitude of shapes the human face can achieve. For each of these shapes, combinations had to be carefully created to allow the face to blend convincingly between expressions during the animation process, which was pivotal to authentically reconstructing the actress’s face. Facial scanning usually provides exact shapes of the person who needs to be recreated, but in this instance, the scans only provided a template based on the double who, although she looked similar to Audrey HepburnTM, was nonetheless a different person with different nuances.

The 3D team built the model of Hepburn, making use of the star’s entire feature film catalogue, plus all available press and documentary photographs as reference. However, as there was no technical lens information or measurements available for such old footage, it was quite an inexact science, involving tirelessly tweaking to refine the model from every possible angle.

The next big challenge was the look development process which aimed to perfect the complex look of human skin. The team chose to adopt a brand new renderer, Arnold, which had not been used on such a big production in commercials before. This renderer was designed to simulate very accurately the tracing of light, and enabled the team to perfect the soft, translucent feel of real skin. Rendering in Arnold, however, also entailed adopting a completely new fur system for her eyebrows and the soft ‘peach fuzz’ on the face that breaks-up the perfection of a raw CG render.

The biggest challenges in recreating an authentic and unmistakable Audrey HepburnTM proved to be the eyes and smile. Although the actress was cast for her eyes, and originally the team had hoped to use the real eyes and build the CG face around them, as post-production progressed it became clear that recognition was key to the success of this ad and, close though the actress was, full CG was the only way to get it right.

Similarly, the team worked tirelessly to recreate the icon’s signature smile, with a team of four animators hand animating carefully posed expressions in every shot in order to bring the star to life – as CG VFX Supervisor, Simon French, explains: “It is amazing how unique and how recognisable a person’s smile is. When you see it in this detail, it really needs to look perfect.”

To me this advert is a simple piece of art, its a magical exercise. Making the light look as natural as possible, so that it looks like its a glourious sunny day and from what I can see is that it wasn’t as sunny as it was made out to be in the commercial. From the making of video, mainly about Frame Store and their involvement I can see in the background some HMIs, Moles to great a big key and bounce that off to keep it natural and soft. Nothing too harsh. But one this is that its all down to the DI and grade for part of this Look.
The simplisity of the look is mearly taking control of an old film Look. The look is very consistant to a 35mm I’d say 60-70’s Look. I’m not 100% sure what stock it would be but its a light, smooth and soft touch possible enhancing the brand with a warm tint added and maybe a soft bleach bypass.

Lighting: Its all very naturalistic and soft. No hard/ harsh lighting, replicating the sun and then adding in fill so there isn’t any hard shadows.
It all looks like the lighting on the making of this advert is very strong lights that are bounced off white or filtered through difusion of some kind.

I know now that who Audrey is and feel a little bit stupid that I didn’t understand yet recognise who she was. She has done amazing films one being “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“.

More information from The Guardian
(Extract From http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/oct/08/how-we-made-audrey-hepburn-galaxy-ad ):

Ad facts

Director: Daniel Kleinman, Rattling Stick
Companies involved: Mars/Galaxy (brand), AMV BBDO (agency) and Framestore (VFX)
Length of the project: two months’ R&D; five months’ post production
Core team size: 12 artists
Permissions: Audrey Hepburn™ © 2013 Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti. All rights reserved.

Mike McGee is co-founder and creative director at Framestore, which you can follow on Twitter @Framestore

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