Tales From The Darkside revisited.

Some screen grabs from Tales from the Darkside. Came up during a seminar in which I was using one of the segments as an example of real-time in-shot scene transitions using compound moves, theatrical scrim and lighting techniques. Much more interesting than CGI.darkside2



FILL-LITE – The best soft lights available

I used the Fill-Lite’s for the first time on the feature “Irrefutable Proof”, which just wrapped Principal Photography in Syracuse NY, essentially lighting the entire movie with them. This Indie film was shot on a very tight budget with huge locations and required an innovative approach to the lighting to keep costs down and maintain a very strong visual style. Fill-Lite make an exceptional unit and this was my first chance to put them through their paces.

Having demo’d the units earlier in the year at a seminar I gave for Band Pro, I knew their potential but did not appreciate the usefulness and versatility of these small units until I had them on set.

“The Lady Pleaser”
The quality of the light is astounding, dubbed by my crew “the lady pleaser”, great wrap and essentially the quality of a soft light thru 216 (without the 216). The fall off is relatively short which meant less cutting and shaping in tight locations and being a square emitter they could easily be panned or tilted to control spill and intensity in different parts of the set.

I used them as singles, doubles and quads, to light masters and close-ups, green screen car scenes, men and women. For women, when punched thru diffusion, the light almost becomes a liquid. I also used them skirted as coup lights for large areas where they provided the perfect amount of base shooting on the Alexa at 800ISO, as fill on overcast day exteriors and in ultra low temps (-9 degrees and color temp and output did not change). In every situation these incredible units excelled. I will not be shooting again without them.

Their small compact size and amazing light quality make them ideal for shooting in very tight locations as, at a little less than 1″ thick, they take up such a small amount of space. They are also supplied with brackets allowing them to be directly attached to set walls giving them an even smaller footprint. Compared to Kino Flo’s or Chimera’s, well there simply is no comparison, these little units outperform in every area.

No Heat-No Generator-Less Cost
Of course one of the big advantages of LED lighting in general is that they do not produce heat. Therefor almost all the electrical energy passing into the LED produces light so they are much more efficient. This allowed using the lower wattage lights off normal household circuits, so I was able to structure the lighting for the film around a lighting package that did not force us to carry a generator, other than a 6500W as a backup source or for remote locations. Any night exteriors were shot dusk for night.
Actors also loved the “no heat” aspect of the Fill-Lite’s .

Check them out at www.fill-lite.com









Battle of Balmoral – Vietnam Anzacs

Just completed Principal Photography on battle recreations for David Bradbury’s Vietnam Anzacs where we recreated the Battle of Balmoral, one of the toughest battles fought by Aussie soldiers during the Vietnam War. Filming took place in Cobbity NSW on a property that has been the scene of multiple movie shoots including Wolverine. Editing is now under way and the film will be screened during the Gallipoli Centenary celebrations in April 2015.

Attack (Frame Grab from Dailies)

The morning after. (Frame Grab from Dailies)

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 3.53.50 PM
Attack (Frame Grab from Dailies)


LED street lighting – “The end of cinema”

This one gave me a really good laugh.

“Say goodbye to moody Collateral-style movie shots: How LED street lights mean films set at night in LA and across the world will now be bathed in gray” 


The story appeared in the Daily Mail  and declares movies will never be the same again if global street lighting changes from Sodium Vapor to LED. It was obviously written by someone who was about, well lets just say not too old, or a movie critic, since I recall, not so long ago, lamenting the fact that the world had slowly become bathed in the ugly (and for a cinematographer difficult to control or balance) orange glow of sodium vapor lamps. Purportedly for the same reason everyone now wants to switch to LED…cost saving.

Whatever the reason all I can say is about time. The faster those awful orange sodium vapor lamps disappear the better, as far as I am concerned, and I am reasonably confident many DP’s will agree.

For the writer of the story I am confident there will be plenty of films shot under the new lights and, if an orange glow is required, I am equally confident we DP’s will have a good idea on how to achieve it.

We Were Only 19 – Preliminary Scout

Director David Bradbury (center) on preliminary location scout in Camden, NSW, Australia with 1st AD Jamie Cooks (L) and Visual FX/CGI Director Allan Moore (R). The film will recreate one of the most brutal battles ever fought by Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War. Many ex Vietnam vets (who fought in the battle) are on board as consultants. One of the goals is also to focus on PTSD. Scheduled for filming in June this year.

Director David Bradbury (center), 1st AD Jamie Cooks (L), VFX/CGI Allan Moore (R)

Director David Bradbury (center), 1st AD Jamie Cooks (L), VFX/CGI Allan Moore (R)


We Were Only 19 – Dramatized Doc with David Bradbury

Working with my old mate, Academy Award nominated doco filmmaker, David Bradbury on “We Were Only 19”. Shooting dramatized re-enactments of decisive battles involving Aussie soldiers in the Vietnam War.
I will be adding details as we approach the shoot in June this year.

Pic: David Bradbury and I finish up a Skype session this week.

Lighting Workshop at BandPro

I conducted a lighting workshop introducing the new Fill-Lite LED panels ( http://fill-lite.com/ ) and DRACAST  LED’s (www.dracast.com) last week along with Jeff Cree. About 35-40 Cinematographers, Producers, DP’s, Gaffers, AC’s turned up for the three hour Thursday afternoon session. My main thrust was on using new lighting tools as an extension of your palette rather than as “the latest thing”. Analyzing each of the systems for their true creative potential relative to your visual style, then seeing if they are a good fit. A different way of looking at technology. Using art to determine the efficacy of the lighting equipment rather than the technology employed.


Using Varicon in Digital Cinematography. (text & video post)

rob draper, acs demonstrates varicon
What is the Varicon?

I have been using the Varicon (on film primarily but also in HD) since it was first produced by Arriflex. It allows me to have maximum control over density AND detail(without the need to set up fill light) in the blacks without any noise penalty.

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