The Camera Functions

Why did I want to write The Night Watchman? Mostly because I don’t think enough of these kinds of stories are being told in this day and age. I mean, there is certainly movies like “Gone Baby, Gone” where a private detective in this day and age unravels a mystery. And a damn decent one at that. But they are few and far between. Like The Nice Guys is another example, but it is a period piece… I’m thinking of rearranging and doing something more personal after talking to my screenwriting mentor because the other reasons are selfish. It is important to do something that is personal to you. Of course, there is a line where you are to attached to do the STORY justice, but most story’s need to draw from or relate back to the write in one way or another. Even if the topic is a completely foreign one. I always wanted to write a modern Noir Crime Drama. To be even more honest, some of the characters cross over with a comic I am working on. My screenwriter gave me a ton of stuff to read that I wish I could find a way to upload

Another Film Connection book lesson I loved. I especially love comparing the differences between Black and Herzog’s approach to writing. The similarities lie in, at some point they are just pushing it all out of their head onto paper. Herzog just wants you to mind vomit, staying committed to everything you put down, which seems crazy (rewrites are your friend). But I like that Dustin Black crafts his first 10 pages for perfection. A studio head is only going to likely read your first page. to say ten is being generous and 15 is almost a dream. But if you hook them on those 10 pages, they might scan through the whole thing.- I think I’ll take that.. what I won’t take is all that note card mess. Holy crap! Laying out every beat of your story on notecards seems ridiculous. I can’t have an idea that is toooo big according to my mentor and who knows I might have competition from similar projects. So I aim to make something simple that I could film myself.  I watched The Player & Adaptation due to the lesson and I loved them both. It really helped me to understand The Pitch thing and also working with writing a story. But my screen writer also wants me to watch “Two Step“.


Tuesday lesson comes and I learn what she expects from a shoot and so forth, but I was very interested in the settings. To start with she doesn’t know how to white balance the camera manually. I remembered something about balancing it with something pure white from my days in film school so of I looked it up. White balance in the light you are using agains something white to get propper balance in specific lighting areas. Her tip was Auto white balance, fix in post, which is the hands off version. 
So to go Deepert:
Shady light is a blue hue, sunny light is a bit yellow and indoor lights tend to be orange, you can change the white balance accordingly. Or you can use the Kelvin scale where 2500 is cool and 10000 is very warm. Daylight is 5600k. Light bulbs at 3200k. Those numbers are important if you are not using a white balance card, where you set up lights and everything and white balance a scenario by taking a picture, going to that photo and setting it as your white balance. And now that is true white. The rest are listed in the order I was told to set them in.

Next is Shutter speed, which my mentor stated is best set at 50 or 60 when your frame rate is 24/frames per second. “The higher you go the darker it’ll be” is a simple way to put it. double your frame rate in your Shutter speed normally. Once you’ve set your SS/FPS there should be no reason to fiddle with them.
Deeper: Shutter speed is how long the shutter is open.  Slow shutter catches alot of motion caught while the shutter is open, helping you catch the essence of the notion in the scene – motion blur. Higher shutter speed is just a freeze-frame or Crisp motion. So as to have a happy medium, set it at double your frame rate. The “darkness” is due to having to open your aperture.

The F STOP according to my mentor should be as bright as you can make it without overexposure. Again another haphazard technique. The higher the number the darker but your it also increases your Depth of Field (I cover that more in the section on Lenses). The range of Fstop all all depends on specific lenses and camera. If you raise your F Stop, you will probably have to raise your ISO to compensate for the darkness.
Deeper: it’s a set of numbers on your camera that determines how much light is coming through the lenses. The aperture is the hole in the iris that shrinks or grows depending on the F-stop. The higher the F stop, the smaller the opening, ther less light being sent in.

ISO – she says to keep it as low as possible. Never going to high and only increase in low light.
Internet: the ISO number is the setting that dictates how sensitive your sensor is to light. The higher the numbers are the more sensitive your camera is – so you need less light to properly expose. Lower numbers/less sensitive, meaning you need more light. Most people say to set this first, keeping it low and using the other shutter and aperture (fstop) to control exposure. It’s really a last resort for making the image brighter though. the higher you go the more likely you are to get digital noise

Her final quote:
“Underexposed is better than over exposed”

Other gems:
Neutral Density filters help keep light out with the aperture open simultaneously. They come in different density or darkness but they’re pretty much sun glasses for your lense. It will know your exposure down 2 or 3 stops, depending.
Polarizing filters cut glare. They are good for reflective light. Examples being that they will help you see through a window or water on a bright day. It also effects the blue sky, making it a deeper blue. Some called Circular Polarizers are adjustable.
UV is just plastic. But you’re likely better off not using them because it’s hard to focus, it change colors and causes vignettes. But it is good lens protection from the elements
Key Light – most important light in the setup. It is the main light. Fill light -supplementary light used to lighten shadows. Back light – also known as a hair light and does just that. likes the hair or creates a more defined outline of your subject. Depending on the mood, you can deviate from this but always start w/ a 3 point set up.
TimeCode:  pretty much a relic of the past, Used to know exactly where to cut or to line up audio. Still yused in television broadcasting.
This can be one of the hardest things on set or location; lighting your characters correctly. You may only have so many lights or you could just have alot of characters to cover in limited space. You also cant get shadows in your shot that aren’t natural like your camera rig or if the  scene light is coming from the right and the shadow from your light hangs right towards it.

Lastly, be careful with your lenses and camera. This should go without saying, but messed up things happen. Lense Hoods block out certain lights to prevent glare, but they can also protect your lens, similar to a UV cover – from bumps and dings. Clean your lenses properly. No matter what camera you have it deserves to be cleaned better than with your t-shirt. Use the wipes and the cloths designed for such a thing. Then comes the image sensor. Just be really careful. If you get something on the sensor, use air to get it off, never having anything touch the sensor. This is important because if there is damage to your sensor it will be on every picture or video you shoot.
THIS IS NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT, this shit can get expensive if you damage it.


More from the Film Connection Blog:
Day 1
A lil on Editing
Event Planning
Motivation In Writing

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