Cinematographers have enough hats to wear on today’s sets and with file-based production being the norm, a DIT can help take a production from good to better.
7. Tip – Shoot HDR for high-contrast locations
For a shooter aiming for film-like images with digital tools, dynamic range is king, since blown-out highlights are video’s big giveaway. In the past, cinematographers would use graduated neutral density filters to take down highlights at the top of the frame (sky) while everything beneath the sky would be properly exposed. The big problem with graduated ND filters is that they don’t work for most daylight interiors so your windows would clip if ND gels weren’t applied to them – a time-consuming job.
If you don’t have the camera crew to properly light a location, HDR (high dynamic range) could save you both time and money. The technique, which is well known in still photography, blends multiple exposures into a single frame that combines both the brightest and darkest range of the frame. For cinematography, HDR improves and increases your latitude on set, as well as improving image quality for scenes with high contrast.
RED was one of the first camera manufacturers to go all-in with HDR. Their HDRx technology records two tracks simultaneously—a normal exposure (A-frame), and an exposure that will protect your highlights (X-frame) by using an adjustable shutter speed that is up to 6 stops faster. When working in REDCINE-X, you’re able to blend the tonal levels from the X-frame, giving you higher dynamic range since your brightest whites now have detail.
6. Tool – Focus like a pro with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF
Obtaining sharp focus on a moving subject is a difficult job for any shooter, especially on a long lens. For high-end productions, achieving critical focus usually involves a camera assistant with years of experience, a follow-focus device, lens gears, and more.
If you’re a single operator on a production, one technology that will seriously boost your focusing skills is Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF. First introduced on the 70D, Canon’s engineers developed an algorithm that would allow the camera to autofocus quickly on a wide variety of subject matter, including high-contrast situations such as sunshine flickering through foliage or reflecting off car hoods.