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DIT chimes in 4-5 min read

David F. - Ladigitaltech
 

Hi group, I've been a DIT since 2006 mostly for still photography but some video projects, I realize I'm not in the Movie category but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in on this hot topic... I agree some aspects of DIT are not as important as they once were. I also agree the job has changed, however with budgets shrinking and time on set decreasing with the increase in shots per day, a good DIT is important in most jobs. As one person mentioned on set hierarchy and ego-soothing is EXTREMELY important in the USA.

In my business, I have a short discussion with the prime photographer-dp, then another with the 1st AC-assistant, then casual with the AD and clients and managers (if a celebrity). I always try to get a lut-look established by viewing older work but shooting RAW in stills we know the range in computer numbers that will translate to a 7 stop final in printing cmyk. I'm old enough to have worked with and know both color correction and light balance extensively, and experience with positive slide film and the nuances and range so I feel I have a good background in technical vs creative looks.

The point of this is, I always explain and warn if we're shooting hot or under and I explain quietly that we should close down or open or filter if time allows. I also make sure we match cameras if it is a multi-camera setup.

I explicitly make it know to the various people mostly the assistant that we need to do this or spend 3 min fixing something as it will be a pain/expensive in post to do so... When I have laid this out 99% of the time, we get the time, I usually hand a cappuccino or say take a quick break so we can resolve this.

Some shoots, the photographer-dp doesn't need a DIT but for cars/adv usually, they do via the client... People now understand the flat RAW look vs a LUT/Look and I can always explain this and I usually have a look sample so they can see what it will look like.

Thanks sorry this is a long read

Colemar Nichols
 

“In my business, I have a short discussion with the prime photographer-dp, then another with the 1st AC-assistant, then casual with the AD and clients and managers (if a celebrity)”

Not sure who wrote this because the message was unsigned, but this has been my main problems with DITs. I don’t like a member of the camera department having conversations regarding my work on a project with above the lines behind my back. I’ve been called in to the producer’s office and called a “fucking idiot” because the DIT tells the producers, director, editor, 1st AD, etc. “it’s clipping”. I’ve had an argument with the DIT who wanted to set the shooting stop because he “is head of the department”. All seasoned professionals completely outside their bounds. As Geoff alluded, I really just need a data specialist to ensure data integrity. The rest is on me.

Colemar Nichols
DoP
ABQ, NM

David F. - Ladigitaltech
 

Hi, I wrote it and forgot my name, I submitted a 2nd with my name but it didn't get approved, it's not about talking about behind your back, it's keeping the exposures on track. It all depends on if you're a crazy type or a calm type.

Nothing is ever done behind the DP's back, all of our jobs is to make you look like a star....

Thanks Dave

On 2/14/18 9:36 AM, Colemar Nichols wrote:
“In my business, I have a short discussion with the prime photographer-dp, then another with the 1st AC-assistant, then casual with the AD and clients and managers (if a celebrity)”

Not sure who wrote this because the message was unsigned, but this has been my main problems with DITs. I don’t like a member of the camera department having conversations regarding my work on a project with above the lines behind my back. I’ve been called in to the producer’s office and called a “fucking idiot” because the DIT tells the producers, director, editor, 1st AD, etc. “it’s clipping”. I’ve had an argument with the DIT who wanted to set the shooting stop because he “is head of the department”. All seasoned professionals completely outside their bounds. As Geoff alluded, I really just need a data specialist to ensure data integrity. The rest is on me.

Colemar Nichols
DoP
ABQ, NM

-- 
David - info@... http://ladigitaltech.com 310-540-7859

mark.dvtv@...
 

I had exactly the same thoughts having read the original post! Maybe it's different on stills shoots - I have no experience in that area, but I found it bizarre that the 1st AC or AD would have any interest in what the DIT has to say. In my experience the one and only person the DIT should be talking to is the DP - anything else is just unhelpful gossip.

Mark Waldron
DP/Camera Operator
Dublin, Ireland.

Paul Curtis
 

On 14 Feb 2018, at 15:14, David F. - Ladigitaltech <info@...> wrote:
Nothing is ever done behind the DP's back, all of our jobs is to make you look like a star....
I would hope the DP looked like a star based on their own work and not need help...

Sounds dangerously like a producer on a grade session moaning that everything is too dark can we lighten it all up...

However i can also imagine a multi camera shoot and multiple feeds and help with matching across all those, that does make sense.

cheers
Paul

Paul Curtis, VFX & Post | Canterbury, UK

David F. - Ladigitaltech
 

Hi I guys didn't mean to start a slam fest... All I'm saying is communication is key to all successful jobs, I was only meaning if there was a problem I would speak to the AC to speak to the DP I don't stand around and say the DP is screwing up, opposite if I see a problem, I write a note or quietly speak to the DP if that's possible. When I mean the AD or client, often times on my jobs they come to look at my screen not their own.. and they make comments and I often say speak to the DP but otherwise I make it clear the footage/image is totally fine and will reproduce perfectly.

I try not to speak... actually!

Sorry again for those of you who thought I was trying to be the star..

Best David

On 2/14/18 10:53 AM, Paul Curtis wrote:
On 14 Feb 2018, at 15:14, David F. - Ladigitaltech <info@...> wrote:
Nothing is ever done behind the DP's back, all of our jobs is to make you look like a star....
I would hope the DP looked like a star based on their own work and not need help...

Sounds dangerously like a producer on a grade session moaning that everything is too dark can we lighten it all up...

However i can also imagine a multi camera shoot and multiple feeds and help with matching across all those, that does make sense.

cheers
Paul

Paul Curtis, VFX & Post | Canterbury, UK

-- 
David - info@... http://ladigitaltech.com 310-540-7859

Stephen Williams
 

On 14 Feb 2018, at 17:06, David F. - Ladigitaltech <info@...> wrote:

I don't stand around and say the DP is screwing up
I have made more money during my career as a DOP on jobs when several members of the crew think I don’t have a clue what I am doing.

Clients book me because the images I produce look different to someone who lights & exposes for safety.

Best

Stephen Williams DOP
Currently in France

Art Adams
 

Back in older, more innocent days I'd often find myself stuck between a video engineer and a hard place. Rather than talk to me, the director and/or producer would often hang out by the video engineer and ask their opinion of what I was doing. The good ones sent those people to me, the bad ones weighed in with opinions based on technicalities and then tweaked things to where they thought they should be.

When the DP is viewed as an artist by people who don't trust artists, those people tend to go to those who they view as technically proficient. When in doubt, quantify—and you can't easily quantify art and vision. Video signals, though, are (technically) easy to quantify.

Good DITs know on which side the bread is -really- buttered and take care of the DP, although the thought that a DIT would ride iris and call out filter changes without "bothering" me doesn't sit well, unless we share some sort of mind meld or I've written out very specific instructions that they should always abide by. That's a bit like expecting the gaffer to light the set without bothering me. (Someday I might find someone who knows me well enough that they can do that, but it hasn't happened yet, and I think it'd make my job a bit less fun.) I expect a DIT to learn what I like and don't like and to have a discussion with me quietly if something comes up, because I do actually like having crew watch my back so I can focus on whatever is most important for that particular shot, but I don't expect them to make decisions for me.

Bad crew in any department, though, can cause issues. I had a friend who got fired the night before starting a feature because the gaffer didn't like the number of lights they were using to prelight a set and talked the producer into hiring someone else at the last minute. The gaffer is (supposedly) a technician, not an artist, so surely they must know when things are going wrong!

--
Art Adams
Director of Photography
San Francisco Bay Area

Clark Graff
 

Precisely…

Thanks for stating it so well.

I am a short drive from SF I would be happy to have your back.

 

>>Good DITs know on which side the bread is -really- buttered and take care of the DP, although the thought that a DIT would ride iris and call out filter changes without >>"bothering" me doesn't sit well, unless we share some sort of mind meld or I've written out very specific instructions that they should always abide by. That's a bit like >>expecting the gaffer to light the set without bothering me. (Someday I might find someone who knows me well enough that they can do that, but it hasn't happened yet, >>and I think it'd make my job a bit less fun.) I expect a DIT to learn what I like and don't like and to have a discussion with me quietly if something comes up, because I do >>actually like having crew watch my back so I can focus on whatever is most important for that particular shot, but I don't expect them to make decisions for me.

 

Clark Graff

Film Maker- Production Designer – VFX – Supervisor  Producer – DIT – Workflow Designer – Editor – Propellerhead

Los Angeles ~ Toronto ~ Vancouver

 

Geoff Boyle
 

Totally the truth.

My first major 35mm job, a video for Meatloaf directed by Terence Donovan, the entire crew were questioning my lighting.

 

I was a docco cameraman brought in to replace a DP who had gone on to a feature, the crew were all features based and saw docco cameraman as something they should spit on. Their operator expected to be promoted to DP rather than a docco guy brought in.

 

The eyes are too dark, there’s no fill and on and on.

http://www.gboyle.co.uk/MEATLOAF%20qt.HTM

 

Of course it worked fine and I shot all of Donovan’s stuff for the next 6 years.

 

Cheers

 

Geoff Boyle NSC

Cinematographer

Zoetermeer

www.gboyle.co.uk

+44 (0)207 748 3238

 

From: cml-post-vfx-aces@... [mailto:cml-post-vfx-aces@...] On Behalf Of Stephen Williams

On 14 Feb 2018, at 17:06, David F. - Ladigitaltech <info@...> wrote:

I don't stand around and say the DP is screwing up

I have made more money during my career as a DOP on jobs when several members of the crew think I don’t have a clue what I am doing.


 

Luis Gomes
 

Well. Once a teenager showed me an Amiga Toaster and said my days are ending, because “that card” replaced the need for my Post House. 
For a while it was true. 

This DIT thing started with video assist right?

Luís 
Finland. 
Making baked in locked looks for decades. 
WoW to Raw though. 

Peace on Earth. 
--
Gomes.luis@...
http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/luis-gomes/20/11b/335/
Freelancer video Professional. 
Finland. 

Michael Most
 

On Feb 15, 2018, at 3:45 AM, Luis Gomes <gomes.luis@...> wrote:
This DIT thing started with video assist right?
I suppose you could say that. But in the US (where the term was invented) it started with the Sony F900 being used for entertainment production. Video cameras were normally attended to by video engineers in both live and multi camera productions, but that position did not exist in the IA contract that governed single camera, film style production. So they came up with a new job classification of Digital Imaging Technician at a rate commensurate with the video engineers. Most of the early DITs were, in fact, video engineers, who had been working on video productions (mostly multi camera, like sports, soap operas, some multi camera sitcoms, etc.) for years and had the appropriate experience and expertise to “tweak” the video based F900 to get the best results. Some of those guys are still working and still doing great work, but once Red arrived, the notion of what a DIT is - at least the social definition, not the IA designation - changed. It changed to something not originally conceived as being necessary in a world in which cameras no longer require “tweaking” that only an engineer can properly do. And since the IA has never seen fit to redefine the position, we are now stuck with a crew position that is seen as optional by some, useful by others, critical by others, and with a rate that’s considered much too high by many producers.

That’s where we are today.

Mike Most
On Location Services Director
Technicolor
Los Angeles, CA.

Mark H. Weingartner
 

On 15Feb, 2018, at 03:45 55, Luis Gomes <gomes.luis@...> wrote:

This DIT thing started with video assist right?
Not in the USA in narrative work. Video Playback technicians are not even in the same union as the camera department, since remote videotape recording is the jurisdiction of the sound department. In the US the Video Playback people essentially work for the director - being able to pull up shots to match from other day’s work etc while DITs are concerned with the creation, protection, copying, and color metadata creation accompanying the “camera original” image files.


In the United States in narrative work, the DIT position was created to serve the needs of camera crews faced with the very rapid transition from film to high definition television.
In big markets such as Los Angeles there was not that much interplay between people shooting video and people shooting film. Early HD cameras had much less latitude than current digital cinema cameras do, and their sensitivity curves were significantly different.

This is a big business here - people forget that when it is very slow in Los Angeles there are likely ninety projects shooting… and the transition from film to electronic cameras was hastened by a threatened SAG strike - since most actors were members of both the union that covered narrative film work and also AFTRA, the union that held contracts for projects shot with television cameras,
many projects jumped from film to TV to avoid a possible halt to production.

I remember that the data from the Camera Dept. at Paramount one year showed 4 shows on the lot shooting with F900s. The next season it was sixteen shows.


This rapid disruption in the “traditional” workflow created tremendous pressure on the workforce - there were already a lot of video engineers working on multicamera pedestal shows and such, Video Controllers per the union designation (different from broadcast transmission engineers) The DIT position served the specific needs on single camera narrative work and location work with f900s, Varicams, etc as they became the predominant television cameras.

In the early days DITs came from both the existing ranks of video controllers and from elsewhere in the camera department - some operators, some camera assistants.

With the advent of the RED One camera, a number of “RED Techs” came into the union as DITs. These various backgrounds led initially to different DITs having different strengths and weaknesses.

As cameras continued to develop and proliferate, it was DITs who were on the front line figuring out the nuts and bolts of the new systems - remember Thomson Viper and Panavision Genesis? Brief but significant developments. Lots of setttings and “gotchas” and setting up a proper monitoring path was non-trivial.

The move from WYSIWYG to extended dynamic range cameras changed the on-set color correction tasks from “baked in” to metadata applied to the camera signal “non-destructively” and the DITs took on the task of learning and becoming proficient with the different software packages that provide for creation of ASC CDLs, LUTS, baked in proxies, and other deliverables.

Many of us prefer to put the color work of a project at the back end, but in production in the US, expectations have changed… studio execs don’t want to watch (or don’t all understand) “neutral grades” - or technical grade “middle of the road” color correction on dailies - they want to see the footage with “the look” applied to it: a couple of days of “blah” looking dailies and you could be out of a job.

Some shows do a lot of dailies coloring, but we no longer have “overnight” for the lab to do the work - some shows need to see the material at end of day.
Different DPs work different ways, different shows have more or less time to do everything in front of the camera versus modifying the look electronically, and increasingly shows are shooting for dual deliverables - a standard dynamic range version and a High Dynamic Range version.

On a big narrative television drama, the DP is responsible for running a large crew to get a huge amount of work done in a short period of time. On TV shows there is not really time for aDP to spend much time doing hands-on color management. Aside from all the technical issues of data downloading, multiple deliverables, wireless communication between various components, etc, the DIT does the hands-on color management work at the direction of the DP.

Some shows set a show LUT or two and do all their color correction later - for those shows that may not have a DIT the various other responsibilities of the DIT are assumed by different members of the crew… it all depends.
In film I can shoot time lapse all day with one assistant, no operator, no loader. On the other hand if I were shooting Photosonics High Speed miniature pyro, live action, and other elements for a commercial I might have had myself, two operators, two first assistants, two second assistants, and maybe even two loaders!

It all depends. Crewing is determined by the needs of the production, the production’s budget, and where the job is on the “time money continuum” as I describe it.

It is as ludicrous for someone to make the unilateral statement that “we don’t need DITs we just need data wranglers.”
That’s one way to work. In fact that’s a perfectly reasonable way to work - for some jobs on some schedules with some deliverables.

Many projects will benefit from having a DIT on set to help manage all the electronica and to dial in the viewing LUTS to keep the studios happy and to stop the editors from fucking with the image on their AVIDs…

Some jobs have technical requirements that literally cannot be met without a DIT on the job.

This business of labels (video engineer/Digital Imaging Technician) are distractions. Recorded narrative work has a different workflow than live broadcast and the skillsets are not exactly the same, but many Video Engineers are DITS and many DITS are Video Engineers - in name and/or in practice.

The important thing is to crew a job properly in order to efficiently deliver good material, and that frequently calls for a DIT on the crew to get the work done.

Just as a side note: In film we sometimes have a dedicated loader and we sometimes have a 2nd Assistant (Clapper/Loader) who is on set AND loading. It depends on the job.

With regard to the proper handling of image files in this post-tape world, when there is a DIT the DIT often handles downloads, backups and dissemination of files and proxies. On some jobs the DIT has a loader who does some of this work. On some jobs the Loader does this work and there is no DIT. It depends on the structure of the entire job.

I claim the right to discuss this (even though I am a lowly VFX DP) because during my tenure heading up training for the ICG - Local 600 of the IATSE, I worked with a team of working members to develop a training program for Data Handling, identifying Best Practices, Acceptable Practices, and Unacceptable Practices for copying and securing image files. With the rapid move to file-based cameras, starting with Pansonic P2 and RED One and hastened by the abrupt death of HDCAM SR tape when Fukishima wiped out the only factory in the world making those tapes, the committee that I headed and the syllabus that we wrote and used to train hundreds of ICG members set the de facto standards in the US for the safe handling of image files in narrative work.

Our clients - the studios were all over the map on this and didn’t have a fucking clue how to institute a coherent policy or protocol for data handling. - we did.

I am proud of my contributions to some flashy movies, designing lighting as a gaffer on the effects unit of Independence Day all the way to shooting scale model Stukas diving on real people in Dunkirk (in-camera live action) I’ve done some other stuff in between.
I am equally proud of having led the charge in the US to create and disseminate standard protocols for handling data.

Mark Weingartner, ASC
Director of Photography inclined towards Visual Effects
Visual Effects Supervisor
delinquent List-Mum

Keith Putnam
 


|The important thing is to crew a job properly in order to efficiently deliver good material, and that frequently calls for a DIT on the crew to get the work done.

Thank you for your post, Mark. This is one of most clear-eyed takes on the DIT position I've read on CML.
I posted my general thoughts over on the cml-chat list, to break free of some of the noise, but that list doesn't seem to get much traffic.

Keith Putnam
Local 600 DIT
New York City

Geoff Boyle
 

I feel like I’m in some cheap Sci-Fi movie and have slipped into an alternative universe.

 

I started this whole series of threads by trying to help people in low budget movies find a way to work within ACES.

 

LOW BUDGET.

 

Now we start including $200M dollar movies in the discussion.

 

Get a grip FFS!

 

This is an international list and the concerns of one union in the US…

 

Cheers

 

Geoff Boyle NSC

Cinematographer

Zoetermeer

www.gboyle.co.uk

+44 (0)207 748 3238

 

Mark H. Weingartner
 

Sorry - perhaps I should have started a new thread:

"Dispelling misconceptions and countering sweeping global statements made based on particular circumstances”  :-)

As I am fond of saying, “there are many paths to the kingdom”    There are big TV shows that don’t use a DIT and there are micro-budget shoots that do.

I am hoping to shoot a very modest budget indie picture in Tamil Nadu next year for a dear friend and repeat customer.
In my situation, I will do without much of the support I am used to on set.  I will, however, have a DIT who will end up doing final color when we’ve cut.
(I wouldn’t necessarily have a DIT on a similar project here, but I will have so little control over environment (given our schedule) that quick on-set confirmation
as to what a power window might do to save me a couple hours of rigging will be handy.)

A couple of observations.

Lots of DPs have “horror stories” of bad experiences they had with a DIT on a job.
We also have been dropped into situations where we had bad experiences with a gaffer or a focus puller or a grip…believe me I can fill a book (and just might some day)_

…but nobody works with a crappy focus puller and resolves to pull their own focus from then on…

…but some people have a bad experience with a DIT and resolve to avoid using one from then on.

Whatever:-)



Weingartner
LA based dp & vfx guy





"On 15Feb, 2018, at 10:50 30, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

I feel like I’m in some cheap Sci-Fi movie and have slipped into an alternative universe.
 
I started this whole series of threads by trying to help people in low budget movies find a way to work within ACES.
 
LOW BUDGET.
 
Now we start including $200M dollar movies in the discussion.
 
Get a grip FFS!
 
This is an international list and the concerns of one union in the US…
 
Cheers
 
Geoff Boyle NSC
Cinematographer
Zoetermeer
+44 (0)207 748 3238
 

Brian Heller
 

I think it’s a demonstration of Boyle’s Law at work:  increasing the pressure raises temperatures ;-)

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


On Feb 15, 2018, at 1:50 PM, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

I feel like I’m in some cheap Sci-Fi movie and have slipped into an alternative universe.

 

I started this whole series of threads by trying to help people in low budget movies find a way to work within ACES.

 

LOW BUDGET.

 

Now we start including $200M dollar movies in the discussion.

 

Get a grip FFS!

 

This is an international list and the concerns of one union in the US…

 

Cheers

 

Geoff Boyle NSC

Cinematographer

Zoetermeer

www.gboyle.co.uk

+44 (0)207 748 3238

 

Refah Seyed Mahmoud
 

Beautifully written, Mark! 
 
For those of us away from LA, is it possible to get a copy of your downloading best-practices guide, even if only to ensure that our own process is up to snuff?
 
Refah Mahmoud
Digital Loader/Phantom Tech
IA669
Vancouver, BC
 
 

Mark H. Weingartner
 

:-)

On 15Feb, 2018, at 11:45 00, Brian Heller <brianheller1@...> wrote:

I think it’s a demonstration of Boyle’s Law at work:  increasing the pressure raises temperatures ;-)

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


On Feb 15, 2018, at 1:50 PM, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

I feel like I’m in some cheap Sci-Fi movie and have slipped into an alternative universe.
 
I started this whole series of threads by trying to help people in low budget movies find a way to work within ACES.
 
LOW BUDGET.
 
Now we start including $200M dollar movies in the discussion.
 
Get a grip FFS!
 
This is an international list and the concerns of one union in the US…
 
Cheers
 
Geoff Boyle NSC
Cinematographer
Zoetermeer
+44 (0)207 748 3238
 

Brian Heller
 

Hi Mark,

You may be the only one who understood the reference.  :-)

B


On Feb 16, 2018, at 3:37 AM, Mark H. Weingartner <vfxmark@...> wrote:

:-)
On 15Feb, 2018, at 11:45 00, Brian Heller <brianheller1@...> wrote:

I think it’s a demonstration of Boyle’s Law at work:  increasing the pressure raises temperatures ;-)

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


On Feb 15, 2018, at 1:50 PM, Geoff Boyle <geoff.cml@...> wrote:

I feel like I’m in some cheap Sci-Fi movie and have slipped into an alternative universe.
 
I started this whole series of threads by trying to help people in low budget movies find a way to work within ACES.
 
LOW BUDGET.
 
Now we start including $200M dollar movies in the discussion.
 
Get a grip FFS!
 
This is an international list and the concerns of one union in the US…
 
Cheers
 
Geoff Boyle NSC
Cinematographer
Zoetermeer
+44 (0)207 748 3238