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Meters and more

Mark Weingartner, ASC
 

Or with LED, overreports with likely a discontinuous spike which can't be corrected in post.

Doesn’t matter if I know the offset - same as shooting greenscreens or bluescreens for the last thirty years

Meters are crucial with film because you can't see what's recorded on the film. With digital cameras, you can see and precisely measure what's being recorded.

Only if you have the camera with you on the scout

By the way, if you want to walk down a hallway and see what the light is doing between fixtures, that is really easy to do with an incident light meter… can’t do it reliably with a still camera or a motion picture camera without another person as a model or some ungainly attempt to hold a gray card steady and shoot it with your camera without pumping into things…    


While contemporary cameras can differ markedly, all currently being tested are essentially Bayer pattern silicon. Most DSLR's are as well.

You may not have a Venice at your disposal for lighting a scene, but a Sony A7s or other DSLR (which, lets face it, we all could afford, and costs less than my meter collection) would beat a light meter hands down, particularly once you get to know it as well as you know your favorite meter.

You make some dangerous and incorrect assumptions here.  Yes they are similarly designed chips. (Film stock acetate or polyester subtrates were all similar too)
However, the actual dyes used in the sensor masks differ from camera mfr to camera mfr , the gains applied to different channels at different settings varies, and the de-mosaicing software from camera to camera along with the viewing transform to get it into the monitor vary WILDLY.)
My meters, on the other hand, are the same all the time all the time all the time - at least since I switched to solid state ones that are a bit more resistant to dropping.
(I still have my main and backup Spectra Pros and Candelas squirreled away which should survive an EMP event)



Look, I used polarioid B&Ws as full frame exposure metering devices for many years and I started using DSLRs to help in determining exposure as early as Batman Begins and Rush Hour 3 (both shot on film)
I continue to do so, though I always have to figure out offsets since the still camera’s default viewing de-bayer is rarely anything like what my motion picture camera is going to do…


Your mileage may vary - if you are shooting documentary or doc-style narrative work and you arrive with your camera you have your camera right there to use for exposure…   but those of us who have to evaluate locations and prep to light sets days and weeks ahead of a production camera showing up the route forward with the fewest variables is a an incident meter and a reflected light meter of known calibration and performance - it is the standard. 
Each camera we use (and I have used most upper end models of most manufacturers as well as lots of still cameras for vfx work)  has its own idiosyncrasies and part of what I charge for is knowing how to correlate my exposure meter tools to the camera’s actual sensitivity, not what the manufacturer said it would be - same as with film.

I like and grew up with Old School film and meters, but New School digital is here to stay and the camera itself, or a surrogate, is the most accurate way to measure the light it is trying to capture.

Nothing other than the actual camera you are using will be totally accurate - so if I wont be totally accurate - I will generally use a meter (with offsets I understand if necessary)
That gets us going on lighting.
Before we shoot?  we use the actual picture to set the stop - of course!   but why make it harder than it has to be?


We are not luddites - we are experienced professional narrative and commercial directors of photography who have to get a job done - need to be able to communicate with our gaffers over the phone etc.  meters are really good for doing what they do.  Still cameras are less good at that - even though I always have one or two or three with me.  



None of this is theory or speculation on my part.
If I’m lighting a one day spot I might only pull out the meter to look at the sweep we are lighting or a greenscreen we are lighting while the camera is still being built…  and spend the rest of the day looking at a scope - sometimes with a DIT or sometimes without - it depends what all we are doing on set versus whether I am just feeding a VFX hopper with uncolored material.

For you young whipper-snappers out there aspiring to working bigger and bigger jobs, the three things I strongly recommend you learn how to use are 
an incident light meter, a spot meter, and a camera operator.
All three will save you time, and one of them will allow you to stick with your director a bit more - a useful place to be.
With the meters you need to learn how to interpret the data.
With the operator you need to learn how to communicate your wishes, manage your operator(s) effectively, and work out the relationship between yourself, the Director, and the operators… and the sooner you start honing all of these skills the less intimidating the “big jobs” will be.


Mark Weingartner, ASC
LA based


On 07/10/2018 12:44 PM, Mark Weingartner, ASC via Cml.News wrote:
All I need to know is that my meter underreports

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Noel Sterrett Admit One Pictures info@...

Noel Sterrett
 

So "offsets" are fine with a meter, but not with a full frame 4K 24P "DSLR" camera which also produces images which can and often are intercut with "motion picture" cameras?

I routinely "offset" cameras ranging from DSRL to Cinealta. In fact, I could describe my entire experience with cameras as one big "offset".

Cheers.

On 07/10/2018 03:48 PM, Mark Weingartner, ASC via Cml.News wrote:
so if I wont be totally accurate - I will generally use a meter (with offsets I understand if necessary)

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Noel Sterrett Admit One Pictures info@...

Mark Weingartner, ASC
 

Nothing wrong with using a still camera if it floats your boat - as I’ve said I’ve used one for thirty years, first polaroid than DSLR…
but it doesn’t replace my meters, it augments them.

A number of Clouds in Apocalypto came from my Nikon D70 as a matter of fact, and lots and lots of matte paintings and textures on the films I work on come from Canon 5Ds - but none of those still cameras replaces an incident meter in my process.   If I drop the meter I can use the camera in a pinch… 

I’m not sure why you are so anti-light meter here - it is a previsualization tool that works really well - the user needs to understand how to integrate that information into the whole scheme of things but that is equally true when using a digital still camera.

To get back to where this started for the many of us who scout and light with meters, understanding what Geoff is going through with the Arri lights is good information to have, not a reason to change the way we work to another way to work that still requires understanding offsets but also requires checking to make sure the shutter setting or iris hasn’t slipped and doesn’t give us an incident solution.

I don’t insist that anybody learn to use a light meter, but as a gaffer I lived by mine and any gaffer working for me has to live by his or hers.
You’re aren’t going to “win” an argument based on the premise that we should all give up our light meters because digital still cameras have arrived.  

Incidentally I also carry both a compass and a GPS…  because the compass never runs out of batteries unlike both my phone and my GPS.  

Mark Weingartner, ASC
LA based but usually shooting elsewhere
(But I’ve already done two shoots in Los Angeles this year!)




On 10Jul, 2018, at 13:09 10, Noel Sterrett <noel@...> wrote:

So "offsets" are fine with a meter, but not with a full frame 4K 24P "DSLR" camera which also produces images which can and often are intercut with "motion picture" cameras?

I routinely "offset" cameras ranging from DSRL to Cinealta. In fact, I could describe my entire experience with cameras as one big "offset".

Cheers.

On 07/10/2018 03:48 PM, Mark Weingartner, ASC via Cml.News wrote:
so if I wont be totally accurate - I will generally use a meter (with offsets I understand if necessary)

--

Noel Sterrett Admit One Pictures info@...

Luis Gomes
 

I beg your pardon and fuck me if I get permanent approval. 
I am saving  Mark Weingartner as my bible right of now. 
May the Lord be with you Geoff as you do your camera evaluations. 
CML you rock. What you see is what you get. 
There was as time? Trust me. It’s in the negative. 

Luís. 
Five scopes and two engineers. Still it’s looks like shit. 
Finland. 
Making seven cameras looking the same. 
--
Gomes.luis@...
http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/luis-gomes/20/11b/335/
Freelancer video Professional. 
Finland. 

Geoff Boyle
 

Mark, thank you for bringing some sanity to this

 

Adam, one day you will realise that Apple is the ghetto and the sun is out on the other side of the wall

 

Ah well, back on my head soon, still got to get the Codex reader to work

 

Cheers

Geoff Boyle NSC FBKS
Cinematographer
EU Based
geoff@...
Skype  geoff.boyle
mobile: +31 (0) 637 155 076
www.gboyle.nl

-- 

_

Daniel Drasin
 

Mark writes: I also carry both a compass and a GPS…  because the compass never runs out of batteries unlike both my phone and my GPS.  

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Point taken, but unlike a GPS a compass won't tell you your position. :-)

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA

Daniel Drasin
 

Luís Gomes writes: Five scopes and two engineers. Still it’s looks like shit. 

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Best signature line of all time, 
Luís! :-)

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA

Jessica Gallant
 

Of course not, you’d need a sextant to go along with your compass.

Jessica Gallant
Director of Photography | Los Angeles | CA
http://jessicajgallant.com
http://wb.imdb.com/name/nm0002680/
cell: 818-645-2787
email: jessicajgallant@...
Skype: jessicajgallant


On Jul 10, 2018, at 11:07 PM, Daniel Drasin <danieldrasin@...> wrote:

Point taken, but unlike a GPS a compass won't tell you your position

Mark Weingartner, ASC
 

Point taken, but unlike a GPS a compass won't tell you your position

My experience has been that if I know where I am on the earth within a fairly large area I can predict where the sun will be at what time using a compass and rather simple data I can carry folded up in my pocket thanks to Sunpath.   If I need to know my exact location I can look on the call sheet:-)  My little Suunto box compass also has a sighting clinometer built into it in case I break my normal clinometer and the whole thing is tiny and light.

I love all the modern advantages that electronica have given us but I like simple lightweight things that always work also… so I carry both to the job but don’t wander around with everything on my person all the time.

I bought a very cool GPS for a job in Africa that has a camera in it too and geostamps the pics - really handy for scouting and works well from inside a helicopter.
Eats batteries like crazy though.

Once you are out of batteries it’s just something you have to lug around.

Weingartner/LA



Mako Koiwai
 

 

Thought I’d linked to this already but it’s amazing..

This, I kid you not is where I was watching the RAF 100 flypast from..



Michael Sanders: Director of Photography.  London based but works globally.

reel/credits/kit: www.mjsanders.co.uk    m: +44 (0) 7976 269818

Mako Koiwai
 

Very Cool Michael!

Ours is a nicely descriptive one also! :-)


Makofoto, grilling a whole chicken 2night, S. Pasadena, Ca