We couldn’t be more excited to announce our brand new partnership with SGO! With a rapidly-growing Mistika Technology user-base, SGO very much looks forward to introducing Mistika Technology to the LAPPG members. Built on years of research, development and production experience, Mistika Technology empowers users with new levels of creative power, performance, and efficiency in HDR, UHD/4K, 8K, S3D and VR workflows.
Available for both Windows and macOS, Mistika Boutique natively integrates the most complete spectrum of professional finishing tools, including color, VFX, conforming, Stereo 3D, VR/360º – and so much more. With a recently overhauled Color GUI, Mistika Boutique offers a truly precise and interactive grading experience.
Easy-to-use, smart, affordable and highly customizable software-only solution, Mistika Workflows is designed to reduce bottlenecks throughout the whole media content production chain and optimize resources by facilitating and fully automating repetitive media management, encoding, transcoding and delivery tasks.
For more information please visit: https://www.sgo.es/news-lappg/
The Sight, Sound & Story: Live monthly event series continues in November with Author & Film Historian Bobbie O’Steen and a panel of seven editors
Inside Episode V: This panel will honor legendary editor Sam O’Steen. He first found acclaim for his work in the late 1960s, at a time when the studio system was crumbling, and independent filmmakers were captivating young audiences with personal, provocative narratives and experiments with sound, music, cinematography, and editing. These shifts all elevated the status of the editor. Bobbie O’Steen, who was Sam’s wife and collaborator, is a film historian whose book, “Cut to the Chase,” is filled with Sam’s behind-the-scenes stories on such landmark films as “The Graduate,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Chinatown.” She will moderate the panel of seven editors, who will share and discuss specific scenes that show how Sam’s work inspired them.
Panelists for this event will include Michael R. Miller, ACE (“Miller’s Crossing, Armageddon”), Darrin Navarro, ACE (“Ballers,” “Mozart in the Jungle”), Suzana Peric (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Pianist”), Terilyn Shropshire, ACE (“The Old Guard,” “Eves Bayou”), Zach Staenberg, ACE (“The Matrix” Trilogy, “Pacific Rim: Uprising”) & more!*
All attendees who register for this event will receive a link and password to Vimeo Live an hour prior to the event. The event will be live at 5:00 PM EST/ 2:00 PM PST on November 19th. This will gain free access for all attendees who register.
This event wouldn’t be possible without our Master Storyteller Sponsors: OWC, ZEISS, American Cinema Editors, & EditFest Global; as well as our Technology Sponsor: Shutterstock. Following the panel there will be a chance to ask questions in a live Q&A networking event. To register, please go to https://bit.ly/2Jk36zi.
*All speakers are subject to availability
Blackmagic Design announced that “The Cleansing Hour,” starring Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner and Alix Angelis, utilized Blackmagic cameras, ATEM switchers and converters in production, as well as DaVinci Resolve Studio in post production, to create the unique show within a show horror film.
Millennial entrepreneurs, Drew and Max, run a popular webcast that streams live exorcisms. But the performances are, in fact, elaborately staged hoaxes. The two get their comeuppance when their newest actress becomes mysteriously possessed by a real demon, that holds the crew hostage. The film premiered on streaming channel Shudder on October 8th.
The concept originated from director Damien LeVeck’s background in reality television. “I’ve observed that whenever people see a video on the Internet, especially if it’s of lower quality, they automatically think it looks and feels more realistic. And this was during a time when people were putting more and more outrageous things on Facebook, just for attention. So, I wondered what would happen if somebody was trying to fake an audience with exorcisms and then was forced to deal with a real one?”
With a film that involved a webcast as part of the primary plot, LeVeck relied on Blackmagic Design equipment to create the complex video broadcast setup that drives the story. As the characters struggle to handle the real demonic elements that infect their webcast, on camera screens would show the action real time. LeVeck used Blackmagic Micro Studio Cameras to capture high quality imagery of the drama, knowing that the cameras would cut well with the main unit photography.
“The biggest challenge,” said LeVeck, “was shooting a movie about guys who are making a show in a single room, but still make it look interesting. Coverage was always a challenge, there were cameras pointing in every direction.”
With active cameras on set feeding monitors, the main camera was tasked with staying out of their shot while still covering the action. LeVeck chose the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera because of their small form factor and interchangeable lenses. “We liked that the Micro Studio Cameras really held up fairly well in low light. We creatively chose to make a dark set and the Micro Studio Camera made a very nice picture even in low lighting.”
Cameras were fed into an ATEM Television Studio Pro HD switcher, which fed the onset monitors. “We really liked that you could control the Micro cameras from the ATEM, allowing us to build a functioning studio set within a set, and for a relatively low cost.” Additional gear, including two SmartView 4K monitors for Multiview from the switcher, and two Teranex AV standards converters to convert additional analog cameras for the switcher, created the active production set where the action takes place. Multiple Micro Converters were also used to modify signals in and out of monitors.
With the onset video setup handled by Blackmagic gear, LeVeck was faced with the challenge of creating the movie on a limited budget and short schedule. “There were so many challenges in shooting this movie,” added LeVeck. “The biggest thing was really just schedule. We had to move very quickly, we didn’t really have a lot of time to waste because every day there was a different combination of makeup effects, special effects, stunts, pyrotechnics, that take a lot of time to set up. It was a huge logistical challenge to get everything filmed on time and in a creative way.”
With the story hinging on the reality of the characters working a real broadcast setup, LeVeck was excited that the set was real, not just props. “Because all of the cameras and Blackmagic gear on set were functioning, Kyle Gallner (Drew) was able to interact directly with the ATEM to switch cameras and play out graphics.” A tangible, functioning set was immensely helpful for Gallner to create a more authentic and natural performance.
With principal photography completed, LeVeck and his team finished the film in DaVinci Resolve Studio. “It was an incredible experience. Resolve is phenomenal software for creating the look and feel of your finished movie while working with speed and efficiency.”
Looking for ways to be even more efficient, the team utilized Resolve’s collaboration tools. “First and foremost, just the conform process was seamless. We used a Resolve set up in my office, and with a shared workflow I had one editor conforming one reel while another editor was conforming a different reel. They were able to work on the same project at the same time.”
With conform finished in house, the DaVinci Resolve Studio project was taken to Banana Post in Burbank where colorist Chad Mumford created the final look over a three week period, also in DaVinci Resolve Studio. Cinematographer Jean-Philippe Bernier brought in a variety of still frames from other projects with looks he wanted to emulate for various parts of the film. Mumford imported the stills and used them as layers over the grade. “(Bernier) was inspired by a particular scene in David Fincher’s SE7EN that had a very fast shadow roll off and slightly green blacks,” said Mumford. “Nothing is better as a colorist than being able to pull those stills into the project and compare them directly to your grade.”
Mumford applied a favorite technique to the dark, ominous photography in “The Cleansing Hour.” “I personally find myself emulating film when I grade. One of the plug ins we were able to incorporate into the grade was FilmConvertPro. We did a luminance selection of the deep blacks, used FilmConvert to add grain and then inverted the selection. This is especially apparent in the scene where Max (the Priest) is being burned by the stage lights. We had a lot of fun experimenting with grain and Resolve’s keying and HSL selection tools made it possible to create a subtle, unique film look.”
With more than 400 visual effects shots in the film, Mumford and LeVeck had to use every tool at hand to tackle multiple challenges throughout the finishing process, all in the spirit of increasing the creepiness of the film. “If I look back, the one creative challenge that stands out above all is grading the monster that reveals itself at the end of the film,” added Mumford. “The ‘veins’ of the creature were all modified on the Color page to appear almost like flowing lava. One of those shots probably had the most nodes I’ve ever used.” LeVeck added, “It really turned out beautifully.”
In the end, the process was complex, but well worth it. “The movie was an incredible technical challenge just because of all the onset playback, and all of the screens that had to have different content on them, specific to that moment in the movie,” said LeVeck. “On top of that, we had tons of visual effects and makeup effects. It was a scheduling challenge, more than anything, to pull all of that off. But despite all those challenges, it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I can’t wait to do it again.”
The Telly Awards Announces 42nd Annual Call for Entries With New Categories Celebrating Diversity, Social Impact, and Remote Production
Creativity prevails as world’s largest award for excellence in video content across all screens honors ingenuity in the midst of change with new theme, “Your Stories Defy The Limits”
The Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television across all screens, opened its annual call for entries with a host of new and expanded categories that seek to spotlight the cultural change, social impact, and creative innovation that has defined this unprecedented year.
Entries are being accepted now at www.TellyAwards.com. The early deadline is December 11, 2020.
Mirroring the industry’s rapid evolution amid a range of challenges (specifically live action filming), these new additions include editorial/animation-driven categories like Use of Stock Footage, Virtual Events & Experiences, Influencer & Celebrity, Remote Production, and Museums & Galleries, who have turned to finding audiences online. Series has also grown to incorporate the already existing Diversity & Inclusion, Social Impact, and Animation sub-categories, along with more standard expansions like Online and Television Series which now includes Food & Beverage, Beauty & Lifestyle, Education, and Discovery as well as genre-based categories like Sci-Fi, Horror, True Crime, and Reality.
The theme of this year’s awards is “Your Stories Defy The Limits”, encompassing the creativity and storytelling efforts that surfaced in response to the unique challenges presented by 2020.
“This year has been like no other. Despite the immense changes and challenges we have all faced, many inspiring feats of creativity have persevered, both because of and in response to this changing world”, explains Telly Managing Director Sabrina Dridje. “We have seen new workflows to accommodate remote production, spikes in the use of animation in the absence of live production, and continued reminders that video and television on all platforms can be used to share, educate, and inform important global and societal issues. Through this unstable time, we have seen, time and time again, that your stories have both defied the limits of deep challenges and also embraced opportunity.”
In recognition of the need for an industry shift, The Telly Awards is also adding two new media partners, Ghetto Film School and UK-based We Are Parable, to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the work of underrepresented artists. Ghetto Film School is an award-winning nonprofit with locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and London that seeks to educate, develop, and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers, placing the support of diverse talent at the heart of all they do. Also a champion of diverse storytelling, We Are Parable is an award-winning film exhibition company that provides audiences with opportunities to respond to and experience Black cinema in culturally relevant, memorable, and innovative ways. They have worked with Disney, the British Film Institute, StudioCanal, and Altitude, as well as filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler, Idris Elba, Amma Asante, and Academy Award-winner Spike Lee.
Unlike previous years, but in true 2020 fashion, the third installment of the complementary Telly Awards global screening series will be held virtually with a lineup of diverse content across branded, animation, short-form documentary, and more, curated specifically to echo this year’s theme. The Tellys will begin rolling out the work in a reel format for those who RSVP in early November, culminating in a livestream and Q&A with many of the content creators and producers on November 18, 2020. Additional screenings will be held in February and April of 2021. The program will also be featured online at NAB NYC, which runs from October 19-29, 2020, and will feature work by WePresent, The New Yorker, The Juilliard School, Narratively, and We Are Parable.
Entries for the Telly Awards will be evaluated by members of The Award Judging Council drawn from a diverse mix of advertising, media, tech, and video industry leaders. The Tellys have long prioritized empowering and championing underrepresented voices, curating a lineup of judges from diverse backgrounds, countries, and cultures to ensure that work is judged in a fair manner and is representative of creative talent across the globe. Among this year’s first-time judges are Shalini Sharma of NBC News, Ryan Honey of Buck, Andrew Wareham of Taxi Group Australia, Karyn Spencer of Whalar, Amy Tunick of WarnerMedia, Jamie Elden of Shutterstock, Kavita Lokchander of Thrive Global, Meghan Oretsky of Vimeo and Andrew Rowan-Robinson of Framestore NY.
Founded in 1979 to honor commercials made for cable and local TV, The Telly Awards has continually refreshed its categories to honor the evolving, broad range of work being made — including branded content, social video, and animation — working with industry experts to identify categories where new platforms play an increasingly important role in the ways stories are being told.
Last year, The Telly Awards received over 12,000 entries from top video content producers including Viacom, Google, Condé Nast, CBS Interactive, Verizon, BBC, Partizan, RYOT, and AJ+.
To enter work in the 42nd Annual Telly Awards, visit www.TellyAwards.com. The deadline for early entries is December 11, 2020. Winners will be announced in May 2021.
ZEISS awarded HPA Engineering Excellence Award for its eXtended data, which uses metadata to significantly simplify image processing for film production
ZEISS was awarded the HPA Award for Engineering Excellence 2020 by the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) for the development of ZEISS eXtended Data (XD) technology. The lens metadata technology was launched with the ZEISS CP.3 XD lenses in 2017. It is also included in subsequent lens series ZEISS Supreme Prime and ZEISS Supreme Prime Radiance and will be integrated into Fujinon’s Premista Zooms.
The ZEISS XD technology is built upon existing architecture, called Cooke /i1, which is enhanced with additional information for the postproduction pipeline. All lens metadata is recorded in real-time, such as focus distance, aperture value and depth of field. In addition, accurate information about the lens distortion and shading characteristics is tracked for every single frame as lens settings are changing. The metadata makes it easier to work with visual effects: it takes a few simple clicks to modify the image generated on the computer to fit the lens characteristics, and to then splice it together with the footage to create a realistic image. This streamlines workflows, particularly for VFX and can be adopted to work in real-time for virtual production.
Joachim Zell, Chairman of the HPA Awards Engineering Committee, is delighted that the independent jury has chosen ZEISS as award winner and explained: I personally used the ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses and their seamless lens distortion metadata transfer to the camera RAW file on two projects already. One was “Stucco”, a joint ZEISS / RED production, in spring of 2019 and the other, “Lost Lederhosen” at the end of 2019. Both times we were able to save time and labor, and improved efficiency in the production and post production process.” According to Zell, both projects did contain VFX elements for which normally lens grids and checker board charts would have been shot in order to undo and redo the lens distortion before and after the composition work. “Now that the camera captures the lens distortion metadata per frame and per lens setting, we are able to hand over the needed metadata to the Nuke-based compositor and automatically get to the desired result. Especially during this global pandemic and beyond where we have to be able to be more efficient, ZEISS provides procedures which allow us to adapt modern workflows for our film industry,” Zell continued.
To enable as many users as possible to take advantage of all the benefits, ZEISS has developed free plug-ins for industry leading compositing software. With partners in the film industry, ZEISS developed solutions that can be used to even greater effect with ZEISS eXtended Data in the entire image capture ecosystem. RED DSMC2 cameras as well as the Sony Venice can directly store ZEISS eXtended data in the camera through the interface on the PL mount. Cameras of other manufacturers are compatible through a range of universal external third-party tools via the on-barrel 4-pin connector of the lenses.
More details on ZEISS eXtended Data Technology can be found here: www.zeiss.com/cine/xd.
1: /i is a registered trademark of Cooke Optics Limited used with permission.
The CSU Media Arts Festival celebrates 30 years in 2020. They’re switching up the format a bit and presenting the festival online on Friday, October 30, 2020, 1:30-3:30pm. The festival will feature a screening of student entries, awards ceremony, and a retrospective of the past 30 years.
Interested to join them? RSVP to receive the link for the presentation: https://forms.gle/tB3VrEyUvGsas3tD9
Blackmagic Design announced today that the feature film “Last Call”, which was shot in two simultaneous 80 minute takes, was colored in DaVinci Resolve Studio by colorist and cinematographer Seth Wessel-Estes, who also used the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel in his workflow.
“Last Call” follows a suicidal alcoholic on the anniversary of his son’s death. When he attempts to call a crisis hotline, a misdial connects him with a single mother working as the night janitor at a local community college. The split screen feature showcases both characters in realtime as they navigate a life changing conversation.
Director Gavin Booth was no stranger to single take projects, having experience directing a number of one act plays and single shot music videos. He was also director on the Blumhouse project “Fifteen,” which was the world’s very first movie broadcast live, also in a single take. “Last Call” would be a unique approach to filmmaking, in the vein of films such as “Timecode” and “Russian Ark”, both early inspirations for Booth.
Both Booth and cinematographer Wessel-Estes, who was also the colorist on the film, knew there would be significant challenges in coloring a movie without edits, and with two constantly moving shots around a cityscape. “Figuring out the approach of how to color the film was a pretty daunting task,” said Wessel-Estes. “We hadn’t ever had to color anything longer than a three or four minute shots in the past.”
In preparation, both Booth and Wessel-Estes shot a single take music video for the band Bleu before starting on “Last Call,” working up not only a workflow for production but also a process for handling a constantly changing image.
“Last Call” would present a myriad of challenges to the team, all of which would be reflected in the final image that would need to be colored. Each of the characters would be filmed simultaneously, connected only by the cell phone call that was the link in the movie. Booth would follow one character, and Wessel-Estes the other.
“We needed to reduce the amount of crew for both camera and sound,” reflected Booth. “There couldn’t be a camera assistant or a boom operator. There was nowhere to hide everyone or avoid boom shadows throughout the full single take on either side of the movie. We had to work with our sound mixers to double lav the actors and rely solely on that.”
Booth and Wessel-Estes were also the camera operators, and would need to pull their own focus, while the gaffer would have to figure out how to use a mixture of practical lighting as well as hide every single cable and film light since the single take on either side would move 360 degrees through the space. Moving from inside to outside or even room to room meant that the camera’s exposure needed to seamlessly adjust at the same time. Every element would either help or hinder the final look, and the team knew they had limited time and budget to get it right.
For the look of the project, Booth wanted to maintain a realistic style, and avoid an exaggerated or otherwise over colored look that might have distracted from the character driven drama. “With the use of the long take to show ‘reality’ we wanted to keep it feeling as truthful as possible. For us, having too much of a look on a piece like this can take away from the rawness. We wanted the audience to feel like they were there with the two characters, hanging on every tense word they exchange.”
Once in post, Wessel-Estes knew that having a single long take, and hundreds of node corrections on the single shot would be unmanageable. Instead, he imported the project into Resolve and used the Edit panel to place cuts throughout the film to give him transition points. “I was able to go in and make cuts along the timeline which acted as scene markers. That way I could individually color each ‘scene’ or area by itself. Luckily with the Resolve editing panel I was able to go in and create edits and use cross dissolves to smoothly and dynamically transition between graded sections.”
Wessel-Estes also used the Davinci Resolve Micro Panel for color grading. “It enabled me to not only grade more efficiently but also to have more fine tuned tactile control of individual parameters. Since our look was so naturalistic, I ended up doing tons of very small, subtle corrections which would have been a hassle without having a control surface.”
With a split screen showing each character’s part of the story, Booth and Wessel-Estes had a host of challenges to manage. As the camera moved from location to location, both interior and exterior, they knew they would be faced with completely different lighting and exposures throughout the film, requiring careful grading to both marry segments while respecting each new look. “Since we were working with some uncontrolled lighting situations we had to go in and do dynamic exposure and color adjustments as the camera and character move from one space to another.”
Matching the two sides of the film so they felt cohesive throughout was also very important. Each half of the screen had its own ‘look’ but also needed to blend effectively so that the audience wasn’t distracted by the visual contrast of the split screen. “Using the built in comparison tools to bring up images side by side as well as the various scopes enabled us to ensure the look would remain cohesive throughout.”
Wessel-Estes also used a fair amount of vingetting that needed to be keyframed in order to track with the moving camera. “The built in smart tracking inside of Resolve was hugely helpful for a lot of this work, and I love how simple yet effective it is.” Other Resolve tools, such as HSL keys, sharpening masks and advanced keyframing controls came in handy when coloring a single take film. “Having all of these tools at my fingertips enabled me to add a degree of finesse to the look of the finished movie which just wouldn’t have been possible on set.”
With “Last Call” taking awards at 25 international film festivals and release slated in theaters on September 18th, Booth is proud of what they have accomplished, achieving a style he has long admired in other projects. “As a filmmaker I have forever been obsessed with long take storytelling; and with audience and critics response, I am thrilled our film’s story rises above the ‘gimmick’ of a long take. For me, ‘Last Call’ felt like the next evolution of a filmmaking challenge.”
P|PW Online Returns for NAB Show New York as a Live, Interactive Virtual Conference on October 25-29, 2020
Post|Production World (P|PW) Online is the world’s leading training conference for production & post-production professionals, content creators, designers, TV, film & video editors, producers, directors, motion graphics & online video specialists. While we can not convene at the Javits Center in New York, NAB Show New York will take place as a virtual event along with P|PW Online.
Your space, your pace! P|PW Online will deliver over 100 training sessions on production, post-production, new media, business strategies for creatives during COVID-19 times and vendor-branded topics straight to your home via the Zoom platform. P|PW Online also offers training sessions hosted by Maxon, Apple, Dell, and Blackmagic Design experts respectively to accommodate specific interests.
The speaker line-up features FMC’s world-renowned team of post-production experts and certified instructors. To facilitate community building, the P|PW Online program also offers interactive networking sessions, panel discussions, happy hours, and intimate virtual help desk sessions with P|PW Online instructors.
The ticket is only $399 and registration includes access to stream the session recordings for 90 days post-event!
For any questions, reach out to event manager, Jennifer Howard at JenniferH@fmctraining.com.
Sight, Sound & Story: Live monthly online event series continues in October with Supervising Sound Editors Bobbi Banks, & Mildred Iatrou, and Re-Recording Mixer Robert Fernandez
Manhattan Edit Workshop’s “Sight, Sound & Story: Live” monthly online event series continues in October with an in-depth look into the world of Sound Design.
Inside Episode IV: Sound is one of the most important elements in film and can be used to elevate a performance, evoke emotions, indicate mood and emphasize what’s on the screen. Join Moderator Woody Woodhall, CAS, who will take a deep dive into the creative process of sound design in film and television. He will be joined by multiple Emmy-nominated Supervising Sound Editor Bobbi Banks, AMPAS, ATAS, MPSE, multiple Oscar-nominated Supervising Sound Editor Mildred Iatrou, and Grammy and Emmy-winner, Re-Recording Mixer Robert Fernandez. This panel will take us through the creative process of sound design and sound mixing and explore how sound shapes and influences our viewing experience. Through discussion and viewing scenes, we will see and hear examples of the panelists extraordinary work in sound.
All attendees who register for this event will receive a link and password to Vimeo Live an hour prior to the event. The event will be live at 5:00 PM EST/ 2:00 PM PST on October 14th. This will gain free access for all attendees who register.
Our event wouldn’t be possible without our Master Storyteller Sponsors: OWC, ZEISS, American Cinema Editors, & EditFest Global; as well as our Technology Sponsor: Shutterstock. Following the panel there will be a chance to ask questions in a live Q&A networking event. To register, please go to https://bit.ly/3ikajex.
The next Sight, Sound & Story: Live event will be on November 12th with Film Historian Bobbie O’Steen. Please go to www.SightSoundandStory.com for up to date information.
Amanda Dreschler and Michael Livingston didn’t let a detour like the COVID-19 pandemic shunt their creativity. Just the opposite— they channeled their isolation experience into inspiration and pulled out the stops—writing a script, learning the majority of crew positions, and sharpened their directing, acting and editing skills. Plus they got by with a little help from their friends— all remote, all COVID safe.
Together they wrote the script mirroring the very personal emotional and physical experiences they were undergoing, measured with a healthy dose of creative expression that adds an undertow of mystery that really keeps the 19-minute story moving.
They made the most of their own “natural resources” using their Hollywood rooftop apartment as the location. A call to Michael Valinsky nabbed their long-time friend as Executive Producer and he in turn reached out to legendary Steadicam operator, turned DP, Dan Kneece, and they had their cinematographer. Michael Bravin at Canon added a new Canon C300 MKII and Sumire primes that they called a “godsend”.
The previous year, Kneece had used the new BB&S Area 48 Color on a soon to be released indie film, so he was happy when BB&S again made the lights available. “The BB&S Area 48 Color was definitely our main light,” says Livingston, “We used it in almost every scene. Even in those that were primarily natural daylight, we almost always had the Area 48 bouncing for some extra fill. We shot against bright windows in full daylight for the workout scene at the beginning of the film. The Area 48 gave enough power to bring up the exposure in the apartment close to the exterior so we didn’t blow out our windows.”
“The colors on the Area 48 were stunning and essential in getting the neon look of the film. We would never have been able to achieve the bright colored sequences with gels. In our lava lamp scene we were able to tune the colors to an almost exact match with our lava lamp and dim it down to look as if the lamp cast a glow on our faces. Without the Area 48 we wouldn’t have been able to fine-tune that scene the way we did.” Kneece concurred, “The power, versatility and flexibility of this light is incredible. It has the adjustability to match almost any other colored source.”
Matching was important to Livingston who was co-directing, working camera and editing. “The Rotolights can roll through daylight to tungsten, but they don’t have the color range of the Area 48. The BB&S lights had such precise controls we were always able to match the Rotolights. The green shift control for the daylight was also very helpful. Our apartment windows have a slight green tint to them, and we were able to match that light with the Area 48.
Although Dan was in Marina Del Rey while Amanda and Michael were across town, the team safely moved forward remotely without missing a beat. “The waveform was a saving grace as we bounced the signal over two laptops so we could collaborate”, says Kneece. “By pointing Michael’s laptop at the production monitor, working on this film didn’t seem much different that other films when you’re working from video village on a normal set. The process actually worked really well.”
Small team or not, the goal was to get a high-end look. Peering into the psychological states of the characters called for numerous close-ups especially on the co-director/lead character, played by Amanda Dreschler. Capturing her gossamer complexion has been a challenge on many of their films. “We’re always experimenting with different make up, different lighting,” explains Michael. “This time around we found it very easy to get good beauty shots with the Area 48. The quality of light that comes from it is so soft, especially with the soft box, it gave a very luminescent quality to our close ups. With Dan’s help we lit the scene the way it needed to look, and the light just bounced beautifully off her skin—it did all the work for us.
The lava lamp scene was critical. Kneece explains, “Lava lamps by nature are not the most precise light sources so thank goodness the Area 48 Color is. We were able to match the lava lamp perfectly and use the Rotolight to make up the difference with a bit of gel. The trickiest part was positioning the camera, lights and actors so they were attractively lit and photographed without shadowing them from the fixture or getting unwanted light on the lava lamp or their faces. It was a very precise shot to make work.”
“The color grade also helped bring everything out to its full potential”, adds Livingston, “but the ultra soft Canon Sumire lenses and the Area 48 is an A+ combination. If you’re looking for good beauty work it certainly gets Amanda’s seal of approval.
They also selectively used harder LED lights. Livingston says, “The Force-7 is a beast of a light but highly controllable so it was great for our shooting limitations. To create the spotlight in our singing set up we had it behind the camera pretty far back from the set (as far as we could manage in our apartment!) and were able to get a perfect circle on our backdrop. It also acted as a backlight in the sequence where Amanda is dressed up as the raven. We could spot it down to a pinpoint and get a perfect kick on the back of her hair and feathers. It was subtle, but it’s the details that make all the difference.”
“The Compact Beamlight was fantastic, especially under shooting conditions where we didn’t have any crew or a lot of space. It was perfect for hair lights and came in handy anywhere else we needed a kick. One set up in particular was for the finale which Livingston calls the “floating iPhone key shot,” explaining, “We used the CBL-1 as a rim to simulate the sunset glinting off of the phone on our white screen. Using the dimming control we were able to be very precise about the amount specular highlight we were getting.”
Dan Kneece has been on the set of literally hundreds of films, big and small. His response to the first one filmed in quarantine? “As beautiful as this movie is, it was all done in a practical apartment using house power and we didn’t blow a breaker once. Amazing really.”
We Can’t Go On, written, directed, and starring Amanda Dreschler and Michael A. Livingston was shot and completed during the 2020 Covid-19 quarantine. View it at: https://vimeo.com/447406368
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