• DP Julius Koivistoinen

    I feel like while many productions try to compress more and more content in a single shoot day there becomes less and less chances for any guesswork on actual set. But the problem is creativity doesn’t flourish that way and previsualisation for me is the way to combat that behavior and open up the possibility to slowly ripen my visions.

    Cinematography Database: Hey Julius, tell us where you’re from and what kind of work you do.
    Julius Koivistoinen: Hey! I’m a cinematographer from Finland currently specialized in medium to large-sized TV commercials.

    My background is in photography where I started my career as a photojournalist 10 years ago. I had worked towards becoming a concept artist beforehand but after realising my imagination simply wasn’t vibrant enough for that type of work and meantime landing my first job as photographer for a pretty sizeable magazine at the time, aged 17, I ended up choosing that path instead.

    Julius Koivistoinen
    Cinematographer Julius Koivistoinen

    While working on different types of photography commissions I found out my biggest passion lied in lighting, and it was really fascinating to me how it felt possible to manipulate and control light like some kind of invisible fluid. What made me switch to filmmaking is a combination of multiple factors like more in-depth storytelling, audio and how I find movies the most emotion-evoking art form overall.

    What resonates with me the most are the moodier and more quiet bodies of work, it’s always the story which dictates the overall direction. Now, in the future I see myself pushing towards more drama work and eventually lensing my first feature. Until then it’s all about honing my skills working on spots with wide range of talented directors and finessing my own visual vocabulary in the process.

    ABC “Chef’s Burger”

    Director: Finn Andersson
    Production company: Studio Fotonokka

    CD: What was the creative and the directors vision/concept for Chef’s Burger?
    JK: Finn and I had worked on only few projects together before this so communication and proper prep were the keys to get this right. Especially since we had very limited time to cover everything we had in mind for this TV spot. We visioned this to have a very high sense of energy and inspiration was taken from American musicals for example. It was also important to achieve the feeling as if this took place in a real kitchen environment which in part this dictated a lot how I winded up lighting the set.

    CD: What was your pre production process like with the director, art department and crew?
    JK: Pre-production was crucial considering how many moving parts we had for something what seems like a simple table-top project. But the fact that the fast-paced cut planned for the spot meant we had tons and tons of shots to cover while everything had to be polished-looking, simultaneously.

    So we started off by bouncing different ideas from each other like mood, the script , lighting and possible camera moves, and after that set designer made a plan for our set. After that it was pretty straight-forward to throw everything we had planned into Cinema 4D thanks to all the assets available in Set Designer.


    Technical Diagram created with Cine Designer Physical

    Communicating through previsualizations proved to be particularly effective considering how my gaffer came up with some cool ideas we probably wouldn’t had time to implement otherwise if we had left it to pre-light.

    CD: Where did you get that lovely 3D cheeseburger?
    JK: Haha, cheeky of you. Thanks for the cool 3D scan, Matt! I half-jokingly had asked you to scan a hamburger since at the time I was prepping for this project. You providing the 3D scanned burger through Set Designer with such a short notice further helped me to get my point across to the whole team which was great. Makes much more sense than looking at some awful cylinders and spheres I would’ve come up with my terrible 3D modelling skills.


    Cine Design with 3D scanned cheeseburger ;p

    CD: What were the shoot days like and what equipment were you using?
    JK: Initially we had planned to go with Technodolly for those sweet camera sweeps but that would’ve limited us to a single shoot day. Acknowledging the amount of coverage we needed and weighing pros and cons we ended up going another route with two shooting days and a simpler jib arm setup which still enabled us to work in a very dynamic way. Everything was optimised for a fast shooting-pace: Fisher dolly on track and GFM jib arm together with Newton S gyro-stabilised head made it possible to reach all possible angles without the need to move any tripods or whatnot.


    Behind the scenes photo of final kitchen set and lighting equipment

    In lighting my goal was to achieve that same flexibility by choosing LED lights as much as possible: my Hudson Spider Redback unit was rocking as the key light and everything else was built around it mixing up daylight and tungsten sources. Mainly DMG Lumière LED units for their form-factor, ETC Source Four for sharp edges and control, and a 4K Arri M40 HMI for base ambience. Usually I love to simplify things but here we combined multiple types of lights on purpose to create that feel of a real location which are full of different random fixtures.


    Cine Design vs Final Shot

    We shot on Arri Alexa Mini and Cooke Anamorphic lenses mainly going with 50mm, 75mm and 100mm focal lengths.

    Stockmann “Women’s Day”

    Director: Viivi Huuska
    Production company: Mjölk

    CD: Tell me about the creative for “Woman’s Day”
    This TV spot was made celebrating the Women’s Day. “During night a group of women have breached into the premises of a closed retail store and there’s a guard in the security room observing their actions with great interest.” Of course, there was no such room in reality so we had to build, light and shoot this scene in a very limited timeframe so acting fast was the key. Mood for the scene was left pretty open so previsualising this was really helpful to sell my take on the lighting and camera angles. This way I can be sure there won’t be any confusion on set either which could slow us down significantly.


    Technical Diagram created with Cine Designer Redshift

    CD: Did you work with the director and art department to design the blocking and monitor arrangement?
    JK: In this case the info I was provided with were the specs of our shooting location through recce during pre-production, rough drawings of the set design and of course the script. I’d say the most crucial details were the room dimensions since simply getting the distances between set walls right helps a ton finding camera angles we can actually perform on the day. Likewise if the measurements had been off even a little the previsualisations wouldn’t have resembled end results this closely.


    Behind the Scenes photo of the final set and lighting

    Obviously, the spot consists of much more than just this scene yet I didn’t previs those. I do this a lot choosing to previs only what I can’t envision clearly enough in projects, so previsualisation is definitely a tool I use selectively. Deciding on it depends on available prep time and complexity of the setting we’re about to shoot.


    Cine Design vs final spot comparison

    CD: What was the shoot day like and what equipment were you using?
    JK: Let’s say glad I figured to cross out the next day from my calendar in advance. The retail store we shot in is one of the largest ones around here and located right in the centre of Helsinki so shooting during daytime wasn’t an option. I chose to go with Arri Alexa Mini with Master Prime lenses which I found to be the perfect combo for this project.


    Arri Alexa Mini and Dolly

    These lenses enabled extremely shallow depth of field with beautiful round bokeh yet they are sharp but not overly so. Say, Leica Summilux-C’s while being awesome lenses would’ve been too crispy for my taste and then again Zeiss Super Speeds too creamy. With Master Primes we really hit the sweet spot here. Lighting was really simple but getting to that result took quite a while of head-scratching. Small battery-powered LED panels attached to the monitors working as key and Skypanel for hair light. Luckily, again, deciding on lighting didn’t lead to any downtime on set thanks to the previs.

    Cine Designer Physical VS. Redshift

    CD: You’ve used both Cine Designer Physical and the newer Redshift version. What are your thoughts on GPU rendering for Cine Design / Previs?

    JK: To be honest, GPU rendering feels to me like the only way now. I started out doing previs in Blender with my own toolset a few years ago, then moved to Cinema 4D and Cine Designer Physical when it came out and finally got Redshift up and running this year.


    Cine Designer created with Redshift GPU rendering

    During this process, step-by-step my productivity has increased significantly and the biggest difference I’ve noticed so far between CPU and GPU rendering is the increased amount of iterations I’m able to make in less time. I’m able to create more detailed lighting plans and have very clear vision before even entering the set. Much more so than before when the best I was able to previs before losing my patience was a sophisticated guess. This in turn could lead to uncertainty on set and in the worst case scenario falling behind on schedule.


    Final image from the commerical

    Overall I feel like while many productions try to compress more and more content in a single shoot day there becomes less and less chances for any guesswork on actual set. But the problem is creativity doesn’t flourish that way and previsualisation for me is the way to combat that behaviour and open up the possibility to slowly ripen my visions.

    CD: Where can people find you and your work online?
    JK: I love sharing informative behind the scenes content on my Instagram @julious_dop whenever I can! You can follow me at www.instagram.com/julious_dop .

    To see my latest work you can visit my online portfolio at www.juliuskoivistoinen.com

    Thanks!

  • Designing Alex Boye’s “Warrior Song” DP West Webb

    We both have never utilized a tool like this before, so we weren’t entirely sure if it would translate on the day. That fear changed immediately when the setup time was diminished at least by half, and the execution of the look was almost exact.

    Cinematography Database: How did the Warrior Song project come together and what was the initial visual concept?
    West Webb: The artist wanted to bring a little bit of Marvel’s Black Panther into the piece, so we tried to achieve a visual piece that didn’t necessarily mimc anything we had seen in the trailers.

    We wanted to create something that granted a powerful feeling that would attribute to Alex Boye’s voice and movements. This was my first time working with Justin Key, former creative director at Big Machine Records. The initial project was a contest held by Hard Rock Cafe. Alex Boye’s “Warrior Song” won the competition, thus giving him a music video.


    CD: What was the pre production process like with Cine Designer?
    WW: I had been watching your tutorials for a few months off and on, dreaming of what it would be like to pre visualize a project. I always feared C4D for some reason, but when I finally decided to make the jump I found that it was far easier than I could have ever expected. I went back to the beginning of the tutorials and just followed along.



    CD: Did you share the renders with the director and artist?
    WW: I shared the renderings immediately with the Director who was surprised to see a representation of what the day could look like. We both have never utilized a tool like this before, so we weren’t entirely sure if it would translate on the day. That fear changed immediately when the setup time was diminished at least by half, and the execution of the look was almost exact. The renderings got the artist even more excited, and we felt a sort of accomplishment before we even started filming.

    What camera, lenses, and lights did you use for the main performance?
    WW: We used the Alexa Mini with Cooke Anamorphics. I was very fortunate to shoot with that package because that combination is extremely powerful and rewarding. I knew the equipment list, which consisted of 10 Quasars, a jem ball, 2 source four’s, and a standard 3 ton grip package including a Fisher 10. We were limited in terms of lighting, but were prepared because of cine designer. I knew what we were walking into.

    CD: Did you share the renders with the crew on the shoot day?
    WW: I sent the gaffer my renderings a couple days before the shoot and he called me praising the technology. He was super excited to work together, and was really impressed with a visualization. The crew was sourced from our studio location in Miami, so I had no way of knowing what it would be like to work with these guys.

    In the space, my 1st AC set up monitor and I had it facing my G&E team as we set up the quasars. Each crew member on my team had the images of the renderings on their phones, and with the monitor and camera position in place it doubled or tripled the speed it would have normally taken to execute that setup. We only had a gaffer, key grip, and a swing.

    CD: How long did it take you to learn Cine Designer and make your first renders?
    WW: I started late November and had my first renderings done by the first week of December. The shoot was on December 7th, so it didn’t take long l for me to catch on. I watched about 20 tutorials and then decided to go rogue for a bit and attempt my first design. I knew most of the dimensions of the studio, and with your suggestions was able to find an appropriate 3D object of a throne.

    I knew I wanted to have a character represent Alex Boye, so I watched the Adobe fuse tutorial and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it was to create a character and bring them into C4D. Once I had all of the physical objects in there I brought in the quasars and the other elements in my lighting package. The design just sort of came to me immediately. I was realizing I could solve so many issues in the program that I might stumble onto on the actual filming day.

    For instance, I realized the placement of my jem ball needed to be a little bit further in front and angled at a certain degree to get the specific look I was desiring. If I hadn’t discovered that in Cine Designer (which requires no physical labor other than moving my hand on the mouse haha), I would have realized my mistake which would have wasted time.

    CD: Where can people find you and your work online?
    WW: I moved to Los Angeles last summer and just started my own company, Legacy Content.
    You can find my work at www.westwebbfilms.com / www.legacycontent.com

  • Cine Designer February 2018 Updates

    In 2018 we are going to try to release all of the additions and updates to the Cine Designer Database on the 1st of each month.

    We will publish a blog post and a forum post with the links to the new and updated assets.

    February Additions:

    JL Fisher Model 23 Sectional Jib
    Chapman Hustler IV Dolly
    American Grip Road Runner 220 Light Stand
    X Rite Color Checker Classic and Probes
    Husky String Light
    Beadboard Circle 4ft
    Beadboard 4×8
    Beadboard 4×4

    Cine Designer February Gallery

    Check back next month to see the new updates and additions.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Cine Designer Featured DP Lewis Potts

    I got into using Cine Designer after looking at what you are making on Instagram, but always thinking I couldn’t do it because I have zero idea about anything 3D.

    To be honest if it wasn’t for your tutorial videos I probably wouldn’t have bothered, because I think a huge misconception is that you need a really good computer to run it.

    Lewis uses an Apple Macbook Pro to run Cinema 4D and Cine Designer.

    Your videos gave a simple explanation of how to set up a project, build a scene and pre-vis a shoot to make something similar to what you are making, with out all of the other technical parts that come with Cinema 4D.

    So far its been great, another reason I started using it is because I have a few bigger projects coming up this year that I think it will be great for, so I thought if I could build some key scenes in 3D in the pre production and basically do what your doing, it would make the director, producer and everybody in every other department happy that we’re all on the same page.

    Also, it’s just another great skill to have to make yourself more employable.

    The bedroom one is from a short film I was shooting, this was just from a pick up shoot day of us getting a couple scenes in a house to finish off shooting a film. I didn’t really need to build it in 3D, Im just getting as much practice as I can at the moment for bigger projects coming up in the future, so any opportunity is a good one at the moment to practice!

    The car ones and the techno crane one in the desert are just from me learning how to use the program too. Having the ability to see how specular objects render is pretty great!

    Lewis Potts Links

    Website

    Instagram

  • Designing A Child’s Fantasy | DP Angelo Coli | Cine Designer Case Study

    Cinematographer Angelo Coli transforms a child’s living room into the ocean floor using clever lighting and camera work.

    Cinematography Database: Tell me about yourself and what kind of work you do right now?
    Angelo Coli: I am a 28 years old Italian cinematographer based in Milan, the city where the majority of italian commercials get made and where I started off as a camera assistant almost 9 years ago. Now I work as cinematographer mostly on commercials.

    CD: What was the director’s concept for this commercial?
    AC: The story of the “Under the sea” video is a strange one. The director, Giancarlo Spinelli, and I met on the set of a commercial when we were both at the beginning of our careers. Since then we developed a strong work relationship and began to share the ambition to work on high end commercials and build up a competitive reel to show also outside of Italy. It is difficult to be offered projects that are going to make for good showreel material, so we often use our spare time, in between jobs, to produce our own concepts. This also gives us the opportunity to experiment new techniques.

    This particular video was born as a test commercial, produced by a production company from my hometown, Genoa, called “e-motion” with which we have a good relationship: they provided their Red Camera, lenses and some lights. The budget was extremely limited and we were lacking many necessary professional figures (no production designer, for example) but during the pre-production process we fell in love with the concept: we ended up putting lots of unrequested (and unpaid) free time and thoughts in it. Just to make a couple of examples, the director reinvented himself as prop-maker, building the two different sized diving-helmets, and I took care of creating the glowing elements of the set (the colored lanterns of the stairs and about 50 transparent jellyfishes).

    The director wanted to give this child’s adventurous exploration a both dreamy and unsettling mood: in the end everything had to be also playful, but mainly misterious and surreal. The story procedes building up the illusion of being underwater: in the last “jellyfish scene” we knew that the house setting was probably not going to be there at all. As the director was convinced there was not going to be any close encounter with smiling and happy fishes, he gave me the task to establish a dark mood. From the beginning we were aware that the light was going to be the key element of the scene. Light is in fact the main product advertised in this commercial, as we discover in the last shot of the video where we see the caustics on the ceiling being generated by a small device attachable to the lens of a smartphone.

    CD: Can you talk about the pre production process for this spot?
    AC: We began pre production focusing a lot on finding references and examples for what we wanted to do, but the research was hard. What I ended up doing was in fact to start “playing” with a Cinema 4D project in which I started adding underwater props and testing compositions. Since our resources was very limited and we were fairly new to this kind of production design heavy work, the 3D world of unlimited resources was mind blowing and saved us a lot of pain and expenses.

    CD: What camera and lenses were you using?
    AC: We shot with a Red Epic with the 6k dragon sensor. Unfortunately for the lenses I was not given a choice but I have to say I am really happy with the results I got from the Red prime lenses, which we were so kindly provided.

    CD: Can you talk about the lighting in the bedroom?
    AC: The lighting in the bedroom is really simple. Simplicity and logic are important factors I keep in mind when I light, and especially in the first and third part of the video where we are in the kid’s room, I wanted to save the “wow factor” for the underwater scenes. At the same time we had to present the main character in her own environment, a space where she belongs, as a young, brave, and slightly undisciplined child wide awake in the middle of a stormy night. For this reason I lit it in a dramatical way, but keeping it also as natural as possible, in order to have a more efficient gap between reality and escalation of fantasy once underwater. To find this balance was the main challenge here.

    For this scene it was also incredibly important to talk with the director about the position of the bed relative to the windows, and the kid’s relative to her bed lamp.

    This discussion involved a good amount of testing which we were able to do in 3D as well, without having to constantly change the position of a really heavy bunk bed (not a job for just two people). Thanks to Cine Design I was able to light and pre visualize what we wanted from day two of post production. We decided to have a practical light behind the kid providing a justified backlight, and letting her key herself with the torch reflected on a white page of the book, while having some moonlight filters from outside the window, for which I used a kinoflo with 5600K tubes. I also used props with shiny surfaces to add some reflections and light to the scene without sacrificing its darkness, but always in coherence with the set design and the character’s personality.

    CD: Can you talk about the lighting in the living room? How did you get the water “caustics” projected on the wall? Was that from the “Firefly” projector? What was the light in the scuba helmet?
    AC: For the living room we came up with as many possible options for light sources to have on frame, in line with the idea of a living room turning into the sea abyss.

    So first a lamp, then the treasure chest with industrial warm led strips all around the edges, the projector, and the many jellyfishes we designed, with paper core lit by tiny single led lights. I always read about the importance of communication between Dop an production designer, and having done both jobs on this project, designing my own light sources, I cannot stress enough how wonderful it was.

    As for the main character I knew I was gonna put some light inside the helmet so I went for a warm color to make some chromatic contrast with the blue of the environment. I fell in love with a light angle from straight down her face, giving the requested creepy feel in a way that reminds the “narrating a scary story pointing the torch at your face” sort of thing. For this I used an industrial LED strip, wrapped in Lee 250 half diffusion to make it a bit more gentle and spread out.

    This way I had her face always keyed without effort and my only challenge on set was to shape up the roundness of the helmet with reflections, without over illuminating the rest of the environment. I think this is the part where Cine Design came most to my help, to test the different angles of reflections and spaces required using just my Mac book pro. To create these reflections on set I used two kinoflos bouncing on poliboards put behind the sides of the main character.

    For budget reasons we had to shoot in a house with white walls so we immediately felt the need to have a permanent solution for the backgrounds. We decided to have caustics there, bright elements moving out of focus and also using them as a narrative thread between the scenes. We began real world testing but soon realized that the best way to go was CG. This gave us a much more controlled effect.

    CD: The models of the room are really great, did you model them or find them online?
    AC: I modeled the rooms based on the house we knew we were using. I used Set designer walls and furniture for most of it. Some things like the scuba helmet I easily found online, others I learned how to make online or watching your videos.

    Check out Angelo’s work at his website and Instagram.

    You can watch the final spot HERE

  • Don’t Use PBR Materials with Physical Render in Cinema 4D

    This is not a complaint, just a workflow update for Cine Designer and Set Designer users 🙂

    Cinema 4D R17 introduced the “Reflectance” channel for it’s native materials. This was a move towards physically accurate reflections and using it for reflections works great. In R19 they added a new feature called “Add PBR Materials” that puts the “Color” channel in the “Reflectance Channel” as a Lambertian layer. This is mandatory for using Pro Render, their new native GPU render engine, that is actually made by Radeon Pro.

    I tried using the new PBR Materials with my normal Physical Render workflow and found out that if you use the PBR Materials that they use the Embree Raytracing engine to calculate global illumination, even without “Global Illumination” added as an effect. It’s possible to use the PBR Materials with Physical if you are doing exteriors but for interiors they are VERY noisey and increase render times dramatically.

    For this reason, Set Designer defaults to “Normal” C4D Materials that use the “Color Channel” and we recommend sticking with normal GI with Irradiance Cache/Light Mapping or QMC/Light Mapping.

    We’ll make a video dedicated to render setting soon.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • How to Design a Bedroom in Cinema 4D

    In this video we use Set Designer assets to layout and design a simple bedroom.

    We also used C4D PBR Materials, which we no longer recommend due to longer render times and worse viewport rendering.  All Set Designer assets use standard C4D materials now.

  • How to Design a Bathroom in Cinema 4D

    In this video we use Set Designer assets to layout and design a simple bathroom.  The wall system doesn’t make easy to add the cut out for the bath tub and shower but we are working on improving that aspect of the system.

    We also used C4D PBR Materials, which we no longer recommend due to longer render times and worse viewport rendering.  All Set Designer assets use standard C4D materials now.

  • How to Install LIB4D Files in Cinema 4D

    If you are using the Set Designer “Sets and Locations” they come in .LIB4D format.  This video covers how to install them and use them in Cinema 4D.

    The .LIB4D format is one of my favorite features of Cinema 4D because it makes it easy to create a local database of models and materials.  And then easy to share and move those libraries to other systems.

    If you have any questions please head over to the forum or leave them directly on the YouTube video.