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Featured Cinematographers and Filmmakers who use Cine Designer

  • 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 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

  • Cine Designer Domenik Schuster Brandenburg Road Safety Campaign | DP Domenick Schuster

    Germany based Cinematographer Domenick Schuster used Cine Designer to design a chilling “one take” crane move for the “Brandenburg Road Safety Campaign.”

    Cine Designer Case Study

    Domenick Schuster | Website | Instagram

    Final Spot

    Credits

    Director: Jonas Ludwig Walter
    Production: Alina Wiederda and Philipp Rappsilber
    Cinematographer: Domenik Schuster
    1st AC: Alexander Mitzler
    2nd AC: Sophia Fenn
    DIT: Marcus Mittmann

  • Cine Designer Mike Staniforth The University of Manchester | DP Mike Staniforth

    UK based Cinematographer Mike Staniforth used Cine Designer to create these detailed 3D lighting diagrams to explain the lighting of a white cyc studio commercial.

    Cine Designer Mike Staniforth

    Mike Staniforth | Website | Instagram

     

  • Kit Kat Commercial | DP Justin Derry

    NYC based cinematographer Justin Derry used Cine Designer to visualize the lighting and blocking of a horror/comedy commercial for Kit Kat.

    Justin Derry Cine Designer

    Justin Derry | Website | Instagram

     

    KIT KAT “Chainsaw Massacre”

  • Cine Design John Schmidt XXL Freshman Freestyle 2016 XXL Freshman Freestyle with DP John Schmidt

    John Schmidt is a cinematographer who recently shot a series called Freshman Freestyle for XXL.

    Hey John, so tell me a bit about your background and how you got into the film industry?

    John Schmidt: I dabbled making movies, instead of writing papers, in high school but got to college and told myself I’d major in something “realistic” which ended up civil engineering. I always loved architecture and design and didn’t want to be in an office, but I soon realized I didn’t have the patience for it and found myself leaning towards the film program.

    The undergrad program produced a feature film every year for credit and I didn’t really know what any of the roles were so the program chair made me a grip. I picked up lighting fast and was especially interested in planning a strategy and seeing the way it affected the quality of light. I became the “lighting guy” and soon found myself Gaffing and Key Gripping indie features in the bay area before moving down to Los Angeles. I pushed further towards shooting as I found the plan all started at the script and was rooted in story.

    How did the “XXL Freshman” project come together?

    JS: Travis Satten, the director, reached out about this and asked if I had any large studio work, clean white cyc, etc he could see. More often than not, a director needs to vet you to their client and on larger jobs, they are really making recommendations and the client makes the call. It’s understandable from their point of view as there is a lot of money involved and heads can roll if you’re planning on just bringing on a buddy and they don’t deliver.

    The catch-22 is that you’ll rarely get hired for a commercial job if you don’t already have on your reel examples of what the agency or client expects this one to look like. That being said I had some white cyc, lots of studio experience, yet not something quite like this, So I gotta hand it to them for putting me forward.

    Cine Designer Matt Schmidt

    What was the creative brief?

    JS: Travis described the approach as classy and intimate portrait shots we’d push in or pull out as our talent performed to camera. Black and white was key from the start and he wanted the looks to be unique for each artist. He referenced a photographer named Platon, who’s portraits are very personal, yet powerful, and wanted the lighting to wrap and shape in different ways as we moved in and their performance unfolded. He spoke about the look “unfolding” as we learned more about each artist. It’s always great to collaborate with a director looking to elevate what could have been just simple profile captures.

    Cine Designer Matt Schmidt

    What were the production challenges?

    JS: The freestyles were shot along side a lot of content (interviews, promos, etc) on the same day and XXL has been putting this together for many years so they were already sure where and how it works. We shot at Dune studios in lower Manhattan as it offered production several floors for the different stages, and greenrooms. It is mainly a MOS photo studio but works well for their purpose as they can take over everything and have several units running at the same time.

    However the stage presents a few issues to someone like me, used to larger stages, the main one being that there is no overhead grid for rigging lights. My task was to create a unique, changing, clean look for each artist and I wanted it to be quick and seamless to change from look to look and not have to move in lights on the ground.

    How did you approach the pre production for this project?

    JS: We would BUILD a grid. And we’d circle our talent with soft lights that I could bring up or down based on the design. And all the lights would be dim-able. I had a pretty good feeling that my approach would be costly, yet I knew that the initial time investment early in the day would save us in between set ups and still give us the class and unique looks Travis was looking for.

    Cine Designer Matt Schmidt

    Did the Cine Designer renders help communicate your plan?

    JS: This would be a perfect project to use Cine Design for as it would correctly describe my vision and justify the extra costs to production. Instead of just drawing it out and asking people to trust me, it would make it something they could actually see. Through many years of trial and error, you realize that everyone in the industry is just like you, they are all growing at some point in their career.

    So when describing a plan to people you may be working with for the first time, and the resources are limited, you better be able to describe not only the what, but also the how and the why. If you give them just a gear list without any other explanation, they wouldn’t understand why you can’t do it with less. And why should they, they are not DPs with your experience.

    Of course you can’t teach everyone you work with every reason behind every choice as it takes years to learn, but people tend to understand things they can see better and Cinedesign looks so nice and professional, everyone can understand and even send it to their boss when they start asking.

    Cine Designer Matt Schmidt

    How did the shoot day go?

    JS: We shot for only one day and although it was a slow start building all this, it was built into the schedule and the time investment up front meant no one had to wait for lighting for the rest of the day, and that’s pretty powerful when you have many people too shoot. You can let the director focus on the performance and never feel like you’re cutting into his time.

    What did you take away from this production?

    JS: This project was really an exercise in lemons to lemonade. I was faced with a tough location that didn’t offer me an easy way to pull off the plan. The look may be subtle but sometimes it takes a lot of planning to design it and execute it with full confidence that It would work. It was nice getting to know Cinedesign for this and use it to inspire confidence with a new client. I’d consider myself a beginner with the program and it couldn’t have worked out better.

    Cine Designer John Schmidt XXL Freshman Freestyle

    What projects do you have coming up?

    JS: I have a couple commercial spots coming up. Moving from branded content to broadcast stuff. It’s really nice to be able to work with decent budgets and get a big crew or gear or lenses but there are SO many great DPs doing good work. I’m really still finding my voice and focusing on developing my skill set to bring something unique to a project. My next job is kinda an older brand trying to do something new, so for the next week I’ll collect as much material references and focus on showing them everything I’d like to bring to it and make sure we’re all on the same page.

     

    XXL Freshman Freestyle 2016


     

    John Schmidt

    John Schmidt

    John Schmidt | Website | Instagram

     

    Credits

    Production Company: APK
    Executive Producer: Daniel Navetta
    Head of Production: Sydney Fisher
    Director: Travis Satten
    Production Manager: Nik Sipolins
    DP: John Schmidt
    1st AC: Kevin Jacobsen
    Gaffer: Jason Duffett
    Best Boy: Keagan Fuller
    Key Grip: Chris Wiesehahn
    Grip: Max Ellis
    PA – Driver/Set: Lamar Williams
    PA – Jumper/Set: Adam Soltis
    PA – Set: Justin Abenchuchan

  • Adam Coleman Cine Designer Lighting Diagram Adam Coleman

    Adam Coleman is a New York City based cinematographer who has trained under some of today’s most influential DPs like William Rexer (Public Morals, The Get Down) and Pete Konzal (House of Cards). We speak with Adam about his journey and some of the modern techniques he incorporates into his workflow.

    Hey Adam, tell me about how you got into the industry.

    Adam Coleman (AC): When I was in college I was studying cinema and art history. No one really told me there was a difference between making films and studying them. I guess one day it hit me that what I wanted to do was make stuff and I wasn’t on the right path. I started to look for any job or internship with something related to creating images.

    “I ended up working as an assistant for some wedding photographers and eventually got a general production internship with Click 3X.”

    It was a long road of growth at Click 3X, but after interning on many commercial shoots and around the office a position opened up in their Machine Room. I was offered the position and took it. The position was called a Tape Operator and I was responsible for ingesting all the incoming footage and printing the finished commercials to tapes… BetaSP, Digibeta, HDcam, D5 to name a few.

     

    How has your role at Click 3X evolved over time?  It must have been great exposure to be on set on so many professional commercials.

    AC: Our company was always shooting our own content. We had a very tiny stage that doubled as a conference room. One of my many responsibilities was to flip this room back and forth when needed. That led into setting up all of the lights and eventually the cameras. I had no clue what I was doing most of the time but just started to figure it out and ask a lot of the right questions. It was around this time that I knew I wanted to pursue a life on set instead of in a dark machine room.

    “Eventually the company opened a stage on the next floor and asked me if I wanted to build it out and run it.”

    They also made the decision to purchase a RED camera and really dive into the live action business. It felt like a great opportunity so I jumped at it.

    I spent a couple of years bouncing around camera and lighting departments of a range of shoots but mostly stuck to focus pulling on the bigger ones. Click 3X also had an enormous need for in-house smaller scale production. I would shoot pickup shots for larger commercials, stills for designers, orthographic photography for CGI, case study videos, witness-camera for VFX, Instagram photos for our interactive department, b-roll stock footage, VFX tests, photo boards, even the occasional casting session.

    Eventually, I gravitated towards focus pulling and I had the opportunity to assist for some really top tier DP’s like William Rexer (Public Morals, The Get Down) and Pete Konzal (House of Cards) until about 3 years ago when I started to take shooting really seriously. Since then I have been on that DP hustle you are always talking about. Shooting every commercial, music video, doc that I can get my hands on.

     

    When did you first start to use 3D to plan your cinematography work?

    Adam Coleman Cinema 4D Previs

    Adam Coleman early previs work in Cinema 4D

    AC: When I was in High School I worked at this shoe store that no one every came into. I was alone with the company computer which had sketchup on it. I remember teaching myself how to use it to model the store, but never really took it further then that. Years later after meeting you and seeing you use it on a commercial we were working together on, I decided to take it up again by building my stage to spec. I have been exploring the 3D world for prep ever since. I was using some of the early sketch-up camera features to frame shots and have really watched it change a lot as a program. One of the post artists I know that was learning to light in C4D saw what I was doing and told me that if I brought the models into a 3D program that I could light them the way I do on set. I installed an older version of the software that the company wasn’t using and got a grey scale guerrilla plug-in to create cyc walls and softboxes. Since then pre-vis has been becoming more and more an integral part of my workflow.

     

    Tell me about the 92Y project and what you did in pre-production with the director and the rest of the team.

    AC: The 92Y Project was very different from many of the other shoots I have worked on. The concept was to turn a 360 Live action world into a CGI transformation of that same world. The final delivery was for Oculus so right from the beginning of we wanted to stay in the 360 mindset. When we prepped I took along my RICHO Theta camera to the tech scout to give everyone a feel of how the space would look in 360.

    Choosing a 360 capture solution was also an interesting process. I have been very frustrated by the lack of usability of the early go-pro rigs; I find them very unreliable. The OZO was an exciting opportunity because it allowed us to view the image while we were shooting. From our scout we could tell that where we positioned the camera and the overall composition was going to be very important for the final cgi transformation of the architecture. Creating a composition for 360 is much different from how we are traditionally used to. I don’t know if fibonacci’s numbers apply to 360.

    Adam Coleman Cine Designer Lighting Diagram

    Adam Coleman lighting diagram for 92Y, created with Cine Designer

    For the green screen section of the shoot the prep needed to be really dialed in. I had several meetings with the director, producers and post team to discuss our approach. I had built the space in 3D and was able to show the team what our set would look like through the camera. We had to account for the height of the green screen to have enough room to cover dance performance with ariel lifts and give them enough space east to west to not restrict their movements. The green screen elements will later be composited into the 360 footage and CGI animations. Very specific camera notes were taken from the OZO footage to make sure we matched camera height and spatial relationship to the environment.

     

    How did the shoot go and how did you approach the lighting?

    Adam Coleman green screen lighting set up

    Adam Coleman green screen lighting setup

    AC: The shoot went really well. We had a very limited time in the space and were lucky enough to have a pre-light the night before that helped us to not waste any time on the day. We discussed shooting this element on our stage at Click 3X and I did not feel that the 20×20 space was large enough to give the dancers enough room to perform a realistic routine. I sat down with the director, producers and the entire post team to discuss what was the best option for our needs. We decided hanging a green screen in the same location as the 360 shoot and matching the plates of the project together would be the best option, the other was to shoot on a larger isolated green cyc and add in the reflections and contact shadows after; we determined it would be less work in post with the route we took.

    For a lot of green screen shooting I think it is important to be at a high foot-candle and a fat stop. I wanted to be at a 90° shutter to reduce motion blur and at a T5.6. When budget is tight and getting larger units into a space is an issue I like to use 2K Open faces to throw a lot of light around. At full flood they spray light everywhere but if you have the distance to separate your subject from the background they work great for green screens. That with some additional help from some of the performance parcans that already existed in the space I was able to get the green to a T8-1/2. I then cross keyed the dance space with 2K opens through light grid. The final addition is a little bit of backlight from two source 4s with Hampshire and 1/4 minus green.* My electrician for the shoot normally lights all of the live dance performances and theater productions that happen at the space; he said to me “with dancers, you need to light them from the side to give them shape.” Normally I use backlight on GS to create separation but I really liked the way a little heat on the side created clean lines while they moved.

    *Minus green on the backlight is kind of an old trick for suppressing green spill and creating separation that I have seen so many DP’s do. I used to not do it just to be different until a flame artist I was doing tests with said what I was shooting keyed better with the backlight. Now I do it much more often, when appropriate.

     

    What can you share about working with the Nikia OZO.  There are a lot of VR cameras hitting the market but this one looks pretty solid.

    Adam Coleman Nokia Ozo Virtual Reality 360 Camera

    Adam Coleman setting up the Nokia Ozo Virtual Reality 360 Camera

    AC: Working with the OZO camera was very exciting. You can’t really beat being able to see the image in a Oculus headset. For onset workflow it is the only camera that is suitable for commercial production right now. As for the post workflow, I was able to do some very simple test stitches with autopano that worked fairly well for the amount of time I had spent. For final stitches most people are using Autodesk’s Nuke in a very tedious process. I think the camera is a great concept, but am excited for when some VR options with a few more cinematic tools and more dynamic range. I found that the highlights of the camera held up pretty well but in the low light the noise was very unforgiving. Much of the image is baked in as well, so setting proper exposure and white balance on set is very important. We used a 24” Sony monitor with the OZO creator software to judge exposure by eye.

    My VR Tech Ben Schwartz and Mike Nicholas at AbelCine were also super valuable in the process as well. As you could imagine with any new technology that there are a lot of quirks to that need to be troubleshot and they were on top of everything from prep and even following up on post problems. Nokia has also been very helpful in fielding any workflow questions I had and were able to give me a beta version of the new Creator suite to process some troublesome clips.

     

    How do you see cinematography evolving?  You are already shooting VR and using Previs/CineDesign which is great!

    Adam Coleman On Set vs. Cine Designer Renders

    Adam Coleman Cine Design vs On Set

    AC: I think that VR and Previs/Cinedesign are very big components of what will be expected out of the DP’s tool set. I am certainly embracing that. An in-depth knowledge of post-production and workflows will also be an important aspect, there will be a time in the future where the cinematographer will be responsible for much of the visual effects supervision and workflow management. I imagine that light field capture will be an interesting prospect and think that we can expect to see cameras with more dynamic range and large resolutions as well.

     

    What kind of projects interest you?

    AC: A few years ago I assisted on an OKGO music video (The Writings on the Wall) and it really opened my eyes to accomplishing something that has a lot of moving parts. Since then I have gotten enormous satisfaction out of technically challenging shoots. But I feel like I haven’t really settled into a niche yet.

    I have done different types of commercials, music videos, and some narrative work. I would love to get involved with some more traditional story telling but overall I really like to work with creative and passionate directors that show up to set with a purpose. Some of the creatives I respect the most can turn the most simple concept into something completely unexpected.

     

    What’s up next for you?

    AC: Right now I plan on continuing to grind. I have officially removed myself from camera assisting and am exclusively shooting as of the past year. Now I am just focusing on adding projects that I want to represent me as my body of work. Click 3X has been exceptionally supportive of me growing as a director of photography and gives me the opportunity to venture out on my own to shoot projects.

    Currently I am prepping a comedy gameshow/web-series with Dave Attell (Dave’s Old Porn, Insomnia) that is just about to shoot. I have also been discussing VR with many creatives. I have a collective of friends that I shoot projects with, and we have a few projects coming out soon that I am excited about. I am also prepping an NYU Student film that is being directed by one of my former interns.

     

    Adam Coleman

    Cinematography Database Profile (2016)

    Cinematographer Adam Coleman

    Adam Coleman – websiteinstagram

     

    Gallery:

    Adam Coleman Cine Design diagram on set

    Adam Coleman lighting diagram for 92Y, created with Cine Designer