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  • 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

  • Cine Designer Nathan Beaman Ubran Rhino Nathan Beaman

    Nathan Beaman is a creative director a Vermont based agency and production company called Urban Rhino.

    Cine Designer Nathan Beaman Ubran Rhino

    Cine Designer Nathan Beaman Ubran Rhino

  • Cine Designer David Vollrath David Vollrath

    David Vollrath is an NYC cinematographer who is currently signed with Partos. More coming soon…

    Website | Instagram

     

    Cine Designer David Vollrath

    Cine Designer David Vollrath