Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

It's saturday and I'm going through the mail for the week - at least the stuff that didn't have "Urgent" or "Final Warning" on them - and I came across several screeners and postcards people have sent in asking me to take a look at their short film or their feature. I guess the work I've done with SEX MACHINE and MUTANT SWINGER FROM MARS (all rights still available!) is getting around. That's a good thing because watching movies, writing movies, producing and marketing movies is my job. So if you want to send me an email first asking me to take a look at your film, I will do so. You know what I look for in a movie, so if your romantic comedy doesn't have an exploding bodypart in it in the first ten minutes - it's a pass. First, let me know what you want to send me a screener of or a link to so I can save you time and expense.

So this morning I cleared some time after THE BATMAN and watched three screeners and a couple of web shorts. One thing that struck me immediately was that despite the fact you guys have the capability (most of the shorts looked like DVX100A candidates) of setting your cameras to TRUE BLACK (zero %) you had your cameras set to VIDEO BLACK (+7) which is more of a GRAY than a black.

Why would you do that?

See, the whole revolution in HD cinematography has been that the cameras are LIGHT, shoot more FOOTAGE more CHEAPLY and it LOOKS LIKE FILM (or better). When you set your camera to Video Black you take all that cool technology you can cheaply use to create a PROFESSIONAL LOOKING MOVIE and PISS IT ALL AWAY.

VIDEO BLACK makes the image look MUDDY and OUT OF FOCUS. TRUE BLACK that's in focus looks CRISP, PROFESSIONAL and plain old BETTER.

Nothing's more infuriating than looking at something intriguing story-wise, and knowing you cannot sell it because it looks dirty and cheap. You spent all that time polishing and rehearsing your script didn't you? So why don't you do the same for the footage?

Shoot a test. Put it in the computer and play with it. Try different lighting and schemes and exposure settings.

But most definitely set the camera to record at True Black. That is if you want people to think you know what you're doing.

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