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In Tests

By Colton Davie

Shooting Through Pantyhose

On 09, Aug 2014 | 4 Comments | In Tests | By Colton Davie

I recently had the pleasure of working with the Alecies, Alex Le Bas and Alex Brisker, on their new short film My Friend Jenkins. We wanted to bring a classy “Hollywood” feel to the film and looked a lot at Janusz Kaminski’s work with Steven Spielberg, as well as Joe Wright’s Atonement, shot by Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC, as references.

One staple of Kaminski’s work is his expressive use of lens diffusion. His use of net diffusion, such as in Minority Report and others, lends a particularly unique texture to the image. McGarvey also used nets behind the lens for the scenes of Briony’s childhood in Atonement, giving a romantic softness to the images.
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“Hamlet’s Ghost” Premieres at Cannes

On 05, Jul 2014 | No Comments | In General | By Colton Davie

I began working on the independent feature Hamlet’s Ghost in 2011 as first assistant camera. As the low budget production progressed in small chunks, I started taking responsibility as B-camera operator, and eventually as additional director of photography, shooting pick-ups and occasional scenes for which Tom McCarty, our primary DP, was unavailable.
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Shooting Broken Lizard on Super 16mm

On 19, Mar 2014 | No Comments | In On Set | By Colton Davie

In September of last year I had the pleasure of working with director Rod Blackhurst on the one-shot short film known at the time as The Runner. There was no script, just a single page treatment with a still image of an empty desert road and a brief description of the actions that take place. The film, now known as LIFE, premiered this week as a Vimeo Staff Pick.
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Cinematography for Directors: The Crew

On 17, Jan 2014 | One Comment | In Instructional | By Colton Davie

This post could just as well be addressed to producers. While most filmmakers understand on a broad scale the different crafts that come together to make a film, like acting, production, art, cinematography, editing, music, and effects, it is not uncommon that as a department head I find myself having to explain to a director or producer the roles of the various crew members that make up my department and their importance to the project.
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In On Set

By Colton Davie

Shooting “The Whistler” on ALEXA

On 31, Oct 2013 | 4 Comments | In On Set | By Colton Davie

As a Halloween treat, Openlight Pictures just released The Whistler, a small but spine-tingling short film. Bryce McGuire wrote and directed, Rod Blackhurst produced, and I was the cinematographer. Bryce wanted to keep the shoot small and intimate, so the entire consisted of just the three of us, plus the two leads, Kate Cobb and Josh Schell.
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Moonlight Exposure on “Jesus Fish”

On 04, Oct 2013 | No Comments | In On Set, Tests | By Colton Davie

Jesus Fish is a folkloric tale about a church-swindling con artist, his guilt-ridden brother, and a soul-judging lake monster said to devour sinners. Naturally, the action ends up in the lake during the dark of night.

Night exteriors pose a variety of challenges for the cinematographer, not the least of which being how to get an exposure while maintaining the feeling of darkness.
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Intro to Workflow: Safely Carrying Your Baby from Set to Screen

On 30, Sep 2013 | One Comment | In Instructional | By Colton Davie

When shooting digitally, especially on a tight budget, there is a common temptation to shoot first then figure out post later. With the low perceived cost of recording data and the wide availability of affordable tools to process and work with such data, there is a mindset which suggests that with a little Google searching one can quickly figure out how to get from A to B. While it is possible to figure things out, it will likely end up costing a significant amount of time and potentially risk compromising the quality of the material. The shoot first-figure the rest out later mentality is a dangerous one in all areas of production and has resulted in many costly unfinished and unfulfilled projects.
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Dear Metis Creative

On 20, Sep 2013 | No Comments | In Inspiration | By Colton Davie

…please hire me.


But seriously,

I love story. In my mind, cinematography is primarily a storytelling craft. However, sometimes it’s fun to shoot something that looks awesome just to show how awesome it looks.

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Cinematography for Directors: Focal Length (Part 1)

On 14, Sep 2013 | 4 Comments | In Instructional, Tests | By Colton Davie

Like the other departments of film production, cinematography is a specialized field. As cinematographers, we are required to fully grasp and utilize concepts and tools that may never be completely understood by other members of production.  For instance, a director may never need to know how to read a waveform monitor, or the difference between griffolyn and ultrabounce. However, the choices the cinematographer makes regarding exposure, or his choice of bounce, or the myriad of other technical decisions ultimately have narrative and emotional impact on the film. Therefore, it is wise for directors to have a basic grasp of cinematographic techniques—as well as the other aspects like production design, sound, and editing—so that they can confidently and deliberately work with their collaborators to craft their vision.

With that in mind, I’ve set out to write a series of articles on foundational concepts of cinematography, for directors. I intend to approach these concepts from a story perspective as opposed to an overly technical one. My goal is to help new directors get up to speed, or provide a refresher for those that may have more experience, so that they can more effectively communicate with their cinematographer and better craft a film that is in line with their vision.
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