Illumination Experience- Day 2
I spent the last weekend participating in the Illumination Experience Cinematography Tour (illumination.mzed.com).
The first day workshop was really in-depth, but still pretty general and was set up in a way that even those with little-to-no experience could still follow along (ex: how to set up a c-stand). It was a great learning experience. But the real meat of the weekend was in the second day Master Class.
In the Master Class, Shane and the Illumination Experience crew created sets in the space and brought us in (under their supervision) to fill the different positions. Obviously, the most wanted position was DP, but not everyone was able to do it, so the role was raffled off. I didn’t get a chance to work directly with Shane as the DP, but I was still able to watch how the whole team interacted.
Being able to get super hands on and have Shane share his thought process and insight was the entire reason I wanted to do the Master Class. It was definitely worth the price, and I came away with a lot of new tricks and tips for making my shots look even better. Writing about everything would take too long, so I’ll leave you with my top three: false color, depth, and night shooting.
Proper exposure is the key for any shot, and there are a lot of tools to help you get the right exposure. I generally use waveforms and zebras to set my exposure; but Shane brought up some great points about false color. He basically said that waveforms don’t show you proper exposure of elements. And it’s true, a waveform gives a general light level for the shot. But false color shows specific exposures. Part of the reason I never really used false color before was because I didn’t know how to read it. Shane spent about 30 minutes showing us how to use and adjust false color monitors, he also covered proper IRE setting your exposure. This was one of the most useful things I picked up over the weekend.
When we compose shots, light, block, anything, we do it in layers; at least we should anyway. By building out sets and lighting them in layers we create richer environments for our characters to live in. By then adding both camera and actor blocking that utilizes that created space we give the audience a much better view of the world of the story. At no one point did Shane talk specifically about depth, but everything he covered built to it. I usually work in pretty small spaces, but what I learned from Shane was how to use light and shadows, camera movement, and blocking that will expand those small spaces.
The other big thing I learned a lot about was shooting scenes set at night. I’ve always struggled with lighting night scenes with enough light but without having the lighting also feel fake. As part of the practicum of the day, we shot some night scenes. Shane showed us how he set lights to mimic what the lighting would naturally look like. Basically it boiled down to extreme light control: turning off some lights, enhancing others, and using honeycombs on soft boxes to give a softer feel but still being controlled. It was all great information, but as soon as he put a 1/4 green gel over the lights everything clicked in my mind. Adding a little twinge of green helps daylight balance look realistic at night.
Shane is an extremely powerful educator. Most of us are familiar with his blog and use it as a source of information and inspiration (I do anyway). But being in this workshop with him was awesome. Instead of just relaying the facts at us he used stories and anecdotes to highlight the points he was trying to make. Learning from him was as entertaining as it was informative. It was obvious that he loves what he does, and that was transferred to us as students. It was an amazing experience and now I just want to go out and shoot.
The workshop and master class were filled with people at all levels, and everyone took away a lot of ideas and information to make their work better. Going into it I was a little worried that it would be tailored too much to the noobs. But I definitely got my money’s worth out of it. After all, you can never learn too much about lighting. If you get a chance you should see Shane speak, and everyone should follow his blog: hurtlbutvisuals.com/blog. And if you’re really into it, join the inner circle for even more information: hurlbutvisuals.com/innercircle.
And if you don’t know about the tour, I put the trailer below. It’s almost over, but there are still some seats left for LA. Check out the trailer then go check out the tour: illumination.mzed.com
Illumination Experience Day 2