Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

Why You Should Be Using ND Filters For Interior Work


Last week I talked about the importance of in camera filtration, and this week I am going to address why you should be using ND for interior work. Typically, ND filters are thought of as exposure tools that are only used for scenes that take place outside. While they may have started out as a tool that was primarily used for exteriors, that is no longer the case. As camera technology continues to advance, the ND filter is playing a bigger role when shooting indoors.
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The Power Of Camera Filtration



As a cinematographer, one of my responsibilities is to craft the image to reinforce the story I am helping to tell. While lighting, framing, and camera movement are often the first tools that come to mind, an often over looked tool at our disposal is camera filtration. Unfortunately, with the rise of the digital age, and the power of our grading software, filtration at the camera level is not as popular as it once was. While I can appreciate the fear that some directors and productions have of baking in a look, here is why I think in camera filtration can be a powerful tool, and why you should be considering it for your production.
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The Problem With Digital Cameras & My Secret Solutions


Thanks to many innovations in technology, digital cinema cameras are continuing to improve in quality by leaps and bounds. The mere fact that we can now shoot at an actual EI of 800 and have clean useable images with 13-14 stops of dynamic range was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. However, the pristine images that these cameras are delivering have introduced a new problem that we haven't had to think about until now: the images are getting too good. They are too clean. Read on for why I think this is a problem, and what to do about it.
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IR ND Filtration + EPIC


[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]

As cameras get more and more sensitive to light, infrared (IR) pollution becomes a bigger issue as stronger neutral density filters are used to maintain exposure. IR pollution ends up changing the color rendition of the entire image and can result in some VERY funky color shifts. (I have seen dark green leaves change to magenta for example.)  These color shifts can be next to impossible to get rid of once they are recorded into the digital image. There are creative ways to get rid of this in post, but many of these solutions - like rotoscoping and painting out the problem - are cost prohibitive. Besides, a "problem" like this should have been corrected in the camera at the time of filming, not left to post. Always remember this mantra, and practices it daily: "Fix it in camera, NOT in post."

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