Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

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 Great ND Test Of 2013 (Or is it really Neutral?)

The Control Frame for the ND Test
Neutral density (ND) filters are supposed to be devoid of color shift. Ideally they only affect the amount of light entering the lens, not the color balance. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to produce an ND filter that is truly neutral. This is why I set out to test four sets of filters. I wanted to see how neutral they really are. For this test I used ND filters from Schneider, Formatt, TruND, and the internal ND filters of the Canon C100. The results may surprise you, just like they did for me. Continue reading to see how these filters stack up, as well as to get access to the downloadable frames.
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Portland Lens Test 2011


On December 10, 2011 Indent Studios organized a lens test that was very eye opening and educational for all that attended. I feel fortunate that I could partake in making it a successful event. :) With the release of "affordable" cameras like the Epic-X, Scarlet, C300, and F3 (among many others) everyone is wondering what "affordable" lens package they should invest in, or rent for their camera. Indent Studios organized this event to use 3 Epic-X's to shoot with 7 sets of lenses and find out the answer. After handling the lenses, and reviewing the footage we all came across some surprising results.

Check out the footage for yourself and download the R3Ds after the jump...
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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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