Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

Three Secret Lighting Tips For Next Your Action Film


Shooting an action film is a daunting task under the best of circumstances, let alone when you have a small lighting crew of three, and a tight schedule. In this post, I'm going to share with you how we pulled off a two day shoot in one day, and give you the three lighting secrets you need to know to make your next action film look amazing.
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How To Light A Film With Only 300w Of Light


The short film I shot recently, Two Wolves, exemplifies the principle of embracing your practical constraints and finding creative solutions within them. In this post, I'm going to take you behind the scenes of the film and show you the lighting setups (and diagrams) I used for the two primary scenes of the film. And the great thing about it is that we only used 300w for the entire film!
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How To Build A Wireless HD Transmitter For Under $275


This past week I was the cinematographer for an intense action short that was shot using two Epics. Even though we were on two Epics, we were still on a shoe-string budget, and we had to get creative to deliver cinema quality visuals. Due to the tight schedule and limited crew, we needed to go wireless for our director's monitor. Top of the line wireless systems are great to work with when the funds allow, but for this production, it wasn't an option. Fortunately, my long-time 1st AC Jerry Turner came to the rescue with an affordable solution he had created based off of research he'd done on the internet.

And, while I've had varying success with home-brew wireless HDMI in the past (so I was skeptical), I was delightfully surprised with how this unit performed in the middle of an industrial district in a major city. And all for under $275. Here is what you need to make this happen for yourself.
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An Untraditional Approach To Getting Your Start In The Film Industry


Since writing my blog posts on Film School and Breaking Into The Industry, I have received a number of emails asking for specific advice about getting one's start in the film industry. As I have responded to these emails it has helped me to formalize my thoughts into the following bits of advice. I believe that if you follow what I've outlined here, you will be setting yourself up for success in the film industry. It is not a traditional approach, but then again, this is not a traditional industry...
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Three Tips To Help You Create Your Style


If you want to stand out amongst the ever growing pool of cinematographers & DP's, it is important to begin to define your style, or your "look."  Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to defining your style. It will take lots of time and lots of hard work. I've been doing this since 1998, and I think I'm only now beginning to own my style and know how I like to work. However, if you follow these three steps, you'll be well on your way to defining your own style. And, maybe with a bit of luck, you'll be able to define your own style faster than I have.
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The 2 Things You Need To Know To Break Into The Film Industry

(Filming A WWII Spec Piece)
After publishing my articles on How To Succeed As A Freelancer and How To Determine Your Day Rate I have received emails asking me how I broke into the film industry. As I have been reflecting on how I got my start, I realized it can be boiled down to two simple principles. By applying these principles to your career, you will be able to break into the film industry and grow your career.
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How To Create A Lighting Diagram


Preproduction is king in the projects that I work on. As demonstrated by the 48hr Film Fest I competed in, the better prepared you are going into a project, the better the end result and the easier it will be to deal with any challenges on set when they arise. (And believe me, they will happen). One of the crucial parts of preproduction for the projects that I am involved with is the creation of the lighting diagram, and I'm going to share with you what my process looks like...
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How To Determine Your Day Rate

© Ryan E. Walters (Stock Footage)
One of the most challenging aspects with any creative endeavor is trying to figure out how to price and charge for your services. This is especially true when you are first starting out. Price yourself too low and you will not have a sustainable business model, and price yourself too high and people may laugh at the rate you are charging in comparison to your experience level and skill. The good news is that as you progress in your experience, you will get a more accurate sense of what it takes to render your services, and how to charge for them. But where and how do you begin? That's what I want to help you figure out...
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How To Build A Camera Cart For Under $250


I love working with a camera cart on set. It is the easiest and quickest way to keep all of the camera equipment organized, provide a working space, as well as move the gear around at a location. My regular 1st AC, Jerry Turner, has one of the better camera carts out there. (And he even has a place to put my coffee cup. Although I'm sure that is more for self-preservation and sanity than it is for me :) ). Nothing can replace the well built cart he has. However, there are times when I'm working on a smaller production, and I have to work solo. It is exactly for these situations that I came up with my $250 solution. Here is how you can do the same ...
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How To Turn Your Garage Into A Studio For Under $500


I'll be the first to admit nothing replaces a professionally built sound stage or studio. I've had the opportunity to shoot on a wide variety of stages and I appreciate what they bring to a production. However, I have also needed a space where I could shoot some of my stock footage, as well as record my training videos. And I need that space to be affordable and accessible to me at any time. So I converted my garage into a mini "studio." To learn how I got this done for under $500, continue reading ...
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How To Custom Score & Grade Your 48hr Film Fest: Or Why Preproduction Matters

I recently participated as the cinematographer for the team 'Bad A 5K' in the 2012 Portland 48hr Film Festival. Not only did we take 1st Place (Best Film) and Best Cinematography, in a competition against 55 other teams, but we did a full color grade, had our film scored, fully sound designed, and built a fully functioning custom prop / ray gun! On top of that, we managed to show up to early to turn our film in - we had to wait an HOUR until they would allow us to submit it. Here is the secret to our success ...
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The Secret To Great Lighting


One of the key elements to making your images look cinematic is in your lighting choices. Even if you have a great set and talent, if the lighting is flat and poorly executed, your images will not end up feeling cinematic regardless of what camera system you are shooting on. So how do you light cinematically? Well, I want to share a secret with you ...
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Resources For Filmmakers & Cinematographers


The internet has become a treasure trove of great resources available to everyone on just about any kind of topic. (Anyone up for Underwater Basket Weaving?) But part of the problem of this large body of information is trying to sort through it all to find the truly helpful and useful information. This is especially true with filmmaking and topics related around cinematography. This is why, over the years, I have been slowly gathering and organizing that information and I want to offer it to you.
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Camera Testing: A How To Guide


Camera testing can be a very personal endeavor as the results one person is after may not be the same results that another person is after. It seems that no matter how carefully a test is done, there will always be critiques of how a test was conducted, and how someone else could have done it better, or that the test should have been done differently. My goal in this post is to show some test scenarios, explain how to set them up, so that you can more effectively test out your camera system for comparison or in preparation for production.
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How To Hack The GH2 On A Mac


The GH2 is the little camera that could- time and time again I continue to be impressed with the image quality that comes out of this little $900 camera. But to realize its full potential, it has to be hacked. And thanks to Personal View there is a community of people who offer some very impressive hacks, the most impressive of which is the Driftwood hack. (At least in my opinion anyway.) So all you need to do to turn your camera from something fun into something that could be used seriously is to install the hack. Great - no problem if you are on a PC. However, it is not so easy for those of us in an all Mac environment. After spending way to much time online searching on how to hack the GH2 using a Mac, I decided to throw up this little tutorial to explain how to do it step by step, hopefully making it easier for you, then it was for me when I first did it.



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Lighting 101: Using The Meter

[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS FULL SCREEN]

Welcome to the language of light! In the Lighting 100 series of videos you will be taken through the basic concepts you need to understand and master in order to creatively use light to tell visual stories. In episode 101 Ryan reveals the need for, and the use of the light meter, an often overlooked and misunderstood tool. But through the proper use and understanding, it can allow you to shape light in a whole new way.

At the end of this video I show a couple of helpful tips for working with the Sekonic L-758Cine, and make mention of additional tips on my blog. After the jump you will find the tips I demonstrated in the video as well as three additional tips you might find useful:
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