Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

The Unintended Brilliance Of Catching Fire


Recently my wife and I got into a heated debate over something that raised questions about filmmaking and storytelling for me. As a warning, this post is a bit of a deviation from the norm. The primary focus of my blog has always been on the technical and aesthetic side of cinematography and filmmaking. However, I think it is also important to take a step back and reflect on some bigger issues that impact us as storytellers and artists. Namely, should we worry about explicitly communicating our messages so that everyone gets it, or is it okay to communicate with more ambiguity, allowing room for interpretation, even if some people miss the point, and others co-opt our message into something else?

The recent marketing campaign for Catching Fire, the next series in the Hunger Games Trilogy, raises just those questions for me...
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How To Save Time In Post By Shooting Charts


As I prep for the grade of "The Kid," a short film I shot for Jeff Winograd on the 5D MKIII in RAW, I'm reminded about the importance of shooting charts during production. While I wouldn't say that you have to shoot charts during production, I will say that if you take that extra minute on set to shoot a chart, you will save considerable time in post, and make the grading process easier on yourself.

If you want to spend less time grading, and have more confidence as you grade, here is what I recommend doing...
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The Importance Of Choosing Who You Work With

Still Frame From "The Kid" (Look Created Completely In Camera)

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot a short film with Jeff Winograd- a director that I highly enjoy working with. Over the years, Jeff and I have worked the gamut of projects, ranging from big brands like Adidas, down to small local companies you've never heard of. And, as we joined forces last week to shoot his short, The Kid, on the 5D MKIII using the Magic Lantern RAW Hack, the experience reminded me about the importance of choosing who you work with.

While this is a business, and it is important to make a living, there are a number of intangible things that will directly affect your success and your sanity over the long haul. In what follows, I share what matters to me, and what values you should consider as you develop working relationships with others in the filmmaking profession.
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How To Shoot & Light For The Grade

C100 with FilmConvert
Adding in film grain and applying film LUTs are a few of the tricks I've used over the years to take the edge off digital imagery. The addition of these elements not only makes the image look and feel more like film, but, more importantly, it takes the "exactness" and clinical precision off of the digital image. It makes it feel more organic.

When I first started implementing this technique, I ran into situations where I thought the image looked good on set, but back in the grade, the LUT didn't work as planned. I lost important information in my image, and I had to abandon using the LUT.

That began my quest for a solution on how to develop a methodology for how to shoot for the grade. Here is the process I went through, and how you can be better prepared to use LUTs or programs like Film Convert when lighting your sets.
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Can your iPhone really be a light meter?


This past February I backed my first Kickstarter project ever- the Luxi. According to James Flynn, this little iPhone accessory would change my iPhone into a light meter. And, if you have spent any time on this blog, you know I'm a HUGE fan of light meters. So for $14, I figured why not give it a try- for that money, it would be worth a shot, even if it failed. Like a lot of kickstarters, this one missed its target delivery date- May 2013 came and went. But, fortunately, they did finally deliver my adapter last week. And, as it would happen, I had a scouting and testing day already on the calendar, so what better way to test it out, then in a real work situation...?
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