I love testing at the beginning of a new show. It’s a time where you can try things out and explore new ideas. Anything can happen !
I’m testing along with my co-cinematographer Bonnie Elliot on a new U.S series and we started talking about darkness in the context of this new series.
I’ve always thought that there’s real DARK and Film DARK. A lot of directors ask for something to be dark, but of course they still want to be able to see what’s happening.
We came with an idea of shooting a darkness scale with a view to having a starting point to discuss it with the rest of the creative team.
In creating this test we designed it to have constant lighting and to only reduce the “fill’. We started with the fill at the exposure level that matched the exposure on the lens, and then reduced it in 1/2 stop steps. We also started with our model, Marianne Carter standing against black before progressing to a background that was white. You’ll also see a couple of pracs we were testing for the art department.
I’ve always found too that the image doesn’t appear as dark when you have a bright source in frame. This might be the pracs or it might actually be the back light in this case. We used a 100W dedo to edge Marianne out. This remained constant throughout the sequence. Using two of my new favourite KICK lights, iPhone controllable LED lights by Rift Labs, we set a cyan colour that sort of matched the OSRAM LED prac that was in shot to give us a little colour separation.
The fill was a tungsten parabeam which we then reduced in 1/2 stop increments.
A NOTE ! To really get the most from this, you should be watching this on a TV, as in a TELEVISION and not on a computer screen. If you’re looking at it on a computer screen, then you’re probably wasting your time looking at it ! The way this file is graded was designed for the colour space and gamma of a Television.
Here is a downloadable version.
Shot using an Amira with a Cooke 100mm @ T 2 1/2 at ISO 800.