Magazine article American Cinematographer

Using Red's False Color

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Using Red's False Color

Article excerpt

Like most cinematographers, Chase Bowman measures light for relative exposure values and adjusts his iris settings accordingly. But he doesn't use a light meter. "I'm kind of embarrassed to say it because I was brought up on film, but I leave my light meter at home now, " he says, instead, he uses False Color, a function on the Red One digital camera, which he has been using since 2007. With the click of a button, False Color covers the onscreen image with a multi-hued overlay, using a scale that ranges from Purple (1 IRE) to Red 108 IRE), with Green (44 IRE) balancing out the two extremes at 18-percent gray.

The concept is not so different from other cameras' built-in light meters, like the histogram (which displays temperature values via bar graph), or a zebra pattern (an overlay of slanted lines that lean left or right, depending on whether the image is over- or underexposed). However, Bowman maintains that color representation is more direct with False Color. "I've even had my script supervisor pick up on it and give me exposure advice," he reports. "Really, it's that easy."

While shooting the feature Second-Story Man in January, Bowman not only set all his exposures using False Color, but also communicated on set with color-coded instructions. "We were doing a lot of day-for-night shots, and we didn't have enough money for [lighting] balloons or other nightexterior lighting tools, so it was all about exposure level," he explains. " My gaffer and I came up with a [rubric] for how we were going to establish moonlight, and it was all color-coded: purple for things that didn't need any detail [straight underexposed], light blue for the majority of the shots, and essentially no color [the midtones] for specific highlights."

If an actor was standing in the snow amid a cluster of trees, for example, Bowman set his exposure so that the leaves in the trees were purple, the snow was light blue, and the actor's face was no color. "1 knew that as long as there was 'no color' on the actor's cheek at any given time, it wasn't totally underexposed," he notes.

Bowman is quick to add that there's nothing wrong with using a light meter with the Red. However, he believes it makes sense to follow a digital-specific method when shooting a digital format. Part of this has to do with the way digitai technology has impacted the production process. In the same way that digital cameras allow filmmakers to maintain the momentum of a shot by eliminating the frequent need to stop and reload, False Color allows the cinematographer to get an instantaneous light reading without venturing away from the camera. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.