While I was walking the CineGear floor this year trying to take it all in, which is literally sensory overload for me, I came upon a product demo that was off to the side, a booth less traveled. I saw my friend Jeff at the booth, and he showed me his new light pads, an old science made new. I bought them the next day.
“Balancing the inside with the outside”
As a cinematographer, one of the challenges of shooting on location is dealing with Mother Nature, and she can kick your butt. Especially with the new digital age, balancing your inside light with your outside light has become even more important. Nothing gives away a digital looking image more than clippy, blown out windows.
Sorry for all the suspense here, but I want you all to see how important and extraordinary this tool is. On Deadfall, I had to shoot on location in a house as we did not have the budget to build on stage. The light had to be late afternoon, dusk, dawn, twilight and night for 28 pages. This was a daunting task for my amazing grip crew lead, Michel Périard.
“Bring out the Gel and the Staple Guns”
To create twilight in the middle of the day, my team had to put layers of Rosco Neutral Density along with RE 117 Steel Blue to bring the daylight outside down to a 1.4. Then I would shoot around a 2.0 to 2.8. We had tons of windows. We spent thousands of dollars, along with hours and hours of overtime, and added crew to do this.
When the light would drop outside, we would have to start taking some ND off to keep the 1.4 balance — time consuming and wasted energy. SMASH CUT to Rosco View, which is the use of two polarizing filters, one on the windows and the other on the camera. Imagine if the sun goes into the clouds. With the old way, we would have to wait until the sun came back out so that our stop remained the same. Sometimes this can take 20 to 30 minutes. With Rosco View, all you do is rotate the pola on the camera, which syncs up with the polarizing filter that your grip team has affixed to your windows, and VOILA!! BAM!!!! You are ready to shoot. Just like an ND fader, you are cross fading the two polas and either bringing the outside up in stop or down with the ease of just turning the pola on your camera. THIS IS HUGE!!!!!! This single device has increased my speed on location tenfold.
This is a game changing device for balancing day exterior and interior shots. Notice in the example how I took a blown out exterior and dialed it in to be balanced or completely dark for a night exterior look with the skin tones unaffected. You only lose roughly 1 stop of light from the gel and 1 stop from the filter which isn’t a problem shooting day interiors and exteriors.
Their pola is essential for this process to work. Please do not try this with others. The effect could change colors as well as affect people’s face reflections. This one does not. I cannot wait to employ this one on my next project. Whoa, wait a minute. I just did, but in a way that I think Rosco never imagined.
“Out of the box use of polarization”
I was just up in Seattle working on a Boeing project, and we came across an effect that will be in the new 787 Dreamliner. The effect is double polarization, where you touch a button and instead of pulling down your shade to go to sleep or watch your favorite film, the window dims to black. Impressive!!!! Telling this story was complicated. Visual effects wanted green screen, then light changes, then shooting the kid on black. You name it, there was a laundry list of shots to do.
Then the LIGHTMARE happened in Seattle. I remembered back to that Rosco booth off to the side at CineGear and that Rosco View demo. Yeah baby!!!! I asked myself, what if we put the polarizing hard plexi on the kid’s window? Then we add the Rosco View pola onto the camera. When the boy pushes the button, my assistant will rotate the pola and the window will go black. Wow, it worked like gangbusters.
But we had a second issue to deal with. I was able to make the window go black, but the setting sunlight that we created was still on his face. Obviously, if we made the window go black, no light should be hitting his face. Well, I thought, if it worked for the window, why would it not work with the light as well? So I had our key grip take two 4 x 4 pieces of the Rosco View polarization gel and mount it on two 4 x 4 frames. I put one in front of the light, while the other would need to be rotated.
Now this is where it gets fun. Using the same process that I had with the pola on the camera and the pola on the window, I was able to take any light and dim it out without a color shift. Do you understand how huge this is? HMIs, which can never dim, have a way to dim now, without a color shift. Engineers have been working for decades to dim Kino Flos without color shift, LED lights, you name it. So what my grip team did was to place one frame in front of the light, and then placed the other in a grip’s hands next to the kid’s window.
“All Together Now”
As we dollied in, and the kid pushed the button, my assistant rotated the pola on the camera at the same time the grip rotated the 4 x 4 frame, which dimmed the light out perfectly and the window went dark. MAGIC!!!! When the director, client and visual efx’s saw this, it blew their minds. Innovation, creation. I love what I do.
How would you use the Rosco view on one of your projects? I would like to open up a forum for sharing ideas around this revolutionary tool.