Art Adams

Stunning Good Looks | Art Adams rss

Cinematographer Art Adams has worked in the film industry for 25 years. He shoots spots as well as corporate marketing, visual effects, web and interactive/mobile projects. He also consults for a variety of motion picture equipment vendors in the areas of usability and interface design, equipment training, and scientific comparative testing of products. Art likes to write articles that explore the hidden side of the tools and techniques many take for granted. He's been published in HD Video Pro, American Cinematographer, Australian Cinematographer and Camera Operator Magazine He is a current member of the International Cinematographers Guild and SMPTE, a past member of the Society of Camera Operators (SOC), and an industry consultant and educator. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His showreel is

When I don't have time to write a dedicated article I'm going to write one of these mini articles, where I wax eloquent about whatever happens to be on my mind. Today: cheap zoom lenses, monitor gamma tricks, and avoiding lamp flicker hell.


Things you didn't know about color matching lenses

Written by Art Adams  |  November 3, 2015

Lens color hasn’t been on my radar until recently. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I took a closer look. Sometimes ignorance is bliss...


Day 28 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Breaking into and making a living in the industry

I started at the bottom and showed people that I that I knew nothing but I’d learn quickly. That was all it took
Written by Art Adams  |  September 28, 2015

It feels like it’s tougher than ever to break into and make a living in this industry. Would you say that’s the case?


Day 27 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Buying your own camera

A a camera for personal use, and for practice, makes perfect sense
Written by Art Adams  |  September 27, 2015

Does it makes sense for a cinematographer to have their own affordable camera which they probably wouldn’t use for a job, but would work for personal projects, or could conceivably work as a “B” camera on a job? Something like a 5D or Blackmagic Pocket Camera?


Day 26 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - How do you draw the line between being stylized and overdoing it?

As one gains experience one discovers ways to create cool looks without attracting a lot of attention
Written by Art Adams  |  September 26, 2015

How do you draw the line between being stylized and overdoing it?


Day 25 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Traveling with gear

These are the tricks…
Written by Art Adams  |  September 25, 2015

When traveling with gear, do you pack everything or have someone else do it? How often have you gotten burned by letting someone who end up being unqualified pack the gear?


Day 24 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Do you ever miss the look you were able to achieve with film?

What I miss more is the way of working
Written by Art Adams  |  September 24, 2015

Do you ever miss the look you were able to achieve with film?


Day 23 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Are there any general “lighting rules” that you have or follow?

I go through phases where I focus on different aspects of lighting
Written by Art Adams  |  September 23, 2015

Are there any general “lighting rules” that you have or follow?


Day 22 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Is soft light more pliable than hard light?

Soft light requires a lot less precision
Written by Art Adams  |  September 22, 2015

Is soft light more pliable than hard light?


Day 21 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Experimenting with soft and harsh pools of light

Sometimes the choice is artistic
Written by Art Adams  |  September 21, 2015

Do you experiment with soft pools of light on actors or in a scene, or for the most part will you already have that mapped out in your head?


Day 20 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Changes and alterations in post

I also work as much as possible with standard LUTs in the event that post doesn’t use the right one
Written by Art Adams  |  September 20, 2015

What do you do when you run into a situation where someone in post is looking to radically change the look and style that you’ve created?


Day 19 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Lighting techniques and color details

Something to keep in mind is that light warms up every time you bounce it or diffuse it
Written by Art Adams  |  September 19, 2015

Any tips you can offer around specific lights or techniques to achieve specific colors?


Day 18 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Is silhouetting more about a fit for the story or an opportunity presented by a set/location?

The contrast between silhouette and non-silhouette can be used to great effect
Written by Art Adams  |  September 18, 2015

Is silhouetting more about a fit for the story or an opportunity presented by a set/location?


Day 17 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Choosing and using 4K

Resolution is easier to quantify than color and dynamic range
Written by Art Adams  |  September 17, 2015

Do you think the problem with 4K is that people are thinking of and using it wrong, or that it’s simply unnecessary?

In terms of lighting, we all know that low contrast = happy; high contrast = more serious. Are there any other rules of thumb along these lines? Or is this all an oversimplification?


Day 15 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - DPs with a still photography background

Motion is a completely different beast, with its own terminology and history and working practices
Written by Art Adams  |  September 15, 2015

Do you think DPs who have a still photography background have an advantage or disadvantage over those who don’t?


Day 14 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - What’s the most important light on the set?

Sometimes the difference between a good shot and a great shot is putting the fill light in the right spot
Written by Art Adams  |  September 14, 2015

What’s the most important light on the set?


Day 13 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Moving away from the look established in prepro once you get into production

The thing that changes most often is the coverage, which usually isn’t that big a deal
Written by Art Adams  |  September 13, 2015

Have you ever completely moved away from the look and colors that were established in prepro once you got into production?

How often do you play around with color temperatures? Any insights or takeaways from your experiments?


Day 11 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - When stand-ins aren’t available

We just have to learn to roll with it
Written by Art Adams  |  September 11, 2015

What can you do if the director insists that you have to light a scene before the actors come in, and standins are not available?


Day 10 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Why is it so important to shoot in the order of the lighting set-ups?

It’s more efficient, but it doesn’t happen anymore
Written by Art Adams  |  September 10, 2015

Why is it so important to shoot in the order of the lighting set-ups?


Day 9 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Directors and ADs who haven’t worked their way up the ranks

A bad or inexperienced director kills everything on a shoot
Written by Art Adams  |  September 9, 2015

Are you starting to work with directors and/or ADs who haven’t made their way up through the ranks? How is a production and even the industry as a whole impacted when the people up top don’t have the experience they would have needed to have 5-10 years ago?


Day 8 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Dealing with light that can and does constantly change

Most of it comes down to planning and working with the director and the AD on scheduling
Written by Art Adams  |  September 8, 2015

I know you’re supposed to control every aspect of the look in a shot, but how can you do that when you’re dealing with natural light that can and does constantly change?


Day 7 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Solving problems during production

In my early days I carried a lot of stuff that I bought at either a hardware store or a fabric store
Written by Art Adams  |  September 7, 2015

What percentage of technical problems that you run into onset are solved with solutions from the hardware store?


Day 6 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - When your director wants something you can’t quite pull off

If the look I’m asked for is tough for the budget I’ll try to push the director into scaling down their expectations a bit
Written by Art Adams  |  September 6, 2015

If you don’t have the light to pull off the look your director wants, is it better to say so or get it as close as you can?


Day 5 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - What are some cheap lighting options?

Tungsten is cheap. You can bounce it, use it direct, focus it, and drag it around the world without breaking it
Written by Art Adams  |  September 5, 2015

What are some “cheap” lighting options?


Day 4 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - What makes the Sony F55 so versatile?

The F55 has something for everyone
Written by Art Adams  |  September 4, 2015

Is there anything specific about the F55 that makes it so versatile?


Day 3 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Living and working in Los Angeles

Figure out what your job is, what’s expected of you and how to interact with other departments
Written by Art Adams  |  September 3, 2015

How essential was your production experience as a young professional in LA? With the democratization of so many filmmaking tools, do you think young professionals can learn just as much by living and working on productions in locations that are not so entertainment industry focused?


Day 2 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Learning by doing

I’m constantly learning new tricks or stumbling onto new techniques
Written by Art Adams  |  September 2, 2015

When it comes to lighting, you’ve said that the best way to learn is by doing, because it often comes down to something that “looks right”. But is that sense something that develops or something you have to uncover? Do you think you’d light a given project in a different way today than you would have five or even ten years ago?


Day 1 - 28 Days of Cinematography Insights - Is it better to have complete control over lighting or the camera you want to use?

Talking through the most powerful thing a cinematographer can do
Written by Art Adams  |  September 1, 2015

All other things being equal, what would you rather have…the camera you want to use, or complete control over lighting?


Digital Production Buzz Interview with Art Adams

Written by Art Adams  |  August 14, 2015

Not long ago I was interviewed for the online show Digital Production Buzz. The show is now live, and you can watch it here...


LUTCalc: Trials, errors, and a full-range LC709A LUT

Written by Art Adams  |  August 13, 2015

After much experimentation, and a bit of failed hacking, I've come up with a good full-range Cine-EI LUT for Sony FS7/F5/F55. Read on, and download it and the end of the article...


Hacking Alexa's Rec 709 LUT into a Sony FS7/F5/F55

Written by Art Adams  |  July 28, 2015

A new, free app gives us the power to mix and match LUTs—even between cameras! This is what happened when I crammed an Alexa Rec 709 3D LUT into an F55...


LUT Tricks for the Sony FS7/F5/F55

Written by Art Adams  |  June 15, 2015

Sony’s Cine-EI mode is both a blessing and a curse. Here's how to work to its strengths and around its issues using two free software packages…

The days of setting exposure with zebras set at white clip are most likely over. Here's a new technique I'm trying out that works very well, particularly when viewing a log image...

TLCI's developer says prism cameras and single sensor cameras respond to color in the same way. Thanks to Panasonic, I can show that's not the case...


In a Parallel Universe, AJA's Cion is Amazing

Written by Art Adams  |  April 1, 2015

RedShark News lives in a world where the AJA Cion is the best thing since sliced bread. In this world, however, sliced bread is still king. Read on...

CRI is meaningless when it comes to measuring LED or fluorescent lights. TLCI hopes to replace CRI in the film industry, but I have my doubts...


Here are My Rules of Thumb When Choosing a Codec

I know just enough to be dangerous and keep myself out of trouble
Written by Art Adams  |  August 10, 2014
Olympic codec rankings. AVCHD is the most accurate... — Shane Ross (@comebackshane) July 16, 2014   Everything I know...

Come See Adam Wilt and I at CineGear

Written by Art Adams  |  June 5, 2014
Mark your calendar: Saturday, June 7th, at 2:45pm, in the Sherry Lansing Theater at Paramount. Adam Wilt and I will spend an hour discussing "The Sony F55: Swiss Army Knife of Cameras." We've got videos to show and slides to play. We're on right after the ASC, so show up early for the star power and stay...

Who Wants to Take ANOTHER Lighting Class?

Written by Art Adams  |  May 15, 2014
  Due to the success of last year’s lighting class Abel Cine has asked me to come back and do it again. So I am: “How to Light Faces: Hard Light, Soft Light and Damage Control” It will be...

The Art Adams Zone System for HD

Want to use a light meter to nail perfect exposures in HD? Think the Ansel Adams Zone System is too complicated? Try my method!
Written by Art Adams  |  March 3, 2014
I used to be frustrated by my inability to use light meters in HD the way I used to in film. A while back I figured it all out, and now I'm going to tell you how to do it too. In particular I'm going to tell you how to use the Zone System with an incident meter. That's right, not a spot meter, but an incident meter. Read...
provideo default

AMA on Reddit Today, Wednesday 9/11/13

Ask me anything in the Filmmakers subReddit today...
Written by Art Adams  |  September 11, 2013
I'm doing an AMA ("Ask me anything") in the Filmmakers subReddit today. Stop on by...

When a Camera Manufacturer Hates Me...

Being called out by Jim Jannard in his final post to Reduser got me thinking: do I really have a problem with RED?
Written by Art Adams  |  August 29, 2013
It's a dubious distinction that I was called out by Jim Jannard in his final post to Reduser. It's true that I've been critical of RED over the years; while they've made my life easier in some ways they've made it harder in others, and I've been rather outspoken in...
provideo default

See Adam Wilt and I at CineGear

Four words: Sony FS700, 4K raw.
Written by Art Adams  |  May 31, 2013
Come see Adam Wilt and I present a talk on the 4K-enabled Sony FS700 at CineGear: Saturday, June 1 at 2:15pm in the Sherry Lansing Theater.

The New 4K: Different from the Old 4K

4K TV is on its way, and it has the potential to change the way we shoot--especially when it comes to composition.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 15, 2013
On a recent visit to Sony Studios I saw a 4K monitor for the first time. For the first time ever I thought to myself, "I hope they hold this shot long enough for me to see everything in it!" I've seen 4K demos projected on 25' screens, and the footage comes across just as a movie would: there's nothing inherent in the...

Who Wants to Take a Lighting Class?

I'm teaching a lighting class in Southern California on March 2nd. Here's why you should come...
Written by Art Adams  |  February 14, 2013
Lighting is both emotional and technical: we use tools to create a feeling. Most DPs can talk about the emotional reasons behind a lighting approach, but very few can state clearly and plainly exactly what problems they were trying to solve with each light. Apparently this is something I'm good at, and I'm going to give you a chance...

Log vs. Raw: The Simple Version

Raw is all the rage, but should it be? Log gives us 99% of the benefit of a raw file in a grade but with much smaller files.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 7, 2013
Years ago I wrote an article describing how log encoding works using Sony's S-Log as an example. Sony's S-Log2 is coming down the pike in a big way in their F5 and F55, so it seems like an appropriate time for an...

Back to the Drawing Board

In which I field complaints about my C300 matrices, and commit to fight anew...
Written by Art Adams  |  February 5, 2013
I've been getting sporadic complaints on Twitter about one of my C300 matrices turning reds a bit blue on some cameras. Time to take another look… In this article I wrote about how I endeavored to match the...
provideo default

Move the Camera, Not the Actor

It's rarely a good idea to remind an actor to hit their marks. It's much easier to move the camera to adjust. Here's why...
Written by Art Adams  |  January 30, 2013
On a recent shoot a discussion arose as to whether it was better to move an actor or to move the camera to maintain a composition. The actor kept settling into a position that obscured an over-the-shoulder angle, and there are some who would simply ask the actor to not do that. That never works. Every time...

How to Be Kind to a Camera Assistant

It's a thankless but crucial job. Be kind, and they'll come through for you when you really need them to.
Written by Art Adams  |  January 29, 2013
A lot of people are starting out at the top these days--just buying a camera and starting a career shooting. That's cool, but cinematography is a collaborative craft. You have to know how to work with others, especially those that work for you. Let's talk about camera assistants for a moment... Back in...

Color Matching a Canon C300 to an Arri Alexa

They said it couldn't be done. Maybe, but I got close. How close? You judge...
Written by Art Adams  |  January 26, 2013
I'm shooting more projects with the Canon C300 but none of the built-in looks greatly appeal to me. While trying to build my own custom C300 look at a local rental house I spied an Arri Alexa in the next stall over... and asked, "Can I put that next to this C300 for a while?" The results are really interesting...

Low Light Levels and Wide-Open Lenses: the 80s/90s Look

Faster cameras means extreme low level lighting here to stay. Here are some examples from the days of (gasp) 400 ASA film!
Written by Art Adams  |  January 17, 2013
There's something amazing about shooting low light images with a wide open lens. Now that the average camera is rated at 800 or faster, we can take advantage of using smaller and smaller lights and even shoot scenes that look brighter on the monitor than they do by eye... An example of low...

A Tale of Two iPads

Bigger is not always better, but smaller isn't quite ready for primetime... yet.
Written by Art Adams  |  December 31, 2012
In 2011 I bought an iPad 2, and in 2012 I traded it up for an iPad 3. For 2013 I've opted to experiment with the first generation iPad Mini, and while this generation won't replace my iPad 3 I suspect--and hope--that the next one will. I love toys, and I love them more when they qualify as a...

Hitting the Exposure Sweet Spot

Make the most of any camera's dynamic range by placing your mid-tones in the right spot...
Written by Art Adams  |  December 24, 2012
After years of looking at dynamic range charts I noticed that almost all camera gamma curves emphasize mid-tones within a consistent IRE range. What does this mean to you? Find out by clicking through...   As a consultant to DSC Labs I get to play with a lot of toys, and one of the best is the DSC...

Does the Zone System Apply to HD Cameras?

In theory a DP should be able to light a set without a camera, using only a meter. But does that really work in video?
Written by Art Adams  |  December 20, 2012
My latest obsession is trying to match reflectance values with IRE values to create a "Zone System for video." This is both easy to do and impossible, so click through if you'd like to see how far I've gotten… First, if you don't know what the Zone System is,

What Good is a Macbeth/Colorchecker Chart?

I see X-Rite Colorcheckers in every expendable supply store, which is strange as they really have nothing to do with HD.
Written by Art Adams  |  December 19, 2012
Most camera rental houses have an in-house expendables store, and during a recent visit to one such store I ran across a stack of X-Rite "Macbeth" ColorChecker charts sitting on a shelf. I'm firmly convinced that the only reason people buy these is because they think there is a reason to use them for film-style production... but if there...

The Canon C300 Comes Through for Kendall-Jackson Winery

Written by Art Adams  |  November 30, 2012
These days it's all about getting the most bang for your budget, and this promo for a new Kendall-Jackson wine pairing iPhone app had to look spectacular for not a lot of money. Fortunately the Canon C300, a sunny day and a great grip crew made this possible... First, watch the spot as it appears on Youtube:

Reflected Light Meters: What Are They Really Saying?

Every day I learn something that I had no idea I didn’t know.
Written by Art Adams  |  November 30, 2012
It has long been whispered, in dark corners of the industry, that our reflected light meters aren’t telling us what we think they’re telling us. I’ve recently stumbled upon some evidence that states that this is, indeed, true. I don’t have a definitive answer yet, but you might be interested in knowing what the...

A Light Meter Party Trick

There's one case where an incident light meter can tell you just as much about a lit surface as a reflected meter can...
Written by Art Adams  |  November 27, 2012
Incident meters can only tell you how much light is striking them, and nothing about how bright things are in the real world... except in this one situation. This handy trick for measuring the brightness of diffuse backlit surfaces may be the one way you can surprise your gaffer.Years ago, when I was working as a camera...

LIGHT METERS: What are Incident Meters Good For, Anyway?

Incident meters don't tell you how bright things in your shot are, but it's surprising how handy they can be if you know a few simple facts about light and reflectivity.
Written by Art Adams  |  November 14, 2012
Way back when I shot film I was a serious devotee of The Zone System. I lived and died by my spot meter. I have a much harder time doing this in HD, however, so I'm rediscovering the joys of using an incident light meter. I've picked up a few new tips and tricks, and now I'm going to share them with you.A DP once...

CAMERAS: More Thoughts on Canon's Color Science, This Time with Pictures

It's hard to see the differences between color matrices until you look at them side by side. That's when the real education begins...
Written by Art Adams  |  October 29, 2012
Accurate color and pretty color are not always the same. Let's compare two Canon C300 color matrices and see for ourselves...Every camera, and every manufacturer, has its own "look." Part of this is how the sensor is constructed, in particular what specific filter colors are used on the red, green and blue photo sites;...

CAMERAS: Focusing and Setting Parallax on a 90-year-old Camera

Working with 90-year-old technology is eye opening: you start to wonder how anyone managed to get quality images on film at all, let alone create dozens of silent film classics. Dealing with dozens of internal camera menus starts to look really simple.
Written by Art Adams  |  October 28, 2012
When working with 90-year-old motion picture technology it's not unusual to wonder how anything got made at all. Here's what it took to make sure the shot was in focus and to ensure the operator could actually see what was in the frame.Adam Wilt did a great job of showing what it's like working on a modern silent film...

CAMERAS: Thoughts on the Canon C300's Color Science

There's pretty color and there's accurate color, and they are not the same thing. Read why...
Written by Art Adams  |  October 26, 2012
In theory I like the Canon C300. It's small, it's well designed, and it can make pretty pictures. The Canon "look," though, is very different from what I'm used to, and it's taken me a while to figure out how to bend the camera's look into something that I really like. After spending an hour tweaking profiles the other day I think I...

CAMERAS: Reloading a 90-Year-Old Film Camera

I forgot how much fun it is to touch film and thread it through a camera movement and I'm glad I had a chance to do it one last time, before film is gone for good...
Written by Art Adams  |  October 4, 2012
There's something special about threading film through a camera and watching it run through perfectly. There's also a lot that can go wrong on the way. Read on to see what's involved in loading a 90-year-old film camera...In

Why I'm Going to Miss Film

It's so much easier to shoot than HD, and it's so much more artistically freeing... but if it's still around in five years I'll be surprised.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 30, 2012
For the first time in probably four years, I actually worked with--and handled--film today. It hit me that this project may be my last chance ever to work with this medium, and that makes me a bit sad.

PHILOSOPHY: What Can a 49-Year-Old Ghost Story Tell Us About Craftsmanship?

Craftsmanship never goes out of style, and the "democratization" of filmmaking is no reason to get sloppy. Here's a quick look at one of my favorite movies, in which NOTHING happens by accident.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 22, 2012

Craftsmanship never goes out of style, and the "democratization" of filmmaking is no reason to get sloppy. Here's a quick look at one of my favorite movies, in which NOTHING happens by accident.


CAMERAS: Rough Guide to Color Grading with the new DSC Labs OneShot

The best way to reproduce color accurately is to have a color reference in the shot with known colors on it. This chart does just that.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 19, 2012
In the old days we shot an 18% gray card to tell a film dailies timer where we wanted our exposure placed and what color we wanted dailies to be. Now that film is being replaced by HD a simple gray card is no longer enough, because while film colors are fixed by emulsion video colors are not. A gray card in video doesn't communicate...

CAMERAS: A New Chart for Film-Style Production--The DSC OneShot

The days where we could set printer lights using a simple gray card are gone. This is a chart for the new digital "raw" and "log" age.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 4, 2012
In the old days of video, what we saw was what we got. Now, with log and raw, the possibilities are infinite. Only one of those possibilities, though, is what YOU want. Here's how to make sure your vision is the one everyone else sees. I'll be showing off this chart at IBC, Sept. 7-11. Look for booth...
provideo default

CAMERAS: Some More Thoughts on the Zacuto Shootout, as Posted to DVXuser

It seems that every time I write something on this subject my thoughts become clearer and clearer. I think that this post, left in a forum on DVXuser, makes my opinion very clear--as well as making it clear that this is only my opinion.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 20, 2012
I learned recently that there was a thread discussing the Zacuto tests on DVXuser and my articles were mentioned. I like what I wrote as I think it sums up my thoughts nicely, so I'm posting it here as well.Here's my post to DVXuser, in the "Zacuto Revenge Part 3" forum thread:Hi gang-I...

CAMERAS: The Zacuto Fallout Continues

Tests themselves are less important than how the results are presented. In this case, one innocent quote from a non-DP has spread like wildfire.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 19, 2012
What's more important than technical accuracy? Making sure your test speaks for itself. When others speak for you--especially if they are non-experts--the messaging can quickly spin out of control.I believe Zacuto, and all the people who participated in their 2012 camera shootout, had only the best of intentions....

LIGHTING: One Exposure Formula to Rule Them All

Need to figure out how much light you need for a specific stop, frame rate or ISO? This basic formula will help you figure out the answer... in your head!
Written by Art Adams  |  August 17, 2012
This industry is full of little tricks that, when properly employed, can make us all look like inhumanly fast calculating machines. This formula is one of those tricks. I learned this formula in my junior year of film school, and it's one of those things I've never forgotten because it's been so damned useful....

LIGHTING: The Most Common Light Leaks, and How to Stop Them

If there's one thing I hate on my sets it's the wrong quality of light in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here are the three most common causes, and what I do about them...
Written by Art Adams  |  August 1, 2012
I prefer contrasty soft light for most of my work, and while I'm not averse to hard light accents there's one thing I absolutely detest: unintended hard light flooding randomly across the set. Here are the three most common causes I've experienced, and how I fix them...Black wrap exists for a reason: it is the single best...

CAMERAS: The Canon C300 and IR

Bad news: The C300 is sensitive to far red. Good news: All of your existing IRND filters work!
Written by Art Adams  |  July 31, 2012
Single-sensor cameras fall into two camps: those that are sensitive to far red, and those that are sensitive to infrared. The Canon C300 is sensitive to far red, which means that IRND filters will work--and hot mirrors won't. Come see the difference...RED cameras are the only cameras that are truly sensitive to a form of...

PHILOSOPHY: On the Subject of Freebies

Everyone starts out working for free. That's the only way those in the industry can find out whether you're any good. At some point, though, it's important to stop--or at least be more selective.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 31, 2012
Everyone starts out working for free. That's the only way those in the industry can find out whether you're any good. At some point, though, it's important to stop--or at least be more selective. Over the years I've shot a number of freebies. Early in my career I did this for experience: film school was great...

CAMERAS: Hands-on with the RED ONE of 1922

This camera shocked the world when it came out 90 years ago. And... it still works like a charm.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 31, 2012
The Bell & Howell 2709 is a very old camera. In this case, the one I'm looking through turned 90 last May. It still works perfectly, something that I don't think I'll be able to say of many modern cameras in 10 or 20 years time. I don't have anything against modern cameras--I like most of them, and they've become much more filmic over...

CAMERAS: Sony FS700 Dynamic Range Presentation

The DSC Labs Xyla chart is the fastest and clearest way to see EXACTLY what your camera's gamma curves are doing...
Written by Art Adams  |  July 1, 2012
Sony recently asked Adam Wilt and I to speak about the new FS700 camera at CineGear. My portion of the presentation examined how to profile dynamic range and determine how the various gamma curves changed the camera's response. Read on to see what I discovered...I've worked as a consultant, both paid and unpaid, to DSC...

LIGHTING: Reinventing the Cooking Show for Driscoll's Berries

I'm not a huge fan of how most cooking shows are lit. This was my chance to try it my way...
Written by Art Adams  |  June 20, 2012
I don't watch a lot of cooking shows, but the ones I see are not lit the way I would light them. An idea for a lighting setup has been kicking around in my head for a while and I finally had a chance to try it out on a shoot for Driscoll's Berries. It worked! Here's why…Years ago I operated a camera on a cooking...

Why Color Meters Don't Work with LEDs

There's a very simple reason that color meters lie about any source that has a discontinuous spectrum: It makes assumptions. This is something that you should not do. Here's why...
Written by Art Adams  |  June 16, 2012
Color meters view the world through three narrow colored filters: one red, one green, and one blue. Those tiny little windows work fine for sunlight, tungsten light and HMI light... but all bets are off when it comes to LEDs.The life of a color meter is pretty easy: measure three points in the spectrum, calculate...

CAMERAS: Avoiding the Big Gotcha When Shooting High Speed at Night

I never thought I'd have to worry about the technicalities of shooting high speed at night, but the FS700 has changed all that. There's one very, very important trick to know before you take your new camera into the streets...
Written by Art Adams  |  June 9, 2012
Adam Wilt and I presented a talk about the new Sony FS700 camera to an audience at CineGear 2012. As part of our preparation we ran around and shot a bunch of slow motion night footage… which is certainly something I've never been able to do before.That was a VERY informative experience because we found a very interesting "gotcha"...

CAMERAS: 240fps Promo Goes Live Thanks to Sony FS700

Get a sneak peak before the big screen premiere at CineGear 2012!
Written by Art Adams  |  May 30, 2012
Adam Wilt and I will host a presentation on the new Sony FS700 at CineGear 2012. This video, a promo for clothing brand Betabrand, is the centerpiece. Get a sneak peek now, and get all the juicy camera details on Saturday, June 2nd, on the Paramount lot in Hollywood.A version of this promo went live earlier this...

LIGHTING: Advanced Cucoloris Use Illustrated by a Solar Eclipse

Q: What happens when you stack several pattern-making devices in front of a light? A: Extreme lighting goodness. Learn why here...
Written by Art Adams  |  May 25, 2012
I love stacking cucolorii (plural of "cucoloris") and I thought it was time to write an article about how this technique works and why I like it so much. I was a bit stretched for ideas that would illustrate this concept... and then an eclipse happened. Why that made a difference is a very interesting story... First of...

CAMERAS: Food Fights with the FS700

You want 240fps 1920x1080? I've got your high-speed HD right here... for less than $10K.
Written by Art Adams  |  May 16, 2012
When Adam Wilt and I shot "Fire and Ice" together on a prototype FS700 we had no idea that it would be shown at NAB... and that it would be hit. We wanted to do more, so we pitched Sony a commercial concept for a local...

CAMERA MATH: The Importance of Ratios

I'm better with words than equations, but once in a while a math technique is so useful that I can't help but use it. Here's one that I find invaluable.
Written by Art Adams  |  May 4, 2012
I remember very little math from my high school days, but what I do remember are the tricks that I was able to apply to my daily life. One formula, determining ratios, has served me better than any other. Here's how I'm using this formula to create custom frame lines for an upcoming web banner shoot.I've been shooting a...

GEEK-OUT: The Matrix, Reloaded

What the heck is a matrix, anyway? It's only one of the most important aspects of what makes your camera look the way it does. Take a look inside if you dare...
Written by Art Adams  |  April 15, 2012
After years of wondering what exactly the user matrix does I think I've figured it out. I'm not sure I can explain it, but I'm going to try. Put on your propellor hat and rub your brain with soothing salves, 'cause it's gonna hurt...I've known for a while that matrices add and subtract color channels from each other, but...

Lighting Fire and Liquids: Playtime with the Sony FS700

Water, ice, fire and a prototype Sony FS700 slow motion camera. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Written by Art Adams  |  April 14, 2012
Adam Wilt gets to play with the best toys, in this case a prototype Sony FS700 slow motion camera. He invited me over to play, and the results were really, really interesting. Adam's article talks about some of the technical issues he ran across, so in this article I'm going to focus on the lighting side of what we...

LED Light Tests: Flesh Tone and Color Comparison Shootout

There's one color that will always bother us if it's wrong: flesh tone. We tested ten common LED lights against a tungsten Inkie and a Kino Flo... come see the results!
Written by Art Adams  |  April 9, 2012
Color comparison tests are hard. Color science is witchcraft, and objective color is exceedingly difficult to quantify. Comparison is really the only way to judge color, so we tested ten LED lights against two tungsten Tweenies and a 3200K 2'x4 Kino Flo. The results are... interesting.While shooting

BEHIND THE SCENES: Smoke in the Woods with the Canon 5D

Where there's smoke there's fire... or a production company shooting a PSA for a non-profit. This is how you create a high-end look on a budget.
Written by Art Adams  |  April 7, 2012
When production companies ask me to shoot spots on the Canon 5D MkII I don't flinch anymore. Sure, it's not the most user friendly camera in the world, but I can't complain about the images I can make with it. And no one else does, either.In this case, half the battle was putting the camera in the right place at the right time--and...

LED Light Tests: PRG Sponsors an LED Light Shootout

A dozen lights, an Arri Alexa, an intrepid crew... what could go wrong? Lots, which is why we had to work extra hard. Tests are never easy, and comparison tests are among the hardest of all.
Written by Art Adams  |  April 3, 2012
"LED Light Shootout" sounds so dramatic, as if a collection of motley illuminants met in a dusty western town to settle their differences with bullets instead of marketing. It's actually tedious, mind numbing work… and a real eyeopener.Before I go into detail as to how we pulled this off, you should probably...

CANON C300: Trimming White Balance, Plus a Look at Daylight vs. Tungsten Color

Cameras used to be SOOOO boring. Now every new camera is a mystery to be unfolded: What does it do well? What tweaks can make it better? Here is my first C300 article that addresses these questions...
Written by Art Adams  |  March 30, 2012
I've shot a lot of web and broadcast spots on the Canon 5D and while it makes pretty pictures the controls are very limited. It's also not a camera that can be used quickly. At the moment the Canon C300 is a bit of a mystery to me: before my recent tests I didn't know whether it's a 5D with more controls and a cinematographer-friendly form...

CAMERAS: Now It's Rocket Science

It used to be so simple: pick a film stock, pick a lens, shoot images, process and print, repeat. It wasn't rocket science. Now, though... it's rocket science.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 28, 2012
Not so long ago the toughest choice we had to make was which film stock to use. It was possible to learn one or two stocks really, really well and use them predictably over the course of many years. Now a game-changing camera comes out every year, introducing us to new strengths and weakness. Not so long ago cinematography wasn't rocket...
A web spot may be seen by more people than a broadcast spot, so making it pretty is more important than ever. In this case, simple but elegant lighting and custom gamma curves made this spot shine. (And when shooting kids, "simple" becomes very important.)The idea is this: dad shoots baby video on his phone and...

GEEK OUT: The Non-Technical Technical Guide to Sony OLED Monitors

OLED monitors are about to change the way we view images, both at work and at home. Prepare to look better than you ever have before.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 7, 2012
The first time I laid eyes on a professional Sony OLED monitor I knew my professional life had changed. In a few years I'm sure we'll take this technology for granted, but right now it looks AMAZING compared to any other monitoring system I use on a regular basis. For a slightly-technical-but-mostly-educational look at why, read...

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Rough Guide to Illuminating a Bounce Card

Written by Art Adams  |  January 29, 2012
Is bounce light really just about aiming a light at a white card and walking away? No. There are a couple of tricks to getting the most out of your bounce source, and I can show them to you fairly quickly using a 4'x4' bounce card as an example. First thing to consider: material. Foam core...

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Exploiting a Single Light Source

Sometimes all it takes to make a beautiful picture is placing one light--as long as it's the proper light source. This still photo shows an example of one style of soft lighting that's been in use for centuries, and for good reason: it works.
Written by Art Adams  |  January 28, 2012
There are few things more elegant than lighting a shot with a single light source. It doesn't always work, but when it does--it's magical. The most natural and common source of interior lighting is window light. A number of famous European painters fashioned their studios so that the room was lit by a single window...

BOOK REVIEW: "How to Shoot Movies Without Shooting Yourself in the Foot"

The best books about cinematography aren't necessarily about the art of cinematography. They're about getting all the other stuff out of the way so you can practice cinematography. This is the book that tells you what you didn't know--but need to know--about becoming a cinematographer.
Written by Art Adams  |  January 20, 2012
This book is not for everyone. If you don't eat, breathe and live cinematography... maybe you should read something else. Seriously. This book may not be for you. (But if it is... you'd better not miss it.)A review of this book on says:"If you're going into a career in the film...

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Placing the Fill Light for Faces

Placing a fill light properly is possibly more important than placing a key light... and I can prove it!
Written by Art Adams  |  January 18, 2012
In this article I wrote about classical key light placement and classical portraiture to illustrate how artists and cinematographers have traditionally gone about lighting faces....

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: What Makes Soft Lights Cast Soft Shadows?

When it comes to soft light, size matters.
Written by Art Adams  |  December 27, 2011
It's one thing to understand that soft sources make soft shadows. It's another thing to understand why. Fortunately a friend from the insect world can help us if we will look at soft light through his eyes.Let's look at an example environment that I built in Poser 9: That small dot at the right of...
provideo default

For You, a Panel Discussion

Take a break from reading and listen to us for a change: PVC writers speak at the 2011 Entertainment Technology Expo in Burbank.
Written by Art Adams  |  December 24, 2011
A rabble of PVC writers (yes, that's the collective term) spoke at this year's Entertainment Technology Expo in Burbank. If you want to see some of the people behind the ProVideo Coalition content curtain, including myself, this is a "must see."Pop some popcorn, grab a drink, and sit comfortably before

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Soft Light vs. Hard Light

Hard lights are great for textures, but soft lights are great for defining spaces.
Written by Art Adams  |  December 22, 2011
In a previous article I described how to place a hard key light. In this article I'll look at why soft sources are a bit more realistic in color cinematography, require less precise placement, and can...

Pulse Width Modulation is NOT Your Friend

What you don't know about PWM may ruin your next shot--particularly if you're using a camera with a rolling shutter!
Written by Art Adams  |  December 16, 2011
Here's the deal: there's this thing called "pulse width modulation," and under certain conditions it doesn't play well with rolling shutter cameras. Most of the time it's no problem, but we don't get phone calls from post when there's no problem. Here's how to avoid that phone call. I recently shot a quick project for a...

LIGHTING STRATEGIES: Placing a Hard Key Light

Hard light and faces... do they go together? The short answer is yes... but be careful!
Written by Art Adams  |  December 14, 2011
The most important thing you will ever learn about lighting is this: LIGHTING IS NOT A FORMULA. Learning about lighting, though, is a process of becoming aware, and in this first of many articles I'm going I'm going to try to increase your awareness of one specific thing per article. The more awareness you have the more easily you'll be...

The Simplest, Fastest Interview Lighting Setup--Ever.

Years in the making, this technique works in almost every situation and makes almost everyone look great. That's about the best you can hope for when shooting talking heads on a tight schedule.
Written by Art Adams  |  November 18, 2011
For a long time my primary source of employment was shooting corporate marketing communications videos. As these consist primarily of "talking head" interviews, I tried every lighting setup I could think of to make people look their best quickly, as many of these shoots have tight schedules and not much turnaround time between interviews. This...

The Future of Technology is You

Written by Art Adams  |  November 1, 2011
Technology is always advancing, and we're at the point in this industry where we'll always have new toys on the near horizon. My question is: how much do these toys matter when it's the people who use them who provide all the creativity? On Wednesday I'll be speaking at Creatasphere's Entertainment Technology...

Fill Light: The Underdog of Lighting

Fill light isn't just for controlling contrast; its quality and placement can make or break your shot.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 27, 2011
The day I stop learning about lighting will be the day my EKG goes flatline. There's an extraordinary amount to learn and absorb, and I doubt I'll ever learn all of it. That's okay, because it means I'll never run out of new things to learn. My most recent fixation is on the one light many think about the least: the fill...

Blue Nile Shines Thanks to the Canon 5D and Apple Color

Written by Art Adams  |  September 20, 2011
One of the best things about this business is that greatness lurks around every corner. If you are resourceful and creative you'll find it well enough.I've shot several viral projects for production company Seedwell and I was honored to be invited to shoot their...

You've read my writing, now hear my talking

Yup, I got interviewed. If you have an hour to spare, here's where to find it.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 13, 2011
Izzy Hyman, of the website Izzy Video, interviewed me yesterday for his "Meet the Shooter" series.We spoke for about an hour about my career and related issues. You can listen to the interview here.

Anatomy of a Spot: T-Mobile

What's the best camera to use when shooting in an elevator? A small one. Hellooooo Canon 5D...
Written by Art Adams  |  June 20, 2011
Over time I've come to respect the Canon 5D. It's not the most user friendly of cameras, and it has some fairly serious faults, but if you can avoid the pitfalls it can make very pretty images.Film industry lesson #1: You never know where future jobs will come from. I had no idea that shooting

DSC Labs Hawk Chart: The Simplest Color Chart That You Can't Live Without

Wouldn't it be great if someone designed an easy-to-use color chart that could be quickly and easily used in the field? Well, someone did. And they call it The Hawk.
Written by Art Adams  |  June 17, 2011
It wasn't until I worked at the DSC Labs booth at NAB that I discovered The Hawk... and it blew me away. It's a very simple chart, but it offers a colorist (professional or amateur) the most critical information necessary to accurately neutralize your raw, log, or even WYSIWYG images.At NAB I was approached by a DP who...

Arri Alexa and Rosco LitePads Come Through for OnLive's First National Spot

The project started out as a web-only teaser. When the client saw it they added another shoot day and turned it into a national spot. Here's why, and how.
Written by Art Adams  |  June 12, 2011
Originally slated to be a web-only spot, the first shoot day went so well that when the client saw the results they ordered a second shoot day, added an actor and made a $1m+ national ad buy.I've been holding off writing this article as I'd hoped to see a :60 version of the spot that contained all of the really...
provideo default

The Secrets of the Chroma Du Monde, Explained Live (on tape) at NAB!

If you've always wanted to find out if I present on video as well as I write... click here to find out!
Written by Art Adams  |  April 20, 2011
I spent a lot of time in the DSC Labs booth at NAB, giving Chroma Du Monde demonstrations and teaching basic waveform/vectorscope tricks. PVC's Scott Gentry stopped by and asked me to say a few words on video, and this is the result. Enjoy!

A Mix of Film and HD Doesn't Scare Arri's Alexa

Written by Art Adams  |  April 19, 2011
The client wanted contrasty toplight against seamless white, and then they wanted to intercut that with stock footage shot on film. Thanks to Arri's Alexa, what the client wants--the client gets. In spades.I've done a number of different styles of lighting against white limbo backgrounds: flat frontal, rear 3/4, big soft...

Where I'll Be at NAB

Written by Art Adams  |  April 9, 2011
I'm constantly amazed at how many readers I have, and if you'd like to amaze me more by stopping by and saying hi I'll be in the DSC Labs booth (C10215, near Band Pro, Tiffen and Abel Cine) on Monday and Tuesday, with shorter appearances Wednesday and Thursday as I'll be wandering around a bit more. I'm also on a DP Track panel with...

The Secret Art of Slating: 25 Tips to Help You Slate Like a Pro

Take these to heart and become the editor's best friend.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 1, 2011
Slate training was my introduction to one of the most important tenets of filmmaking: always think of the next person down the production line. In the case of slating, this means taking care of the poor assistant editor who has to sync and track dailies based on your notes and your slating technique.Just the way...

iPhone Apps: The Short List for the Average Cinematographer

Of all the apps I've found, these are the most helpful.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 19, 2011
It seems everyone and their sister's friend's cousin has made a list of indispensable cinematography iPhone apps. Now it's my turn. Let's see how original I am.One week ago today I received my new Verizon iPhone, and life hasn't felt quite the same since. I feel as if I'm a little behind as everyone else in the industry...

Panasonic AF-100: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Director Ian McCamey, Adam Wilt and myself take the AF-100 out for a spin in real world conditions.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 9, 2011
The Panasonic AF-100 is getting a lot of buzz as a possible HDSLR killer. We used it in the real world in place of an HDSLR, and now we know. And soon, so will you. Read on...The two cameras that get the most buzz at the moment are the Panasonic AF-100 and the Sony F3. In particular, the AF-100 seems to be...

Career Advice for the Young DP

The true barrier to cinematography success isn't youth-it's experience. Here's what a budding DP needs to know about building a career.
Written by Art Adams  |  January 10, 2011
This is my response to a question posted to the Cinematography Mailing List by a young film student who is chafing at the bit to be a director of photography as soon as possible.----------------------(To read this thread go to

Phantom Adventures: 1000fps on a Budget

A $250,000 camera, 60,000w of tungsten lighting, 1000fps, kids, animals… what could go wrong? Not much, as it turns out.

Written by Art Adams  |  December 15, 2010
A while back I wrote this article about some high speed tests I did in preparation for an upcoming regional spot. The results convinced the client, Rambus, that the extra expense of shooting their...

Alexa ISO Settings: The Least You Need to Know

Changing an HD camera's ISO has a greater impact on an image than simply affecting exposure. Learn what's really happening... and take advantage of it!
Written by Art Adams  |  October 8, 2010
My previous Arri Alexa article showed you how the camera's dynamic range responds to different ISO settings. In this shorter article I'll show you why that's useful and practical information.All the world loves graphic examples, so let's start off with one: This graph shows how tones are...

Arri Alexa's Dynamic Range: It's All in How You Use It

Always push exposure to the limits. But learn where the limits are first!
Written by Art Adams  |  September 29, 2010
Knowing that the Arri Alexa has 15 or so stops of dynamic range is nice, but it's hardly useful information unless you know how those stops are arranged at different ISO settings. Fortunately I've done the hard work for you.Or rather I should say that

The Best of Stunning Good Looks

A directory of my best articles, sorted by topic.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 31, 2010
This entry is a guide to my best articles, sorted by topic. Enjoy!BEHIND-THE-SCENES/PRODUCTION/LIGHTINGMy Love Affair with Alexa (Alexa)

Canon 5D: How much dynamic range does it have, really?

The DSC 102db chart doesn't lie: This is what it tells us about how the 5D sees the world.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 31, 2010
The Canon 5D does a remarkable job of making HD images, considering that it was originally never intended to do so. So how much dynamic range can it really capture? Thanks to the DSC 102db (17-stop) latitude chart, we now have an objective answer.If you've read

My Love Affair with Alexa

When the camera sees more than my light meter does, it's time to acknowledge that the game has truly changed.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 21, 2010
My dream HD camera records footage with log-encoded gamma to ProRes for a fast, easy and accessible post workflow and cost-effective color grading. It has the simplest control interface ever. It sees in the dark. And it's built by a company whose gear I learned to trust early in my career when I started out as a camera assistant. The...

Next Stop: The Last Stop! RED MX Latitude Tests

An 18-stop test chart, a tunnel made of showcard and a dozen yards of black plastic ground cover later, we have a pretty good idea of the RED MX's exposure latitude.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 31, 2010
When DSC Labs offered to send me a 102db (translation: 18-stop) exposure latitude chart, I just couldn't bring myself to say no. And, naturally, the first camera I wanted to test was the RED ONE MX. How much better is the new sensor? Let's take a look...The
provideo default

IR Cheat Sheet, Updated to Version 2

Get the right filter for the right camera!
Written by Art Adams  |  July 29, 2010
At long last, an update to my fabled IR Filter Cheat Sheet. Not every camera responds the same way to IR; make sure you have the right filter for the right job.Here it is, version 2 of the Art Adams IR Filter Cheat Sheet: Click here to download a...

Arri Alexa and Far Red: A Problem That's Already Been Solved

Most cameras have issues with far red or infrared. There are lots of filters to fix that, but you have to use the right one for the right camera. Read on to see what works with Alexa.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 29, 2010
Last night I had the chance to--finally!--touch an Arri Alexa at Chater Camera's Alexa preview party. And, being a curious sort of fellow, I decided to run some impromptu tests. IR tests are the easiest to do so I quickly did some--and in the process learned some interesting...

RED MX IR Tests: The New Sensor is Similar to the Old Sensor

Don't throw your IR filters away yet. You're gonna need them.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 23, 2010
RED says that their new sensor is more resistant to IR contamination than their original sensor. This test shows that, while there may be an improvement, IR is still an issue. Fortunately all the usual IR filter solutions work just fine.As every filter manufacturer profiled here has, at one time or another, given...

Step into the Matrix: What I Learned from Examining RED's Build 30 Color Science

RED says the MX sensor uses the same colorimetry as their old M sensor. Others say the improvements are so dramatic that this can't be. A search for the truth led me deep into the heart of The Matrix...
Written by Art Adams  |  July 22, 2010
Comparing the RED ONE "M" and the RED ONE "MX" in Adam Wilt's office.The RED ONE MX is finally here, and it looks great--better than it should, considering that RED says that it hasn't changed the colorimetry of its sensors, only its sensitivity...

Lighting Against The Wind: The Making of a Mime Music Video

If your first response to a low-budget music video contest is to cast one actress in three different parts, all of whom appear onscreen at the same time and interact with each other, then this article is for you.
Written by Art Adams  |  June 19, 2010
In the last two years I've often described myself as a "reel-building whore." If I'm asked to do a low-budget and "reel worthy" freebie by a trusted director/collaborator I jump at the challenge. When director Ian McCamey asked me to shoot a freebie music video with three interactive mimes who were all played by the same actress, I couldn't say...

A Cine Gear Find: TechScout Touch

Written by Art Adams  |  June 10, 2010
It was in the LightGear booth at Cine Gear that I first saw TechScout Touch. "You can create your lighting order using this one iPhone app," said the sales rep, "and send the order straight to the rental house.""That's great," I said, "but I don't live in LA, and the odds are pretty slim that I'm going to use your rental...

GearNex: The Next Generation of Gear Head

A small start-up makes another smooth move by improving an already excellent product
Written by Art Adams  |  June 9, 2010
GearNex co-owner Bret Allen, S.O.C. shows off the latest generation of his award-winning gear head at Cine Gear 2010.Sacramento start-up GearNex surprised the industry last year by bringing a small, affordable and very functional gear head to market. It was mostly worth the asking price at the time. Now the price has gone...

VFX Tell the Story in California State Fair Spots

A RED ONE, a barn, seven kids, a guy in a yellow bear costume, the setting sun, an animated dinosaur and dozens of visual effects elements combine to create dazzling imagery on a moderate budget.
Written by Art Adams  |  June 2, 2010
A bit of prior planning, some clever visual effects and a new RED software build help a talented production team get maximum bang for minimum bucks. Not long ago I wrote about some PSAs that I shot...

Everyone Looks Sexy at 1000fps

I recently shot high speed tests on the RED and Phantom cameras. Come see which one makes me look most like a bionic dancer.
Written by Art Adams  |  April 2, 2010
One of my favorite clients recently pitched a project that requires shooting high-speed footage at 1000fps. To help them sell the concept I shot some tests comparing the RED ONE at 120 and 100fps to the Phantom HD Gold at...

The Tiger Lillies Finally Set Sail

The Tiger Lillies video you read about on my blog is finally here. And it's a mind-blower.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 27, 2010
Back in November 2009 I spent three days with director Mark Holthusen, producer Jason Santos, camera assistant Adam...

Random Tips from a Professional Camera Operator

Hopefully useful advice to smooth and finesse your moves and tune your viewfinder eye
Written by Art Adams  |  February 26, 2010
Teaching the craft of camera operating is extremely difficult to do well, so I'm going to do it half-assed and give you some random tips that may help you along in your career. My childhood dream was to be a camera operator. I wanted to be the person looking through the camera and framing a shot. While I would...

Two New Sharp-Looking Charts from DSC Labs

Focus on the important things with the Fiddlehead and CineZone charts
Written by Art Adams  |  February 26, 2010
The first time I used a DSC Chart for color analysis I was completely blown away by the thought and cleverness that went into designing the Chroma Du Monde. Now they've done it again, but this time for focus.As back focus must be set using a lens of short focal length, it can be difficult to find a focus target of...

The Making of an Epic Media Project

A RED ONE, a small but agile crew, and a 2k 60'-wide screening in an Omnimax theater. This, truly, is a modern day epic.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 11, 2010
Rambus is a company of big ideas, and they wanted their 20th anniversary celebration to include a theatrical production that accurately reflected who they are and where they came from. The resulting short film--shown in an Omnimax dome at the

Low-Budget PSA's, Shot on RED, Prove that Budget is Not a Barrier to Excellence

Fast, cheap and good--normally you can pick any two. For these PSA's we got all three.
Written by Art Adams  |  January 20, 2010
"Dad has a barn and mom can sew--let's put on a show!" Production budgets aren't what they used to be, but that doesn't excuse sloppiness. There's almost always a way to do good work as long as your creativity extends beyond lighting and framing into the realm of "making do." Director

A Tale of Forbidden Love, Shot on RED

Written by Art Adams  |  January 16, 2010
A short schedule, minimal crew, no budget, a RED with an untried software build, and a trained dog in nearly every shot. What could go wrong?AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've gotten some complaints from people who have found this short film offensive. I get that it's not everyone's sense of humor, but I'm proud of my work...

Anatomy of a Spot: Commonwealth Club

RED brings a quality boost to a low-budget quickly-shot spot.
Written by Art Adams  |  November 17, 2009
In this economy one has to stretch every production dollar as far as it can go. This doesn't mean compromising on quality, though: keeping things simple can yield huge dividends. This includes knowing when it's okay to shoot with available light, and when natural light needs a little help.I got this job via my web...

World's Only "Death Oompah" Band Gets Virtual Reality Music Video

Written by Art Adams  |  November 11, 2009
[TB]An accordion-playing lead singer; a drummer who occasionally uses a doll instead of drumsticks; and a song based on the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Just another day on set with one of the most macabre...

So You Want to Work with Cameras

Time-tested and mostly true advice for getting your first gigs in the film industry.
Written by Art Adams  |  October 31, 2009
I get a lot of e-mail from film and video students asking how they can break into the film or television industries. I can't afford the luxury of answering everyone's questions individually so I decided to put my advice in writing. I hope it's helpful.This article originally appeared on my web site, and was...

ADHD Guide to Flash Video for the Web

How to get Flash video on the web, fast
Written by Art Adams  |  October 30, 2009
I hate reading manuals. They don't tell me what I want to know in the order I want to know it. I'd rather figure things out on my own, or if that learning curve is too steep, have someone show me in the basic concepts. I can usually figure out the rest later. For example, when I first sat down to learn DVD Studio Pro, the manual drove me...

Rough Guide to Flicker-Free HD Shooting

Shoot safely at 23.98p with these few simple, but crucial, tips
Written by Art Adams  |  October 27, 2009
The most common HD frame rate is a 50-year-old byproduct of the invention of color TV. And it's not a flicker-free safe speed.Watch the video clip below to see why you should care... This clip was shot on a RED ONE in order to illustrate the difference between flicker on a global shutter...

What You Need to Know about Green, Blue and RED

I hope you like blue in your greens under tungsten light...
Written by Art Adams  |  September 24, 2009
In a recent article I surmised that RED was mixing green into the blue channel to eliminate blue noise under tungsten light. I had a theory but no proof of what was going on. Now I have proof.My tests showed that RED saw blue-tinged greens under tungsten light and not under daylight, and by artificially mixing...

RED Color Comparison

See how the RED stacks up against the Sony EX1
Written by Art Adams  |  September 22, 2009
Any camera looks good in a vacuum. Come see how the RED looks against itself and in comparison to a Sony EX3. Recently I shot some DSC chart footage using a RED with Build 20. The goal was to look for color crossover issues under daylight and tungsten light. The DSC chart that was available had flesh tone patches on it,...

Tiffen Goes Into Production on T1 Far Red Filter

If you own an EX1, EX3 or F35 then this is the filter you've been waiting for
Written by Art Adams  |  September 19, 2009
As you may have noticed from previous articles, I've done a lot of research on which cameras allow infrared or far red to contaminate dark fabrics and change their color. There hasn't been a satisfactory solution...

The Vertical Bar Graph Raw Exposure Meter

This RED exposure tool just became your best friend.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 16, 2009
The vertical bar graph raw exposure meter is the least explained meter in the latest RED manual. It's also one of the most valuable exposure tools the RED ONE offers.As English is my second language (and I haven't discovered my primary language yet) I shorten "vertical bar graph raw exposure meter" to "barber pole." It...

RED's Blue Noise: Where It Went, and Other Color Anomalies You Should Know About

What you didn't know you didn't know about color and the RED ONE
Written by Art Adams  |  September 11, 2009
RED software build 20 boasts new colorimetry that eliminates blue shadow noise under tungsten light. When asked how they did it, RED only said "We aren't using noise reduction algorithms." I love a challenge, and I think I figured out how they did it.The RED makes great images but it's very noisy, particularly under...
provideo default


The Real Scoop on What the RED ONE and Canon 5D Are Really Good For
Written by Art Adams  |  August 28, 2009
Banking, real estate and the stock market: all three are prone to "irrational exuberance." As it turns out, the production community is not immune either, witnessed by the hordes rushing to buy (or wishing they already owned) a RED camera or a Canon 5D mkII. Mind you, both are excellent tools - but neither is a cure for...

RED Build 20 Torture Tests

Exposure latitude tests reveal perhaps too much about the RED ONE
Written by Art Adams  |  August 16, 2009
I've learned more about how cameras work by learning what the RED doesn't do. But, with every software build, it does more. Build 20 looks to be the best yet... but it's not perfect.I shot these tests with Adam Wilt, at the

Busy Person's Guide to Color Correcting the Canon 5D

In which I take some pretty footage and make it a lot prettier
Written by Art Adams  |  August 7, 2009
The 5D is fast and portable, but it's not a professional camera--so know going in that you're going to have to color correct whatever you shoot.That's not a bad thing...
provideo default

Abel Cine offers New Mattebox System for Canon 5D Mark II

Not just for cops anymore, custom donuts are mandatory for the Canon 5D
Written by Art Adams  |  August 6, 2009
On a recent shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II I lamented the lack of properly-sized donuts. Now, thanks to Abel Cine, I lament no more.Just today Abel Cine posted on its web site a kit that allows use of an Arri MMB-1 mattebox system with odd-sized still format lenses. The primary purpose of a mattebox is to...

My First Shoot with the Canon 5D

For a still camera it shoots pretty nice HD
Written by Art Adams  |  August 5, 2009
The Canon 5D is a cinematic nightmare. In movie mode it's hard to see focus, difficult to set exposure, and it doesn't show you exactly what you're getting. It records to heavily compressed...
provideo default

NorCal Digital Cinema Society Meeting Tonight, 6pm

For those who didn't get the message via the Cinematography Mailing List or Facebook, the Northern California chapter of the Dig
Written by Art Adams  |  July 24, 2009
We'll take a close look at the Canon 5D, see a lot of footage, hear from Canon rep Tim Smith, and see a demo of the Panasonic GH-1 presented by Ilya Friedman of Hot Rod Cameras.RSVP here: note that Castro St. in Mountain View will be closed for an event, so avoid it...

Facebook Mobile spot, Shot on RED

Just add talent, a stolen location, natural light and a RED ONE camera
Written by Art Adams  |  July 1, 2009
"Hey Art," said director Ian McCamey, "I want to shoot a Facebook spec spot. I've got no money. Are you in?" "Of course I am," said I. "Let's do it." And we did.We scouted

Black Glimmerglass and Hollywood Black Magic Filter Tests

A camera assistant extraordinaire puts two new lines of diffusion filters through their paces
Written by Art Adams  |  June 24, 2009
World-class camera assistant Mako Koiwai recently shot a camera test with two new sets of diffusion filters: Black Glimmerglass from Tiffen and Hollywood Black Magic from Schneider Optics. He compared them to diffusion filter sets that he has in his own collection, which includes Tiffen Soft Effects and Schneider Classic Soft...

Diffusion Confusion

What you need to know about glass filters in the digital age
Written by Art Adams  |  June 17, 2009
Digital filters are awesome for post image manipulation if you have enough bits to throw away. Glass filters, though, work at the highest resolution possible, in the camera head itself, and you'll never have a better image to tweak than that.A year ago I had the pleasure to interview Ira Tiffen, formerly of Tiffen,...

Using the ND .90 Filter as a Preproduction Tool

Spot problem fabrics with an ND filter and a flashlight!
Written by Art Adams  |  June 11, 2009
During my last round of far red filter testing with the Sony F35/EX1/EX3, director of photography and testing cohort Lenny Levy discovered that far red contamination could be seen by eye under tungsten light simply by viewing fabrics through an ND .90 filter. This doesn't work with near infrared, which is what the RED is...

Far red on the EX1/EX3/F35: "It's a feature, not a bug!"

An official response from Sony tells us that far red is more about helping than hindering
Written by Art Adams  |  June 6, 2009
I asked Juan Martinez, of Sony at Park Ridge, New Jersey, what was up with far red contamination and the Sony EX cameras. Here's what he had to say:"Yes, the prism on the Ex has broad spectrum dichroic filters. As you suspect, the Ex IR cut is 700nm, but it's not steep, to preserve far red response. This issue occurs...
provideo default

Look for me at CineGear

Written by Art Adams  |  June 4, 2009
I'll be at CineGear this Friday and Saturday, spending part of my time at the Digital Cinema Society booth and co-hosting a seminar on new lens technologies on Saturday. Stop on by the booth and say hi and/or check out the seminar on Stage 16 at 2:15 on Saturday. See you there!

The Last Far Red Filter You'll Ever Need?

Tiffen's latest test prototype kills far red dead on both the EX1/EX3 and the F35
Written by Art Adams  |  June 4, 2009
The Sony EX1/EX3/F35 cameras have a little issue where they are over-sensitive to far red. This new prototype filter from Tiffen cleans up far red, and then some.Before we get into the exciting world of test charts, let's take a look at what far red contamination means to you. Here's Anthony, prep tech at

Porsche Spot VFX Breakdown

Written by Art Adams  |  June 3, 2009
Shot by shot, this breakdown shows all the steps required to pull off a single shot for "Porsche: Magnet," a spec spot I shot several months ago for director Ian McCamey.(For more about this spot, please see

Why Does Blue Hurt So Much?

The 80A filter eats up more than twice the light of an 85. What gives?
Written by Art Adams  |  May 23, 2009
I never thought I'd worry about when to use an 80A filter. Designed to allow daylight film use under tungsten light, it eats up an incredible amount of light. Why would I ever do such a thing?I wouldn't... in film. Digital, however... if you shoot with a RED under tungsten light, the 80-series is a filter family you need to...

Tiffen tests new no-ND IR filter for EX1/EX3/F35

Crisp clean blacks, and only a half-stop light loss, make this new filter a winner
Written by Art Adams  |  May 20, 2009
The broadband dyes used in the Sony F35, EX1 and EX3 sensors work wonderfully well in most regards. They allow us to capture subtle hues of color that electronic cameras have not been able to capture in the past. Unfortunately this comes at a price: the red dye passes a little too much light at the edge of the visible spectrum, so the...

Optically White Balance the RED with Schneider CTB Filters

Get the red out--and put some blue back in!
Written by Art Adams  |  May 13, 2009
The RED can capture some pretty amazing images in 5600k daylight, but it stumbles a bit when shooting in 3200k tungsten light. The Schneider CTB's help it get back on its feet.I've written a couple of articles (

Whatever Happened to Ira Tiffen?

Written by Art Adams  |  May 7, 2009
Ira Tiffen has transitioned from forging glass filters to casting attention-grabbing artwork.When I last spoke to him, for an article I wrote last year about filtration, he was semi-retired and working on a book that would have been the ultimate filtration reference for the motion picture industry. Yesterday I...

Hands on with the Gearnex Gear Head

We take the wheels for a spin
Written by Art Adams  |  May 6, 2009
Camera operator Bret Allen, SOC leapt into the manufacturing world after a phone conversation with an Arriflex rep. Frustrated by the high prices gear heads commanded on Ebay (used Mitchell or Mini-Worrall heads never sold for less than $10,000),...

Tiffen DFX 2 Digital Filters

Take your footage to the next level with this simple post option
Written by Art Adams  |  May 1, 2009
Tweaking footage for your reel is a huge advantage. Here's how to take your footage to the next level without taking on a second full-time job as a colorist.I've been a fan of...

Rosco Shows New IR Filter (and other goodies) at NAB

LitePads, IR filters, RoscoView make Rosco booth a destination
Written by Art Adams  |  April 16, 2009
Not too long ago, after writing a series of articles on HD cameras and IR contamination, I published my first IR Filter Cheat Sheet for those who wanted to skip the technical details for a short description of what IR filter to use when. Shortly thereafter Rosco contacted me and said they'd like me to test their IR filter, the Rosco...

Gear Head for the RED

Sacramento company GearNex brings smooth moves to your favorite HD camera
Written by Art Adams  |  April 15, 2009
Last spring, while shooting a piece for solar energy company SunPower on the RED, our jib operator asked me to keep a secret. "How interested would you be in a low cost gear head for the RED? I think I'm going to build one."HELLO! SIGN ME UP!I'm a big fan of gear heads, although in my current niche of...

Porsche F35 Spec Spot Revealed

PVC readers get an early look at my finished F35 spec spot
Written by Art Adams  |  March 31, 2009
About a month ago I shot a spec Porsche spot at night on the Sony F35 at ridiculously low light levels. Here's the finished piece.Director:

IR Filter Cheat Sheet

Written by Art Adams  |  March 28, 2009
Here it is. Below the table you'll find a link to download a printable PDF. To the best of my knowledge this information is correct, but be sure to read the notes regarding Hot Mirror filters: they can cause color vignetting on wider lenses, some require that a certain side face out, and they can be highly reflective. This table should...

Mysteries of Color and Light

What I learned after a year of developing the Kelvin Tile LED light, plus some other handy tips and tricks of light and color
Written by Art Adams  |  March 26, 2009
Between January 2007 and April 2008 I consulted for Element Labs on the development of the Kelvin Tile. During that time I learned a lot about color and spectrum. Someone on the Cinematography Mailing List's...

The Quicktime Conundrum, Part 2: Solved by our Readers

My readers submit additional tips for flawless H.264 Quicktimes
Written by Art Adams  |  March 13, 2009
A couple of great suggestions for creating flawless H.264 Quicktime--and Flash!--movies popped up in the comments section of my last article. They deserve their own article.Reader
provideo default

The Quicktime Conundrum

How to get around Quicktime's H.264 gamma bug
Written by Art Adams  |  March 12, 2009
There's nothing like waking up in the morning and realizing that your chief marketing tool is probably driving away more clients than it's attracting.I both love, and hate, Quicktime. Flash is the universally accepted method of viewing video on the web but it doesn't seem to be an easy or cost-effective tool for...
provideo default

Anatomy of a Porsche Spec Spot

We push the F35 as far as it can go--and then some!
Written by Art Adams  |  March 6, 2009
When the economy goes south, I go into fifth gear. I recently seized the opportunity to shoot a couple of spec spots with director Ian McCamey, formerly of The Orphanage, and our first...

EX1/EX3 IR Filter Shoot-Out

The EX1/EX3 built-in Hot Mirrors suck. Or do they? One way to find out...
Written by Art Adams  |  February 26, 2009
The Sony EX1 and EX3 are great cameras for the price, but they do have some fairly obvious issues with IR/far red when used with neutral density filters in front of the lens. This test taught me far more, though, than just what filters to use to eliminate a color problem on these cameras: I learned never to make assumptions about how a...

Fake Tilt-Shift Cinematography

I've seen this in stills and it's very convincing. Next week I'm doing to do it in motion.
Written by Art Adams  |  February 24, 2009
Traditionally used to create the illusion of impossibly deep focus, tilt-shift effects are now being used to do the exact opposite--with surprising results.I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis, and my geeky friends do as well. Somehow, somewhere, someone stumbled across this little

F35 IR Filter Shoot-Out

We test IR filters from three major manufacturers to see which does what on the F35
Written by Art Adams  |  February 19, 2009
Technically the Sony F35 isn't sensitive to infrared, but it is sensitive to far red. The difference will save you a lot of money on filters.Before we start, it might be a good idea to take a look at this...

RED Hot Mirror Shoot-Out

We test Hot Mirror filters from three major manufacturers to see which does what on the RED
Written by Art Adams  |  February 11, 2009
Not all infrared or Hot Mirror filters are made the same, and not all work the same way on different cameras. In this test we looked at filters from Schneider, Formatt and Tiffen to see how they perform on the RED ONE.First, let's review what the issue is with HD cameras and IR: The visible...

The Not-So-Technical Guide to S-Log and Log Gamma Curves

What you need to know about log curves--with hardly any math at all
Written by Art Adams  |  February 3, 2009
For a couple of weeks I've been researching the mystery of Sony S-Log, and log curves in general, trying to determine what they are, what they do, and whether they are a good thing or not. After interviewing three different people (George Palmer of HDPix,

No pain? NO GAIN!

Written by Art Adams  |  February 1, 2009
All of us use gain at one point or another. Positive gain saves us when we end up shooting in a dark location, and negative gain makes us feel slightly superior because we're giving our client an image that is remarkably noise-free. But nothing is for free - you should definitely think twice before you hit that gain switch, because it's not...

No 85 Necessary on the F35!

Take the digital 5600k plunge--your camera will thank you!
Written by Art Adams  |  January 23, 2009
One of the first things people seem to notice about the Sony F35 is that it has no filter wheel. "Aha," many say, "this is the ultimate film-style HD camera. I'll actually need to use an 85 filter in the matte box when shooting outdoors, just like a film camera. Finally an HD camera I can understand!"
provideo default

Correction: Schneider Optics Sings the CTB's

Written by Art Adams  |  January 22, 2009
A couple of people commented on my previous piece, Schneider Optics Sings the Blues, to say that the CTB numbers of the Schneider filters don't like up with the Wratten numbers they gave me. And they were right. Next time...

Return of IR

Three manufacturers are striving to create the perfect filter, and we're going to help them
Written by Art Adams  |  January 21, 2009
I'm ramping up for an IR/Hot Mirror filter shootout, where I hope to test IR cut filters of various types from three different manufacturers: Schneider Optics, Tiffen and Formatt. If all goes well, and all the filters arrive in time, I'm hoping to shoot tests on Friday at Chater...

Schneider Optics Sings the Blues

Written by Art Adams  |  January 21, 2009
All silicon sensors are daylight native, although most cameras hide this fact so well it's never an issue. Not so with cameras like the RED and Phantom HD, which may need a little help under tungsten light.***This article contains some errors--as several of my readers pointed out, the CTB filters Schneider listed...

The Sony F35 and ND Filters

Thought your ND filters were really neutral? Guess again--this camera can SEE the differences
Written by Art Adams  |  January 16, 2009
While testing the Sony F35 recently at Chater Camera I performed my usual IR test and stacked a bunch of ND filters in the matte box while shooting a sunny day exterior. The image turned bright magenta/red, and it wasn't IR contamination because we were able to white balance the...

The Not-So-Technical Guide to the Sony F35

It's not so hard, once you know all the secrets...
Written by Art Adams  |  January 15, 2009
The RED ONE is cheap and good; the Sony F35 is expensive and utterly amazing.Way back in November 2008, as banks melted around us and elaborate Ponzi schemes mailed out their last round of dividend checks, I participated in a series of tests of the Sony F35. Initially I worked with Jim Rolin (chief engineer...

Even Rembrandt Sang the Blues

Written by Art Adams  |  November 22, 2008
The following was translated from a little known parchment relating to a discussion between Rembrandt and one of his many patrons:Patron: "You're killing me, Remmy baby, you're killing me! I can't stand like this all day and these costumes are costing me plenty!"Rembrandt: "Just one more candle... I need to...

Lighting Advice for Budding DPs

Wherein I realize I'm finally wise enough to give lighting advice to others
Written by Art Adams  |  November 22, 2008
Not long ago a student asked me a question that on its surface seemed very simple: "How do DPs approach lighting a set?"I've spent a fair bit of time dissecting the approaches of DPs I admire, and over time I've formulated my own method for walking onto a set for the first time and figuring out where to start. I...

My First Shoot with the Sony F35

In which a series of tests becomes the fastest spec spot shoot in history
Written by Art Adams  |  November 17, 2008
About a week and a half ago I received an email from Leigh Blicher, partner at Videofax in San Francisco. "Just wanted to let you know our F35 has arrived."...

The RED Outdoors

This spot would have been hell if I hadn't used the RED
Written by Art Adams  |  November 15, 2008
This spot was part of a web campaign for California's No on Prop 8 campaign. In my previous...

Lighting Simply for the RED

Two PARs, a couple of bounce cards and some grid cloth make this spot shine
Written by Art Adams  |  November 14, 2008
A while back I posted a Quicktime movie of this project, shot for the California "No on Prop 8" campaign. At the time I promised that lighting diagrams would be along shortly. I lied. I just got around to this today.

The RED Camera and Green Screen

What you need to know before you learn the hard way
Written by Art Adams  |  November 4, 2008
After working in this business a while (this year was 21 for me) I find that I don't worry about venturing into the unknown. And three weeks ago green screen with the RED was certainly an unknown for me.It's been a tough sell getting the RED camera on paid jobs. Up until...

More Fun with RED

In which a four day corporate shoot for Sunpower goes exceedingly well
Written by Art Adams  |  October 28, 2008
I just finished a four day shoot for solar energy company Sunpower where we used the RED for three days of location shooting and one day of green screen. More about the green screen...

What I've learned about the RED in the last three days

My tips, direct from the set to you
Written by Art Adams  |  October 21, 2008
Tomorrow I finish a project that has shot for three days already on the RED, build 16. Here's what I've learned and discovered:I'm viewing the image in REDSpace, with a button on the viewfinder set to toggle the image in and out of raw space, which (theoretically) shows what the sensor is really doing. REDSpace is...

The HVX-200 Strikes Again

In which I present the results of a spec job that I wrote up a while back on PVC
Written by Art Adams  |  October 18, 2008
A while back I wrote an article about a spec shoot I did promoting an as-yet unfunded motion picture...

No on Prop 8 (California) -- shot on RED

Another successful RED project on a shoestring budget
Written by Art Adams  |  October 17, 2008
I'll revisit this next week when I have more time to write (I'm about to go into a four day RED project that will shoot over this coming weekend) but I'm very proud of this spot and--as it...

Green, Magenta and RED

Be aware that the RED camera seems to be VERY sensitive to green
Written by Art Adams  |  October 17, 2008
Anecdotal reports, and my own experience, have shown me that the RED responds strongly to green light, or to the absence of green in light.Geoff Boyle, cinematographer and owner of the Cinematography Mailing List, says he's noticed that the RED...

"Conversation": Anatomy of Another HD Spot

Here's how I shot a spot that's currently running all over California
Written by Art Adams  |  October 16, 2008

I Decide: Anatomy of a No-Budget HD Spot

Wherein a great group of people come together for a good cause
Written by Art Adams  |  September 30, 2008
This was...

The Thorons: Anatomy of an HD Spot

If you live in California you've probably seen this already. Here's how we did it.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 29, 2008
I shot...

Why "Exposing to the Right" Works on the RED

This white paper from Adobe explains it all without making my eyes bleed.
Written by Art Adams  |  September 28, 2008
There's been a lot of talk about "exposing to the right" in the RED community: instead of relying solely on your meter, the idea is to watch the RED's histograms and use whatever room is available on the right side. If your meter says to shoot at 2.8, and there's nothing hitting the right side of the histogram, open up the stop and move...

RED Workflow Redux

I might be just winging it, but darned if it don't work!
Written by Art Adams  |  September 14, 2008
I haven't yet found a manual for working with RED footage. The methods that I've discovered have been cobbled together by searching through thousands of posts on (which has a very low signal-to-noise ratio), hundreds of posts on the Cinematography Mailing List, and just making stuff up.I recently shot two very...

Too Much Data!

In a world where tape is disappearing, how do I inexpensively backup all my data shoots?
Written by Art Adams  |  September 6, 2008
I'm going into a RED shoot this weekend and I've realized my hard drives are full. Now what?Also, while I have several portable bus-powered drives that are small, solidly-made and easy to bring on set, they all have Firewire 400 connectors--and that's turning out to be way too slow for both P2 and RED work.A...

The Secret of P2 Slating

Do this to see your editor weep with joy
Written by Art Adams  |  August 25, 2008
Yesterday I shot a political spot with Simon Sommerfeld, a friend who saved the day after I pitched the concept for this no-budget spot to an agency that then said, "We'll take it--make it as fast as you can for no money." Simon is a DP who just shot a feature...
provideo default

Rewiring Wired

Written by Art Adams  |  August 18, 2008
I've spoken now with both the author of the Wired article and Jim Jannard and I'm convinced the technical errors in the article are simply a matter of someone outside the industry trying to understand some complexities that not many inside our industry totally understand.That, combined with a separate fact checker...
provideo default

Composition Occurs in both Space and Time

No shot stands alone. A little planning makes all compositions stronger.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 17, 2008
I first became aware of composition over time while watching the film The Hit.There's a scene where two characters have a conversation while leaning against a car. The shot is very low and very wide, and a lighthouse fills the background. On the right side...

What Wired Didn't Understand about Depth of Field

It's not about analog vs. digital, it's frame size vs. focal length
Written by Art Adams  |  August 17, 2008
In the Sept. '08 issue of Wired Magazine, in an article about the RED camera called "A Star is Born," the author states that the difference in depth of field between film cameras and HD cameras is due to "analog versus digital," with no other explanation. I've written this for him and for anyone who wonders why 35mm film and large sensor HD...

Wired Magazine Gets the RED Totally Wrong

Did anyone fact check this article, or is that just old-fashioned?
Written by Art Adams  |  August 17, 2008
I'd like to encourage everyone reading this to pick up a copy of this month's Wired magazine (Sept. 2008, page 128) and read the article. Then I'd like you to write to both Wired magazine's editorial department ( and the article's author (Michael Behar, whose email address is listed at the end of the article).This is...
provideo default

RGB and the F23

The more spectra your camera can see, the more it can do.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 15, 2008
The Sony F23 sees hues of colors I didn't think a digital camera could see. Why?A while back I attended a demonstration of the Sony F23, courtesy of Videofax of San Francisco. All in attendance were dazzled by the subtleties of color that the camera saw. Jeff...
provideo default

The Swing of Things

Using tilt/shift lenses for good instead of evil
Written by Art Adams  |  August 15, 2008
I recently shot a museum project where the style required almost exclusive use of tilt/shift lenses. (We occasionally used a Zeiss 14mm prime, but that was rare.) It was a lot of fun, but I remember how tilt/shifts were a considerable mystery before I used them for the first time. Here's the nickel tour of how to use these...

Advice to a Camera Trainee

What I'd tell someone who starts a job as a camera PA--tomorrow!
Written by Art Adams  |  August 14, 2008
A film student, who I've been mentoring, landed a job on a low-budget RED project as camera PA. He sent me an email saying he's starting the job tomorrow, and what should he know? Here's the email I sent him to prep him for his first real camera department job: SET ETIQUETTEFirst of all,...

The Fine Art of Negotiating

I should learn how to do it sometime.
Written by Art Adams  |  August 8, 2008
I received a cryptic email the other day: "A director we've hired asked for you. Please tell us your rates and fees for a one day corporate project."As soon as someone asks me my "rates and fees" I know they haven't done this very much, so I responded and asked what they had in their budget. The followup email was the...

Make the Entrance Pupil Your Friend

Eliminate parallax errors on pans and tilts (for fun and profit)
Written by Art Adams  |  August 6, 2008
I'm helping a friend build a three RED camera panoramic camera system that will shoot a 180 image, combining three 60 degree images in post. One of the more important things to consider when doing this kind of work is finding, and aligning, the "pivot point" of each lens to eliminate parallax errors that can occur during panning and tilting.

Tip from the Trenches

Learn from the mistakes of others: White Balancing
Written by Art Adams  |  August 3, 2008
I hate white balancing, and I try never to do it. If you must, here's when and where to do it.In years past, when I've shot quickly without benefit of a monitor or DIT, I've occasionally gotten myself into a lot of trouble by white balancing, so I try to rent gear from places with strong engineering support. Half the...

Wevi's wobble but they don't break up

IDX's new Wevi CW-5HD wireless HD system will have you looking for hidden wires and cackling maniacally when you don't find them
Written by Art Adams  |  August 1, 2008
If I hadn't seen it myself, I wouldn't have believed it. I still don't quite believe it. I just saw an on-camera HD wireless transmitter perform spectacularly, with almost no latency and no breakup at 50'.John Chater, co-owner and founder of Chater Camera, told me...

Lighting diagrams for the Mac: Omnigraffle

I want applications that get out of my way and let me work. That includes lighting diagrams. This is what works for me...
Written by Art Adams  |  July 31, 2008
I don't have a lot of time to learn new software packages, so I tend to fall in with packages that don't require me to read the manual. That's why Omnigraffle works for me.I've been working with computers since the third grade, so I know a...

Go craaaaazy: fill from the key side!

Lighting isn't a formula--unless you find one that works. Like this one.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 29, 2008
In a recent article I wrote about how I like to fill from the key side, and I've since received a couple of requests for an explanation of what I'm talking about. I first became aware of this practice about...

It's still not the camera!

My recent shoots with the HVX-200 don't look good just because of the camera. It's how we used it.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 26, 2008
Today, on the CML-Basics list, someone posted that they liked the look of my recent HVX-200 projects so much that they were thinking of asking for an HVX-200 on their...

Ooops, we did it again

Wherein a small crew on a low budget makes an HVX-200 look vastly better than it ever should.
Written by Art Adams  |  July 25, 2008
Recently I wrote of a wildly successful music video shoot I did with the HVX-200. Well, we did it again.A few weeks ago I shot a music video project with director
provideo default

RED Build 16: A Camera Whose Time Has Come

Written by Art Adams  |  July 4, 2008
Ah, sweet 16. How I've waited for thee. Finally, a camera I can work with.It's not perfect yet. Not by a long shot. There's an error in the software that causes crashes attributable to "Codec Faults" and "Codec Errors"--I'm told one has to do with errors reading data off the sensor and one has to do with writing...
provideo default

Dymo Discpainter, Part Deux

Written by Art Adams  |  June 28, 2008
Wherein I use the Discpainter to print 70 DVDs, with reasonable results. This is what my current Discpainter-painted showreel looks like, minus the dust (added by my rarely used desktop scanner). The dithering is exaggerated...
provideo default


Written by Art Adams  |  June 27, 2008
I just got fired from a job because the producer decided I was untrustworthy. Huh?I get a little nervous when my phone rings and the area code on the display is located in Southern California. I spent ten years in the Hollywood film and television industries, and while there are many good people working in those...

It's not the budget, it's where you put the camera!

Written by Art Adams  |  June 17, 2008
Equipment doesn't make the image; people do. I proved this on a music video recently where we had more people than equipment.It's been a while since I last posted, for which I apologize. I've been working on taking my showreel to the next level by shooting a couple of spec projects.One you've...
provideo default

Dymo Discpainter: First Impressions

Will a printer that does only one thing save my sanity?
Written by Art Adams  |  May 22, 2008
For quite a while I've used an Epson R320 printer to label my showreel DVDs, but the end of that era has come. I now own a Dymo Discpainter.Lately my life has been about getting things out of the way that cost me needless...

The Compleat Idiot's Guide to RED Post on a Budget

Written by a complete post idiot, these RED tips may make your life slightly easier
Written by Art Adams  |  May 13, 2008
This is by no means a definitive manual on how to post RED footage. Rather, this is how I managed to work with R3D footage while creating a spec spot using the RED. Your mileage may vary. I expect to be flamed repeatedly regarding my handling of this shoot's post process, but from the ashes I hope to extract some knowledge as to how to do it...

The Debut: Wii Spec Spot, shot on RED, now online at PVC

Written by Art Adams  |  May 11, 2008
Wii Spec Spot, 1k versionHere it is, finally finished. Phew! Now I know why I'm not in post production. I'll write a blog entry on my stupid post mistakes later; for now, enjoy!Details that may be interesting to the reader:

My first RED shoot: The training wheels come off!

Written by Art Adams  |  May 3, 2008
Okay, I have to admit it: I now like this camera more than I thought I would.As those of you who read Adam Wilt's blog know, he and I and some other members of the Digital Cinema Society (Pacific Northwest Chapter) got together and did our first...
provideo default

NAB Odds and Ends

Written by Art Adams  |  April 29, 2008
I'm a bit late in writing this, but there are some NAB wonders that I want to blog about. I had all of one day to see the show, but I did see some pretty cool things. How can you not at NAB?I spent Sunday through Tuesday working in the Element Labs ( booth. I've been consulting on their lights for a little over a...
provideo default

Find me at NAB, part 2

Written by Art Adams  |  April 12, 2008
I just received my April copy of HD Video Pro magazine, and there on page 54 is my write-up of Element Labs LED lighting technology for the film industry. When I'm not writing here, or shooting somewhere, I'm writing for HD Video Pro. It's turning out to be a great magazine, and I'm quite pleased to be a regular contributor. I'm losing track of...
provideo default

Find Me at NAB

Written by Art Adams  |  April 12, 2008
For a bit over a year now I've been consulting on a new broad-spectrum LED light for the motion picture industry. The idea is that this light, with six different LEDs, can change color temperate with a simple turn of a knob and dim without changing color temperature. The spectrum on this light is much better than current LED lighting products...
provideo default

RED Build 15 EI Tests

Written by Art Adams  |  April 11, 2008
RED ONE Build 15 EI TestThe idea behind this test was to underexpose a neutral reference and see at what point the RED's noise becomes too much of an issue. Using Colorista in Final Cut Pro, I put 18% gray at 50 units on the waveform monitor for each...

RED IR Filter Test

Written by Art Adams  |  April 10, 2008
A while back, while browsing, I saw that someone had done an IR test and discovered that RED has a weakness when it comes to IR filtering. I did my own tests and here are the results:First shot: RED Build 15, Redcode 36, processed in Red Alert (contrast +.7, brightness +3.0, Kelvin 5130k, all else at presets)
RED ONE Build 15 Flesh Tone Latitude Tests (tungsten)In my quest to figure out just how much overexposure latitude I can get out of a RED under tungsten light, I decided to do a test with a flesh tone reference and a RED with build 15...
provideo default

RED results coming soon--stay tuned!

Written by Art Adams  |  March 31, 2008
Hi all- I apologize, but I've been swamped with work of one sort or another, and when I tried to sit down and start sorting through the latest RED test footage today I couldn't finish it. I took a nap instead. I must be getting old!I've got three days of shooting this week, and hopefully I'll be able to pull the footage together and...
provideo default

RED: Not a vampire camera at all. It loves daylight!

Written by Art Adams  |  March 25, 2008
I've now had independent confirmation from a couple of people who watched my RED build 14 exposure tests and have had great luck treating their RED as a daylight film stock. Apparently clipped highlights are significantly less of a problem and noise in the shadows drops way down. It's a much smoother look.If you haven't had a chance...
provideo default

Power Windows: Coloring Correction with Training Wheels

If I'm not tweaking color I can't screw up as badly
Written by Art Adams  |  March 22, 2008
Like a lot of people with Final Cut Pro or After Effects, I'm trying to become a crack colorist in the privacy of my own home. It's unlikely to happen anytime soon as I just don't have the training or the time to take on a second full time career. But--that doesn't mean I can't do a little bit of damage to my own footage when I want to...
provideo default

RED Highlight Clipping: Solved?

Written by Art Adams  |  March 18, 2008
New from RED: how to correct those bothersome clipped highlights I've been freaking out about for the last few days. Currently the procedure only seems to work in RED Alert using the DRX slider. This process is intended to work within REDCine using the "highlight" function but at the moment neither Adam Wilt nor I can get it to work (Intel Mac,...

RED ONE Build 14 Latitude Tests

Wherein I investigate whether the RED ONE's 5000k chip loses effective latitude in tungsten-lit environments
Written by Art Adams  |  March 18, 2008
RED ONE Build 14 Latitude TestsMy goal was to see if RED's 5000k chip is limited in exposure latitude under tungsten lighting conditions due to a tendency for the red channel to clip early. This seems to be the case, but I'm told...
provideo default

It's All Up to Me Now

I never knew how much processing cameras did for me, until I used a camera that didn't do any.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 17, 2008
My quest for digital truth took me to a little known corner of the world, a private spot where there are three mountains known as The Gains. The middle one, Green Gain, is considered the most stable, and that was where I sought the Guru of all Digital Media.After a long hike through windy prairies and along steep cliffs I found...

RED vs. Ace Hardware

RED doesn't like fluorescents, and after this clip you won't either.
Written by Art Adams  |  March 17, 2008
Rolling_Green_Bars500.movI was shooting some exposure tests with a RED and I turned my tungsten reference light off to look at something on the camera. I noticed green roll bars crawling up the monitor, and quickly figured out that it was the rolling shutter...
provideo default

"Why CMOS over CCD?" I ask my toaster for answers.

Written by Art Adams  |  March 15, 2008
The other day I found Harry, the Civil Toaster ("civil" not as in kind, but because he was in the civil service) in the driveway tossing corn chips."Harry... dare I ask what you're doing?""It's very simple, white bread," he said. (Are toasters naturally rude, or is it something they develop over time?) "I read that CMOS...
provideo default

Chip Color Balance: How Much of a Difference Does It Make?

Written by Art Adams  |  March 13, 2008
Life isn't easy when one lives with overly intelligent appliances. In my case, my home is "enriched" by Harry the Civil Toaster ("civil" not as in kind, but because he used to be in civil service), an appliance who frequently makes life more interesting than it needs to be.Yesterday I got home from work to find a pile of potato...
provideo default

Half-color Fashion: Why Project: Runway looks "thin"

Wherein I discuss the differences between DVCPro25 and DVCPro50 with my toaster
Written by Art Adams  |  February 25, 2008
Today I had an interesting conversation about bit depth with my toaster."So, tell me," said Harold the Civil Toaster (not civil as in kind, but because he spent some time in civil service), "why the color palette of Project Runway looks familiar without my being able to place where I've seen it before."Naturally, my jaw...
provideo default

Lensbaby Macro Test

Written by Art Adams  |  February 21, 2008
I shot this footage back in November when I bought my Lensbaby 3GPL kit with wide angle/telephoto attachments and macro kit.I'm in the process of writing an article...
provideo default

Don't Swim at the Bottom

If you're competing on price alone, you're going to lose. Compete on what you can DO!
Written by Art Adams  |  February 21, 2008
I'm on a couple of email lists, and a thread on one of them caught my eye this morning. It was about crew and pricing, and inevitably someone stumped us all when they posted a very low price for a two person crew with a Varicam package.One of the most important lessons I've learned in this business is that you have to charge what...
provideo default

HOW TO: Use a Color Meter

Trust them as far as you can throw them
Written by Art Adams  |  February 19, 2008
Color meters were never designed to be used to measure light sources with a broken spectrum. How much should we trust them?The typical color meter has three sensors that measure specific wavelengths of red, green or blue. The assumption is that all three of these wavelengths will occur naturally in a black body radiator,...
provideo default

WEB SPOTS: Fast, simple, cheap, P2

All Digital for the Power Company
Written by Art Adams  |  February 18, 2008
My first P2 projects, three web spots, are now live--and I'm impressed at what we did with a small crew and a tiny camera.The crew consisted of myself, a sound person, a key grip, and a dozen agency personnel. (Yes, the crew was outnumbered by creatives, but they were very nice people and had some good ideas. I guess...
Not all cameras white/black balance properly. Learn how to use a paintbox and waveform/vectorscope to do it manually.Every HD and video camera is different. Period. As often as manufacturers say their cameras match out of the box, they never do. (Panasonic comes very, very close, but still--shooting with more than one...
provideo default

How to Break Into the Entertainment Biz

Written by Art Adams  |  February 14, 2008
Hi all! Thanks to my friend Adam Wilt and the graciousness of the PVC gang I now have a soapbox to slip off of. I'll do my best to fall regularly and spectacularly.My first post is an essay I wrote a few years ago in response to a seemingly endless number of queries asking how to break into the film business. It's not the "film"...