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chromatic aberrations, vingnetting, breathing, and other undesirable effects. These all must be checked on the camera you intend to use for the shoot. If you’re shooting film, its not enough to look at the lens on the glass, run some film through the camera. What is the biggest challenge when it comes to lenses? >> I am going to be shooting as it is on how I want the images to look. I can make a lot of lenses look great but if they don’t work in the environment that we’re shooting in then we’re screwed. of the lens. It’s always nice to have a one-stop safety. Most lenses don’t perform at their best wide open as well. Do different lenses provide different looks? It’s important to make sure that the lens works with the camera. A lot of the new digital film cameras have large sensors and some of the lenses people use are not designed to cover a sensor that big. The widest Zeiss in the CP.2 range will not cover a super 35 mm sensor for example. This is not a creative problem it’s about basic physics. A lens test is also important for production so they can check the look. They do. Cooke S4s are my favourite. To me they have a lovely soft look. They’re still sharp and when you’re in focus you know you’re in focus. But they’re very soft. I like that. Whereas a Zeiss Prime, especially the smaller, super-speed lenses, are very crisp. That can be too sharp for me but it would certainly work for a lot of people. How important is doing a lens test? What do you look for What checks will you make during a lens test? before you embark on a shoot? You need to make sure that your lens I will generally look at whether or not the lenses in the set are the same speed. I’ll explain why. When lighting a shot, I have to light to my slowest lens. With a set of Zeiss CP.2s for example the lenses are all different speeds with the slowest being a 3.1. So I have to light to a 3.1 even if I don’t think I’m going to use that lens. I do this just in case the director suddenly says he or she wants to do something long. If I’m there with a 3.1 lens and if I’d lit the scene for a 2.1 I’d be in trouble. Generally, though as a rule, I try to always light the scene at least one stop up from the bottom 70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE is coming in on focus. That’s critical. If those focus marks are off then marking off distances is not going to help you and everything will be wrong. Checking back focus is also hugely important. Any good rental house worth their salt will check that out for you before you arrive for the check out. I’ll also look at things like contrast and color rendition. Its good to ensure that it is consistent across the set. I like to force the lens to flare, as some lenses produce beautiful effects when they flare. I like to know if and how I can use some lens flares in the aesthetic. I’ll look for Often the biggest challenge for me is staying true to the look without compromising other things that are important to production – budget and schedule. I’ve learned to consider these things with the creative direction and develop the look and equipment to compliment the realities of the shoot. There is nothing worse than seeing your look fall apart because you don’t have the time to make complicated focus pulls, ND grad pulls, etc. Consider the budget and the schedule, consider what is most important to the director, and choose your battles. Maybe eighty percent of the content is interview driven and twenty percent are beauty shots of objects to support the interviews. The schedule and budget may dictate that you make the beauty shots really count but shoot the interviews in a more straightforward style. What are the favourite lens tips or tricks? It really pays to play with the matte box and understand that you can change the dynamic of the lens. Just changing the ND in the box for example, can bring out more or less depth of field from a 50mm lens and saves me the time of flipping a lens. If I shoot it wide open, it can look like an 85mm as far as depth-of-field is concerned or like a 25 closed down. I can change this by simply using ND filters. Often I will start tight with some ND in for a beautiful shallow look but then when we reframe, go wider by simply moving the camera back. I’ll pull the ND too, close down and start to take advantage of hyper-focal effects. What advice would you give to an aspiring cinematographer? Because depth of field is such a hot topic I would say, make sure you understand the ratio between >>