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  1. #1
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    Elnino's Avatar
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    DSLR HORROR MOVIES

    Who here is a film-maker and shot their film on a DSLR? Horror only. What DSLR did you shoot on, did you like it? Would you do it again? Post trailers.

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  2. #2
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    I'm co-creator, co-producer, visual effects supervisor, DP and colorist for Sick Boy...



    ...I shot it on the Canon 7D. I created the basic grade in After Effects using Magic Bullet but beyond that I spent a great deal of effort on techniques that worked to solve inherent problems with shooting on almost any Canon DSLR (softness, aliasing and moire) while adding an analog character to the footage. Nowadays it's a lot easier to achieve the same sort of look with something like the Film Convert plug-in or standalone application.

    The 7D that I used was loaned to production by one of our executive producers. I've since upgraded to the now discontinued Panasonic Lumix GH2 which is out-of-the-box better than the 7D (or 5D) from a resolution standpoint and have further upgraded its shooting capabilities with patched firmware that lets me shoot to the highest quality All-Intra AVC format available.

    I've also acquired one of the currently rare anamorphic lens attachments that allows me to shoot 2.36:1 widescreen without cropping, gives horizontal lens flaring and slightly distorted bokeh that can be made more pronounced using diopters. Films like Carpenter's original Halloween and The Fog, Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China were shot in anamorphic and so this is my favorite style of photography.

    We've got a campaign now for what could be our third feature, Preternatural. The pitch portion with Tim was shot anamorphic using my Nikkor 24mm f/2 as the taking lens:



    ...and if this is made in the next six months or so a majority of it will be shot on my GH2 in anamorphic, with sections shot on various other smaller cameras designed to represent cellphones and body cameras. If it doesn't happen in the next six months then it, or whatever the next thing is, will likely be shot on a Black Magic Cinema Camera, either one of the original 2.5K models or the recently introduced Pocket Cinema Camera, since these two are the only cameras I see as a logical upgrade step from what I currently own without spending ten thousand or more on something like a RED.

    edit: putting a finer point on the question of shooting on DSLR, now that Blackmagic Designs is shipping the Pocket Cinema Camera it is very, very hard recommending a DSLR unless the person already owns the camera they'd be shooting on. The BMPCC is under a grand, has 13 stops of dynamic-range, shoots to ProRes 422HQ and will be receiving a firmware upgrade unlocking RAW shooting sometime soon. It retails for just under a grand, which means it's priced like a consumer, not professional, DSLR. At about $2K the bigger model Black Magic Cinema Camera is still cheaper than a new 5D.

    The folks at Magic Lantern have unlocked RAW shooting on several models of Canon DSLR. If you already own a 5D or 7D or 50D you can load this free software and get some fantastic images out of it but with a lot of issues to contend with, both in cost of media and a rather cumbersome on-set workflow that doesn't allow you to play back takes. If you don't already own the camera, however, it's going to ultimately cost you more to get into and be harder to deal with.

    Folks get hung up on sensor size and its effect on depth-of-field but if you know what you're doing you can effectively negate these concerns by utilizing ND to shoot at larger apertures. The Walking Dead is shot on Super-16mm film which has a size similar to the BMD cameras and I've seen plenty of films that were less cinematic. Much of Slumdog Millionaire was shot on the SI2K which is even smaller and it won the Oscar for cinematography. Then you have David Fincher's Zodiac which was shot on the Thompson Viper which was smaller still, being a 2/3" chip. The trick is to acquire as wide and as fast a lens as you can, like the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 or SLR Magic Hyper Prime 12mm T1.6 and shoot them wide open.

    Both of the available Blackmagic Design cameras have a base sensitivity of ISO 800 whereas most DSLRs have a base sensitivity closer to ISO200 and many video cameras around ISO 320. It gets noisy when pushed a lot higher from there, behaving a lot like the RED Epic but with better retention of highlight detail and information than the RED (or 5D). An Arri Alexa has better highlight detail than the Blackmagic cameras but then it also costs as much as a house.

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    Last edited by BurnetRhoades; 09-17-2013 at 02:37 AM.

  3. #3
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    aceofspades's Avatar
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    My latest film..."The Truck" was shot on kit lens 18-55 canon T3i and a 75 -300 f4.

    I liked it because of the size and manageability. It provided a great picture and such. My DP really liked using it. I would definitely use it again for the same reasons.

    Here's our teaser trailer.


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    Elnino's Avatar
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    These look fantastic!!!!

    The last film I shot "in the house of flies" we used the CANON 60D with a nice kit of different lenses. In the end, it almost doesn't matter...its the lighting.

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  5. #5
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    "Wake up sucker, we're thieves and we're bad guys. That's exactly what we are."


  6. #6
    Child of the Grave
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    House
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    "Wake up sucker, we're thieves and we're bad guys. That's exactly what we are."


  7. #7
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    Lighting is certainly very important. So far I've used ambient on most everything I've done. Once we move into night scenes, I'm sure that will change.

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  8. #8
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    The Truck

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    "Wake up sucker, we're thieves and we're bad guys. That's exactly what we are."


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceofspades View Post
    Lighting is certainly very important. So far I've used ambient on most everything I've done. Once we move into night scenes, I'm sure that will change.
    Some of the best looking films are shot with mostly practical, available light. Some of them even with a lot of night photography. Believe it or not Only God Forgives uses very few "movie lights" and is lit with mostly lights that were already at the locations (sometimes swapping bulbs or adding conventional home lighting, clamp-ons, gels, etc.) They took a totally low-buck approach but you wouldn't ever guess that.

    To make the most of available light though you have to pick locations, blocking and time that work for you. Here's the "dogma" from Terence Malick's The Tree of Life, shot almost completely with available light (a similar approach was used in To the Wonder):

    He says his previous movies were dictated by rules such as using only one lens, or shooting the entire film at T2.8. Although there is no written version of the Malick-Lubezki dogma on Tree, interviews with the cinematographer and some key collaborators suggest some parameters:

    • Shoot in available natural light
    • Do not underexpose the negative Keep true blacks
    • Preserve the latitude in the image
    • Seek maximum resolution and fine grain
    • Seek depth with deep focus and stop: “Compose in depth”
    • Shoot in backlight for continuity and depth
    • Use negative fill to avoid “light sandwiches” (even sources on both sides)
    • Shoot in crosslight only after dawn or before dusk; never front light
    • Avoid lens flares
    • Avoid white and primary colors in frame
    • Shoot with short-focal-length, hard lenses
    • No filters except Polarizer
    • Shoot with steady handheld or Steadicam “in the eye of the hurricane”
    • Z-axis moves instead of pans or tilts
    • No zooming
    • Do some static tripod shots “in midst of our haste”
    • Accept the exception to the dogma (“Article E”)
    ...I wouldn't avoid ND or stick to the deep depth of field but you can't say his method isn't amazing to see.

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    Last edited by BurnetRhoades; 09-18-2013 at 03:25 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elnino View Post
    These look fantastic!!!!

    The last film I shot "in the house of flies" we used the CANON 60D with a nice kit of different lenses. In the end, it almost doesn't matter...its the lighting.
    Lighting, either being able to control it or make what's there work for you. But don't forget the glass. Your lenses, both the focal lengths that you choose for a given shot and the overall character of the lens itself has a big impact. That's why a lot of folks shooting digital are scouring ebay, swap meets and camera exchanges for older lenses because they tend to have more character than modern glass that's purposely designed towards a clinical rendition of everything.

    There's a fellow on another board that I'm on that's buying up these fairly cheap but highly desirable and completely plentiful Russian lenses (Helios 58mm f/2) that have been around forever and designed like a tank. He takes them apart, re-conditions and re-finishes all the barrels in a range of styles and re-coats the lens to produce enhanced flaring characteristics re-branding them the Flare Factory 58 (FF58):



    ...wouldn't want to use it all the time but it kind of represents one of the extremes for bringing more character to digital cinematography. Right now I enjoy mostly manual Nikkor lenses but I've got an Olympus F Zuiko from the late '70s or early '80s that's grown to be one of my favorite lenses.

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    Last edited by BurnetRhoades; 09-18-2013 at 03:18 AM.

  11. #11
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    choptop2's Avatar
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    My final film project for school was shot on 35mm. However it's a science fiction( not horror) movie with 3 actors, two of which are only ever seen on monitors. Since the main actor had to interact with these screens, we decided to shoot them digital, so they could be there "live for the actor". We used a 7D and basic 3 point lighting, since most of the video scenes where meant to look like business calls.

    Currently in pre-pro on a short tentatively titled Down Stream, about a ex mill worker in a crustier part of Pittsburgh's rust belt drowning people in the river... kind of horror. My partner and I shot some test stuff around the Monogahela river with a 5D 33mm prime and a 70-200mm.

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    Last edited by choptop2; 09-18-2013 at 06:14 AM.

  12. #12
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    Are you going to be shooting raw on the 5D short film?

    If you aren't going all-in then there are finally some All-Intra (GOP 1) compression improvements available for EOS users. I'm not sure if this is an option in Magic Lantern or not but Tragic Lantern adds All-Intra recording improvements and ~150Mbit recording. Nick Driftwood, creator of the top firmware patches for the GH2 (Intravenus II, Moon series and Quantum 9b, etc.), is reportedly porting his magic for All-Intra recording that rivals ProRes recording on some cameras.

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  13. #13
    UHM's Rogue Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by choptop2 View Post
    Currently in pre-pro on a short tentatively titled Down Stream, about a ex mill worker in a crustier part of Pittsburgh's rust belt drowning people in the river... kind of horror.
    Hmm... sounds familiar.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Phibes View Post
    Hmm... sounds familiar.
    It might not be too original, but my friend and I were trying to find a way to tell a story using our crumbling community.

    We did a live read at a workshop in Carnegie and it was such a downer... No, actually it was kind of hilarious. Everyone else's script that night was comedy and people were in high spirits, then they read our nihilistic story about a dead end town and the air got sucked out of the room.



    The project's been put on hold for a few reasons, mainly I just had a daughter back in Dec. As it turns out Newborns are very needy and kinda clingy.

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    Last edited by choptop2; 03-08-2014 at 09:27 PM.

  15. #15
    UHM's Rogue Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by choptop2 View Post
    It might not be too original, but my friend and I were trying to find a way to tell a story using our crumbling community.
    I mean: I think I've heard about the project!

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  16. #16
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    Like a lot of folks a big part of my love for horror comes from being exposed to John Carpenter movies starting at a very young age. Besides being good all his early films were shot with anamorphic lenses, often with cool wide masters in the classic film tradition coupled with lovely horizontal streaks and flares. I always figured anamorphic photography wasn't viable for independent, low budget productions but a few years ago I discovered a very active worldwide network of enthusiasts who were using all manner of "bent glass", a lot of it vintage, to shoot great looking DSLR footage.

    Around the same time I got my GH2 I also bought a Century Optics 1.33x anamorphic adapter off ebay. It was originally designed to let standard-def 4:3 video cameras record 16:9 video but coupled with a modern DSLR it allowed shooting in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio without cropping. It had a lot of caveats but it allowed focus pulls and fairly wide angle shooting and had pretty nice flare.

    SLR Magic, a Hong Kong manufacturer of high quality, fast and generally affordable cine-type lenses for DSLR cameras developed a new adapter, the Anamorphot 1.33x - 50, and designed it to be head and shoulders above the quality and performance of similar 1.33x anamorphic adapters being sold on ebay. I got a pre-release copy of the lens and have been shooting test footage here and there for about the last month or so and finally got around to compiling it together. It's got lots of horror movie potential.


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