Skip to main content

The Gear List: What is a Light Meter & Color Chart

Lesson 1 from: Shooting The Scene

Jim Denault, ASC

The Gear List: What is a Light Meter & Color Chart

Lesson 1 from: Shooting The Scene

Jim Denault, ASC

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

1. The Gear List: What is a Light Meter & Color Chart

Lesson Info

The Gear List: What is a Light Meter & Color Chart

So I thought, you know, for the beginning part we're going to go a little bit over the gear just, you know, it's not going to be a demo of how to use a red camera or any specific camera, but it's going to be some kind of general general stuff that I do when confronted with any new piece of equipment and getting ready to start out on a day of shooting or feature of shooting so, you know, by the time I get to it, by the time the cinematographer gets to it, the camera assistant will have, you know, gone over the package made sure that, you know, that everything's working right, that all the lenses they're calibrated that, you know, all the bits of hardware fit together the way they want to and, you know, if we want to get into that, I feel like there's there's an opportunity for the camera assistant workshop, but that's, you know, from from mayan that, you know, all that is done by the time I show up, so what I'm mostly interested in is, you know, we've got the settings in the camera, you...

know, right now we're set up to shoot four k with the red, because that gives us the same, you know, the super thirty five sensor setting that that that I want to use and you know we've got you know, all the frame rate and all that is set the way we needed for the project that part I'm not worried about either so I kind of I usually think about what the dp does is happening from you know, the lens mount forward so we've got our lenses we we've got you know, we want to be able to check that our exposure is right and that everything's gonna work for us when we go out and shoot so the first thing the person we've got is we're you know, we're plugged in here to a monitor where everybody's watching and you know, if you're under controlled conditions the monitor is a great way teo to see what you're looking at you pretty much you know, if it's calibrated correctly, you pretty much get what you're looking up out here in the daylight you look at the monitor and it'll probably look either too dark or washed out or you can't really see much of anything and so you can't use it as a basis for exposure or even lighting if you if you do that you're going to get faked out, you're goingto you're going toe not know what you know what you're looking at and when you get back into a controlled environment that kind of place where the audience is actually going to see it, you know, in a in a theatre in their living room with the lights down that kind of stuff you're going to be surprised at how it doesn't look like what it looked like when you were when you were shooting on the monitor out in the daylight so so how do we uh how do we know that what we're getting you know that what we're shooting if we if we can't monitor how do we know that you know that it's going to look like what we wanted that is going to be exposed correctly anybody waiting for money yeah way for mother is good but what you know what if you're trying tio you know to light the set and get the exposure going before the cameras even turned on or plugged in how would you do it? Yeah light meter so even though this thing seems old fashioned it seems like you know, like it died when film stopped being prevalent I still use it it's like partly because I can be anywhere on the set and know how much light's falling there and I can you know I can start setting the lighting before the cameras are in position before the you know the director and the camera operators like on a bigger show before the director and the camera operators have even gotten the camera you know I've even figured out where they want to put the camera you know, in terms of the lighting setting the setting the key light understanding what exposure levels I'm at like light meters an invaluable tool the next thing but the next thing you need to do is make sure that the camera and your light meter more or less agree and that's you know that is the kind of the next step so the easy way to do that is with a great card that's you know, standard great card and we we've put in because it's bright out here I kind of went ahead and put in a nd one point eight plus I are filter on we did you know, in like just beforehand we did a little bit of white balancing teo to make sure that that filter you know, as I mentioned in the previous workshop, a lot of the nd filters introduce a certain amount of green, so we white balance through it and we figured out that on this camera are filters that the more dense andi filters need about a minus fourteen plus or minus like the worst one was minus seventeen point something the you know, the average seemed to be about minus fourteen where is like white balancing with just, you know, just a white card, the reading, the numbers in this we're minus six so what does that mean what you know the plus or minus numbers just tells how much green or magenta is in the is in the light and or is hitting the sensor could you just let the folks at home no one an nd filter is so sorry okay yes it's ah neutral density filter and I can even show you one theresa where are they? Here comes teresa our camera assistant today and see this is like when you're a dp you don't know where any of the equipment is you have to ask somebody for it that's how I do it so this is a this is a neutral density filter they come in different sizes but basically if you khun kind of look through it you see it makes everything darker um and in theory the neutral word means that it attenuate the same amount of light from all the different colors of light in reality it's a little bit green I can even see looking through my by my eye and that's just like that it's the reality of physics like they're trying to make it new drill and they're doing the best they can and this is where they get to so way have toe we have to use the white bounce in the camera so that when the dailies colorist sees the footage coming in that we haven't completely you know sense it all green and he has to make a big correction to come back so it's it's it's better to do that in the camera before it's recorded every stop of attenuation of the light every stop that's removed his point three density and that's it's yeah, backyard sense atomic tree we don't want to get into why, but just know that point three cents atomic point three density is one stop so so indeed point and indeed, point three is is one stop less andy point six is two stops less nd point nine is three stops less and the one point two is forest obsolescence and the one point five five stops less in any one point eight is six stops less so that's what we've that's what we've done, we've got six stops less and so our base so in the camera is eight hundred that's it seems to work pretty well for the red it's a you know, that's right in the middle of the reds exposure range and so what I do, I just sent my light meter with the s o tio, you know, to compensate for the nd filter, so I don't forget and I've even made myself a little cheat sheet on the back that nobody can read but me that tells me what I also the senate to because thinking about that kind of stuff while I'm on the set is like, I don't want to be standing there going like this on my fingers even though I do that quite often I you know, I just know what number I need to set it too for the filter I've asked for and I can you know, take my light meter make a reading now that I should set the stop for eight and a third to get a correct exposure and there we go. So now I've got I've got my filter in and for the lighting conditions that I want, you know, to make this stop that I want for the lighting conditions and I want to know like, does the light meter and the camera do the light meter in the camera agree? So we take the great card, hold it out in front of the camera and if you can see we've put the false color up so if you cut to the screen you see that where when I moved the great card out of the way and put it back in the sun is making the great card green and that according to reds, you look out in the instruction manual and see what color is eighteen percent gray supposed to be and I know that green is the color, so if I open up for example, that green goes away now we're back it of eight and a third, which means that my camera and the light meter, the camera and the light meter pretty much agreeing if I open up a stop five six and a third for a little bit more where is that weigh? Only have it set to that there's ah there is a setting where I can open up and, uh it will turn pink. Yeah can you change it to that setting? You know the one I'm talking about this is why you need camera systems I don't even know where stuff happens in the menu but theresa does ok cool so boom there it is. Okay, so now I've opened it up and this is me experimenting this is the pink is where is where red says caucasian skin tones involved why they picked just that I don't know but it's a standard it's kind of a standard color for a false color and you khun experiment where that is this happens to be two and a third stops open from eighteen percent gray and so it gives me a t four and then if I opened it up even more it goes yellow which is ninety percent and that's why I've got it wide open and and it's at ninety percent and if you see red that will be one hundred percent which is which is clipping on your camera and you kind of want to avoid that there's you can see on the reflective material over there there's some some red and you can sew by messing around with the aperture while you do this, you can kind of figure out, especially with a great card what each of these settings is doing, so if I open it up six stops like this, I get the great card to turn yellow, and even though it's still gray it's just about you can, you can make any you can make any tone in the world turn any value you want on the on the camera just by changing the exposure. So so I got the camera, and I've got the camera on my light meter, calibrated to each other. We know that if I take a reading that, you know, my light meter measures eighteen percent great want to take a reading, the camera's going pretty much record, what I'm thinking in terms of exposure is that makes sense that everybody all right, so now, theresa, why don't we were going to shoot this, uh, this color charts? So this is a kind of a standard macbeth color chart? Yeah, if you wouldn't mind holding it just that you can hold it so that he can see it first so that the world can see it is the standard macbeth color chart. They can line up their video cameras downstairs with this and, you know, so the dailies cars knows what all those cars look like, there's a great great scale at the bottom and some standard reference patches red green and blue cyan magenta yellow and then some various colors that macbeth you know secondary cars that they think are important to know so by using that well no that I'm you know dailies cars will know what color things they're supposed to appear under you know, under the lighting conditions you're working on so here we're we're going to be shooting outdoors in the daylight you know it makes sense that we would shoot this card under the same conditions that that we're shooting the rest of the scene there sometimes when maybe you don't want to do that yes eugene I don't care how did you balance the white about the white balance did you balance just a tent with a green ten magenta or your balance? The color temperature isn't very good question so what we did and I'm not sure we could run through this it's it's maybe a little boring and it's also everything is different on different cameras so that I could show you on the red but if you're using an alexa or at fifty five like all the buttons are different it's mostly the concept what what I did was beholder are great card or white card whatever we're using for white balance in front of the camera and use the auto white balance function but you know whatever the auto white balance function is and then I made note of the number that that came up in the tin box you know the each filter also it does change the color temperature box a little bit too but I'm not so worried about that you know, some some andy filters do warm things up a little bit in particular, but the problem is if you you you want to have a number that you can go to that kind of works for any neutral density filter in your package and but each filter kind of has its own personality and you know we'll have its own setting and when you go to the rental house you you'll get your collection of filters and some of them may be way outside the range of settings for you know, for the other ones so you you want it you're basically looking for something where when you change and deep filter you don't have to go into the camera and reset things so that it doesn't become a burden and slow things down on the process but you want to make it so that you get close enough that the colorist doesn't have to do major corrections so I kind of basically went through a couple filters and said all right they seem to be averaging out around fourteen minus fourteen, which is you know, who knows what that number means in this camera is just a number, but but you you whatever that number is, wherever it kind of is averaging out you you make a setting make a preset that that comes up like that so that when you're using the neutral density filters the camera assistants know you kind of like for me I just say all right, you guys just know when we go outside and when we're using an andy or especially like we'll find you know, the three sixes and nines usually don't change it that much it starts at one point too that you have a problem and you know, I'm I'm more familiar with the laksa than the red and on the alexa well, we just have a preset setting that they know to go to when we put in andy's so that that's basically it and it just, you know, on the alexa it usually ends up being around minus three setting on here it seems like it's going to be a minus fourteen it's just their number system temperature use fifty six I used fifty, six hundred and because the color temperature is shift in, you know when they're doing dailies when doing final color correction color temperature ship that seems to be easier to deal with them agreement gentle shift okay, so so here we are we're going to shoot the great card sorry, we'll see if the color charts so I'll take a reading it's about eight and a third still not much has changed and teresa will hold it in can you got it? All right? You can see that back off just a little bit please good and that that third chart from the third card from the right is uh at eighteen percent graph still got the false colors on but you can see that that matches up and I'll roll we're rowing to three all right? They really only need one frame of that so you know the rest of it is is kind of extra right good so we got that lets and that's usually the first thing we do in a lighting setup if if we're in a lighting setup where let's say it's a it's a heavy theatrical lighting like you know I wanted to look very warm and candlelight or something and all the lights have an orange gel on it. If I shoot the color chart under that same orange gel, then the chorus is going to say, oh that's it's really orange and dial it all out so you want to shoot if you're adding colors to the scene like that you want to shoot the great card under under a standard light so if if you were working with tungsten lights you chewed it with like that had no john tungsten light that had no job thirty, two hundred you're using daylight and you want to shoot it under fifty six hundred light with no gels in front of the light just put the great card there and maybe even have the electrician's set a special light for you just for the just for the great card or the color chart and then once you're done with that you turned it off and then the chorus will know oh well, this is supposed to be what's gray this this color and then when he sees the rest of the scene, you know it's supposed to be very orange you don't even have to write notes that say it's very orange he'll know exactly not only that it's supposed to be very orange, but what kind of very orange it is is it's kind of a pinky orange or greenish orange or you know where you're going with it? It gives it by shooting the color chart under standard light and then having your jells on top of that, it gives the color. Is that a reference of where you're trying to go that words can't describe? We've got the camera set up sorry, I'm going to go over here because I have to look at my clipboard to see what I'm thinking of next all right? So so the next thing we want to do, you know we think about how how bright it is out here especially and and you know how tio how to deal with the exposure so we have you know there are two ways we could bring down the I s o of the camera we could make the camera you seem less sensitive or we can put neutral density filters in like what we've been doing and the the reason we use neutral density filters instead of changing the esso is that the chip itself can only handle a certain range of light to dark and you know so if you're elektronik li changing it, you lose information and this you know, big exterior like this you'd lose information from the highlight area because the chip just can't handle that much light so you want to stop the light you wantto bring the light into the range of the chip can handle before before it get so the before it gets to the chip before it gets into the electronics. So you think we talk about what the native s o of the chip is and for reds it seems like it's around eight hundred because there's a if you when you shoot your great card there is an equal amount of ranch of light to dark above the great card and below the credit card at eight hundred and each camera has a the different native esso and you kind of you either read what the manufacturer says or do a little testing to figure it out for yourself um so that is kind of it for setting up the camera.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Camera Gear List.pdf
Equipment List Examples.pdf
Lighting Gear List.pdf
Glimmer of Hope - By Jessica Brown.pdf
Shooting the Scene Syllabus.pdf
Glimmer of Hope Shooting Schedule.pdf

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shooting the Scene - INT DOORWAY MORNING - Setup .pdf
Shooting the Scene - EXT OFFICE ROOFTOP STAIRCASE - Setup.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Kevin Baggott

I had worked briefly many years ago on a shoot that jim was the DP for. I was very impressed with how he ran the set. It was a great pleasure to watch this course. Learnt many things. I would highly recommend it.

Loue Ghazi

this is a very informative class and i really appreciate your way . really i like so much like this class and definitely will go with it every time . good job guys.


Going by pair with The Cinematographer's Preparation, this course is a very good complement full of little advices to solve sometimes tricky situations, very good !

Student Work