Flat Doesn’t Really Mean Flat

A thought for the day, as it’s come up a few times in conversation. “Shooting flat” really means “capturing image data flatly,” it doesn’t mean flat lighting. Please, I beg of you, light the set, paint with shadows, and use a deliberate iris setting for specific intention. The “flat” or “log” data capture setting of your camera will then protect as much as that particular camera is capable of in the highlights and shadows, so we can have more fun during the grading session.

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4 thoughts on “Flat Doesn’t Really Mean Flat

  1. Man I wish I had the time and personnel to light the “sets” of my current project…

    Shooting vérité on the 5d… you got recommended settings? You probably hate grading 5d stuff. I try to shoot with settings that require the LEAST amount of correction in post, since color grading that 4:2:0 sh*t isn’t particularly fun or effective.

  2. Excellent comments Alexis, the great rush to shoot “flat” has many rapidly trimming their lighting budget or reducing shadows because they’ve been told by someone that mimicking a Log look (milky) is the way a colorist wants it.

  3. I agree with your approach. There are a variety of “low contrast” camera settings available (Stu Maschwitz has one, Light Illusion has one, Technicolor has one), and these are fine. However, I’ve always said that with highly compressed formats, you need to light it as close as possible to the way you want it for best results, since you’ve got the least latitude for contrast expansion with 4:2:0 formats. Of course, I think that ought to always be the case even if you’re shooting a data-rich format like Alexa or RED.

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