| 03/19/2013 | 1 Comments

Von Thomas

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the new blog section of THE POST LAB, featuring opinions and reviews from other professionals working creatively and technically in the post production field.  This first post is by Von Thomas, a DIT whom I met while working together on the feature “Maniac” in 2012.  Impressed by his knowledge and excitement around new technologies, Von brings experience and insight from many years working in the digital imaging field.

What has happened to the integrity of the craft of filmmaking?  There once was an attitude of keeping the level, the quality of the image superior, but lately I’ve seen the opposite.  I’ve seen DP’s make huge mistakes, in their exposure and in their color settings.  Either it’s ego or incompetence, but it’s a problem that is hurting the very image that they are so desperately trying to produce.  It’s funny that I see two sides of the equation, one side is that DP’s fear that their work will be manipulated in a way they don’t approve, and that they become some cog in the production machinery, where their work has no style or substance, or they work as a part of the production, delivering a product that works to the benefit of the production.  I see the DP’s working to achieve a look to define themselves, but they do so with reckless abandon, STOP getting in your own way, and don’t be afraid or stubborn to receive good info from your AC’s or DIT.

Working in the new digital cinema is different than working in film, and each camera has it’s own palette that a DP should learn and use to his/her benefit.  I’ve shot commercial photography for more than most DP’s have been alive, but I understand the balance needed to deliver a great, quality final product.

Shoot it right in camera as much as you can.  Not all jobs have a budgets or time to be perfect, but be perfect when you can.  Don’t rely on some colorist to fix your mistakes.  Unlike a still photographer that follows his work from camera to delivery, most DP’s leave their work when they leave the set.  If they make mistakes, those mistakes are corrected by a colorist in post production.  When the DP finally sees his/her work, it looks better, and most often they think they did a great job, but sometimes the colorist did a great job saving your project.

There is no free lunch.  For every under/over exposure, for every incorrect color setting, there is a consequence.  You cannot correct without damaging your image quality, period.   Most feel they can get by being sloppy, it’s very common today — blown highlights, underexposure — to the point of no information at all.  This is not rocket science, shoot smarter, shoot better, and be a contributor to the filmmaking process.  I believe it would be in every DP’s best interest to go back to school and learn how to shot digital, learn why to shoot a gray card, learn or re-learn the basics, because in the end, it will only serve you well. This is a challenge to all DP’s to make beautiful images, one frame at a time. Don’t sabotage your work for fear of a colorist or editor ruining it.  Deliver the very best image, the very best color, the very best exposure to ensure your project’s success.  Don’t be afraid, or fear will be your enemy.

Von Thomas is a bi-coastal (LA – NY) Photographer, Cinematographer, RED TECH, digital capture expert, and educator. He currently works as a DIT and Dailies Colorists on feature films, TV episodics, webisodes, music videos, and commercials.  Contact:



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  1. Peter Lago says:

    “… be perfect when you can.” Love it! Thanks for this!

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