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Soft filtration is all you need

Now the story here begins as every good cinematography story - in a bar.

A friend of mine from Thailand (Cinematographer as well) was in town and we went to grab a beer and talk how we shoot different gags. By the time I have just finished shooting a lot of product videos with different talents for outdoors companies like WIGGLE and ADIDAS. And By talking about those my friend mentioned Soft filters.

I will admit that it was an idea that crossed my mind once in the past but never really give it a place to flourish. She goes - "Radi, for your product videos you need a soft filter. Make them pretty." The next day I buy a 4x5.65 1/2 HD Classic Soft Filter.

But let me give you a little insight of that "magic". What does that thing do is that parts of the light that goes through the filter get slightly refracted (direction of the light changes due the fact that it goes through something with different density ) - is that getting boring already?! Basically everything gets a little beauty to it.

Soft filters were used in the Hollywood movies since the 30's. Very famous way to create that beauty photography where the talent is radiant and beautiful and all of the fixtures and windows had a glow around the edges. My own theory how that got so famous is because the hardest quality of shooting with film is getting the shadows rendered. Because of that for long time the cinema was overexposed (that and slow lenses but that is a post on its own) with a lot of light everywhere and by adding a soft filtration you get something with very interesting characteristics filmed. As well as shooting women. With strong soft front light and filtration you get rid of every imperfection on the face and the skin which was almost mandatory for cinematographers shooting some big movie stars.

The day I got my filter I was on a job and I got it delivered to the studio. We were shooting models on a white cyc. At the end of the day I got young Jack (2nd AC) to pose with the board while I just snap a few shots. That's how he was light:

I did a few latitude tests with it. My meter on the day showed that he should be exposed properly at T4, SO I did that and went up and down to see who the filter performs with underexposed and overexposed picture.

After very briefly looking at it I think that this filter can be really powerful with the use of the right light. I think that big defused sources will look amazing with it as well as reflective edges of objects. Notice how everything has a little glow to it especially where light reflects. When looking at my false colors I notice a little less than 1/3 of a stop difference in exposure with and without the filter so if you end up using one of those may be keep that in mind.

That effect was massive on Tim Burton's Big Fish. (For copyright reasons can't share pictures, but here is a broken down cinematography of Big Fish in stills: ). That movie was shot on film and has different strengths of softness to the image depending on what the scene immerses the main character into. And of course - when HE sees HER for the first time she glows like an angle.

The next day I grabbed the camera and grabbed a couple of unscripted shots just to fool around. There was a thin layer of cloud in the sky that defused the bright sun ever so slightly, 11:30 in the morning. The clouds moved a bit between the two pictures but I absolutely love them and especially the second one.

Notice how does the out of focus area of the bottle is being rendered - it takes the digital edge off the image. The details of the out of focus bottle are not that distracting, your eye is not on the bottle anymore it's on our Megan. It underlines the fact that we have changed the focus of the scene to something else now. And the little glow is there as well (notice the overexposed patch under the monitor)

Over all - nice little toy I've just got. I will make some more tests. I really want to see how does smoke looks like through one of those filters because we all know that to be cinematic is all about the smoke guys, c'mon. Here is a little comparison of different soft filters(not made by me, it's just a cool video):

And that article here I find extra interesting about beauty filters ( those guys ren real tests.):

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