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Q&A: Doug Nichol on "Flight" and "Dreams"

New York’s Ziegfeld Theater last month screened 10 shorts created for Sony and Young & Rubicam’s "Dreams" project, which puts HDCAMs in the hands of influential commercial directors. We asked Partizan’s Doug Nichol about his short, "40 Love."
  • Doug Nichol
  • Director
  • On: "Flight," The Fourth Sony "Dreams" project
F&V: Those yellow tennis balls popped! How does HDCAM handle color?
I’m not wild about how HD looks outdoors, so from the beginning I planned to shoot under artificial light. We found locations that were muted in tone so that the yellow tennis balls would be the only vibrant color in the scene. At the end, we did a tape-to-tape grade to bring out the yellow a bit more. I like how HD gives a lot of detail in the shadow areas. It doesn’t handle whites as well as film, but I’m sure this will improve.
F&V: What’s most different about HD?
The HD camera came with a tiny black and white viewfinder and I couldn’t see what I was shooting. I started operating off the big 20-inch color monitor, which made things easier except when I was doing dolly shots. What you see on screen is what you get – there is no worrying about exposures. I don’t think shooting HD is any faster than shooting film. You don’t reload as often, but constantly checking the lens’ back focus and white-balancing can slow you down.
F&V: Will your next project be in HD?
I don’t think HD would be good for a period piece, but for contemporary stories it is great. I really like the modern, clean look. I’m sure I’ll shoot it again.

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