Cinematography course

Report about the advanced cinematography workshop

Thursday’s workshop was particularly exciting for all participants, whether they came from the Budapest Film Academy or the HSC. The whole story begins there that we rarely have the opportunity to practice at a place like the H Studio of MAFILM. We already arrived in an enthusiastic mood, but when we saw what we are going to work with, perhaps we didn’t even realize at first what we are dealing with. Of course, we can see 20×20 frames, 10k ARRI lamp, Alexa, Red, Angenieux anamorph lense, GF Panther fahrt car at shootings (if we are lucky), so we already got used to see these equipment, but now we could personally handle all of them. Christmas came early this year 🙂 .

At the beginning it was difficult until we got to know each other with the other participants.  Soon it proved to be very useful to gain practical experience together with the students of other institutions as we can merge our knowledge and get to know new people, which is very important in such a small industry. It was a real team effort.

The report wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the head teachers of the workshop. Joseph Demian’s presence highly increased the lights in the studio. He gave us tasks that were solvable because of their simplicity within the given time frame, but we could be really creative due to the different possibilities. The restrictions only strengthened the parallel with real shootings, as crews usually have to andrás balázscompromise because of financial endowments or local circumstances. In addition, we got many practical advice from the creative and the production side as well, even it is a simply applicable rule or a story from which we could learn so much (smart man learns from the others’ mistake..)

András Balázs (Budapest Film Academy – Cinematography student)

I thought I would give it a try. Why not, a tryout, if it doesn’t work, maybe a little failure, but it’s still better. ELTE, liberal arts, film specialization. That’s where I first encountered with film as a practical course, and of course we fell in love with each other in no time. Three classes a week according to the curriculum, and I started to realize, it wasn’t enough for me. However I made a short movie for my exams, and I found the opportunity to be a Budapest Film Academy student through ELTE, and well, as I mentioned, I gave it a try.

Eventually I started the cinematographer class, because my schedule didn’t let me go to directing. And it was one of my best choices ever. First I was afraid, since I wasn’t familiar with this field of filmmaking, I’ve only had camera in my hand twice, but fortunately we started with the basic knowledge. A little pause between one and a half hour twice, acknowledged cinematographer (János Vecsernyés), telling a story, teaching, charming us. I left the first course with droning head.

The second course and we weren’t even in the well-known environment, instead of the bald classroom the location was a post-production studio. Then it was the fourth, and we were packing lamps, lighting, reconstructing already in the studio of Sparks. We were getting to know the scent of professionalism. As we returned to the classroom during the next course, we have already learnt the names of lamps, reflecting surfaces, and other useful gadgets.

Half way on the road our leader has changed, Frigyes Marton B. guided us in the second part of the semester. We started to design the lighting constructions with more consciousness. We were talking, arguing and during all this, we didn’t forget about the Sparks experience. We built the pre-designed scene’s lamp park during a 2 hours studio exercise, as a crowning of the year.

Besides the enormous amount of new experience given by my teachers, I got to know kőrösi mátéseveral talented people too. And I think, there’s no more important thing in this profession than that. It’s always useful to be at the right time in the right place, particularly if the person has the potential.

Thanks for the semester!

Máté Kőrösi (ELTE-Budapest Film Academy)

I got to know Budapest Film Academy by winning a screenwriting competition for Sony. The prize was a free semester in a course chosen by me. It wasn’t a question for me that I’d like to apply for the cinematography course.

The training was a really positive disappointment. As we had class ‘only’ once a week, I thought that it won’t be serious, but fortunately I was wrong. János Vecsernyés was our teacher during the first half of the semester. János convinced me up front with his knowledge and his sense of humor that the semester‘s going to be great.

It was very sympathetic that all at once we took part in an art education connected to cinematography, but our teachers explained the less emphasized basic physics too. For instance, the structure of a camera, or how does light behave as a physical phenomenon. A future cinematographer needs to know these fundamentals.

Budapest Film Academy is a good school, especially because you can meet professionals, who tell you stories and their filmmaking experiences, which were funny on one hand, but we also learnt a lot from them. After the theory, we could try field-work, despite the comparatively great number of students in class.

The one lesson a week at ELTE was replaced by the practices of lighting and shooting at Sparks. We reconstructed the lights of renaissance paintings; we got to know the different types of photometers and lamps. I liked the most that they really tried to imitate a real shooting set with us.batka máté

All in all I’m absolutely satisfied with Budapest Film Academy, I met many amazing people and it led me
farther on that road, which I’ve been trying to walk on for years now.

Máté Batka
(Budapest Film Academy)

Budapest Film Academy Cinematography Class – the Sparks Studio experience

Upon arriving to the Sparks Studio, Buda Gulyás, our teacher, showed us the storage room with the different types of lights. He spoke about the uses of these lights in various situations.

Afterwards, we all went to a studio with a small set. The employees of the Studio helped out with setting up the lights. Our professor, Dr. Vajdovich Györgyi, sat in a chair and Mr. Gulyás showed us the different lighting effects on her. We mostly used warm lights. The set consisted of three walls, a door and a window. Our professor was seated in front of the window, which was next to the door. She had her back to the window, which made it easier to show backlighting on her.

At first, we saw the key light placed on her left side. This was a spotlight HMI with flags. Since this light was very strong, the Studio technicians put a frost in front of the light, and we could see the change in effect.

Then another frost was placed in front of the light, which softened the shadows on our professor’s face. This type of diffusion was used throughout the practice. Mr. Gulyás explained that it is better to use diffusion than to have a face lighted very strongly, because it is disturbing and not good for filming. He told us that we should never close the flags on the HMI, because that does not disperse the light effectively.

We saw different types of frost and flags in front of the spotlight, and also in front of the backlight (which was also an HMI). At one point the key light was moved to the front, and diffusion had to be used to produce a nice effect. Kino Flo was also used as a backlight to show us a colder light. It was also used with diffusion. We even saw the China Ball at work as a side light, which changed some of the shadows on the face of our professor.

It was also interesting to see a CTB (color temperature blue) color correction gel attached to one of the dékány zsuzsaside lights, the effect was that of a night picture. There were so many types of different lighting effects
that I thought I should have brought along a camera to be able to record it for further reference.

Our visit in Sparks was a great experience, and I am looking forward to being able to try out what I learned on the set.

Zsuzsanna Dékány
Budapest Film Academy/ELTE student

The first half of the semester was held by János Vecsernyés, who’s been working as a cinematographer and director in many major Hungarian and foreign productions. Later the students started visiting Buda Gulyás’s lectures, who has been the cinematographer of quite a few movies and TV series. János Vecsernyés and Buda Gulyás are both award-winning cinematographers, and significant artists of the film industry.

During the course the students have acquired the basics of a cinematographer’s profession. The main theme and tasks of the classes were studying lighting and cinematography techniques, then post-production.

Students had to learn and practice the basics of composition through film. They had to discover how to make sets, compositions and camera movements. They studied the function, types and possibilities of light. They had to understand the nature of light and could get extensive experience about the various light construction around them (bright sunlight, diffused light, lamplight in a room, lights at night, etc.) At the end of the semester students could get acquainted with working in a crew, it’s system and the tasks of each crew member.

Our beginner cinematographers could show their abilities by fulfilling different tasks each week, for example making a selection of snapshots made by them, or of some movie scenes which deserve attention from a cinematographer’s point of view. The theme of the pictures changed week by week, first they had to compose a black and white still life and take a picture of it, then the next step was making black and white portraits in different moods, then two types of colorful still lifes in different moods, colorful portrait in different lights, etcetera. The photos were evaluated during the class by their teachers who helped them by giving advice regarding their work.

Color timing is an important part of the cinematographer’s work. It’s essential to create the movie’s mood for its genre. Besides the composition and the correct lighting of the image, color timing is an important tool for the DOP. Buda Gulyás is a professional in color timing, and thanks to this, the students could try the technique using AVID, and with the guidance of their teacher they colored a number of shots, commercials in different styles.

Students more than once had the chance to visit Sparks, a camera- and lighting-rental studio. These seminars’ main goal was to do their studies of lighting and camera in practice, and to try out their skills and creativity. They got to know different lamp types and how to use them when lighting a room, what kind of light does each mood require, and what type of light is going to bring us closer to shoot a picture which reminds the viewer of real life situations.

At the end of the semester the students of Budapest Film Academy have created an advertisement for Men’s Health Magazine, and they shot an advertising short film for SONY NEX-5R camera. The cinematographer students had a chance to work in these depending on their talent and interest, and use the knowledge they received through the past semester.

The goal of this semester’s cinematography course was to give the kind of knowledge which fiu4the student can rely on solving easier tasks, and could see examples how to carry out more difficult ones, so that later they can create motion pictures with good technical quality and aesthetic features.

Marcell Szemernényi