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Cinematography Challenge with Eduardo Ramirez – Light and Shoot a Scene in 30 Minutes

January 5th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 1

The Cinematography Challenge – sponsored by Rosco and SIGMA – is back for another season! Hosted by Rosco and SIGMA ambassador Graham Ehlers Sheldon, the episode below features LA-based DP Eduardo Ramirez as he takes on the challenge of lighting and lensing a commercial scene in under 30 minutes.

Graham Ehlers Sheldon, an Emmy®-winning producer & DP, and long-time CineD contributor, worked with SIGMA and Rosco to create the new season of The Cinematography Challenge (watch last week’s episode with Senda Bonnet, in case you missed it). In each episode, a different cinematographer is challenged to set up and film a scene in under 30 minutes. The goal of the series is, as Graham puts it, “to ‘nerd out’ about cinematography, with a heavy emphasis on color, lighting, and optics.”

Graham and Eduardo in the Cinematography Challenge. Image Source: CineD

In the episode, Graham invites Cinematographer Eduardo Ramirez to take The Cinematography Challenge. Originally from Colombia, Eduardo is now based in LA and works mostly in feature films and commercials. One of his recent projects was Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story on Hulu.

The rules of The Cinematography Challenge are the following:

  1. Select a random theme/genre
  2. Choose one dominant color
  3. Light and lens the scene in 30 minutes or less
    (Using SIGMA Cine Lenses and Rosco DMG lights)
The Themes and Genres for The Cinematography Challenge.

Light & lens a beauty commercial in 30 minutes or less

The slip of paper that Eduardo pulled out read “Beauty Commercial.” That was his genre for The Cinematography Challenge. Next, he had to choose a SIGMA CINE lens to go with the Canon C500 Mark II that was set up and waiting for him on set. Available to him was every SIGMA CINE full frame high speed prime lens, ranging from 14mm to 135mm. He was also able to choose from a variety of SIGMA CINE Classic prime lenses known for their low-contrast vintage characteristics. Eduardo went with the SIGMA CINE Classic 50mm T2.5. 

Eduardo had actor Shewan Edward follow his direction and a small camera/electrician crew on hand, but he had to make all the creative decisions. He quickly drew a lighting diagram on a piece of paper, and he used that to explain how he wanted to set the scene with the Rosco DMG Lights and the camera on a slider.

Capturing the color of the scene

In this season of The Cinematography Challenge, the cinematographer must choose a color to work into the scene. For Eduardo, that color was the brownish color of the beverage in the actor’s hand. To create this color, Eduardo utilized the “Capture” feature of Rosco’s myMIX™ app. To do so, he first took a photo of the drink. Then, using the app, his crew picked a hue of brown in the photo and sent that color to the DMG DASH that was sidelighting the glass in the shot. All of the other DMG Lights illuminating the shot were set to 5600K, so the warm, brown light from the DMG DASH accentuated the color of the drink. 

The results

Eduardo managed to prepare the scene in under 30 minutes while explaining some of his creative decisions. After it was all said and done, Graham asked him if he accomplished what he set out to do. Eduardo responded that he was happy with the results and added “it was really interesting to push yourself with a timeframe.” He noted that, as a DP, he was used to working in that kind of environment. “You have all these ideas, but you always have a director telling you your timeframe to set something up.” In the end, Eduardo enjoyed taking The Cinematography Challenge. “I think, in these conditions – having the amount of gear we had, and the people we had – it was really cool to do it.”

The Final Lighting Diagram of Eduardo’s “Beauty Commercial” Shoot.

What do you think about the results? Would you have done anything differently? Have you used any SIGMA CINE primes or Rosco DMG Lights in your cinematography work? Let us know if you would take on The Cinematography Challenge in the comments section underneath the article.

Click Here To Watch Other Episodes of The Cinematography Challenge.

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