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Cinematography Challenge with Elle Schneider – Light and Shoot a Scene in 30 Minutes

This episode of The Cinematography Challenge – sponsored by SIGMA and Rosco and hosted by Rosco and SIGMA ambassador Graham Ehlers Sheldon – features DP and Director Elle Schneider taking on the challenge of lighting and lensing a noir film scene using a SIGMA CINE prime lens and Rosco lights in under 30 minutes.

Graham Ehlers Sheldon, an Emmy®-winning producer & DP, and long-time CineD contributor based in southern California, presents a new Cinematography Challenge. 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.” 

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the episode featuring Eduardo Ramirez, and the episode with Senda Bonnet. In this episode, Graham invites Elle Schneider, a cinematographer, director, and SIGMA ambassador, who mainly works on music videos, TV projects, and short films to take on the challenge.

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)

Light & lens in 30 minutes or less – “Noir”

The theme that Elle chose for this episode was “Noir.” She had to choose a SIGMA CINE lens to go with the Canon C500 Mark II that was set up and waiting on set. Available to her was every SIGMA CINE full frame high speed prime lens, ranging from 14mm to 135mm. She was also able to choose from a variety of SIGMA CINE Classic prime lenses known for their low-contrast vintage characteristics. Elle chose the SIGMA Classic 35mm T2.5 CINE prime lens. Actor Shewan Edward was on hand to follow directions and perform, while Graham and the SIGMA and Rosco team were there to help set up the equipment at Elle’s direction.

Creating contrast

Elle rightfully said that the key aspect of noir was to create contrast when lighting the scene. To do so, she decided to place five Rosco DMG Dash lights on top of the kitchen shelves for backlight. She also placed one hard spotlight source with a very narrow beam above the talent’s head to highlight the silhouette.

DP Elle Schneider used a Rosco DMG DASH with its DOT diffuser during The Cinematography Challenge. Image source: CineD

Another very significant part of Elle’s light setup was a hard spotlight projecting a Rosco Gobo to create a “Venetian blind” pattern onto the set. Elle also used a Rosco V-Hazer to add a bit of atmosphere into the final scene.

One interesting piece of advice that Elle offered was to be considerate of any white walls when lighting an interior scene for noir. If at all possible, white walls should be avoided because they reflect and bounce light around so much, which ruins the contrast you’re trying to achieve. With this in mind, Elle stayed directional with her lights to prevent reflections from the set.

Instead of creating a classic noir black-and-white look, Elle pushed herself and opted for a “futuristic noir” look by using different colors of light. The Rosco DMG DASH lights positioned above the actor were set to green, whereas the DASH on the wall, outfitted with a DMG DOT Round Diffuser, was set to blue.

What do you think of the results? Let us know what you think about The Cinematography Challenge! Have you used any SIGMA CINE primes or Rosco DMG Lights in 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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