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Cinematography Challenge with Senda Bonnet – Light and Shoot a Scene in 30 Minutes

December 28th, 2022 Jump to Comment Section

In this episode of The Cinematography Challenge – sponsored by SIGMA and RoscoRosco and SIGMA ambassador Graham Ehlers Sheldon invited DP Senda Bonnet to take on the challenge of lighting and lensing a Dario Argento-themed 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.” 

Cinematography Challenge sponsored by SIGMA and Rosco – Senda Bonnet

We will also publish two more episodes in the coming weeks, featuring Eduardo Ramirez and Elle Schneider. For this episode, DP Senda Bonnet was selected to tackle The Cinematography Challenge by lighting and lensing the scene in under 30 minutes. Senda mostly works on narrative projects and she was in pre-production for a comedy movie when this episode was shot.

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 – a “Dario Argento” Cinematography Challenge

The theme that Senda chose for this episode was “Dario Argento”. This famous Italian director achieved his film and set aesthetics by using a very wide color palette. Next, she had to choose a SIGMA CINE lens to go with the Canon C500 Mark II.

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. In order to capture the recognizable style of the director, Senda decided to shoot the scene with the SIGMA Classic 50mm T2.5 cine prime lens.

Senda Bonnet on the set of The Cinematographer Challenge. Image source: CineD

Actor Shewan Edward was on hand to perform in the desired scene, and Graham as well as the assistant team from SIGMA and Rosco were there to help with setting up the lights and camera to implement Senda’s creative ideas.

Capturing the colors of the scene

To light the background of the scene, Senda chose three Rosco DASH lights. Each light was equipped with a magnet mount, flat diffusion, and an egg crate (although later decided to take the egg crates off). The DMG Dash features magnetic beam shaping accessories that enable multiple light shapers to stack on top of each other.

Graham Ehlers Sheldon on the set of The Cinematography Challenge. Image source: CineD.

For the main light source in the scene, Senda used a Rosco DMG DASH Quad Kit with a DoPchoice SNAPGRID and pointed it directly at the talent’s head. For the top light, she had the Rosco DMG MINI hanging from the ceiling above the talent to create a slight silhouette.

The Color from a Dario Argento Movie is “Captured” in the Rosco myMIX app. Image Source: CineD

To stay on-theme, Senda added the blue color from a Dario Argento film scene into her own by utilizing the “Capture” feature of Rosco’s myMIX™ app. First, she found a screenshot from one of Argento’s films, and then she used the app to pick a hue from the screenshot and sent that color to all of the DMG Dash lights in the room.

This blue light was inspired by – and created by – a Dario Argento film. Image source: CineD

Finally, a Rosco DMG SL1 MIX was positioned behind the door with another Dario Argento color tone. This time it was red to signal danger, which was revealed later in the scene when Shewan opened the door.

From blue to red on the set of The Cinematography Challenge. Image source. CineD

One interesting moment was when Graham mounted the matte box onto the camera to demonstrate how the SIGMA Classic prime lens behaves in direct light when moving the top flag. This allowed Senda to have control over the flares produced from the minimal coating on the Sigma Cine Classic Prime line. 

The final lighting diagram of Senda’s “Dario Argento” shoot.

What do you think about the color change in the scene after opening the door? Have you used any SIGMA CINE primes or Rosco DMG Lights in your cinematography work? Let us know how you liked The Cinematography Challenge and if you would like us to do more of these in the future!

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