Camera Tests for the new Eoghan McQuinn’s short – film
Jan 14, 2015

On Monday 12th, I had the pleasure of shooting some camera tests for the new short – film that Eoghan McQuinn is going to shoot this year.

I consider myself lucky because of two things:

– First of all, Eoghan asked me to be his cinematographer for this new short – film, which made me very happy as I did not know if he was convinced with the work I did on Staccato and that you can see on the following link (http://miguelangelvinas.com/shooting-staccato-the-cinematography-of-a-period-drama-short-film/)
– Second of all, I always ask for camera test on the locations we are going to use and it is very difficult in a short – film to have a full day of testing with almost all the equipment you are going to use for the actual project. So I was very happy when he agreed to shoot these tests.

Just two things before you start seeing the frames and reading about them.

The wide frame in the restaurant is a lateral dolly to the left and it starts where the frame is but it finishes with another background.

Bear in mind that they are not graded, just the Rec709 curve applied on Davinci.

Let’s start with the wide:


Available light with 216 on the windows in front of the young girl.

T2 1/3 in camera.

On the day, if we shoot at night, I will have to place either a bounced lateral light or just a bounce (although I don’t think a bounce will be enough) for the “Woman” so she is not “in the dark” and it will help me match the close ups too.

I was thinking about creating depth by using different colors coming from the inside of the restaurant, I mean:

– Foreground, as it is.

– Middle part of the frame, available light.

– Last part of the restaurant, cyan light coming from the inside or by placing some visible tubes on the exterior of the wall, so I have bright spots in the frame and they will give light.

It is a bit risky as I think that they will distract the spectator’s point of view so we’ll see on the day :).

– Background, in the final position, maybe a practical with a blonde hitting the wall (there is a red brick wall as a background in the final position)

And now, the close ups, which served very well for me to see how their faces worked on available light and what kind of approach I will have to do in order to maintain the same light levels and make them look super pretty.

I was more interested in seeing the effects of the light than in having the same contrast, however, I think I should have gone for the same contrast so the close ups could have cut well

Young Girl

T 2.1 in camera.

There is the available light coming from the inside.

However, we weren’t going to spend that time in the restaurant, we were planning on shooting in the evening time and then moving to another location.. however, directors are the bosses and after shooting the shot we wanted, he decided that he wanted to try different setups.. and the night came and as I had two Kinoflos just in case, I decided that I wanted to see if they would work with a face like theirs.

So, usually I would bounce the kinoflos but I didn’t have any polyboard or frame available :D.

One of my friends who was helping us happened to have a piece of 216 in her car though and that is what we used to diffuse the light coming from the windows.

So we took the 216 off the windows and put it on the kinoflo which is giving the “blue” light (A piece of peacock blue that I had in my car just in case you are interested), you can see the position (left side of the frame)

The other kinoflo is giving the little lateral kick light in the hair, without it, the hair became very dark and there was no separation between the hair and the background in the right side of the frame.

What I think I will do on the day is the following:

I will augment the light coming from the interior of the restaurant so I have a good T Stop and then I will create a soft blue light coming from the lateral a little bit overexposed, and of course, I will light the hair as it is in the frame.

Overall, I think that her face reacts very well to a lateral light and will look even better when we have the right light coming from the interior of the restaurant.


T2.1 in camera.

Different woman, different setup.

The inside of the restaurant is the available light and then I had the same “blue” kinoflo for her.

And I placed the other kinoflo very far away in the camera axis to fill her face by just 1/2 stop.

However, it is my opinion that her face is very very difficult to light because of the shape of it.

I tried the kinoflo in the right side of the frame and it didn’t look good either (maybe because it was direct) but I think she needs to have “her” light and I will need to do lighting tests with her so I discover what angle is the best one to light her.

What I see is that in order to match the wide and the close ups I will have to get the same contrast in both shoots (nothing new I know ha!!), but the light will have to be a bit different

I didn’t want to put the kinoflos very close as they were very very obvious and it was killing me so maybe I will go for a big Rifa Light or a bounce flagged on the day.

And a couple of tests in the Dun Laoghaire Pier:

T64 in the lightmeter, T11 1/2 in camera.

The first one is a 40mm the second one is a 135mm.

The short – film will be shot in 4 days and I hope that it will be shot with a combination of anamorphic (C series if I’m lucky enough) and spherical lenses (PVintage), and the sequences with both girls will be anamorphic.

I want to try a pantyhose on the back of the lenses (in both, anamorphic and spherical) and I will be testing 1/2 Glimmerglass for the Woman too.

As Eoghan wants a “dreamy” look with contrast -_- I was thinking about setting up the Alexa in 1280ASA and creating the contrast with light (yeah!)

By the way, the camera operator on these camera tests was the person who re-kindle my passion for cinema: Greg McGuinness, one of the best 2nd AC in Ireland (and better person) who introduced me to all the Vikings crew and who was my 1AC in the period short – film I shot for this director.

He wants to become a camera operator and I said: Let’s start shooting so! :)

I usually operate myself because of two things, I enjoy operating a lot and I’m European so the cliché is that I have to operate myself :D.

However, It seems to me that being able to see the whole picture from the outside is a very important process of the cinematography learning curve, even for one day, it allowed me to be more focused on seeing how the light reacted rather than having to light, trying to operate and making sure that everything was on focus at the same time (among other things).

We will see what I end up doing though in the future!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments on the frames, send me an email!

Director: Eoghan McQuinn
Camera Operator: Greg McGuinness
1st Ac: Aidan Gault
2nd Ac: Aran Hennessy
Gaffer: Meg O’Kelly