We teamed up with SIGMA once again to create another season of The Cinematography Challenge! Just like the first season of The Cinematography Challenge, each of the three new episodes is hosted by Rosco and SIGMA Ambassador Graham Ehlers Sheldon. According to Graham, these videos are a way for filmmakers to "nerd-out about cinematography - with a heavy emphasis on lighting and optics." Like last season, each DP began their challenge by choosing a theme or movie genre. The twist we added to this season is that they also had to incorporate some sort of color emphasis. Then, the timer began and they used SIGMA CINE lenses and Rosco DMG Lighting fixtures to light and lens their scenes in 30 minutes or less.
The first contender in season 2 of The Cinematography Challenge was Cinematographer and Rosco Ambassador Senda Bonnet. Growing up in a family of filmmakers, Senda was born into the industry. With a backstory like that, it's no wonder she is passionate about telling authentic and compelling stories through her award-winning documentaries and feature films.
Senda's Cinematography Challenge theme was “Dario Argento,” so she took on the challenge of re-creating his iconic style and his use of bold colors. Her lens choice for the shoot was a SIGMA CINE Classic 50mm T2.5. To light the shot, she began by magnetically mounting three DMG DASH™ fixtures outfitted with Flat Diffusers and Eggcrates onto the ceiling. Senda used these fixtures to light the background. She then rigged a DMG DASH Quad Kit with a DoPchoice SNAPBAG® and pointed it directly at the talent’s head.
To satisfy the color element of the challenge, Senda used the CAPTURE feature of Rosco's myMIX® app to select a color from a reference image of Dario Argento’s film Suspiria. She then used the app to send that color to the DMG DASH fixtures and to a DMG MINI™ that was rigged above the actor to create monochromatic blue lighting in the scene.
Lastly, to symbolize danger from an outside threat, Senda used a DMG SL1™ behind a doorway to project a deathly Deep Red hue into the scene as the door opens. With bold colors, plus a touch of atmosphere from a Rosco V-Hazer, Senda’s Dario Argento vibe was set.
Colombian Cinematographer and Rosco Ambassador Eduardo Ramirez specializes in narrative, commercial, and music videos – and he is passionate about Rosco DMG Lights. We have featured Eduardo’s use of our DMG fixtures twice before – once where he used bold colors to light a music video for The Bonfyre, and again to illuminate the award-winning feature film Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story.
For The Cinematography Challenge, Eduardo chose “Beauty Commercial,” a theme that could be re-created in a number of unique ways. He started by selecting the best lens for the scene, a SIGMA CINE Classic 85mm T2.5.
In order to make sure his vision was executed, Eduardo pulled off a Cinematography Challenge first by spending part of his allotted 30 minutes drawing a lighting diagram. He then lit the majority of the scene by angling two DMG SL1 Lights equipped with Dome Diffusers in front of the actor and a DMG MINI overhead with a SNAPGRID. Lastly, to the right of the actor, he combined the four fixtures from a DMG DASH Quad Kit together with a LINK4 and added a SNAPBAG. He also worked a single DMG DASH equipped with a DOT Round Diffuser into his lighting setup.
Eduardo ended up using every single DMG Light available to him that day, and he had all of the fixtures set to 5600K to create flattering soft light for his “Beauty Commercial.” For the color element of The Cinematography Challenge, Eduardo wanted to focus on the color of the drink. Like Senda, Eduardo also used the CAPTURE feature of the myMIX app. First, he took a photo of the drink, and then he used the app to select the color of the drink in the photo. He then sent that color to an additional DMG DASH on set that was aimed at the glass. This, combined with the natural warmth of the SIGMA CINE Classic lens, helped Eduardo accentuate the warm, brown tones of the drink in the shot.
The final challenger for this round of The Cinematography Challenge was Cinematographer and Sigma Ambassador Elle Schneider. Her skill set has been built from working on a variety of music videos, TV projects, and short films. Even though she didn't pull his name for The Cinematography Challenge, Elle tells people that she came from "The Dario Argento School of Cinematography." She describes how she uses colored light in almost every project and how exciting it is for her now that LED fixtures like our DMG Lighting range make it so easy for her to shoot in her color-filled style.
When it was time to choose her theme for The Cinematography Challenge, Elle chose “Noir.” Her first choice to replicate this classic film style was to select the SIGMA CINE Classic 35mm T2.5 lens. Next, her focus was to create contrast using the lights she had available. To accomplish this, Elle placed five DMG DASH lights on top of the kitchen cabinet in the background to create a stylized backlight. By placing a hard light directly above, Elle could replicate a dramatic spotlight effect to emphasize the actor's silhouette.
To further envelope the feeling of a “Noir” film, Elle used a Rosco Gobo to create a “Venetian blind” pattern in the scene, and she added a touch of atmosphere courtesy of the Rosco V-Hazer that was on set. Lastly, she placed a DMG DASH equipped with a DOT Round Diffuser on the wall to act as a practical light source.
For her color element, she set the backlight DMG DASH lights to green and the practical DMG DASH with the DOT Round Diffuser to a light blue. This is interesting because the scene was shot in both color and black and white. By doing this, Elle effectively created two versions of “Noir” – one that felt like the classic “Noir” films we all know, and one that was more futuristic with bright colors.
A huge thanks to Senda Bonnet, Eduardo Ramirez, Elle Schneider, our host Graham Ehlers Sheldon, and the team at SIGMA CINE for helping us create season 2 of The Cinematography Challenge. We'd also like to thank our friends at CineD for distributing this season on their YouTube channel. We hope The Cinematography Challenge helps inspire your future projects, because, as Graham always says, "The best way to improve your cinematography is to test and try new things out."
Follow our contributors on Instagram:
Graham Sheldon: @grahamtesheldon
Senda Bonnet: @senda.bo
Eduardo Ramirez: @edudp_ramirez
Elle Schneider: @attentionsoldier
SIGMA CINE: @sigmacine