Skip to content
July 8, 2011 / nicotvandenberg

Cinematography Choice of the Week: “The 3rd Letter”

Director Grzegorz Jonkajty, marries stunning visuals, intense visual effects and a simple story line in this beautiful short. “The 3rd Letter.” This is truly a film to look at if you may be loosing faith in the HDSLR’s. Shot on the Canon 5D MKII, the film does not disappoint visually. Grzegorz, puts an interesting spin on the perception of the future. Where most may think the future is bright, clean, and worry free, Grzegorz, shows what I believe may be a more realistic portrayal of what is to come. Dark, gritty, and worn out, the visuals of the film really thrust you into this hopeless mood of survival. Take a look a share your thoughts.


Starring Rodrigo Lopresti
Presented by Marauder Film
Directed by Grzegorz Jonkajtys
Written by Grzegorz Jonkajtys & Bastiaan Koch
Produced by Bastiaan Koch

Sound Design by Andrew Duncan:
Original Score by Audrey Riley &


Best Director Prize: HollyShorts, Los Angeles, 2010
Best of Show Jury Award: Nevada City Film Festival 2010
Audience Award: Maelstrom Seattle Film Festival 2010
Official Selection: Sitges Film Festival 2010

July 7, 2011 / nicotvandenberg

Creating “Blueprints” For Your Film

Filmmaking, though an art form of its own, consists of a number of technical and collaborative aspects in order to successfully construct a movie. I wanted to shed light to a few positions on a film crew that are rarely recognized, but incredibly crucial to the success or failure of a films progress. More importantly sharing my own experiences and perspective with the goal to help your future projects. As a director a photography, I mix and mingle with pretty much ever crew role on set, and often times in the middle of the heat. I wanted to represent the pre-production work as the blueprints of a film, the heart, meat and soul that keeps a project on track and on time. Where time cost money and there is no margin for exceeding the budget. Many and most filmmakers can relate.

So the people I want to show my appreciation and give thanks to are the 1st AD’s (Assistant Directors), and Production managers. Without these two individuals doing their job, a set can be a bumpy ride and a guaranteed bad day. Each person has their own workflow and spark of creativity, and finding a way to channel the madness to a method is key. From my own experiences, pre-production is often overlooked, from the camera department. Directors wanting to be spontaneous and in the moment. Which is frustrating and demanding for the camera department. Without being close minded there is a give and take between the DP and director, leaving room for spontaneity but having a clear goal.

Coming back to the Blueprint reference, I like to imagine the shooting schedule and shot list as the blueprints of the film. Actors, wardrobe, props, crew, and camera are all the materials needed to make the film or “house.” The blueprint are in the hands of the 1st AD, or sticking to the construction analogy, “site foreman.” He or she is responsible for the assembly of the materials and meeting the appropriate deadlines. The 1st AD and production manager really add the much-needed guidance and organization to bring all the departments together.

Speaking from the camera departments perspective the way I always handle the shot list is by breaking it down into six categories. Such as, scene, shot, camera, lens, description and notes. I have added a photo of a recent shot list so you can better visualize my organization. After I have created the shot list, I work with the director and 1st AD to organize the shots into an appropriate  order that will allow us to me the most efficient during production. I found this organization has been key for the 1st AD’s I have worked with because they know immediately how many shots are required for the scene, which camera and lens should be built and staged. If possible, color coding works well to determine what shots can be captured at the same time.

This really scratches the surface when it comes to organizing your film in pre-production, but hopefully it has given you someone insight to a few methods that have been successful for me in the past.

July 5, 2011 / nicotvandenberg

Director of Photography Reel 2011

A compilation of my work from the 2010 and 2011 years. Hope you Enjoy. For more information contact me at

June 27, 2011 / nicotvandenberg

Digital Cinema: Shooting for Post Color Grading

Achieving the look intended during production in post, often will roll the eyes of a seasoned Director of photography. The very thought of tampering with their image will make their butt cheeks tighten and teeth grind. Even a DP in the digital world is extremely cautious and protective of whomever is handling the media. Rightfully so, when the screen goes to black and the credits roll, he or she must stand behind their name as the director of photography of the film.

The fact of the matter in today’s digital cinema climate, the cinematographer and DP work together in order to achieve a look and style that will provided them enough latitude and dynamic range for post production color. Adding a murky line to where the DP job begins and ends.

I currently fall in the middle of the seesaw, having the utmost respect for the DP who can take his or her vision and directly translate that onto film or memory card. Which is a skill that is certainly not learned overnight. On the other side of the spectrum is the current trending workflow of shooting for post color. A craft that too takes a tremendous amount of skill, knowing exactly how your media will react when in reaches the editing suite.

On the latest film I DP’d, Catch the Clock, I too was the colorist. Which was my first experience at grading a project of its magnitude. The film edited in Final Cut, I knew I wanted to step outside of FCP and grade in a more robust platform. Falling in love with the power of After Effects I decided I decided that this would the be the platform for color grading. However I had to find a way to take the editor FCP sequence and somehow translate that into an AE composition. I used a plugin for FCP called “Magic Duck” which allowed me to export an XML from FCP. From there I took the exported XML and imported that file into the program “FCPtoAE” which converted the XML into an After Effects script. Once I launched AE all I had to do was the run the script file, and opened up was a composition with all the edits in one composition synced in time.