When cinematographer Daryn Okada, ASC, went to a gathering held by Formatt, a U.K.-based filter manufacturer, and Bogen Imaging, its U.S. distributor, he heard the Formatt Filters factory manager Ann Davis ask for ideas for new filters.
Okada had an idea. He had been using the HD Soft filters, which he called “a well-made, fine softening filter,” but wasn’t happy with the result when he tried to make actors look great in close-ups. “I asked, why not make a filter that has the softening effect in the center, graduating out to much less of an effect,” he recalls. “That way, you can affect faces, but not give away that you’re doing anything because the edges of the frame won’t have the effect.
“My motivation was to do less in the DI,” says Okada. “You could power-window the image, but then you have to decide how much of an effect, and you may not have enough time. I knew this would be a great tool for the HD world.”
Dubbed the WOW filter by Formatt, other cinematographers are using it as a way to soften the wrinkles that HD sees on faces without giving away the trick.
Although the increased use of digital cameras has encouraged more creativity in digital postproduction, including the Digital Intermediate, many DPs still find filters to be not just a way to avoid fixing it in post, but to creatively impact the image on the set.
“There are many cameramen who still want to lay the foundation down,” says Stan Wallace, owner of the Filter Gallery, a sales/rental and service company in New York that deals strictly with filters and lens accessories. “They want to set the artistic and craftsmanship aspect of what they’re shooting, and they’ll use filters to do it.”
Filter manufacturers are releasing more and better choices with filters for HD and high-res digital capture. The search for the perfect IR filter grew out of a problem specific to digital cameras.