Aaron Schneider: Power Windows

From American Cinematographer, Swanky Modes by Bob Fisher (October 1998)

Schneider: I learned a lot from him about da Vinci's Power Windows. There's a scene where I wanted to cast the shot with a blue-green kind of ugly fluorescent vibe. But a platinum blonde was supposed to be part of the scene in a sort of Marilyn Monroe kind of way. We ended up putting a Power Window over her hair and saved the yellow-blonde in her hair as a striking contrast to the scenes over-all hue. It made her otherwise ordinary blonde hair stand out as a visual icon.

Overton: When you isolate a face or object in a window, you can change colors, contrast and other details. You can solve problems and fine-tune images."

It sounds as if Power Windows was a really useful tool.

Schneider: Yes, and there are many examples. There is a scene in a boat when the characters are leaving Mexico, and it's a transition from night to sunrise. Buddy is looking over the edge of the boat. I needed Dennis Farina to pick his chin up over the threshold, so the light would hit his face. He didn't quite make it, so we lit his face in post.

Overton: When we put his face in that window, we could gradually build the light on it. We have control in the window over color, density, and brightness.

You can do that without affecting the rest of the image?

Overton: The secret to hiding Power Windows is learning to think like Aaron does on the set. You have to look at the scene and see where is the light coming from or where should it be coming from. It has to be a collaborative process.

How long have you been doing this type of work?

Overton: I got into the business about 18 years ago, starting in the electronic labs. I was the first telecine operator here [at Laser Pacific].

What's changing in your world?

Overton: There is a lot of interesting new technology, but there is also an important change in relationships with cinematographers like Aaron. More of them are becoming more knowledgeable. They see digital post as an extension of their work.

- Aaron Schneider, ASC & Colorist Tom Overton

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