Natural light

Today I shot a pilot for a documentary series hopefully coming soon.  We were a small team, sound guy and myself + producer, no budget and short of time.

Here is an example of what natural light can look like in a hurry.  Very simple setup.  I taped some 250 diff (3/4 stop loss) to the windows (RED marked) and put a 1/4 stop silk flag on the top window to take the harsh edge off.  Then a little bounce from the left.  The only light in this shot was a small LED (with 1/8 Minus green) that hits him ever ever so slightly on the right cheek.  That it!!  We shot this on the Sony FS7, in Slog3, XAVC.

Other things I wish I would have done: Add a black flag to the right hand side to give a little more contrast face right. Remove the plant in the way back.  Never ever happy… 😉

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This is the final frame.  Slog3. NO grading


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Same frame but added a Rec709 LUT, NO grading.Nat light30 copy

The compression artifacts in the frame grabs are due to hard JPG compression for the web!

Tape your bounce

IF you’re like me perhaps you treat bead board like an expendable. It’s great for a quick bounce, lightweight and cost next to nothing. If it breaks or tears throw it away and get a new one. Cause one problems is just that it’s really fragile, especially in the edges. The easy fix is to just wrap the edges with some gaffer tape. It will hold up way better to the abuse it’s put through during a day of production.

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Another favorite is to break one in half and gaffer tape it together like a little book.  Makes for a quick easy, bounce on a table or such and it also keeps the light from spreading everywhere. Easy to fold and bring along.

Tape the backside as well and it will last even longer.

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Sometimes you may also want a little more push in the bounce the the white beads. Simply gaffer tape your favorite bounce material to the front and you’ll still have a lightweight, rigid bounce board costing next to nothing.

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For the low cost version of silver bounce you can use oven aluminum foil.  Sound silly but works like a charm for a hard silver bounce. If you want a little softer but still silver choose the heavy duty textured oven aluminum foil. One downside to the cheap DIY consumer bounce is that it’s noisy, any movement or slight wind will make it russle and mess wih your audio.Bounce2

 

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Lighting workshop

Today I held a lighting workshop here in Malmo. It’s the first part in a 4 part series. Basic Lighting and theory was the goal for today. Next time (lighting 201) we’ll focus on different lighting setups in full practical session. Part 3 will focus on cameras/sensors/codecs/formats etc. The last session we’ll look at workflow from pre production to output. It was a lot of fun to share what I’ve learned through the years.

Behind the setup

Yesterday I shot six interviews for a friend and colleague who’s producing a promotional film for FIFH, Association Sport for Disabled.  He’s shot the rest of the film himself but wanted me to shoot the interviews. 

Our location was a small sports hall. First thought was to shoot against a black backdrop, limbo, but we decided to have a little bit of a background of some kind, dim and pretty diffused.   I shut all the lights down in the room and started from scratch.  This is a really nice quick basic setup with some tweaks to get it where I want. I was alone doing this, setup, lighting and sound.  In the morning I actually had my wife, who also does this for a living, helping me out lugging gear.

For a key I setup a 6x6ft white shiny bounce which I covered with a silk to take the harshness off the bounce.  I shot a 2K open face into it and filled the entire 6×6 which created a nice soft bounce.

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Big white soft bounce with a 2K into it.

For a hair/back light I used a frosted 250W on a boom and also added a 15oW Dedo, dimmed down, as an edge light.  That’s it.  This pretty much left  me with a 4-5,6 split to which I added 2 stop of ND a little and shot the interviews at f2+2/3 on a 85mm. Since all the overhead lights were turned off I needed to add lights to the black background.  I didn’t want to just “wash” the background with light but instead wanted some texture to it. a 650W Dedo and a 300w strategically placed gave a nice result I think.  On a couple of the interviews I hung some LED tubing which defocused looked like a light wand sort of… 😉

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Background setup with 2 lights adding texture to dark background
Christmas light LED tubing adding a "light shaft"
Christmas light LED tubing adding a “light shaft”

Everything was shot for a finished look with no grading in mind so I pushed the blacks just a little bit in camera and the frame grabs below have had nothing done to them.

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Ungraded image right out of C300
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Ungraded image right out of C300

 

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Ungraded image right out of C300

 

Funny story about doing things right and not cheating even though your in a rush.  In the first picture up top you see a C-stand with the arm point straight out.  I was rushing and didn’t do it right. It bit me, and drew blood! I walked right into it and almost knocked my teeth out!  Never cheat, do it right and save yourself the hurt. 🙂  Whenever possible try and place the arm with the empty side point up. That way it’s less likely to hit someone in the face…  Another tip is to put a tennis ball , with a whole cut out, on the empty end.

 

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Empty side pointing up

 

A little goes a long way…

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I recently shot package comedy bits for the talk show Robins which airs on Swedish TV SVT.  We shot a bunch of different short packages ranging from 30 sec to 2.30. Production tempo was high and I together with my sound person Göran were the only 2 in the tech crew.  Everything was shot on a Panasonic 2100!! 2/3 inch ENG camera. Big sensor would have been nice but SVT owns the 2100’s and the choice was theirs. Lighting package (package is a big word) was really minimal and a few LED panels and a 650 Frensel was about it.  Time was really a shortage and we were moving so fast quick solutions were in order. I brought along, and absolute savior, the Odyssey 7q monitor and and Arri Locaster for an accurate quick dialing light.  I also has a wireless monitor solution for our director to get cables to a minimum.  Since everything was straight-to-air (no post color correction) the Convergent design Odyssey 7Q was a life saver giving me an accurate image on set.

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Arri Locaster taped to car window. The color controls, plus/minus green is so incredibly handy with this light!

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The first bit to open this season of Robins was to recreate the “talent introduction sequence” of the Swedish Song Contest. The real show is shot big sensor, short depth of field, lighting and such.  For us to recreate this in a garage, on an ENG camera, was going to be a challenge.   The easiest would have been to shoot the first shots on a big glass plate, recreate on the car window for the wide shot and go from there. Time and lighting would not allow so we opted to shoot everything through the car window.

Lighting was done with 2 x 800W (added to light kit 😉 ) redheads bounced into foam core and the Arri Locaster taped to the car window. Shot everything wide open to achieve some depth of field on the small 2/3 sensor.
I really enjoyed this shoot. Everyone involved was Great and pulling in the same direction trying to get the most out of every minute!

All frame grabs are from iPad screen from SVT play streaming.

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Going nuts in the kitchen

 

Last week I shot a web series of quick kitchen tips/recipes for a production company in Lund who’s end client is a big food chain in Sweden.  I thought I’d share a few pictures and thoughts on the setup to explain how a situation that might not be ideal but will still produce a nice end product. During the course of 2 days we shot 14 tips and 4 promos.

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Framegrab straight from camera, no color correction. (JPG Compressed for Web)
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our kitchen with the big island

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I came in late into the project and was not part of any pre production.  We were assigned a test kitchen belonging to the client.  It was a fairly small kitchen with a big island in the middle of the room.  Preferably we would have liked to be working in a bigger space with the talent farther from the background, to get some depth, but this was not an option since the island was not movable.  I even asked to have it un-screwed from the floor and removed but this was not possible. Another issue with the island was that it was a little low, height wise. In a few shots we ended up seeing a little bit of floor in the background, out of focus but still.
Also, times and budgets being what they are, this was a solo tech gig. Yes, sound, lighting, camera and focus, all mine. 🙂 I could have said no but I really wanted to work with this client and this was something I knew I could handle alone and have a lot of fun doing it. Working in a small crew really has its rewards as well as its drawbacks.

This project was shot on the Sony F3, with a Red 17-50/2,8 zoom and a 5″ Tv-logic monitor for a “view finder”.  We wanted to achieve as much depth as possible so I lit the set to shoot wide open at f2.8 (light to f8 with 3 stop ND on camera). Everything was shot handheld and lens was set to 32mm -35mm except for the close ups at 50mm.  The Red zooms is great in that it has a really nice near focus range allowing to get close in on an object.  Since there was to be no grading I painted in-camera for a finished look or as close I could get.  We decided on a flat, low con, clean look.    Everything was shot in 35Mbit XDCam EX codec.  There was a quick turn around on this project and all “tips” were delivered just a few days after shooting.

Sound was a straight forward setup with a DPA 4071 lav, carefully hidden under her clothing. The downside of doing sound by your self is not being able to change levels during a take since your busy pulling focus.

All in all it was a  pretty simple setup. 7 lights total.

1 key light, which consisted of a chimera frame with an open face 2K into it.  I didn’t want the harder light of the shiny bounce surface so I added a diffusion on the bounce side.

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2K open face into bounce. Sony F3. TV-Logic monitor for VF. Black wrap as a hood.

 

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Key light, Shiny bounce and a diffusion to lessen the punch.

 

For fill I put up 2 x 800w open face lights bouncing into the white walls left of the kitchen island.  This filled the background nicely and gave some fill for our talent.  I added a neg fill on the left which gave our talent more contrast on her left side.  On this picture you also see the 150W Dedo which acted as a spot light for some of the background items.

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neg fill or flagging to give more contrast to her left side

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Back lights consisted of a 300 with 216 and a 250w with diff. It can be a good idea when using hot lights to tape some black wrap to the ceiling above the light to reflect some of the heat.

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300W back light
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250 Pro light with diff as back light

Then I wanted the light in the back to be on and tried to filter out some of the green and other ugly spectrums in there but lack of a full filter kit got me only so far.  It works and I got most of the green out with the filters in my kit.

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Kitchen fixture with attempt to filter out ugly colors.
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filtration taped directly onto fluorescent tube.

As a last light I put our Arri Locaster in the corner behind the talent.  this added a little fill for background.

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Arri Locaster

 

 

All that tungsten lights in that area you think… Yes it was pretty hot in that small kitchen but there was windows to open up to the fridgid air outside.  Cool lights would also have been an option but the lighting budget was for tungsten.

In retrospect it was a really fun shoot.  Great client and end-client.  Everybody pulling in the same direction and ready to help out wherever needed.  It would have been nice to have one more person in the tech dept., helping out with sound, lights and perhaps focus which was a challenge at times.  We could have opted to have more depth of field but the client likes the wide open look which de focused the background. The F3 is a great camera and looks just as great as it did before the F5/F55 came out and took over the market. 😉

Please not that all images are compressed for web.

End Client:  City Gross
Producer/Production company:  Anagram

Interviews for doc

Today I spent the day in Stockholm shooting 2 of 4 interviews for a behind a scenes documentary we are producing for SVT (Swedish public broadcast)

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Since there is so much movement and running around, moving lights and different colors in the doc I opted to go with the simple and clean black limbo look.

I made this a very simple setup. A 2K open face with a big piece of 216 on shot through a 4×4 frame with 216.
A x-small chimera as a back light.
A big beadboard as a fill bounce to which I added a 300w open face for some extra bounce.
I also shot a 800 with a chimera w/grid at a slightly lower angle from the key side.

Nothing crazy keep it simple, and I think it turned out pretty good I think.  Here are 2 ungraded framegrabs right out of camera

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p.s.  As you can see I backed off the fill bounce quite a bit on his interview

Cine meter iPhone app

Today I heard of a really cool new iPhone app called Cine Meter. It is a shutter priority reflected light meter app that shows reading within 1/3 stop and is able to calibrate within 1/10 stop to your own meter. It seems very accurate in my first few shots. It has also has a waveform monitor, false color and white balance. I can’t wait to play some more with this thing and see how it performs.
The app is developed by Adam Wilt
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