“Eurovision – Behind the Scenes” airs

A few nights ago, the Behind the Scenes documentary about Eurovison 2013 aired on Swedish Television SVT 1. In case you missed it it’s available on SVT play until 27 Jan 2o14.  It was shot with 1 Sony PDW700 Xdcam camera and a GoPro Hero 3 Black edition for the OB truck shots and time lapses. There were No retakes, we shot everything as it happened on location, when it happened. Due to all the different lighting conditions there was Lots of in camera meny painting and all location footage was natural light or lit with only a top camera light, sometimes diffused. Not pretty but all there was time for in this very run n gun situation.

We were often doing interviews or talking to people walking backwards through hallways.   90% of the footage is hand held.  This is probably one of the most intense fast moving project I’ve shot to date.  Constantly new things happening, we wanted to be at several places at once so running was a common occurrence .  Good footware and heavy duty socks is a good bet bet for these sort of shoots.  Also compression socks is a good tip for long days on hard concrete floorings.

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Challanges we ran into:  Litte light, or actually very little light.  We were often wide open, F1,9, no shutter and even 6db gain at times.  This was one of the reasons I chose a 2/3″ sensor and not a super 35mm sensor camera.  Zoom lenses with a PL mount are T2.9 at best and are also limited to the 2,5 times zoom range, if you want to be hand held for longer periods of time.  Now I opted for the Canon HJ14 (14 times zoom) and an extra stop of light. Best choice I made on this project.  Since things only happened once, and all of a sudden 20m (60ft) away I desperately needed a good zoom range.  Also the XDCam disc meant no media management during the shoot days which often ended at 2-3am.  Just pop a new one in and ready to go again.  We stacked roughly 55 discs during the 12 days of shooting, and another 8 for the post interviews.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The XDcam 700/800 is a fantastic doc camera.  Sits great on the shoulder, even when heavily loaded and the controls are right were they need to be for quick access. The camera was fitted with zoom handle pistol grip, on board monitor, 2 wireless receivers and a zylight top light. The camera mic was a Sony stereo mic laying a constant stereo track on ch 3/4.  1/2  was a feed from the mixer bag.

Sound:  It was loud.  Everywhere.  We also were limited to 4 wireless units.  I asked for 6 freq (4 to the sound bag and stereo link to cam) but got a no no no. At first we got word of no wireless at all. Even though we were working for SVT (the host) our BTS show was secondary to the LIVE show reaching 200 million viewers. We had to fight hard to get clearance for the 4 freq we ended up with.  Sennheiser had blocked ALL wireless freq in the entire arena other than the ones we were allowed to use.  No other media were allowed to use wireless.  Looking back at the pace of shooting and running around, we never would have got the footage we got, with cables between me and my sound guy.

There was also very little time to have people fitted with transmitters.  People were always moving and stressed and even 1 min to fit a transmitter was to much a lot of times.  Calle had to work hard reaching with his boom.

The days were long and I estimate I’d have the rig on my shoulder roughly 10 hrs a day, which I payed for in sweat and pain killers… 😉

One thing with a project like this is all the footage that has to be cut and left out.  All the interviews, people and happenings which simply don’t fit into the 58 min time slot we were given. I don’t envy the hard decisions our Producer Svante Kettner had to make in order to not make this a 4,5hr affair…

I could write a book on this shoot and perhaps one day…. 🙂

Anywhooooo.

Here is a link to the show:  Enjoy!!

http://www.svtplay.se/video/1688750/bakom-kulisserna-pa-eurovision-song-contest

 

 

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Me and my trusted partner Calle Bäfving

 

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me rigging a GoPro camera in the OB truck with the help of the iPhone app.

 

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me in the way back shooting the media shooting the stars…

 

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The team behind the “behind the scenes”…. 😉

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60 Xdcam discs

not my call

I often, most of the time actually, shoot stuff where someone else has final say in what I do.  I guess that is why I am a DP and not a director… 🙂

I just recently shot something that turned out very differently than what was planned and discussed. The spot was decided, in pre production,  to have a hard, tough look, which was to be pushed hard in the grade.

We shot, and more importably lit, it for this look and tried to match the exterior look of winter in sweden, minus the snow.  I sat in the grade and we delivered a spot which was exactly what the producer had ordered.
Regardless of this a senior person in the marketing department saw the spot and wanted a more cheerful, colorful look.  We regraded it and delivered something very different with more of a sunshine look, or at least as much as we could since it was not lit for a sun shine look. The editor said “sorry but the boss has final call”

Frustrated and a little dissatisfied with the final look I delivered a spot which didn’t have the look we discussed in preproduction, nor the look which we lit for according to  emails and shot sheets, but instead something someone in an office decided was the way to go.   Not complaining for complaining’s sake jus and I realize this is the way it goes, this is certainly not the first time, but I wish there was better communication between the “final shot callers” and the actual producers/directors on site for the shoot.  Planning is so key in delivering a product which lives up to what we all want, quality.

-rant over-

 

Trailer shoot

Today we shot a trailer for TV4 and the upcoming European Championship in Handball.

Fun shoot, weather was nice, almost too nice to fit the story but with a bit of grading we’ll be fine.  Shot on the Sony F55 in S-log 2, in both 1080 (120p) and 4K (50p) Minimal lighting with a couple of Arri M18 and bounces and a  6×6 ft (1,80×1,8m) frame with silk.

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Live shot “Idol”

Last night I setup a live shot for the Swedish version of Idol. One of the contestants, Kevin Walker, could not attend the live show in Stockholm so they taped his singing performance, he left Stockholm for Helsingborg and from there he would go live for the voting part of the show. This is where I came in …

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Oddly enough, or a sign of the financial times, there was no budget to do this with a full crew and via satellite.
I lit, shot, sounded and handled transmission back to the Stockholm where we went live on the big screen behind the contestants.
After turning down a conference room I ended up taking charge of a sitting area next to the bar in the restaurant. The hotel was very helpful pretty much gave me a carte blanche. Since all internet was wireless I had to unplug a wireless access point in the hotel office and cable out to the resturant.

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Pretty straight forward setup otherwise. 5 lights, grip, PDW-700 XDCam a IP transmission solution. IFB was run through cell phone.

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I setup and did a technical check around 18.30 (6.30pm) and then waited around for the show to start around 2215. From there Kevin had 1 spoken line of dialogue and 4 minutes of waiting then it was all over. The magic of TV… 🙂

Below are a few behind the scenes shot courtesy of a colleague ANDREAS HILLERGREN.

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My day yesterday…

Looong day yesterday.  Here is a recap of the glamor of this job… 😉

Got up at 0430

Drove to the airport
Checked bags, went through security which is always a joy with camera and electronics
Waited, boarded the plane, stowed camera and bag.
Disembarked, waited for luggage, hauled everything outsite, got a cab
25 min drive to SVT (Swedish public broadcast).
Exited with all the gear and got it inside
Talked to the front desk, got my clearance and nametag
Hauled all my gear downstairs and 200 m into the underground walkways to a studio
Walked back through the building to the tech department
Collected 2 carts with more gear and pushed it through the walkways to the studio.

Setup and lit the actual setup! (my actual job 😉  )

15min lunch
Shot 2 interviews
Struck the set and packed up all the gear, by my self.
Returned all the local gear and the 2 trollies by walking back through the underground walkways
Returned to the studio and collected my own gear
Lugged everything upstairs and called a cab
Dragged everything outside and entered the cab
Drove out to the airport while checking in with the family over the phone
Lugged all my gear into the airport
Checked in gear and got boarding pass
Waited 2,5hrs for flight
Went through security and emptied out half the carry on gear as usual
Waited, again, then got on plane, stowed camera
Got off plane, waited for checked gear
Hauled gear outside to the parking garage and loaded up the car
Drove home, exhausted!
Kissed my kids good night.

You can get a lot done in 19 hours… 😉 How was your day?

This is what I actually did…

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

looking back

I found an old picture of me working.  It is a just shy of 11 years ago, when I shot a documentary in Zambia, Africa.  Fun to have digital pictures from back then, although not in the volume we’re used to nowadays… 🙂

 

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Me shooting a food distribution line in the middle of the Zambian countryside. We got stuck in the mud on the way out there and barely got our Jeep through. Good times, looking back.

Handheld and on-board monitor

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My current project is a handheld project, simple as that. I would say 85% of this documentary is handheld. We are running around, literally, and light is changing from room to room and color is a constant change. The Sony XDCam PDW-700 has really great in-camera paint options, but in order to get the colors close enough a monitor is a must.

Since it is so much handheld work I decided to move my on-board monitor (which is usually located on the top handle) up front and down low to allow me to have a constant view of it.

I started with the Alphatron viewfinder, removed the eye piece and just used the monitor. This was great small solution color was ok. But the alphatron is missing a thing I really wanted, a waveform monitor or histogram.

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So…

I decided to go with the trusted 5′ TV-logic. It is a little bit bigger but the quality screen and waveform monitor makes it worth the trouble.

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This is something I will definitely do again if a true run n’ gun situation comes up.

Disclaimer: No connection to either TV-logic nor Alphatron.20130512-145911.jpg