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Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well

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Todd Terry
Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 30, 2010 at 5:01:01 pm

Hey gang...

A couple of weeks ago I was asking advice on how to light this college dorm hallway dolly shot... and conceived this crazy rig to dolly a key light and backlight along with the talent. Fortunately, cooler and smarter heads prevailed and talked me out of the backlight.

A couple of people asked for a post-shoot update, so here goes...

It actually went off pretty effortlessly. I don't think the end result is pretty, not by a long shot. But I think it looks fairly natural and unlit (or non-lit), and that was the goal.

Here are some not-very-good photos of the rig....



A total of ten lighting instruments was used, not including the available light (ceiling flos). The location was a church basement hallway and adjacent classroom. There were tons of flos in the ceiling. As it turns out, the temperature of them was fine (quite warm), but the intensity was way too much. Each ceiling fixture had four bulbs, we ended up taking out three tubes in each fixture. Behind each doorway along the hallway we hid an instrument... Kinos (3200°) on one side, and tungsten fresnels on the other (I wanted harder light coming from one side). In the dorm room itself there were two instruments, a 1K into a 4x4 bounce for key, and an open-faced 650 tungsten through Lee 250 for fill/sidelight. Fortunately the dorm room was constructed inside a much larger room, so we had the luxury of false walls that we were able to shoot one of the instruments over. A slightly-warm-gelled 1200w HMI at the very rear let us blow out the deep background doorway. The key light in the hall was a China ball homemade out of a $10 paper Chinese lantern from Pier One, containing a 200w 3200° fluorescent lamp. The whole thing hung out on a 10' strut (two dollars worth of electrical conduit), on which was also mounted the boom mic, with 20lb of jib weights on the other end. A junior receiver was attached to the dolly to mount a tall C-stand post to hold it up. The last instrument was a flo ring light around the lens to give a bit of kick to the eyes.

Here's a behind-the-scenes video, followed by the finished commercial spot...







The quarters were pretty tight... you can see that my focus puller has to move out of the way after making his first move and let me take over the wheel so that actors have room to walk by, and extras had to dodge each other and duck under the China ball. Even though I was shooting with a fairly wide 35mm prime, because it was wide open (f/1.3) the depth of field was pretty shallow... so those two grip arms you see sticking out in front of the dolly are to give the lead actor a peripheral frame of reference so he would know exactly how far to stay from the camera. We thought of that after a couple of busted takes, and it worked quite well and really helped him to keep from creeping too close to me.

You might notice those were two different versions of the script and blocking. We shot it two different ways because the client was a bit nervous about the implied nudity of the "Naked Dude" character, so we also shot a tamer version where he doesn't lose his main towel. Fortunately they went with the version they considered "more risque," although it's still pretty tame.

As you'll expect, there's a lot of fake stuff in this spot... all the hallway wall pieces were created by our art director (the Greek frat names are from Animal House), the dorm bed is a fold-up table balanced on a piano bench. This was all done on the cheap, and we came in under our budget.. the most expensive prop was the rubber fake pizza and slice.

Thanks to ALL who helped us with great advice....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Terry Mikkelsen
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 30, 2010 at 6:12:51 pm

Nice job. So glad the client went with the "naughty" version. I was thinking that should have happened when I was watching the behind-the-scenes footage.
Again great results, especially on the cheap!

Tech-T Productions
http://www.technical-t.com


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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 30, 2010 at 6:16:08 pm

Very,very nice Todd. Fantastic Work!!!

Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 31, 2010 at 10:59:08 pm

Super job, I was expecting a way longer hallway. Did your art director also make the "Alex" poster from Clockwork Orange?


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Todd Terry
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:35:43 pm

"...I was expecting a way longer hallway..."


Actually, Mark, so were we... at least in my head. In fact, the day earlier we dressed more than twice that distance of the hall and were still afraid that wouldn't be enough. But when we got to blocking and rehearsals, it just seemed like the actor was having to walk really fast to cover that much ground. He looked better at more of a "sauntering" pace, which obviously didn't take him down the hall nearly as far. Plus, we later realized the obvious, that any of the other actors walking the same direction as he was would REALLY have to be flying if they were to pass him... especially Naked Dude, who had to pass him. In highsight that seems obvious, but didn't occur to me at the time.

No, the art director didn't make that poster (only all of the stuff in the hall), but was proud of it. She's a bit twisted. Considering she's my better half... should I be worried?

In the end this all went much easier and faster than I had expected. I guess one of those dreaded projects that you blow up in your mind and anticipate it being worse than you expected, when it's really quite easy. The saving grace was our lead actor, who did boatloads of takes and effortlessly juggled between four versions of the script and almost never missed a beat, fumbled a word, or dropped a line.

In the end we came in at almost $3000 under budget. Happy clients are a good thing.

Thanks again to all who gave invaluable advice!

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Alan Lloyd
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:16:46 pm

Good stuff. Nice solution to the moving/shooting/lighting conundrum.

Thanks for posting the followup.


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Rick Wise
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:42:38 pm

Very cool, Todd.

Rick

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Bob Cole
Re: Crazy Lighting rig - toned down, worked well
on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:35:48 am

Thanks very much Todd. Interesting stills and videos.

As for the spot, and the look and feel of a college dorm, you nailed it. (Just glad it wasn't shot in Odorama.)

Well done.

Bob C


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