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Hiding cars on a night exterior

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Steve Kownacki
Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 18, 2007 at 6:58:57 pm

Hi All
so on a low-budget gig, we shoot some night exteriors of a glass-fronted storefront that's located on a 4-lane road and another retailer across the street. Shot various angles to eliminate the rotating neon signs and thought we had reasonably acceptable shots. Client says its all unusable because "we can see car reflections in the windows". Duh I'm thinking. I have to propose a solution in a meeting tomorrow. Is my best bet to get a 200' x 30' black cloth and string it between 2 bucket trucks to hide the traffic?

Thanks for the insight
Steve


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 18, 2007 at 9:27:12 pm

Hate to use this phrase, but can you "fix it in post"? Depending on how it was shot (and how much the shots move), it might be something that some heavy duty matting or rotoscoping could eliminate.

Seems to me this is a classic example of someone wanting more (sometimes a LOT more) than they pay for.

You might could try some polarizing, but at night with very harsh reflections filters might dampen it down but it would be doubtful they would completely eliminate the problem.

You could shoot in the absolute middle of the night (say 3am) when traffic would be minimized or eliminated.

You said this was a low-budget shoot. The client should have reasonable expectations of what he can get for his low-budget pricetag. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir and you most certainly know this already.

Lets see, if you had an endless budget there are a number of ways to fix this: You could pay off the retailer across the street enough to get them to turn off all their lights. You might be able to get the right permits and police coordination to stop traffic long enough to get your shot. You could hire a glass company to come in and temporarily remove the offending windows. Or you could try to block the reflections as you suggested. But all of those things are going to take fair amount of money, some of them quite a bit.

Seems to me that if the area is as big as it sounds, that a grif that size (200'x30') would be wildly expensive, hard to manage, and impossbile to find. I've never heard of one anywhere near that large. Plus the cost of the bucket trucks (and I think you'd need more than two). Plus the cost of the extra crew that would be needed to manhandle such a beast. I'm not sure what your scale is, but sounds like you are way out of the "low budget" realm to me.

I think moving the shoot to a time when everyone else is sleeping might be the easiest/cheapest/fastest option. Even if your overnight rate is 3x the day rate, that's probably the cheapest way to go.

Clients... sometimes things would be easier with out them. Poorer, but easier.

T2

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






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Steve Kownacki
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:08:53 pm

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "get the right permits and police coordination to stop traffic long enough to get your shot."

Watched 'Living in Oblivion' last night and the phrase 'lock it up' has been echoing in my head! Thought about this, but probably not feasible.

I wonder if I could use the bucket trucks to string a braided wire and just use cheap black landscape plastic - use that stuff all the time to block off windows inside; plus it light.

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "pay off the retailer across the street"

Good idea.


[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "shoot in the absolute middle of the night"

Another good idea, but the sky is just so purdy here around 8:30pm.

I'm figuring if the guy really wants the shot he'll pay as long as I can reasonably explain the costs. He's a great client who pays on time, I just had no idea taillights would be a problem for him. If I can keep the additional expense +/- $1000. he'll go for it. I'll practice my pitch tonight to explain that the 15 minutes of shooting exteriors garnering 2 usable minutes of exteriors is totally worth the 1/2 a day production.

Steve


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:54:27 pm

Ahhh... thought this was a night scene (hence the car lights worry). Yes, I'm sure the sky, if it is in the shot, is a little nicer at 8:30.

I imagine your shots are moving, but if not... we did exteriors of the local Porshe dealer that were massively composited... sky was from one time of day, the building itself from a little while later, the signage from later than that, and the showroom after it got really dark and you could see inside well. I didn't have any headlights to combat, but they wouldn't have been tough in that scenario. Moving shots would have been possible, but it would have taken some tedius tracking and matting that wasn't in the budget.

Black plastic rather than some kind of real grif might be doable... but MAN I need to get ahold of your bucket guy if you can do all of that and keep your additional expense under a grand. The guy we use (a local tree service) is $800 a pop, even if I only need him for 15 minutes...can't imagine what his after-hours rate would be. I will say though that his truck is smooth as silk, it's the only industrial truck like that I've seen that is smooth enough to actually use for crane shots and has a nice 80' fiberglas boom.

Good luck!... let us know the results.


T2

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






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Tim Kolb
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 19, 2007 at 2:22:29 pm

Does the shot move?

If it doesn't, what's stopping you from getting a high-res digital photograph? (maybe several) and taking the least offensive snap and using photoshop to simply get rid of the stuff in the reflection that you don't like?

...also a high res photo can be zoomed and panned, so you could still do some movement on it.

I've done this many times for various purposes...it's just far easier than compositing video.




TimK,
Director,
Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,
Author/Trainer
http://www.focalpress.com
http://www.classondemand.net


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 19, 2007 at 6:49:30 pm

Well I've got some budget for a truck & misc. and will give the "plastic wall" a go during early dusk next week.

[Tim Kolb] "...also a high res photo can be zoomed and panned, so you could still do some movement on it."

We do have to zoom in from full bldg to the front doors to "lead the viewer", kinda hokey but that's what they want. I'm afraid that doing that kind of motion on a still won't be pulled off well; because of the duration of the zoom, the perspective of the facade won't un-keystone as in reality. I will take my still rig along and get shots anyway, he'll need them for print purposes I'm sure.

Plus after reviewing the current shots, they determined we should turn off the parking lot lights, re-decorate the interior window displays (its a furniture store), remove a bunch of unnecessary signage, ensure all cieling lights are on, among other things.

And on a sales and marketing note, not that my original footage was unusable, but it becomes very easy to upsell the "need to do it right" by shooting a few minutes of the exterior and doing this client review process before setting the budget - let them see all the items of concern. Plus, in this case anyway, once I told him this shot would be the opening/closing shot for 24 months of ads, the amortized cost was nothing. He agreed.

More next week after the shoot.
Steve



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Rick Amundson
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Jul 21, 2007 at 3:01:11 pm

Another option for hanging the black would be to rent two construction lifts as opposed to boom trucks. You don't need special operators and they are much cheaper to rent. We use a local construction machinery rental house. They will deliver and pick up and it's only a few hundred bucks. Then all you need are two crew members (ie interns, pas, etc) to go up and babysit the plastic.

Best of luck on the shoot.

Rick Amundson
Producer/Director/DP
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment
http://www.screenscapestudios.com
http://www.bravoromeo.com
http://www.indeliblemovie.com


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Oct 10, 2007 at 1:51:44 pm

OK, so it's been a while, but I finally have some time to finish the story...
As you recall I needed to hide car lights and other retailers from the exterior shot. So what we ended up doing was stretch a 250', 3/32" aricraft cable between the client's sign and a Genie lift 20' feet off the ground. The plastic was 100' long covering only the critical parts from the angles we shot. The lift, miscellaneous hardware, landscape plastic, and cable came to just around $450(US) for materials. Add that with 1/2 day shoot (setup 6:30pm, wrapped by 10pm), extra crew and shopping time. We usually don't do 1/2 days, but they're a good regular client and ya do what ya do.

The plastic weighs about 40 pounds, that's alot of weight to hang up there. Plus its like a huge sail! Cutting the slits allowed airflow and we puts lots of bricks on the bottom to keep it in place. with 4 of us, it was all in place in a little over an hour. Overall this worked amazingly well!

I posted bunch of pix on my flickr site here
http://www.flickr.com/gp/9432631@N07/928hYW

Steve

Daily affirmation: computers are our friends.

Steve


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Oct 10, 2007 at 1:52:12 pm

OK, so it's been a while, but I finally have some time to finish the story...
As you recall I needed to hide car lights and other retailers from the exterior shot. So what we ended up doing was stretch a 250', 3/32" aricraft cable between the client's sign and a Genie lift 20' feet off the ground. The plastic was 100' long covering only the critical parts from the angles we shot. The lift, miscellaneous hardware, landscape plastic, and cable came to just around $450(US) for materials. Add that with 1/2 day shoot (setup 6:30pm, wrapped by 10pm), extra crew and shopping time. We usually don't do 1/2 days, but they're a good regular client and ya do what ya do.

The plastic weighs about 40 pounds, that's alot of weight to hang up there. Plus its like a huge sail! Cutting the slits allowed airflow and we puts lots of bricks on the bottom to keep it in place. with 4 of us, it was all in place in a little over an hour. Overall this worked amazingly well!

I posted bunch of pix on my flickr site here
http://www.flickr.com/gp/9432631@N07/928hYW

Steve

Daily affirmation: computers are our friends.

Steve


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Hiding cars on a night exterior
on Oct 10, 2007 at 1:52:27 pm

OK, so it's been a while, but I finally have some time to finish the story...
As you recall I needed to hide car lights and other retailers from the exterior shot. So what we ended up doing was stretch a 250', 3/32" aricraft cable between the client's sign and a Genie lift 20' feet off the ground. The plastic was 100' long covering only the critical parts from the angles we shot. The lift, miscellaneous hardware, landscape plastic, and cable came to just around $450(US) for materials. Add that with 1/2 day shoot (setup 6:30pm, wrapped by 10pm), extra crew and shopping time. We usually don't do 1/2 days, but they're a good regular client and ya do what ya do.

The plastic weighs about 40 pounds, that's alot of weight to hang up there. Plus its like a huge sail! Cutting the slits allowed airflow and we puts lots of bricks on the bottom to keep it in place. with 4 of us, it was all in place in a little over an hour. Overall this worked amazingly well!

I posted bunch of pix on my flickr site here
http://www.flickr.com/gp/9432631@N07/928hYW

Steve

Daily affirmation: computers are our friends.

Steve


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