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Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?

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Nafai
Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 13, 2006 at 4:32:28 am

I've got a shoot next week and for reasons beyond both my and the client's control, the location is no longer available. It's out of town for everyone involved, and I will likely be forced to shoot in a hotel suite. How would you go about disguising the room to not, well, look like a hotel? Hotel furniture, wall paper, chairs, etc. all are dead giveaways that you're not in a real office--which is what the client wants--he wants the people to appear that they are in a realistic working environment. Oh, and none of the subjects work together, so each false environment needs to be unique.

The hotel won't let us bring any large furniture pieces in (they were ok with chairs, but not desks, etc.).

I saw an advert for a portable, collapsible, reversible blue/green screen the other day, should I give it a shot?

I need some assistance brainstorming for how to get creative and make the most out of this without it becoming a nightmare.



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cow
tony salgado
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 13, 2006 at 6:59:24 pm



My suggestion would be to rent the hotel ballroom which has much more space and is empty allowing you to bring in your office furniture.


The hotel room is wrong environment given the variables and lack of cooperation from the hotel you describe.


Don't set yourself up for failure because the client can't see the chaos in the making.


Tony Salgado


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jmichael
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 12:50:22 am

Another option might be one of the companies that rents office suites by the hour/day/month. Plenty of listings on Cityfeet.com. Some hotels have a nicely furnished boardroom for rent, but that wouldn't make a realistic cubeville.



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mark Suszko
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 4:38:58 am

A lot depends on how tight you can shoot the scenes, and how many reverse angles you need. Two 4x8 sheets of cheap paneling from the home center, and single sheets of wall paper, was all I needed to fake four different locations in one phone-booth-sized working area. I started with two pieces of the fake brick wallboard. The naked back sides got one five-dollar sheet of wallpaper each. Since I framed all my shots no wider than from the beltline-up, the backs of those panels got one pattern on each end, you flipped them vertically to change rooms. Adding a VERY simple and monor prop tot he wall like a photo frame, a wall clock, etc. brought from home, was all we needed. Those sheets can be carried in a pickup or van, or car-topped if desperate. You can bring them into a hotel room using the Stairs. Use a couple c-clamps or gaffer tape on the back side to book-match them into a corner-looking free-standing backdrop. Using C-stands, run them sideways (lengthwise) and there is room for a tight 2-shot in fron tof them. To simulate an office, pick single panel sheets with an office look, or use acoustic ceiling panels with geometric panel textures and super-glue them to the plywood for a more industrial office look. These can be painted or stainedd with wood stain to look like a corporate CEO's wall or a boardroom thing. Running cheap burlap fabric over them from a sewing store, you can simulate office cubes. None of these should cost you over $30 to execute, mine cost less than that. The really important thing is to remember: the audience doesn't know your set reality ends one inch outside the frame. Don't fret about what the frame never sees, and don't waste time filling up areas not visible to the camera. You can use the shots leading into the scene and sound effects to suggest much that is never really there. Creative use of high and low angles, plus using depth of field to blur what's behind people, also make the most of what you have. See them use these tricks a LOT on the "Commander In Chief" TV show with Geena Davis: lots of low and high angles that only show ceilings and floors.

The next quick answer is to green screen them, suitable fabric can be found at most Walmarts for twenty-thirty bucks in a pinch, but you'll have to have it ironed or steamed to take out the folding wrinkles, and light it VERY carefully and evenly. the room needs to be deep enough so you can get the people about 6-7 feet away from the screen cloth, and the cloth at Walmart is not wide enough without you seaming it together with gaffer tape, glue, whatever. Pro camera stores can sell you wide paper rolls in chroma green for upwards of 50 bucks, or Denney's will ship one anywhere for you. Denney also sells photographic backdrops of actual offices and library type book shelves. We have two of these with Alabamaa law books on them, and about half the satelite remote shots you see on CNN and the like use these. Very realstic if lit right. Anyhow, back to greenland: The benefit of greenscreening is that you need literally only an inch of clearance around the person's body to work, garbage mattes and the DVE in post take care of all the scaling and placement issues later... and you can change the view by changing the way the characters face, leaving the camera and the lighting setup the same for each shot. You thus only need one setup to shoot all the reversals, etc. When you green screen on the fly in an emergency, you're basically throwing a Hail Mary pass and hoping you can get the key to work Ok in post. Only you know if your software and skills are up to the work, or if you'll need to do lots of tedious roto work to fix it later.

A third idea may be simplest: call some area realtors, tell them you want to rent an empty house or business location near the hotel for the day. Many times they will jump at this idea, for a modest fee, especially on a dead day of the week. Considering the cost of a re-shoot with these people later, two hundred for an hour or two in a real office may be a bargain. Also call office furniture sellers: they often have beautiful showroom displays you could walk in and use, for some small consideration. Also try public libraries which often have business-like meeting rooms you can borrow.

Really, if you put your imagination to work, you can come up with a number of workable alternatives that don't cost much.

Best of luck: let us know what you wound up doing on this, as it could be instructive for others later.


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SydneyS
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 5:18:01 am

Why don't you just ask the folks at the hotel if you can use their office spaces at odd hours? Typically, these folks are very accomodating. Or, at the very least, borrow some of their office furniture.... Also, personally, of the suites I've been in, they look very much like an office. They've had desks, decent chairs.... I think you'll have a lot of luck with what exists within the hotel, especially if the suite is two rooms. Just snag the plant on that little pedestal in front of the elevator, buy some supplies from a local Staples, oh, and hide the Nintendo 64 controller that's sure to be plugged into the TV...

Two other options... post on the local Craigslist, offer some sort of trade out, maybe? As a last resort, you could go to the local film commission, they will have exactly what you need, but but you may have to pay premium $... Doesn't hurt to ask....


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Jon Zanone
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 4:08:08 pm

I gotta' say Mark, I love reading your posts! I always learn something!

Jon

"The Almighty tells me He can get me out of this mess. But He's pretty sure you're F%$#*D!"


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mark Suszko
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 11:51:21 pm

Thanks, man, sorry about the typos; our pet budgie was riding on my typing hand while I was writing that.


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BDiddy
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 27, 2006 at 8:01:37 pm

I'm interested in checking out those photographic backgrounds. I searched the web for Denney's and didn't come up with anything. Do they have a website?

Thanks for the info.

Brian Davis
BB&T Video Communications
OSX 10.3.6/FCP 4.5/SP 3.0.2
Winston-Salem, NC



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mark Suszko
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 27, 2006 at 10:22:18 pm

http://www.dennymfg.com/


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mark Suszko
Re: Need to fake an office set on the cheap....suggestions?
on Apr 27, 2006 at 10:29:35 pm

Specifically:
http://www.dennymfg.com/cgi-bin/Shopper.exe?preadd=action&key=113000600&ref...

Put this up as your backdrop, and you can almost hear the actor saying:

"....If YOU'VE been in an accident....."

:-)


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Nafai
Thanks to everyone for their quick and helpful suggestions!
on Apr 27, 2006 at 8:24:17 pm

With the time constraints, I weighed the options, and the hotel was posh, so I asked if I could look around for locations. They were happy to do so, and the solution was definitely not something I would have come up with without walking around and scouting with my camera:

In their executive suites, they have brushed chrome refrigerators. I did the shots as extreme close-ups, with them seated in front of the fridge. With some very minor fill lighting, I was able to make it look really cool. You certainly can't tell what the background is: it's just an aesthetically pleasing, silver-toned neutral background with some minor color variation thanks to the brushed texture and the lighting.

The reminder that what's not in the frame doesn't exist was just what I needed. Thanks again to everyone!


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alivision
Re: Thanks to everyone for their quick and helpful suggestions!
on May 13, 2006 at 4:04:43 am

You've probably done your shoot by now but for future reference you might try this sit: seriousmagic.com They have a very effectivegreen screen solution and virtual office sets.

Al


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