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Monday, October 11, 2010

••◊ Lack of sleep = fun with light

My phone rings at 7:40pm on Saturday evening. It's Clarence. Evidently things aren't going quite smoothly on the hip-hop music video shoot for a musician who goes by the moniker "Mask." The conversation goes something like this...

Clarence: Man, get down here. They only have a Home Depot tungsten light and the lighting isn't going so well.

Me: Well, they are custom white balancing, right?

Clarence: No, auto-white balance.

Me: Oh, that just means more noise in the blues and it will need adjustment in post.

Clarence: ...and they're shooting with saturation set to zero at f/4.

Me: Oh boy...where is this place?

Clarence: El Cajon.

Me: You mean I have to drive down to El Cajon (aka El Ca-bong) at night and leave my car parked?

Clarence: Yeah, but we have Miss California at the shoot.

Me: I'll be down in about an hour.

So I toss my stuff in the car and head down, hoping my car will still be there after the shoot. Clarence suggested that I over-pack, but really I only need to do the lighting. Sekonic light meter, c-stand, a 4-gang fluorescent soft box, plus a couple gobo's just in case.

Of course, we had to light more than our fair share of beautiful women, so I used my typical key, fill, hair, separation technique. We were somewhat limited in lighting fixtures to soft boxes. Man, I wish we would have had a couple HMI frenels. It would have made a huge difference in our capabilities. As you can see below, we had the obligatory hip-hop dancers randomly dancing in a parking garage, a car scene with the Angels, as well as a few office-type scenes to light with Mask holding (tightly) onto a stack of 100 dollar bills. The tungsten light was used low to the ground to give the golden glow that you see in the first picture. We used a series of fluorescents on the car to key the talent on the side away from the camera and do fill with the lesser lights. The two-tier scene was lit fairly evenly with a fluorescent on the ground just in front of the camera to light the lower tier.

Part of the music video concept was an art theft. The office was lit with tungsten balanced lights (practicals overhead in first picture), so I used the Home Depot light inside the doorway to light the "thief's" back and put a shadow on the wall. It was a homage to one of my favorite DP's, Roger Deakins. You can see the Home Depot Orange stand in the bottom left of the second picture.

It was 3am by the time the shoot was over and you know what...Clarence had already arranged another shoot with a call time of 8am on Sunday. By the time I get home I only get two hours of sparsely dozing off before my alarm goes off. I don't know where (mostly why) I mustered the mental pry bar to lift myself out of bed at 6:30am. Grrrr, grumble, some random incoherent thoughts. Each spoonful of oatmeal was taxing like curling a 50lb dumbbell underwater.

We filmed an interview for an artist named Tony Peters. His wife, Holly, is working on her master's degree in education and technology and this was her homework assignment. Tony is a painter with works in many local galleries throughout Southern California. Holly brought over her friend Pam Davis, a former CBS reporter and current NPR personality, to do the actual interview. Lucky for us, the interview was easy and laid back. Set up a couple lights, sit back, enjoy the *quiet* show, and don't start snoring. The most fun we had was convincing Holly to put on shorts and we would creatively film a scene that looks like Tony is drawing a Kate Winslet "Titanic-style" nude. In actuality Holly was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and we covered up her clothed body with Tony's back in the framing. The filming lasted until about 1pm. Time to go home and finally sleep. Yeah! Oh wait, that's too enthusiastic. It was more like...uh huh, um yeah...sssssleep.

I have to thank Clarence for these BTS photos. I was too busy doing lighting and DP'ing to take additional photos.

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