Titan: Raga 9 to 5 collection
Posted 22 February 2006 - 08:00 PM
While doing some backup and cleaning on my disk,
i bumped on pictures i've taken in 2004 on the set
of an Indian TV commercial.
So i said: "Why not to share my story and pictures
with the cinematography.com comunity?"
Noooo, i wasn't the DP or lead actor...
I was as an extra in it.
A short intro:
This was a TV commercial
for the Indian brand of watches "Titan",
the Raga 9 to 5 collection.
I was participating only the second day of shooting.
The story (quotation from an indian newspaper):
"A BUSNESSLIKE woman is headed to work through a plush business district. She glances at the time on her watch, a Titan Raga. As if it's her imagination working overtime, an apparition-like image of herself appears beside her trying to sew a button on her sleeve as she speeds to work. Shrugging this aside, she walks on, only to be confronted with another apparition of herself trying to feed her milk. She hurries past these images of herself through glass doors that shut behind her, keeping out these two images of herself, a home-maker as well as a mother. Symbolic that those facets of her life are not accompanying her at work and she's herself, neither a doting mother nor wife, attending to hubby and kids."
Early, early morning. 4am.
I am awake, starting my morning rituals,
anxious to get on time to the rally point
of the "westerners" extras.
5am. We meet David, the guy responsible
for us, "overseas" extras.
Short after we got acquainted each other, did some chit chat,
we boarded the van and head for ITPL, Bangalore.
ITPL stands for International Technology Park L(imited(?)).
It is an IT based complex of glass towers.
Very nice, very modern. Exactly as needed
for the highend look of the spot.
Now some gear fetish:
Camera Arri 435.
The sun was still below horizon.
People gathered, crew and equipment starting to roll
I was told the DP is from Australia, Danny Pope,
and lead actres was Gul Panag, former Miss India.
Wow!!! Gota see that.
Well, you too:
This and some of the other pictures are soft.
Reason? Taken in a hurry , subject moves,
others move sudenly in front of subject...
Focus hunts, shutter lag...
(full of excuses, am i not?)
The long day just started, Gul wants to feel comfortable.
When shooting MS and CU slippers will do just fine.
And now, here is our hero, Danny Pope, the DP.
The sun was low and coming from the left side
of the picture. Used as a backlight.
An 1x1m frame with golden (i think) gel was
rised on two C-stands 3.5-4meters high and behind the actress,
to give a golden glow to the sun backlighting her.
For key a saw a big 3x3m white frame for bounce.
I guess that was used for the wider shots.
For MS and CU 4x4' polystyrene board on C-stands were used
What realy surprised me was
the use of flags for the lens.
As you can see, besides the big lensshade,
slightly forward and higher is a flag on stand.
Nearby was a motion controled MILO rig.
Arri 435 on it. That was cool!
The following picture is not mine.
It's from an old eNewspaper who wrote a
report about the commercial.
I hope i won't get into trouble coz of it.
Just want to show an extra pix:
The background consisted of business man & woman
going to work, reading the morning paper, talking on phone, etc...
The business people were mix of indians, westerners, some africans too.
In an CU shot of lead actess forced by another
to drink milk, the background was people hastly walking
in and out of frame. Just 1-1.5 m behind main talents.
One of them is me.
I was standing and watching, dressed in
a square patern shirt, light brownish pants and
pair of lether chapals on my feet.
Not much business looking!
The director needs crowd for BG, said to an AD to
quickly choose. I was near and being freshly friend with the AD,
he chose me in the bunch and i wasted no time borrowing
a tuxido from a nearby standing young indian, also an extra.
The shot, like all had couple of takes.
On the next, the actress was actualy drinking the milk.
After a while she couldent any more, so magicaly
from somewhere a plastic bucket apeared for
spiting the milk after every "Cut!"
I took a break.
They selected couple of toe to tip
well dressed in tuxido extras for the
next set that would take place in the city.
I was not dressed like required but wanted
to be on the next location.
I asked my new AD freind, "Can i squeeze in?"
Sure, no prob!
So i was rolling with the rest of the production
I was surprised on how much modern buildings i saw
in Bangalore. This was my second trip to India and
i newer had the opportunity to discover and see
modern urban India.
Ninon, if i recall his name correctly, a friend from Spain
being tux'd up. Nothing on him, like he told me, except his
underwear was his own. All borrowed/compiled from other extras.
In the big hall of the building.
I don't know what kind of a building it was exactly.
It was of course business related, but was it a bank,
insurance comp, IT, offices, or what ever i don't know.
The big entrance hall was daylit
from top very high ceiling windows,
and the front big sliding door and above glasses.
Plenty of light.
With the orange hat: Danny the DP, left
from him Rajiv Menon, the director.
Foamcore on stands used for bounce of avaliable light.
At one point I noticed a clampshell configuration of the boards:
On one side the board was high, on the other side it was
filling from bellow.
An ARRI 18K HMI standing by.
While planing for a higher master shot, reverse
and to the side from the above,
Danny noticed a nasty splash of light on the marble floor.
For a moment the grip assembled a 3x3m black frame,
placed it outdoors next to the window, effectively blocking the
At some point they needed a white frame.
I don't recall where they used it but i was
astonished on how fast the indians assembled it!
Somebody gave the instruction and people were
runnung toward the grip truck, assembling the pipes,
and already stretching and tieing the white cloth!
Next you now it was erased and moved in position.
It was outside, but the function of it, can't remember.
The glass slide doors were not motorized so
PA's did the pulling with cables.
The fun part was when on the cue "OPEN DOORS!"
one door opened the other stand still!
A cabble snaped.
Director Rajiv Menon on camera, DP Danny Pope next to him.
Shooting towards glass door entrance.
Rajiv Menon gives instructions to Gul.
In order to drop down the light in the BG,
a long ND gell was cut out of a roll and hold
outside the doors in level of the MS&CU of the actress.
Taken form the side near camera position.
You may see here the effect of the ND gel.
Just above the tire of the car in BG you will see the
border where the ND starts.
After doing some shots, Danny didn't liked the BG.
Too cluttered, not appealing. So they decided to
do green screen.
They pulled this green cloth/material,
velcro it on the frame and that's it!
All my knowledge on how to do chroma:
Clean surface, carefull even lighing,
was droped into water!
Clean? It was not. You may see by your self.
Even lighting? Maybe it was, flat, being more or less
ambient light form all over.
I guess the light level fell, so they put to duty a
18k ARRI HMI on the left side.
A sheet of some gel (was it bluish?) was put
in front of the lamp and the ray continues on a
big 2x2m diffusion frame.
Just about to start rolling, the power was cut!
The shot remained for tommorow.
Back to ITPL.
The extras with the tux where gone long before they wraped in
here and i remained only. I came back with the AD's.
It was lunch time.
Had my meal, some rest.
Did i said rest?
Yes. I need a rest from the typing.
Will continue tommorow.
Posted 23 February 2006 - 04:19 PM
When i came back from lunch break to the set,
they were setting up for filming
with the MILO motion control rig.
On the left side you see the background:
advertising props, businessman extras
and a boy casualy dressed,
with dreadlocks and trumpet.
No lighting to them, just the avaliable
Here an ARRI HMI thru frame of
golden gel. For backlight.
It seams like the set went into shadow
or the sun was behind a cloud or hazy.
Big bounce frame.
I don't remember if sun was still hitting it,
but they had as you can see an HMI bounce into it.
Flag keeping any lamp spill of camera.
On the far right you can see partialy the MILO rig.
The idea of the shot was to do a layer of 3-4 times
the lead character walking, talking and standing beside it self.
So 3-4 of her in a row.
The shot was MOS, but sound
reference for lipsync was used.
I think they made background passes only too.
Now two interesting things about this shot:
For sync of the passes i can't recall if they
used electrionic slate, with timecode, but i
saw a guy holding a wire end to the lens
just before the rig stated to move.
I asked what exactly he was doing.
He showed me.
On the end of the wire is a red LED,
wraped in blackfoil cone and connected to
the control computer.
The opening of the cone was handheld
on the lens/filter, the computer sends
couple of pulses, LED glows, the sync guy
moves away and the rig starts the dance.
The second thing.
As the camera started to move
towards the actress, a PA or grip guy,
handheld a flag and followed the camera,
preventing spill into lens.
Of course the cam had a lens shade.
This was taking between two of the buildings.
Mainly skylight coming left, top and rightside.
A light was added to camera left.
Smaller HMI thru big diffusion frame.
The diffusion material was very plastic like in feel.
Hard, had the feeling like a
percussion instrument membrane.
Can someone tell me name of this material?
I can't get the idea off my mind,
but i think the frame was just leaning
for support on the lamp itself.
There were some unwanted reflections
in the glass of the BG building,
so they had to move crew,
extras and gear on the right side away.
This was a layered shot too.
As you can see the framing on the monitor,
she stands left side, enough room to the
right for her alter egos.
Clean BG was shot too.
In focus and blurred.
A BG shot with lots of people
walking in and out of frame was done too.
It was interesting when the extras
aligned left and right of frame and
on ACTION! start to move in same
pace toward each other.
Looked like two armies walking
to each other.
People spread, filling the space
and on action starting to move with
Couple of takes and it was a wrap for the day.
The next day was planed to do
product beauty shots in Chennai (Madras).
The unfinnished greenscreen shot in Diamond Distric too.
I was tired, but happy and fullfilled from the experiance.
What is funny, is that i haven't seen the spot yet!
I did search on the web,on Titan's web site,
looking for Danny Pope's web demo reel or such,
Maybe i should try to contact him
to find out where can i see
the spot online.
I managed somehow to find demo
reel of Danny put on an agency site.
The Titan ad is not in it.
If you would like to see his demo, i'll look for the link.
I just did a search.
Finnaly he got a web site:
One of his well known spots is a
Fevicol ad, which has won Silver Lions at Cannes.
You can see it here.
Any question and comments are welcome.
Posted 08 March 2006 - 02:21 PM
thats like a great surprise to see this article of urs on this site...amazing.
i waas a part of this crew.infact i was assisting Mr.Dany pope on this shoot as his assistant camera man.
i used to work for the director (Mr.rajiv menon) who is also a great cinematographer. so when Dany was assigned to shoot this ad for rajiv...i was helping dany pope.
now am on my own shooting a feature film in tamil (south indian language)
the guy in checked shirt with that beige coloured cap showing the back to the camera in one of ur snaps is meeee.....wasnt that interesting to see myself on the cinematography website...though just my back.
hey amazing the way u had descrbed the entire scenario..we were running around like headless chicken...such a tension filled shoot it was...with milo and things.
hey if u are interested i can get u that ad for u and put it on the net for u.
and the membrane like diffusion u were enquiring about was.....diffusion 216. we had used 250 frost also.
hey cool. keep in touch. and by the way...if uwere an extra....i dont understand ur interest in cinematography and....how come u were an extra hanging out there..with so much knowledge about the grip and things.
bye for now
Posted 08 March 2006 - 10:20 PM
Well, this is a suprise...
Yes i remember you! We even had a little chat.
I was asking the crew around who is who.
You were assistant. If i remember correctly you had an
viewing glass hanging on yor neck, and was doing photos
with a film SLR (Nikon, i think). Set photography or something, not quite sure...
Definitly the world is small.
You wonder what was i doing as an extra on the set
and "with so much knowledge about the grip and things" (thank you).
I was on visit for darshan by Satya Sai Baba in Whitefield (near Bangalore).
One day i was approached by a russian aquaintence in the ashram and he asked me
would i like to be a part of a tv commercial. They were yesterday and needed more
westerners for the spot. Sure i said!
So that's that.
And as a multimedia artist (electronic music, photography, digital art, CGI, animation) and aspiring
DP i had a great and educational time.
I would VERY much like to finaly see that spot!
I searched many times over the net and could not find the commercial.
I looked for Danny Pope's site. Nothing.
Found a link for Rajiv's company. The link/site is down.
Please put it up and let's post the link here so the readers may see
the finnished work.
You said you were shooting a feature on your on.
How is it going?
Why don't you, if time allows, post a production thread here. With pictures of course!
Keep in touch.
Posted 23 March 2006 - 03:31 PM