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Commercial shoot


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#1 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 04:50 AM

Hello all,

I just wrapped a small one day commercial shoot. The concept was pretty simple, pretty much a librarian moving through this big, older library after hours.

Of course, the big challenge was lighting this large space on a low budget. On top of that, any solution would have to be very low-profile because the space was fairly narrow, so to get nice wide shots, any lighting from the ground could not be very deep.

I wanted to motivate light from about 30 table lamps that went down the center of the room for almost the entire length. My gaffer (Chris Hughes) and I were having trouble coming up with the best solution for keying this long walk next to the lamps, while seeing almost both walls of the room. Originally we were planning on some 9-lights through very heavy diffusion, but I didn?t really feel this was the best solution because of how deep a 9-light with large frame of diffusion is, even if very close to the light.

Then I remembered Lumapanels. They are 7 feet long by 4 feet tall and 5 inches deep. They consist of 28 fluorescent tubes, and the entire unit can either use a vertical or horizontal bale. These were perfect for us. I called the company, and ended up speaking with Dave Devlin (the inventor of the unit, not to mention an extremely good gaffer). He helped us get a few of them at a price we could work with, and recommended trying ½ soft frost with the units. They worked great, very beautiful lights.

So we used a row of the Lumapanels for her walk. For general ambiance in the room, we used an 8k balloon light, floated up to the ceiling, in the middle of the room.

There were also several halls of books that were across from the tables. We put something like 16 2k zips far back to make some nice ambiance as she walked across them.

For a nice backlight on her we used a Big-eye 10k up on a balcony. Unfortunately, the building was extremely old, and had very narrow hallways up to the balcony, so the crew had to hoist this big ass light up to the balcony with rope. They did a great job, and did it fast and safely.
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To key her in close ups I either used a large Chimera, another Lumapanel, or some other soft source.

To top everything off, at the end of the commercial, in a wide shot, every single light in the room cross fades with an extremely hot top light. That meant that everything had to be wired into a dimmer, over 30 table lamps, 16 soft boxes, the 10k, and the balloon. That made for an interesting cable run. They used a CD80 and single 20k dimmer (for the 220 balloon). Of course the Lumas can?t dim, so for that one shot we supplemented their light with a 9-light through a 12x frame.

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(wish I had better ones, but I barely had time to take these while setting up, let alone ones that had the talent in)


The piece was shot on a Panavised F900, and I have to thank Phil Radin for again helping us get a very nice camera package at a price we could deal with.

We wanted a very classy, soft look. So I netted the rear of all the lenses, and sometimes used either a ¼ or ½ classic soft, or #1 glimmer glass in front.

I have to thank my great crew:
Gaffer, Chris Hughes and his crew who got us up and running quickly, always two steps ahead of me
Key grip, Adam Ginzink and his crew
Operator, Ken Bender who nailed big dolly shots and macro stuff with great skill, far better than I could do!
1st AC, Darryl Harrington who also nailed the above, often times with no rehearsal
And DIT, Elhanan Matos who kept this camera up and running, and brought a great eye to a job that a lot of people do with little artistry.

These guys all rolled with the punches, it was an enjoyable shoot.


Kevin Zanit
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 12:13 PM

A photo matching the final lighting effect on some stand-in's face would have been nice, but from what I can tell, it looks like it would look nice. The Lumalite panels sound interesting. Do they come in daylight & tungsten tubes like Kinos?

I might have considered putting the Lumas on lower stands or on the floor to simulate more the effect of tablelamps as the main key, because eye level starts to resemble more of a windowlight effect, but that may not have been as flattering to your talent, I don't know.

Did you end up around at T/2.8 at 320 ASA?
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#3 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 04:52 PM

They come with tungsten or daylight tubes, although I have never seen them on with the daylight. They don't use kino globes; they use some other type of fluro that looks pretty good. My gaffer color temped them at 3200, but there was a definite green spike in the light. For wider stuff, especially when the Lumas were lighting the background without a person in them they looked fine, but once she started walking through them we ended up with 1/4 minus green on them.

I tried to keep them as low as possible, but as you said, she needed a more flattering angle, not to mention that I could see the lamps closest to the Lumas in a lot of the shots, and when they were that low they would just get nailed by the Lumas, and getting the grip stuff in to slow them down worked some, but they had to be too close to the unit to knock down just that one area.

I was at a T2 most of the night, rating the camera at 200 with the net on the rear, and -3dB of gain. I also have always rated the camera at 400, I think I just like how it looks with some underexposure.


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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 05:31 PM

That's the Pasadena library, where I pick up my tax forms! I always wanted to shoot there...
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 05:43 PM

Where did the power lines for the balloon go?
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 06:29 PM

Where did the power lines for the balloon go?


It looks like it's run to the balcony, where it's "swagged" off a stand. You can see it in the second picture, just at the right of the window. If you look closely you can see the cables in the shot that shows the balloon.
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#7 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 07:11 PM

"That's the Pasadena library, where I pick up my tax forms! I always wanted to shoot there..."

Yep, that?s where we shot. You and the director both, that was no easy location to lock, they really did not want us in there.

We had two police officers, two firemen, and four people that work as the library's security. I think the idea was to discourage production from using the location due to paying all these people!

It is a very nice looking location. It turns out the floors are made of cork, which means everything had to have layout board because anything short of a magliner would dig into the floor.

The cables were run exactly as Michael said. They just ran them to a mombocombo or something real tall to keep them from sagging (they were pulled tighter than in that picture, so they never presented much of a problem dipping into frame and such).

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#8 chris schaller

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 02:31 AM

thanks for all the info. the lumapanels sound interesting. would you use them again? i always run into problems with kinos around alot of tungsten sources. they are usually 3300° and 1/8 - 1/4 green. were these better looking than kinos? the balloon must have been warmer than the lumapanel.
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#9 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 06:41 PM

Yes, I would definitely use them again, they looked great. They did have a green spike that we took care of with 1/4 minus green. Only downside is that it was just a TON of gel (like 21 feet for the 3 units) ;)

I would compare the globes to the ones in the Kino Parabeam.

I had a shot where a Lumapanel was lighting one part of a wall and a tungsten source was lighting a different part, and only then could you see the difference.

The balloon was really lighting a part of the room that the Lumapanels could not hit, and if anything tungsten looked slightly cooler than the Lumas.


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#10 Igor Trajkovski

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 08:07 PM

Kevin, thanks for sharing.

As David put it "A photo matching the final lighting effect on some stand-in's face would have been nice".


Don't forget to post a link if the client or you put the TVC online.


Best

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#11 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 02:54 AM

Since I was un-able to grab some good stills from camera position to help give an idea what the look of the project will be, I am posting a frame grab from the piece.

The origins of the frame are down converted DVD dallies. I did some BASIC (read: took me 5 minutes) color correction on the frame to show as reference to the colorist.

The adjustments I made were more for color than density, and I have no idea how it will look on people's monitors. I can't even say for sure how close my monitor is, I feel it is close to correct.

This should at least give some idea as to what the final piece will look like.

Kevin Zanit

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#12 Tom Bays

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 05:05 PM

very nice...great atmosphere...and she has the best set of rhododendrons in town. :D
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#13 Adam White

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:19 PM

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for the screen image. How long was your setup time for the shoot? With a location as sensative as that, did you encounter any issues with the placement of lights? Some of the spaces look pretty cramped, especialy in the last still.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:49 PM

Looks great! The way the practicals flare from the diffusion is nice. If in the tighter shots, most of that would be off-camera, I might have put brighter bulbs in the table lamps so those would halate in frame.
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#15 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 02:14 PM

Thanks!

To address both you, yes the location was sensitive, so sensitive that the fire marshal we had would not let me put the size globes in the practicals as I wanted. I wanted 100W globes in them, but they would only allow 45W in them.

The initial setup time for this setup (as it was the first setup of the night) was about 3 hours. That is from the trucks arriving at the location, the crew waiting for the layout board to get set so they could start bringing carts in, and just waiting for everyone to clear out of the library because we started when they were just closing. The biggest time issue was laying the cable, it was a very long cable run. But once this initial work was done, the time from setup to setup was anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

Kevin
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#16 chris schaller

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 02:56 AM

looks great
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#17 Ben Schwartz

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 11:50 AM

And DIT, Elhanan Matos who kept this camera up and running, and brought a great eye to a job that a lot of people do with little artistry.

Hey Kevin,

Great post. I was wondering if you could elaborate a little on the above quote...have you had many less than ideal DIT experiences?
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#18 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 11:26 PM

Hi, thanks!

There are many DITs out there who come from a very strong engineering background that have trouble understanding that we, as cinematographers, are trying to balance the artistic with the technical and that their job, although strongly technical, can also be very artistic. Understanding more than just how to make the picture look "right" or "correct" on a waveform monitor.

It is a hard thing to describe without sort of being contradictory, because a DIT is supposed to be an engineer to some extent, and there is nothing wrong with that background, that?s why they are hired in the first place. That said, I, as a cinematographer, am not looking for a video controller, and Elhanan (and I am sure many other DITs) understand that.

Also, I have just known and worked with him for years and years, so I guess I am a little biased ;). He has been on (and will be on) the new TV show "Help Me Help You" for what seems like an eternity, luckily my last few projects have been shot on film!


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#19 Jason Fararooei

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 09:30 PM

Kevin,

Outstanding stuff here - I thoroughly enjoyed all the detail, especially the pics. Would you have a version of the completed spot to post? If so I'd like to see the final product. Nice work, and thanks again for all the detail.

Jason
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#20 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 04:50 AM

Very nice work...but...there's a Chimera reflected clearly in the counter top. I've been caught like that before.
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