Posted 13 February 2007 - 12:49 AM
I'm a film student at Chapman University and an avid reader of the forums, so I thought I'd post up a music video that shot this past weekend.
The premise was about a girl "Alice" who is distressed in her room doing drugs and falls into a dark wonderland type of world. Her bedroom changes into an "evil nursery" where she finds a child in the corner. The child points out a monster hiding in the shadows and takes Alice away. They transition into a forest through a magic chest Alice climbs into. In the forest the child takes Alice to a hiding spot and digs up a dagger wrapped in cloth, then they spot the monster in pursuit. Alice runs away but trips onto a route and falls into the monsters "evil lair" where the child is sitting on his lap. The dagger unrolls from the cloth and as the monster approaches Alice she picks it up and thrusts it into him. She takes a last look at the child (as a smile comes across their faces) before Alice wakes up the next morning in her bed. So metaphorically speaking, the child is Alice's innocence while the monster is her addiction.
With all that said, we had a VERY ambitious project and quite a modest budget. We got our camera and lighting from Chapman. We shot Regular 16mm on an Arri SR with ZEISS superspeeds. We also had a B&W tap installed thanks to Clairmont. Filters were compliments of Tiffen's student discount (thanks Jessica!) Our lighting package consisted of a Studio 2k Fresnel, 2k Mighty (open faced), 1k Fresnel, 2 Mole kits, and a 4' 4 bank Kino. Grip consisted of a 2 ton package from Acey Decy and I must thank them for the generous student discount. And Fisher gave us a great student discount on the Fisher 10 for the weekend!
And crew came compliments of Chapman University. Great people with great attitudes!!! If anyone ever needs a hand please consider our guys!
Visually speaking, it was tough hammering out a look because our locations didn't lock until only about three days before the weekend. The director and I had discussed several music videos and their looks (Alice in Chains, Tool, System of a Down's "Aerials") but until I knew what I was dealing with I found it difficult to completely visualize each scene in my mind and where the lighting was coming from. For those reasons a lot of the lighting on set was improve, going off intuition and then tweaking to get it just right. I had a great gaffer, Chris Richmond (also a talented DP) who really helped this process along.
We resorted to shooting the band green screen due to lack of a sufficient location. The footage will be keyed, rotoscoped, and composited onto a book that the child is reading in the evil nursery. This was the first time I had lit a greenscreen as a DP, but we were able to get a fairly even light across the screen. Thankfully the chroma value is not as critical, since in post they are using it more as a reference to draw over.
Later we shot the two bedroom scenes where Alice passes out and wakes up. The room was fairly small, but had wonderful dark wood paneling. We keyed off a practical to the side of her bed, installing a 300w bulb in the lamp. The night scene was shot first (during daytime) so it took a while to rig up a big enough black box outside her window to fit two 2k's to illuminate the curtains. We also ran into the problem of getting the right color off the curtains. The curtains were made of unbleached muslin (I think) which gave off a very yellowish color when hit with light. We started by gelling our moonlight with Steel Green but this combined with the curtains gave off a very yellow color, so we scrapped the steel green with 1/2 CTB and that did the trick. For the wides we added a 650w on the lamp side to rap the lamp light around her face a little more.
Steel Green messing with the curtains:
Later that day we shot her room for when she wakes up. For this we stripped the 2k's of CTB and hit the windows. We bounced a 1k onto the white ceiling of the room to give off an ambiance and hid a 650w with 216 in a closet to give Alice a little shape to her face.
Posted 13 February 2007 - 01:26 AM
This was by far our most ambitious day. We had from 8am until 8pm to shoot in a loft space that had to be cleared out, blacked out, and set dressed for the scenes of the "evils nursery" and "monster's lair", which both required extensive art and set dressing. We had some great girls on this that pulled it together on a shoe string budget. We consolidated our shots down to 15-20 ambitious setups that we barely pulled off. The lighting came out fantastic, however I am slightly worried that since we were forced to consolidate some shots might not cut as well as they should.
Lighting was simple for the first setup, a match shot of Alice on her bed as she comes into the new world. Lighting on Alice was primarily a top light, un-gelled focused in a pool over her.
Second setup was looking towards the child as Alice approaches. We consolidated down to one dolly shot with several takes of different actions once we reached point B. The 7 yr. old girl we had had a beautiful face, almost like a doll. She fit perfectly for the part and was a joy to work with. Lighting her we used a 2k shooting through 4x4 diffusion. We also spilled some green (I forget the #) onto the set with a 650w.
My favorite photo!
Third setup was again a top light focused onto a chest that the child takes Alice to. I forget the details but I believe we added a little side light for direction and definition on their faces.
The "lair" scene was by far the most ambitious attempt and going into it I had no idea what to expect art/set wise. The director and I had looked at a scene from "The Cell" and also one from "The Fountain" for framing and color purposes. We also fogged the set with Rosco's "Light fog" juice. I was going for more of a haze effect than the light fog could achieve, so during some of the shots the fog was more visible moving through frame. But the director was happy with it and I think it could add a magical quality to the set.
We lit the monster and his throne with a top/back light gelled with Steel Green (the gaffer was excited to finally use it) and a fill from camera right with steel green. The set contained hanging doll parts around the throne which were lit from the side with a 1k gelled with Chrome Orange.
The mask was provided generously by Creature FX. It was made for the feature 300 but didn't get used, so we had our monster, played by Ivan Van Norman, go in for a fitting. Thanks a lot Josh and Mark @ Creature FX!!!
And finally, another top light setup of Alice, played by Brenda Marie, a very talented and wonderful actress!
Posted 13 February 2007 - 02:00 AM
Sunday, for those of you living in Southern California, you might've noticed the rain and clouds. We had planned to shoot day for night at Oneil Park in Santa Ana. Unfortunately rain was in the forecast so we pushed back the call time until about 12 noon, almost canceling the day. The rain cleared around then and we got some sunshine for about two hours. The director and I decided not to fret about maintaining direct sunlight for the day for night effect (for which I researched quite a bit) and decided to see what we could do with our footage in telecine. We had a full day knocked down to a half day and had to cut/combine shots and rush to finish before the sun was completely gone. Again this is one of those times where the shots we managed to get off looked great (so I thought) but it is hard to judge whether that will give us enough footage and whether that footage will cut nicely.
We were also dealing with a Fisher 10 and 36' of track to level. The director and I walked over the location drew up a game plan previous to the crew arriving. We were able to map out a fairly decent schedule to shoot around dolly setups. We knocked off 20+ shots and two major dolly setups from 12 noon until 5:30, thanks to my camera team (Pierce and Katy) and some speedy lens swaps.
20' move with Joe Dietsch, great director and great friend, on frame right:
A rough frame of the previous setup:
Alice coming out of the chest:
CU of Alice with the chest on apple boxes (oldest trick in the book!)
Two wonderful girls!
Ok guys, hope this was worth the read. Despite the time crunch, this was probably the most enjoyable set I have been on so far and I can't wait to share my experience. I feel lucky to be a part of this project and to have such a great cast and crew.
Posted 13 February 2007 - 03:10 AM
congratulations on the shoot and best of luck with the rest of the production. if you can grab some stills from your transfer please throw them on here for us to check out.
you're doing a supervised xfer right? in my humble opinion this is one of the most critical stages in the music video process....if you have to mortgage your parents house to pay for a supervised xfer then do it.
a one light/best light, especially given your scenes and setups will not cut it.
p.s. - what stock(s) did you shoot and how did you expose the stock(s)? and were they particular reasons for shooting regular 16mm as opposed to super16mm?
Posted 13 February 2007 - 03:45 AM
Posted 13 February 2007 - 04:55 PM
I shot on 7218 because believe it or not, this was the first actual film shoot as a DP. 7218 is such a forgiving stock and it was able to achieve a similar look that we were going in recent features like Pan's Labyrinth. I exposed just about everything 1/2 to 1 stop over key. I had talked to our colorist previous to shooting and we both thought this would be a good idea to get a healthy negative to work with.
We were originally going for S16, but unfortunately since this was an independent project under the Chapman process, we had low priority and were unable to secure an SR2. We thought about going outside of Chapman for camera but didn't' quite have it in the budget. Then I realized that it would actually benefit the look to see a little more grain on screen. We were going for a gritty look at times, and our art department was great but I think regular 16 might smooth it over a little better.
Adam - Ironically enough the new Spirit at Chapman is not up and running yet... Typical. I think its the kind of situation where they bit off more than they could chew with that. Not to mention they have yet to hire a trained operator and/or colorist. So while your stuck with a stone-age machine, we're stuck with driving up to LA for a telecine session (which I don't mind).
Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:02 PM
Posted 26 February 2007 - 04:01 PM
Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:04 PM
Video looks fantastic! Definitely has that Pan's Labyrinth feel to it. I was surprised to see this because I just recently finished a short film about a girl that has a drug overdose-induced near-death experience. Completely different, but interesting to see the varied takes on the subject. Once it's edited, I'll send you the link (should it find its way online). Great job! Keep 'em comin'!
Posted 25 April 2007 - 11:42 PM
what shooting strategy did you follow to frame at this aspect ratio? I see you say you shot on standard 16.
congrats on a good project,
Posted 27 April 2007 - 03:07 PM
Matt, During camera prep we shot a framing chart and taped off the 16X9 lines on the monitor. I really wanted to get a 16X9 ground glass for the SR but our school didn't have any and we didn't have it in the budget to get otherwise. On set I was eventually able to get the hang of what was outside the 16X9 area, but the director was at the monitor a lot and helped in letting me know when I needed to adjust framing. Towards the end of the shoot we were hustling so much and shooting in the woods without a monitor that I guess framing for 16X9 became second nature, since all the footage from the forest seemed to fit perfectly once we put it into 16X9.
Posted 01 May 2007 - 01:12 AM
Posted 10 October 2007 - 03:21 PM
Posted 10 October 2007 - 04:23 PM
Hey, I know this is a little late, but I was just browsing and came upon this. It looks great! I was just wondering how you got the sunlight streaming through the trees so exaggerated when the actress comes out of the chest into the woods? Was that all done in post?
That was all done in post. Originally for the forest scenes we wanted to go day for night, but realized on set that we actually liked the sunlight coming through the trees and the orange-ish grading the 85 filter was giving us. We added the rays, some orange grad to the top of the frame, and some particles floating in the air. I sat in while the effects were being tweaked to offer my two cents as for where the light rays were coming from and their strength.
Posted 20 November 2007 - 06:06 PM
Posted 20 November 2007 - 07:31 PM
Thanks for all the details.
Excellent work. I really enjoyed this one. The cinematography look fantastic.