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Filming an "Apple Style" commercial


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#1 Brian Ramirez

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:42 PM

I am looking for the best way to achieve the style of the old Apple Commercials directed by Errol Morris.
You can see an example of what I am trying to do from this website : http://ellenfeiss.net/commercials.php

I am not exactly sure how to set this up, it does not have to be very large since i will only be filming a maximum of 2 people at a time.

Any advice on how to setup a set like this and how to light it would be great!

Thanks in advance,

Brian Ramirez
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#2 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 05:13 PM

I am looking for the best way to achieve the style of the old Apple Commercials directed by Errol Morris.
You can see an example of what I am trying to do from this website : http://ellenfeiss.net/commercials.php

I am not exactly sure how to set this up, it does not have to be very large since i will only be filming a maximum of 2 people at a time.

Any advice on how to setup a set like this and how to light it would be great!

Thanks in advance,

Brian Ramirez

Its really simple,
I did somthing simular not to long ago, if you go to "please critique my work" on this website and go to
"still shots from internet video"theres 2 shots of a girl in a white background.
we went to a fabric store and bought some hospital fabric of somekind?? and strung it up on a 12 12 frame. the material was light enough to back light it so it glowed white then I lite the actors with some tota lights.
Now you dont have to aproach lighting it the way I did, I think I should of used a bit more light on the actors.
but it was very simular to the examples I just saw.greenscreen might be easier? but its easy to find a white wall and just light it even and flat, just make sure the wall is clean
Those commercials had alot of jump cuts ,wide,close,wide,medium,close. thats real easy just dont move the camera,just pull in or out but keep the framing the same
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 06:05 PM

It's called white "limbo" (there's black limbo also), and it's usually done on a stage with a curved cyc wall. The trick is to get the white background far enough behind the subject that you can separate foreground and background lighting, and so that any minor surface texture to the wall does not read on camera.

Beyond that, it's a lot like green screen lighting -- just make sure the background is as evenly lit as possible. Your actual lighting setup will depend on the size background you have, and what tools you have at your disposal. Exposure is up to you, although you usually want the white to almost clip (if you're shooting video). You can clip it completely if you like, but that can give you signal problems in post depending on what you're doing. If you get it just below 100% you can use it as-is or pull a matte and replace it with a generated white of whatever luminance you like.

Here's one I gaffed a couple weeks ago, although the lighting isn't exactly what you describe. We didn't need a "pure white" BG so we just lit it from the floor. Otherwise I would have hung cyc strips from the grid. The shadows on the floor were out of frame.

DSC04234.JPG

Of course you don't need a set that big for only two people in a medium shot. You could use white seamless paper as well. But it still has to be big enough to get it far enough back that the texture doesn't read on camera.
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 06:57 PM

A roll of seamless will do. Light it evenly and near the same stop or just above your talent. With that you should do fine. A properly adjusted monitor should give you accurate insight as to how you're looking. And if you have an editor that has some experience you can do a lot of it to post in both intensity and color through correction.

Below is an example of raw and finished footage from a Coke spot I did for online air. We were ready to shoot and suddenly the talent thought the lighting was too bright on her eyes. We ended up having to lower the intensity of everything which affected color temp. We were using a grid lighting set up. Rather than reset/relight/white balance due to time, I simply shot knowing I could get what I wanted in post with a bit of color correction. I knew I would have to do a bit of correction anyway (wanted to soften the talent a bit) so it was easier than spending the time to readjust everything with the talent ready to go and the clock already showing us very late on the day.

Posted Image
Before (origional) above

After (corrected in post) Below

Posted Image

I'm not suggesting anything here other than showing you that even if you don't get it absolutely right shooting, with any edit system and a bit of knowledge you can make some minor adjustments if necessary. In my case it was more extreme but as I said, I knew what I was doing and the clock was ticking so had to do it fast in the studio.

Also in addition to lighting the seamless evenly, consider that the talent should be lit softer than harder. Try 4x4 frames with diffusion and a fixture behind them (one from each side perhaps) to match the softness of a limbo white background.

Edited by WALTER GRAFF, 05 April 2007 - 06:59 PM.

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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 02:30 PM

You could also make yourself an "Interro-tron"

;)
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