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Keaton Simons "Nobody Knows"


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#1 Tom Banks

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:46 PM

Keaton Simons ?Nobody Knows?

This was the fifth music video I have done with director Joe Dietsch. We had been in talks for several months about doing a video for Keaton Simons, jumping between several songs in the process. The final concept became a blend of several ideas brought together via circumstance, location, and access to talent. The video takes place in a 1920?s movie palace where the artist comes alive from a pile of clothes lying on the stage. As he gets off the stage an old B&W film starts up that slightly interacts with the artist as he performs below in the audience. All the while a janitor cleans in the lobby, oblivious to what?s going on around him or in the theater. During the performance setups and the janitor?s shots, clothes dance on invisible bodies through the frame and around the characters. The latter was a major selling point for the video, bordering on what you could call a gimmick to keep the audience?s attention.

This video was especially exciting as it was our first for CBS Records and Union Entertainment Group and is hopefully the beginning of a good working relationship. Also through some connections via the artist, we had a good deal of cameos come into play. For the film that would play on screen in the theater, we landed Tom Green and Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale, Witless Protection). And to play the part of the janitor we had Kyle Gass (KG of Tenacious D). Both Tom and KG I have always been a fan of!

We decided to shoot on the HVX with the PS Technik 35mm adapter. I have used this system several times and found it would give us the best picture per price and allow us to keep up with a heavy shooting schedule. I ended up going with the Zeiss Super Speeds since I new the adapter was going to be sucking a lot of light and we were already maxing out our electric budget in a fairly dark location. We rented all camera and support through Indie Rentals. I had a fine experience with them in the past on an out of town feature, but this time I was not happy with the service I was given. Without going into too much detail, there were a few pieces of equipment that were not exactly in working order in which I had to fight to get fixed during prep, and the attitudes towards their customers were very lax.

We got our G&E Package from Acey Decy. I have used them several times and I have always had good experiences. We got their 2-ton grip truck for a very reasonable rate, which includes just about anything you?ll ever need on a midrange-budget shoot. Our electric package consisted of almost all tungsten units: 4 6k spacelights, 1 5k, 2 2k?s, 2 1k?s, 2 650?s, 2 300?s, 2 Lekos (10, 19, and 36 degree lenses per each), 2 800w par cans, 8 380w par cans (compliments of my gaffer Chris Pritzlaff). For the projector beam gag we added on a 1k Arc Light. Our geni came from TKO Generators (.com) which I would highly recommend if you?re down in Orange County area.

For the video, I wanted to maintain a golden look with deep reds and oranges that complimented the theater?s architecture and color palette. I primarily used Bastard Amber and varying levels of CTO. Occasionally I would use some Straw as a backlight or a less prominent playing light. I referenced some of the previous Coca Cola contest films, as many times they take place in movie theaters and maintain that color pallet. But otherwise, the director and I had a pretty clear idea of how we wanted it to look based on the location.
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#2 Tom Banks

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:02 PM

Day 1 was spent onstage at Video Pro Matrix in Orange County. For the first part of the day, we shot Tom and Ivana act out the diegetic movie against a black drop. Technically this was fairly simple. I just kept hard light on Tom, about ¾ front and ¾ overhead to give him an ominous look with some deep eye sockets. I stuck a 650 directly under camera, since during some rehearsals we discovered he liked to get very close to the camera! Not only did it keep him in the light but gave him another style of ominous lighting that the director had wanted to get in another setup. I lit Ivana with a 2k chimera and kept it fairly frontal and gave her a soft side light. These shots will be corrected to B&W.

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Director Joe Dietsch!
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As you can see this part of the day was a lot of fun!
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The second half of the day was all greenscreen. For this we had already pre-rigged the spacelights. I was surprised at how effectively the spacelights worked. I had never done any large greenscreen setups so I wasn?t sure how much work I?d have to do to get an even spread. But my gaffer Chris and the crew got it down to only about a half stop difference which I wasn?t worried about. The director and I were both aware of how much we could key out and to what level of variation we could have on the shadows, etc? I walked in a 2k to give a little front light to the subjects. The hardest part about these setups is what we were shooting had to match up with plates. We were very careful to notate the focal length, focal distance, and lens height of each setup, which would be matched the following day when shooting plates on location. Otherwise I always find that greenscreen can get very monotonous and unrewarding. It?s important not to get restless. Although what?s in front of the camera might not have changed much, it?ll come back to bite you in the ass in post if you aren?t completely attentive on set!

This setup was for the plates of the dancers dancing around KG in the lobby. In post the bodies will be taken out and the backs of the clothes will be painted in where they would've been to create the hollow effect.
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The solids in this shot were used to block out any green reflection on the drums. It wasn't completely effective but it helped quite a bit. The effect of this shot is for the gloves and hat to be playing the drums without a body (hence the greenscreen suit)
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#3 Tom Banks

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:22 PM

Day 2
Day 2 was also a lot of fun as the location was great and made my job a lot easier. Here we would be shooting the shots with KG, 3 performance shots with Keaton, some b-roll of the theater, and all the plates that our greenscreen required. We had an ambitious day but I talked in detail with my gaffer Chris Pritzlaff and Best Boy Adam Richman about the schedule and keeping everything moving. We routed power to accommodate every setup around the theater without any rewiring. That way the crew could be pre-rigging some of the larger setups wile others were shooting. I had done 2 tech scouts of the location so I had a good idea of what to expect from the location. The tech scouts also helped me get a better visualization of what I wanted which I always find is key to getting the most out of your setups.

The morning started off with KG. We had a few shots of him opening and closing the theater doors, then some b-roll of him rockin out with his broom. I didn?t have as good of an idea what I was going to do here but I kept it warm with Bastard Amber on his key (5k through 4by4 diffusion), 1k ¾ backlight with Straw, then just filled in the space with the 2k Chimera and another 2k bouncing off a wall. In the nook with the double doors was a 650 with Bastard Amber shooting up into the ceiling. I also had the camera on a 4ft. slider plate which came in very beneficial to keep the camera moving when we didn't have the time or planning to set up a short dolly shot.

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Here's an uncorrected framegrab
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Then we moved to the other side of the double doors to get the shots of KG locking up, then opening up to discover whats going on inside. The main difficulty I had on this shot and others in this location was minimizing reflection of the units on surfaces. This shot specifically there were major hot spots on the doors reflecting KG's backlights. In other shots the walls and surfaces had a semi-glossy paint that gave way to reflection whenever we used any larger units or diffusion. Again on this setup we utilized the camera slider to get a quick push in or out on KG.
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#4 Tom Banks

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:55 PM

Following KG?s shots wee did two performance setups that were great fun to light. The first took place on the grand staircase. Just about the same units were used (5k key w/ backlight and fill) and about the same color scheme. The beauty of this shot was the mural and wall sconces on the wall behind the artist. I especially wanted to vignette this setup in camera as much as possible so I flagged everything off the outside of the staircase and spotted in special illuminating the mural.

Here's an uncorrected framegrab
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Going in for a CU
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The next performance I was most apprehensive about, but it also came out better than I expected. The setup consisted of Keaton standing in the front row looking up at the screen, with the camera facing towards the audience. In a lot of references of theater shots, there was always a soft, cool, low key look (which is completely appropriate). But this style was a little against what we were going for in the other setups. I decided since this was a music video I had the freedom to go a little warmer and less motivated in order to keep this visual scheme in sync with the rest of the video. We used the 1k Arc light gelled with 1/2 CTO shooting just above the performers head. Then my crew had the genious idea of just using that light off an 8by bounce to illuminate the artist. Originally I was planning on a 5k off the bounce, but the arc light provided the perfect source. To warm up the bounce a little more we shot it with 2 1k lekos which were already staged in the balcony for a following shot. We used the 380w cans gelled with some sort of red to compliment the practical lights that were on the back wall of the theater and then 2 2k's on either side to illuminate the seats. While I didn't want the projector beam to backlight Keaton I wanted to compliment it with something, so we brought in 2 1ks gelled with 250 and CTS (if I remember correctly) which also helped to warm it up. We also shot 2 1k cans with double Bastard Amber up at some practicals on the ceiling to supplement their light and warm up the frame. Finally with some haze to catch the projector beam this setup came out better than I had anticipated. For the shot, we had a guy dance his fingers in front of the arc light to simulate an actual projector.

The shot setting up
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An uncorrected framegrab
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A rough composite of the theater
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The final setup took quite a bit longer to perfect. First off I started keying with the 2k chimera and 10 minutes in realized it just wasn't enough punch to do the job (the HVX with PS Technik is only rated at 80asa!) So I brought in the 5k w/ dif., used the 2k as fill and started working on flagging off reflections and keeping that center focused vingetted look. We were shooting from the orchestra pit which provided for some nice visuals as we dollied past the ornate lip of the stage. We came up with this performance setup when we were doing the tech scout, which just goes to show how you can make the most out of your location.

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And a martini shot we figured we'd get just for the hell of it while the crew was loading up. We got it just around dusk with a little light left in the sky. The neon lights and tungsten bulbs underneath really sold the shot. Needless to say my job was made very simple ;)
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Well that about wraps it up. We wrapped out of our location an hour early! thanks to a great crew!!! I'm looking forward to hearing any thoughts or questions anyone has regarding the shots or setups.

Thanks for reading!
Tom
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#5 Adam Richman

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 03:58 PM

Never got to see that marquee all setup, but from the last shot it looks awesome! I'll swing by next week and take a look at a cut if I see your cars around. Nice summary of the weekend. Hope Mr. & Mrs. went well.
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