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The Forge Project


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#1 Patrick Lavalley

Patrick Lavalley
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Posted 30 March 2009 - 12:38 PM

As I was entering my last term of school at the Art Institute of Portland, I became aware that one of my professors had been approved for a sabbatical the following term. I was very lucky to be asked to shoot this feature, and in preparation we have set up a blog that we have been using to update everyone on the process. While in school, I have been able to shoot a bunch of short films, but this will be my first time doing a feature. It's really exciting, and I am really honored that I was asked to shoot.

If you would like to keep tabs on our production, visit www.theforgeproject.com. We'll be posting up there as often as we have updates, which should become more frequent as we get closer and closer to our first day of shooting on May 4th.

The title of the project is "Forge", and it's a hard science fiction story that deals with nano technology as well as brain-computer interface.

Check out the blog for more details!
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#2 Patrick Lavalley

Patrick Lavalley
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Posted 25 April 2009 - 02:41 PM

Hey Everyone,

The production is coming along really well- we shoot a week from tomorrow!

Good news- We've secured status as a non-profit project partner through Film Action Oregon. Potential investors can now receive a tax write off for any donations.
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#3 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 01:44 PM

We spent last Sunday to Friday at the cabin location which represents the first week of principle photography on the movie. Jason and Myself actually stayed at the cabin the entire time which was really nice, and other people stayed a few nights here and there. Staying at the cabin throughout the week gave us a lot of time to talk about the next days shooting plan after wrap and before we started each day, and also to get the place organized and even pre-lit in some cases before the rest of the crew showed up. The week went really well, and we kept the pace up with an average of 17 setups per-day, with our largest day being 24 setups on Wednesday. 17 setups is really good considering our days have been fairly short, usually around 10am until 6 or 7pm. The short days are a lot easier on everyone, especially when you factor in that it takes almost 2 hours to get to and from set each day. Shorter working days also means that it’s essential to keep the pace up and to work quickly. On this shoot, the name of the game has been simple lighting setups. I usually try to make my setups as simple as possible anyways, so it’s been pretty natural to work that way.

Our lighting kit for the cabin consisted of a 575 watt PAR HMI, a 1200 watt PAR HMI, a Mole-Richardson 1k fresnel, a 4 foot 4 bank Kino fixture, and various practical globes/fixtures along with two 4 foot open frames with LEE 251 diffusion, and a selection of white/silver bead board reflectors. The HMI fixtures were by far the workhorses of the shoot, and I often found myself shooting them through 251 diffusion outside of windows, or aimed at white bounce cards inside a room. We were limited on power at the cabin, with our circuits being only 15 amps, so the 1200 and 575 HMI’s allowed us to get a tremendous amount of light output while still keeping a safe overhead on our circuits. There were a fair amount of living room scenes that I wanted to motivate very naturally, so I brought in the 1200 through a large sliding glass door/window as a soft backlight which I would then augment with fill from a silver board, or the 575 bounced off of a white card. Coincidentally, our 1200 also played outside of the window in essentially the same place, the only difference being that we would limit the amount of fill on faces and walls and instead let the light take on a harder more back lit “moon” feel.

The kitchen scenes took place both during the day and at night. For the daytime scenes, I brought in both the 575 and 1200 HMI’s through a bank of windows approximately 6 feet wide and 3 feet tall. We diffused them using our 4×4 frames of 251 outside the windows, and then taped 6mil clear visqueen to the inside of the window to diffuse the light even more. The end result was a very bright, but soft key light that lent a feel of overcast ambiance coming in from outside the window.We would tape additional diffusion in key places on the window depending on how close the actors got, this helped us keep people from becoming overexposed as they got closer to the windows.

For the night-time kitchen scenes Jeffree, Luke and Alex were sitting around a kitchen counter eating dinner. Our sole source of light in the scene was provided by a large (approximately 12-14” in diameter) smith-victor “bowl” light with a 500 watt 3200k medium base globe inside of it. We rigged it to a ceiling beam via furniture clamps, rubber gripping pads, and a short piece of 2×4 with a nail-on plate attached. We used a cardellini clamp and a gobo head to position the light where we wanted, and then clipped a single layer of opal diffusion to the light to further soften the source. The cabling was routed along the ceiling and out of the room, which allowed us to move the camera and actors througout the space without having to move stands or other lights. It was really essential to keep the space relatively open, as the kitchen was fairly small. To top it off, we added a very small amount of atmosphere to the room with some fog-in-a-can. The spill and reflection from this overhead source was enough to light up Paul (played by Luke Clements) as he stood to eat dinner. The way that his closeup was set up, the spill and reflection created a soft beautiful back/side light.

Another interior location was a bedroom where John (played by Jeffree Newman) sleeps. We lit the scene using a 1k fresnel gelled to half-blue and bounced into a white card. We had also considered lighting the room with a small practical lamp, but decided that a naturalistic moonlit feel was more appropriate. I used the tungsten pre-set on the camera so that the scene went slightly blue, and kept the light more or less perpendicular to the camera to create contrast and shadows. For a reversal on Paul we simply used the same setup and moved it in or out depending on the amount of light that was needed.

After the first day or two, everyone became pretty tuned into the various lighting setups that we used. Kyle Glenn was the only official grip/electric on the shoot (everyone helped out when they could) and he worked very hard and very quickly to make these lighting setups happen. This week went extremely well and the footage is looking really great. I’ll try to get some interior scree grabs up soon to help illustrate the setups that I just mentioned.

Stay tuned at http://www.theforgeproject.com for more info about our on-set data and dailies workflow, as well as notes about camera operation, framing choice, and exterior shooting!
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