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Old November 9th, 2006, 02:49 PM   #16
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Film-style shooting - The only way

That is the only solution because the bottom line is.... you don't have much of a "bottom line".

To light that place for 360's without time and a budget is virtually impossible.

If that was a requirement, there are some jobs you have to walk away from.

The scene by scene shooting method is very common and just takes some good shooting script management.

Make sure you do your masters and close ups from each angle and then do the reverses and POV's.

Make sure you're client knows you won't be shooting in script order.

Work out your angles logically for the best efficiency and take digital pictures of each setup in case you have to match a shot or do a pickup. If you have to re-light the same scene over you need to match it.

Ask the actors if they will do all the scenes - even the reverses - so the energy is the same between the actors.

PAY CRITICAL ATTENTION TO EYELINES. This can make or break a great looking sequence by inhancing believability.

If you block it all on paper and check off each shot as you do it, you'll be OK.

It's just standard film-style shooting rather than TV style.

Ideally, you could cut the rough scenes on-sight to see how everything lines up.

A good shooting script, good management, and actors who understand and can handle film-style shooting will go a long way to making this work.

It is more the norm than you might think on location shoots.

Good luck.

aloha,

Keith
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Old November 9th, 2006, 03:58 PM   #17
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Thanks for the heads-up Keith. Yes I agree it's the only way to go (though I haven't talked to the director yet so I can't assume he'll agree). The only thing that might be a problem is, as I explained above, those aren't real actors. they are office workers who will take time off of their actual work shifts to do their scenes. In that context, I'm not sure they'll be thrilled having to do the scene, wait 20 min. for re-setting everything up, then do the scene again from an other angle. Wait some more. Then shoot one last time. I have divided the boardroom scene into 3 lighting setups. Exit and entrance of the participants, fake Donald Trump's entrance and speach and finally, participants' dialogues. I can't do better than that. Each setup will eat between 1600W and 2800W in terms of power. Gotta bring stingers!

I have been able to take an other scouting appointment tomorrow morning, this time with the room empty. I'll try to complete preparations there. I'll probably try to make a shot list, maybe even a storyboard if I have time.
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Old November 9th, 2006, 10:50 PM   #18
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Keith gives good advice.

One thing that surprises me is the unwillingness of the participants. It sounds like they are long overdue for some comedy in their lives. I usually have witnessed a lot of positive interest from the surrounding people and participants. Personally, I would be anxious about being on camera but happy that I can take half my day off to do something other than count beans and shuffle paper.

Can you bring a light on your technical scout and take a few pictures?
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Old November 10th, 2006, 01:06 AM   #19
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I feel for you, I did 10 years in corporate video. It is tough when you are shooting non-actors being asked to act, people who don't even want to be in the stupid video but have to because their boss tellls them they have to. I have been down that road many times. I produced and directed some really nice corporate videos that had budgets of a national commercial that I am proud of and others that I would be embarrassed to see again.

Hope it works out for you!

Dan
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Old November 10th, 2006, 01:55 AM   #20
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Totally different approach - green screen

If the room and the time is the biggest problem and the dramatic lighting is key to spoof, one other possible solution is to shoot it on green screen and matte in the boardroom in post.

It's still film style shooting but you won't have the same lighting challenges.

Don't shoot it on DV though,cause you have to be really good and lucky to get good keys with DV.

I would recommend getting the boardroom table and chairs - everything else can probably be digital.

I do a lot of green screen and it's definately do-able.

Sounds like you need to make the director understand that the challenges with this shoot have little to do with your competitence. He needs to own those challenges and help you solve them.

Its like that old saying I've told clients a thousand times...

these are your options - You can have high quality, a short production time, or a lower budget - but you can only pick two.

We're cheering you on - I think we've all been there

aloha,

Keith
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Old November 10th, 2006, 12:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
Keith gives good advice.

One thing that surprises me is the unwillingness of the participants. It sounds like they are long overdue for some comedy in their lives. I usually have witnessed a lot of positive interest from the surrounding people and participants. Personally, I would be anxious about being on camera but happy that I can take half my day off to do something other than count beans and shuffle paper.

Can you bring a light on your technical scout and take a few pictures?
Marcus, if you want to see some images follow this link. Those were taken with my XL2 as I wanted to see how it would expose with ambiant lights. Not so good, had to crank the gain to +6 and shoot F1.6 to get somewhat respectable exposure.

there are plenty of little ceiling lights that I can pivot according to needs but they are not bright enough. they gave me a reading of F2.0 (ISO400 / 24p) at 3 feet distance on the light meter. I could maybe use them for accent or backlighting, that's about all.

The schedule is even worse than I thought. We'll have 1 hour total (shooting and setting things up). There will be me, a grip and the director to frantically set everything up and shoot this thing. Said it was scheduled just before dinner so we could go a bit longer, but I can just imagine the participants, anxiously waiting to go eat while I'm desperatelly trying to get my ratios right. "No worries people, just wait about ten more minutes..." *sigh*

I'll have to simplify even more. Director agreed to shoot with 3 different lighting setups for this scene, although with the time we have, not sure we'd even get to the 3rd setup in time. Luckily, at least the scene is very short. Participants enter - Trump enters - 1 minute dialogue - everybody's fired - participants leave.

Lighting gear available is:

2x 1K with Chimeras
1x 1k Lowel DP w/ barndoors
1x 600W open face w/ barndoors
1x 600W Fresnel w/ barndoors
1x 300W open face
4x 300W Fresnels w/ barndoors
1x silver/gold round reflector
1x Frezzi portable light with Chimera and battery belt

That's it.

All ideas are welcomed.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 02:27 PM   #22
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script change?

David:

How critical is the employee's entrance and exit? Could you cut those out and open the scene with them already at the table? "The Donald" enters, delivers the bad news and then leaves them slumped against the table in agony. That could cut one lighting change.

Randy
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Old November 10th, 2006, 03:51 PM   #23
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Here is how I would do it assuming there is at least one 20amp circuit or two 15amp available:

4x 300W Fresnels w/ barndoors
1x 600W Fresnel w/ barndoors

Place the 4x 300w around the corners of the table a few feet back and bring in the barn doors. Make the table the center of a big "X". When shooting from one side of the table, angle the lights in the back slightly away from the camera so they become hair lights for the talent. Focus the lights on the camera side at the talent and bring in the barn doors so you get the "pools of light" effect already present in the room. The overall idea would be to have the same lights that are an off-axis key for one shot be the kicker/hairlight for the opposite angle.

Move the 600w fresnel around as needed for specific/flexible lighting. Leave the others alone except to adjust their angles. I find that the moving of the light stand is the most time consuming. If you only need to move one light around the room, you will save time. If one of the 300w is causing a problem, just click it off.

Shoot with the overhead room lights on for some general fill. The room is already lit a bit like The Apprentice, so take advantage of what you have. When you turn on the Fresnels, their pools of light will make the rest of the room look more dark and shadowy as seen on the tv show. I kinda like the octagonal reflection on the table and that light is so high it shouldn't cause too much unwanted spill.

I would not use any soft light source. The room already has enough soft light and it's level is about where you want - low but with just enough exposure to add to the background.

Turn on all the lights that shine at the walls that create pools of light and shadow in your background.

Try to get the projector and maybe the teleconferencing equipment removed from the table.

Is there a better way to light this? Yes! Is there an easier way considering the time constraints, maybe. If there is something better, I'm sure you will find out soon in the following posts. Only you know the location intimately, so you will need to throw in your own ideas.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 04:40 PM   #24
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Hi Marcus. Just want to say first that I appreciate all the help a lot.

I like the idea of only moving one light around and creating a pool of light around the table, but where this might be a problem is that there will be 11 people total. 3 on the far side of the table, 8 on the side of the table closer to the door. So I'm not sure if this would give me even lighting for everybody. I guess this is where the 600W Fresnel might come in handy though.

My idea was to shoot the so called Trump entering, sitting in between his 2 associates, and talk to the actors in front of him. But no showing the actors he's talking to, they would be edited together later. This way I'd be using 3x 300W Fresnels on each of them at a 45° angle, barndoored to avoid spill on the walls and table, slithly off centered to get big shadows on one side of the face, and using the 4th 300w Fresnel to create a back/rim ligh on Trump.

Then once all this is shot, move all the Fresnels to the other side and aim them between 2 actors, again, slightly off centered, so to light 8 in total. We'd be shooting the participants sitting down and talking to Trump.

3rd setup was the actors entering and leaving the room. 1K bounced off the ceiling in the corridor plus a couple 300W set in asymetrical fashion to create changing shadows on their faces as they move.

Using the ceiling lights for accent on the walls and table.

But these setups are probably still too complexe. We'd have to move all the lights around for each setup.

I like the simplicity of your suggestion better. But I'm wondering if I'll be able to dramatically lit 8 persons sitting alongside each other (not to mention one has to stand up at one point) that way. I want as much as possible to have the faces lit from one side, to recreate those black shadows in the Apprentice on one side of the face. I'd say they're about 30° off centered. But having 4 lights creating a pool of light would have the advantage of allowing me to shoot both sides of the table on the same setup which is a big plus in my mind.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #25
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"I want as much as possible to have the faces lit from one side, to recreate those black shadows in the Apprentice on one side of the face."

That is where the kicker/hairlights come in. The 8 people will be lit from the side by the 300w fresnels. The 4 on the left will be lit from camera left by the 300w off to the left rear. The 4 on the right will be lit by the 300w at the right rear. Side/back lighting creates a very strong lighting ratio that is fairly harsh. It might be overdoing it a bit, but I don't think that is a problem since this is supposed to be a comedy. It is also easier to eliminate spill if the lights are facing away from the wall.

I suggest the 300w under the assumption that the existing room lights will be helping create pools of light in areas the fresnels don't cover perfectly. 300W shouldn't completely overpower the overhead cans. You got the idea to aim the light between people, just follow through with that with the room lights and front fresnels. Just don't overpower the rear lights to keep the side light high.

I changed my mind on what to do with the 650W fresnel. I think it should be gelled with full CTO and kept as a constant hairlight for The Trump. I think The Hair deserves a dedicated hair light! Yes, I am joking, and yes I would still do it. How often do you get to deliver comedy through a 650W fresnel?

As The Great One would say: "I think this is a fantastic idea and I think it's going to be really big."

Since your existing lights already have the boardroom look, you just need to accent the side lighting and fill a bit to get your exposure up out of the need for gain. 1200W (4x300) should be enough to separate the talent from the background a bit and bring up your exposure slightly. The fresnels should also make the existing room light look dimmer, but not completely disappear.

I really like all your ideas for lighting, but "these setups are probably still too complexe. We'd have to move all the lights around for each setup."

You can probably keep all these ideas if you take advantage of the room light and don't overpower it with strong lights. Use just enough light for enhancement since your basic setup is already installed in the room. Less wattage in the face will also make your talent happier.
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Old November 14th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #26
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Well it went pretty well considering the time we had. The day started really badly with one actor not showing up in time, putting us considerably late, and of course when that happens, the crew has to work twice as fast to make up lost time and get back on schedule.

For the boardroom scene I was able to get by with two lighting setups, and thank god it wasn't 3 because even at just two we barely made it on time.

Marcus I used some of your ideas that I thought were neat, like angling the lights on the participants towards center (to light 4 from one side of the table and 4 from the other side) to avoid spill on the walls and put a CTO'd hairlight on Trump's head, though I wussed out of using a full, just used a half. So the check's in the mail ;-).

Thanks again for all the help. Most of the jobs I got in the past were camera op gigs with only basic lighting setups. This was a rare time I had to really light multiple setups (8 in total that day) on a very tight schedule so it was a challenge, but in the end I think I'm a little better at it today than I was 2 days ago. And so goes the experience process.

The director was very happy with the results, even though we had to deal with unexpected problems like boompole shadows, lens flaring and other mishaps of this nature. I don't think I'm entirely satisfied (then again I rarely am, for anything). For example I wasn't able to get the wall behind Trump dark enough (it was white), and we ran out of time, so we just had to shoot it this way. But overall this was probably a successfull job that hopefully will bring a few more in the future.

I don't have the tapes as I'm not the one doing the post-production on this but if I ever get my hands on some images from that shoot I'll try to post frame grabs in that thread.
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Old November 14th, 2006, 10:17 PM   #27
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I'm glad it went well. I would feel pretty stupid if my suggestions caused a disaster! :)

After reading your comments, I think the way to deal with The Trump would be to use ONLY a hair light. I think he would be best served as simply disembodied hair on a dark background. :)

I hope to see the results and a list of the equipment and how it was used on the set.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 11:36 AM   #28
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Ok so here's a little update on that shoot.

The client turned out very happy with the end result. Director as well. I think the boardroom scene looks drama TV-ish, though not exactly as I envisioned. I'm pleased with the result just for the fact that we had a ridiculous timeframe to set everything up. This boardroom scene was divided in 2 lighting setups. One to light one side of the table, the participants' entrance and their dialogue. the other to light Trump's team, speach and entrance.

Since we were late because of a missing actor in the morning, the time for this setup was cut to about 20 minutes for the first half and 12 minutes for the second. Now, I have no doubt Charles Papert or any other experienced DP would not sweat such a constraint too much, but I know I never had to work that fast in my oh so short career and I find it showed on many levels.

A few problems that annoy me:

1- I don't like Trump's look, too flat. I did put a kicker light but had no time to adjust, the director telling me to let it go, we just had to shoot "now". Having had 5 more minutes, I think I would have mounted that light over Trump's head, on a grip arm.

2- I don't like the multiple hard shadows dancing on the walls when the participants enter. I did see this on set, but once again, we basically had to shoot with the "paper" setup, so didn't really have time to tweak as much as I would have wanted.

3- I would have liked to eliminate one of 2 shadows on the wall behind Trump.

4- flares. It's ridiculous but we were shooting with WA lenses and the kicker light on the participants was flaring. We didn't have time to fix it, so we had to shoot anyway. I remember using my hand as I was panning on one shot to try and get rid of this flare. A simple matte box (or foamcore taped to the lens shade) would have done the trick. This part was really frustrating to me because it would have been so easy to fix. But we didn't and as a result there's one shot where we see a big flare in it (when the participants all sit just before Trump's entrance).

5- Not enough shadows on some participants' faces (some were ok, reaction shots mainly). I barely had time to barndoor everything. Actually, I didn't. I had the grip do it while I was working on an other setup to make up lost time. I would have liked to play with it a bit (lot) more.

6- This was my biggest frustration of all. I had to light air! I did not have the participants to light the scene, they came in with the director as we were "ready" to shoot. I had the grip sit here, stand there, but some problems, like the shadows on the walls for example, were noticed only with the full cast entering the room. By that time, it was too late.

Things I do like:

The background behind the participants I feel came out just the way I wanted. The ratios foreground / background and the pools of light on the door and paintings turned out the way I wanted.

The hairlight I put behind Trump for his entrance works well. Very dramatic (too much of course, but this is a spoof so it's allowed).

so without further ado, here goes:

www.bicubik.ca/videos/boardroom.wmv

This video looks a bit too dark on a computer screen. It looks better on a TV screen.

BTW, just in case you're wondering, I did not light nor shoot that middle part of parody office scenes. The director did. Also, the boardroom scene was shot using 2 cameras, an XL2 and a DVX100. You probably won't be able to tell the difference because of the heavy compression but I thought the resolution difference really showed. Would have been better to shoot with 2 XL2s.

Ironically, I had more time for the other lighting setups of the day, which were much simpler, and as a result I feel they turned out better.

Here's an other scene from that shoot I thought turned out well (again, very caricatural, but that was the idea).

www.bicubik.ca/videos/Trump_Intro.wmv
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Old December 9th, 2006, 10:22 PM   #29
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That's a lot of shooting for one day with insufficient cooperation from the talent/client. I think any problems can be attributed to that fact. You definitely captured the feel of the dark boardroom. Sometimes the talent seemed too stiff and that is probably due to not having enough time for them to have fun with the shoot. The latter part with the scenes in the office was cute. The toilet paper on the shoe was perfect. I also really like the TrumpIntro movie! The overdone hair light and dark shadow on his face were great but the best part was when he leaned in for a closeup and the light changed dramatically. Good job there. I think the whole thing should have been lit like that! I would even add a golden glow to the hair to take it up another notch.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 11:10 PM   #30
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Marcus, I would have liked to shoot the whole thing like I shot the intro scene, just not enough time and ressources unfortunatelly (although of course, most of the stuff we shot had to have that reality TV look). But this very contrasty lighting pattern was my goal for the boardroom. Had to simplify a lot due to time constraints. I'm just glad there weren't any major screw-ups. Most of the stuff I complain about is either minor or it's just that it's too flat or average looking for my liking. But I know I could have done better with more time, I was full of ideas when I entered the set, just not the setup time to go along. And it's always good to challenge yourself to do as much as you can on limited time. It makes you think faster with time. At least I hope so. That's how I choose to rationalize this day. ;-)

I wish I could take credit for the changing light pattern in the intro, I like it too, but that was an accident, it wasn't planed. The setup was a simple Fresnel as side key, no fill for dramatic purposes, with overhead hair light and accent lights on the library behind. The talent leaned forward to ask something to the director between 2 takes and the director noticed the light effect and decided to incorporate this movement forward into the scenario. Looks nice in the end.

As for the kind of humor in this script, well, I call it office humor. Some is funny, some is a bit (lot) too cheezy for my liking. But that's personal taste and doesn't really affect photography I guess. If you find the "actors" to be stiff in that scene, I can tell you there were much, MUCH worse in other scenes. But in the end, they're not looking for Oscar worthy performances, they'll all have a good laugh looking at this faux Apprentice with their own employees and that's what matters.
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