Student Choice Project, Update Week 3

The primary objective of the next step in my project was to shoot the scenes and begin editing stages. Friday afternoon I grabbed some lighting equipment from CCAD with all intent to complete the project Sunday, yet I was told by my actor he had to reschedule because something had came up. Completely understandable and I figured something may come up as he's a student, so I rescheduled our shoot to next Sunday the 28th.

As for this week's update I couldn't possibly let my time and efforts go to waste and become stale simply waiting for next week to roll around, so I took initiative. One of my worries for the upcoming project was creating the light patterns from the film to mimic the shadows and highlights and recreate the scene from a DP standpoint.

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I made it a goal to use the equipment I had taken out for the weekend to try and experiment with a few different lighting processes that I could use in unison with ambient light or completely confuse the audience and make them believe the light they were seeing is completely natural sunlight when in reality it's just Hollywood tricks.

Two kits were in my possession Sunday afternoon when I began the experiments. A Lowel DP Kit and a Mole-Richardson Kit. I've been experienced with both sets of lights in Studio Photography Class and knew the capabilities of both and began experimenting with ways to emulate a "sunrise" effect from them. The sunrise effect interested me based on the light coming through the motel window in "Memento".

An image of the set up showing the shadows and highlights on my face and showing the emulation of the sunrise effect.

An image of the set up showing the shadows and highlights on my face and showing the emulation of the sunrise effect.

The first thing I did was set up a 650W Mole-Richardson fresnel light in a completely different room than I would be experimenting in. I put it high and pointed it low and in the room i'd be shooting in. To create the style I gave it some obstacles to go through such as a ladder and mop handle which allowed shadows to hit the floor in a harsh manner like you'd see in your living room during a sunrise or sunset.

I used the light in combination to the ambient sunlight coming through the windows of the house I was in and set the White Balance on my camera to Kelvin Temperature and balanced it to give the shot more warmth based on the Mole light, emulating a warm toned sunrise.

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Here's the image straight off camera. Notice the shadows on the floor and the warm tones on camera left where the Fresnel Light was being directed. The set up also had a fill light of a bounced Lowel DP Light in a softbox bounced off of a wall in the other room. It was so faint that it wasn't even worth showing a before-after considering the effects could be bumped in post processing anyway.

After this I began to toy around with the same idea but different execution. I took some self portraits closer to my face and played with the shadows emitting from the chair I was sitting on. I'll be using a 70-200 for close up shots next week so I figured I show experiment with them.

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I set my 50mm lens to 1.4 simply to experiment with the idea of using shallow DOF in the footage next week but found it excessive and potentially distracting for the project  at hand. 

Later that night I proposed a shoot that was the same idea of the "Memento" shoot. I emulated a scene from Fight Club and took the exact same route i've taken for this entire project. Location scouting, actor scouting, lighting study, etc etc. This project would provide a good insight on what to expect on how next Sunday will run via production time and my ability to direct and set up lighting. I had the equipment available to me so I set out to do this project and give me a little confidence going into next Sunday's events as well as give me more insight on lighting procedures. 

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I decided to promote some enginuity and use my iPhone as a fill light behind our actors. It gave a nice blue cast in comparison to the main fill light and ambient lighting of the location.

A still taken on location with the iPhone light as a fill emitting the cold blues on the outside of Johnny's face.

A still taken on location with the iPhone light as a fill emitting the cold blues on the outside of Johnny's face.

The shoot itself began at 10pm and ended around 2am with assistance from Johnny Hochstetler and Collins Laatsch. 3 lights were used, a Lowel DP light with a square softbox, an iPhone flashlight, and an LED on camera video light.

Here's a still from the footage from the night of me getting punched in the face. Enjoy.

Here's a still from the footage from the night of me getting punched in the face. Enjoy.

What I took away from the shoot is that a.) have your actors aware of who they're playing inside and out. b.) Always be aware of your microphones and always sound check (we've got a lot of "scratchy noise" footage from our Lavs). and c.) if you think the shoot is only going to take 1 hour, multiply that by 4 and that's how long it'll actually be.

I'm grateful I had the opportunity and people willing to show up for the occasion. I've got a new sense of preparedness going into the "Memento" shoot next Sunday.