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This week on the podcast we are continuing our look at a recent 5 day TV campaign we shot in Los Angeles.  In today's episode we breakdown an exterior day shoot that was planned for full sun and ended up being completely overcast.

Exterior days are the hardest to control when you are budget/time limited and this day was no exception.  The reality is if it is overcast and you are in the middle of nowhere you will need to alter your game plan dramatically. 

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Patreon Group: On Set Series - Part #3

Over on Patreon this week we go behind the scenes on this day of the shoot and you get to see all the action as it unfolded.  We change looks, talk over what we need to do to get the best out of the weather and more.

This On Set Series takes Patreon members one step closer to the action as they get to see how a set of this size works, where a DP slots in, how pre-production planning can help speed you up on set and much more.

If you are interested in checking out this week's extended On Set Video click on the link below to become a Patreon member :

The Wandering DP Podcast: Patreon Group

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Nature Cinematography: When the Weather Turns

 If you have been following along the last few weeks you will remember that this is a series of ads where our talent visits real world customers in their natural environment.  In today's episode that environment is fishing in a river (not the easiest location to source in the middle of Los Angeles).

The difference in light and weather from the tech scout to the location scout couldn't have been greater.  We set the entire schedule to take advantage of the beautiful dawn light but when we arrived on the day we quickly realized we would need to rethink our approach.

Overcast skies meant the light was no longer our friend.  We would spend the day trying to fight the flatness.

The Location

Here in the location scout stills you can see the beautiful shadows and points of interest the sun is creating in the background.  Our plan was to shoot earlier in the morning to take advantage of the longer shadows.  

The main goal of this approach was to create a sense of depth behind the talent and make the landscape feel larger than it was in reality.  TO do this we tried to get as far from that little hill in the background as possible.

When we got there on the shoot the water had also risen about 5 feet and the current was almost to strong to stand in.  WE were shooting without splash bags or housings for the camera so we really needed to shift ideas.

This was a still taken from the tech scout at approx. 10AM.

The Schedule

We would have liked to have started earlier but the weather made that irrelevant.  Without the dawn light we were getting more flatness than anything else early on so we pushed the start to try and see if it would clear up later in the afternoon.  

Unfortunately it did not.

The Gear Package: Camera & Lighting

We shot this ad on two Panavised Arri Alexa Minis with a combination of Panavision Ultra Speeds and Super Speeds.

For lighting on this shoot day we had:

20x12 1/2 Soft Frost

12x12 Bleach Muslin

Various 4x4 diffusion frames

20x12 Black

12x12 Black

Two Camera Cinematography: The Set Ups

Shot #1 - The Walking Intro

The Shot

Our first scene was meant to be filmed in pre-dawn light but with the overcast weather we pushed it until well past sunrise.

Here the A cam is on a 180mm and the B cam is on the 100mm.

The Lighting

For these shots we were just lucky to get something in the can.  The current was so strong it was hard to get the cameras into position.  There is a bit of natural backlight that peeks through but the cloud cover was so think the entire sky turned into a giant soft box of flatness.

The Result

Behind the Scenes

Shot #2 - The Meet & Greet

The Shot

We needed the talent reacting to the host showing up so we took advantage of having two cameras on set and we used the A cam for the boarded shot while the B cam was hunting down detail shots that could be used as transitional moments.

The Lighting

The blocking of the action in the direction of what little backlight there was provided most of the shaping.  We did try to fly a 4x4 floppy in the middle of the river but I can't recall that being a raging success.

The Result

Behind the Scenes

Shot #3 - Undercover

The Shot

For our meet and greet moment we found a spot with a nice deep background so the viewer could get a sense of the scale of the location.  We shot in the direction of what would have been the sun.

The Lighting

You should be able to spot the flatness in the background here as the overcast skies are really starting to settle in by this point.

We used 4x4 floppies behind the camera to help kill some spill and then tried to find an angle that gave us a bit of shape.

The Result

Shot #4 - In Tight

The Shot

This shot was the first time we see the two sitting down for their face to face chat.  We layered the scene with a few different elements to try and create a feeling of depth.  The foreground has the table, the middle ground is our point of focus, then the car in the background, then the hills in the deep background.

The Lighting

We went with the go to overcast set up which was black everywhere you couldn't see.  We didn't have to worry about things getting too hot so we went all in on the blacks.  To the right and left of the camera we flew 12x12 blacks and then directly behind the camera we have more Negative fill.

At this distance the results are overly dramatic but as we move in from here you will start to see that change.

The Result

Shot #5 - The Sit Down Wide

The Shot

Now as we get into the lines we have a bit more control of the contrast ratios.  

The Lighting

The sun was now intermittently popping in and out and because we had already spent 6 hours embracing the overcast look there was no going back.

We would wait for cloud then take advantage of the 12x12 Neg camera left and we used a poly bounce camera right to ever so slightly bump up the key side level.  The placement of the modifiers was the most crucial to getting something near natural.

The Result

Straight to Camera

The Shot

This was our final angle of the day and the sun was now more out than in.  We needed to adjust our modifiers accordingly.

The Lighting

Camera right we still had are large Negs taking away as much ambient as possible but now camera left we had a 4x4 frame of diffusion to try and knock down the harshness should the sun pop out.  We did roll in between sunny moments and the frame ended up not effecting much.

Because of it's color it does add a small catch light in the talent's eye which was nice.

The Result