Alright good people of the podcast world today we are breaking down a commercial that had us pressed for time and resources.

This spot is for a home builder and we had lots to get through without a ton of support.  We used shallow depth of field and some interesting angles to help get us out of a few less than ideal situations.

Enjoy the behind the scenes look!

Patreon Podcast: The Shape of No Fill

Over on the Patreon podcast this week we are looking at one of the best looking films I have come across in the last year.

The Shape of Water is gorgeous with some very challenging scenarios and environments.  We take a deep dive in to the approach for night lighting throughout the movie and discuss how working on a set has extreme advantages.

You can find this week's Patreon content by clicking the link below:

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The Cooke Look - Gear List

All the gear for this was standard issue for a TVC.  The only added elements were the Ronin 2 and the Master Wheels which performed flawlessly.

Camera Gear:

Check out the gear I use on all of my commercial shoots by clicking the link below:

Wandering DP Commercial Cinematography Gear

The only kit not listed on that page is the set of 2x Cooke Anamorphics.

The Spot - A Little Something

Set Up #1 - Doughnuts

The Shots

At each location we needed an intro detail shot to help change scenes.  We set up first thing on day 1 with this shot to help sell the environment of the building site.

The Lighting

This was all natural.  Backlight and a little bounce from the operator's t-shirt.

The Result

Set Up #2 - The Walk Through

The Shots

The talent walking inside the nearly constructed home.

The Lighting

Again with the time we had in the location we used the backlight from the sun in combination with some large neg to help get the contrast to where it needed to be.  A single 20x20 Black did the trick.

The Result

The Storyboard

Set Up #3 - The Detail

The Shot

A close up of the builder in action reviewing plans on his ipad.

The Lighting

Here the challenge was we needed to move quickly but the sun was above the roofline on the house so we weren't getting as much backlight as before.

To help balance out the levels from outside in the BG to inside with the talent we added an Arri Skypanel S-60 through a 4x4 frame.

Then to the left of frame and behind the camera we added two 4x4 floppies to help shape the shadows.

The Result

Set Up #4 - The Close Up

The Shots

A close up shot of the builder at work inside the house.

The Lighting

We used the exact same set up as before to save time and to keep moving quickly.  

The Result

The Storyboard

Set Up #5 - The Walk

The Shots

Back to our scene intros with this detailed tight shot of a baby's foot as he walks for the first time.

The Lighting

Inside this narrow hallow way we used 2 4k HMI's to help create our pools of interest.

To keep the foreground moody we had blacks behind the camera stopping any return fill from the 4ks.

The 4ks were used to light up the scene well past ambient levels so the darkness was easier to work with and adjust.

The Result

Shot #6 - The Wide

The Shots

A Wide of the exact same set up as before.

The Lighting

This spot really showcases lighting an area for all angles.  We lit the space once (because that is all we had time for) and made it work for all the wides, mids, and CUs.

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #7 - The Reverse

The Shots

In tight with a CU of the baby as he takes his first step.

The Lighting

The challenge with this one was we had to look the opposite way which meant a near complete relight.

We used the same 4k key from camera left now and added a skypanel in the BG to help balance the levels with the overcast sky outisde. 

The Result

Shot #7 - The Eyes

The Shots

We are now outside to capture a moment of the company's founder reflecting on the first home he ever built.  We start close in on the eyes.

The Lighting

The weather on this day was changing non stop.  One minute cloud, one minute sun.

We were lucky hee to get a sunny moment and used that as a backlight then used an 8x8 of Ultrabounce from frame left to give us the return that we needed.  Frame right is a 4x4 floppy in the hand to help create some contrast.

The Result

Shot #7 - The Super

The Shots

Another CU of the hand dragging along the bricks of the first house.

The Lighting

Same set up as above.

The Result

Shot #7 - The Super

The Shots

We finished off the sequence looking this direction with a wider look at the owner.

The Lighting

Here you can see the difference the exact same lighting modifiers can have when paired with a wider shot.  We used the same 8x8 Ultra and Neg Fill but their impact on the contrast is lessened as the wider shot meant we had to be further away from the subject.

The Result

Shot #7 - The House Reverse

The Shot

We cut to reveal the house with the owner in the foreground.

The Lighting

We got real lucky here that it clouded over as this house was getting blasted with front light the entire time we were shooting the other shots at this location.

The clouds rolled in and we quickly spun around, added some neg to the foreground behind the camera, and fired this one off. 

The Result

Shot #7 - The Super

The Shot

In this sequence we see a couple looking at a laptop in a night time living room.

The Lighting

Here we used a S-60 from frame right through a soft box with a grid on it as the key.  It was helping to give the laptop light a bit more spread.

In the foreground to create some separation we had a kino select to back light the furniture we were shooting through.

For the talent we had a small Aputure light on the laptop, then a Dedolight above the frame on the right hand side.  It was dimmed way down to give it some warmth and to have it sit in the exposure range.

Outside the window we had another kino select to help lift us just out of complete darkness.

The Result

Shot #7 - The Super

The Shots

A CU of the fingers tapping away at the keys.

The Lighting

Same set up as before but we removed the Aputure light on the laptop and balanced the other lamps to the new levels of the laptop light.

The Result

About The Author

Wandering DP

Cinematographer and host of The Wandering DP Podcast. You can see select examples of work at my personal site or follow me on instagram.

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