After one of the most popular, informative, and entertaining episodes in the history of the show we pause from the interviews to take a look at how a recent commercial I shot was put together.

This time on the podcast we break down a horse racing spot and talk lighting, lenses, schedule, and more.

Enjoy the behind the scenes look!

Patreon Podcast: Bad Times at the Backlot

Over on Patreon this week for the Feature Film Breakdown we are going over Bad Times at the El Royale.

A very unique looking film with lots to talk about.  We go over cinematographer Seamus McGarvey's studio approach and how he was able to blend style in to the story.

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

The Wandering DP Patreon Group

If you are a fan of the podcast and want more video content the patreon group is the place to be.  Each and every week I release an exclusive podcast, video, or live stream just for the Patreon members.

Patreon members also get access to the Private Facebook community for the show.  The podcast couldn't exist without the Patreon support and I do my best to take care of the supporters.

High Contrast Exteriors - The Spot

We shot two cameras for this job because time with the horses was limited.  This was also the final S35 tvc for a while now I would imagine.

Camera Gear:

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

Wandering DP Commercial Cinematography Gear

We used the Alexa XT and an Alexa mini for the gimbal. The gimbal was the Ronin 2.  We shot Prores 444.

The only kit not listed on that page is the set of Vintage Cooke Panchros we used on this one.

No lights on this one but we did make heavy use of 12x12 Ultra Bounces, Neg, and Highlight frames.

The Location - Schedule is Everything

The entire spot plays outside on a racecourse.  We had a single day and had to move quickly to get the sun in the spot it needed to be for all of the set ups.  

The treatment called for high contrast imagery and we need a strong backlight (the sun) to make that happen.

Below is a diagram of the location.  We moved 3 times on the day and those moves are also highlighted on the map.

The Spot - Shot by Shot

Shot 1 - The Push Start

The Shots

The ad ends with a slow push in on a jockey as he eye balls the camera.

The Lighting

This was the hero shot of the ad so we made the best use of the location and the light and scheduled this shot as the first of the day.

We oriented the action so that the camera was facing North and used a 4x4 frame of highlight to cut the sun on the talent.  Then we used a 12x12 of Ultra bounce to wrap the sun on his key side.

Finally we had two 4x4 floppies camera right to create the contrast we were after.

The Result

Shoot Location

Set Up #2 - The Push Finish

The Shot

Final position on the push in.

The Lighting

This is a continuation of the previous set up.

The Result

The Storyboard

Set Up #3 - The Texture

The Shot

This shot wasn't storyboarded but because we had two cameras rolling the entire shoot we were able to pick up extra textural moments as A cam was focused on the storyboard essentials.

The Lighting

We were now on the West side of the track looking East.  The sun is starting to rise in the sky which meant our subject would be backlight  if we shot towards the East.

We have a 12x12 Neg camera left and a 12x12 Ultra Bounce camera right.

The sun was ducking in and out of clouds so the effect of the bounce and neg is more or less impactful depending on the moment.

The Result

Set Up #4 - The Grand Wide

The Shots

This was the hero shot of the riders preparing to enter the starting gate.

The Lighting

We used the sun to backlight the rider then bounced a 12x12 Ultra from frame right and a 12x12 Neg was camera left to add some shape.

The Result

Set Up Location

The Storyboard

Set Up #5 - The Take Off

The Shots

The B cam angle of the previous shot.

The Lighting

See shot #4.

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #6 - The Fly By

The Shots

We moved back to the East side of the track to start the final sequence of the day.  We needed shots of the riders and horses entering the gate.  B cam was able to get this shot while A cam was frame right getting a profile of the riders in the gates.

The Lighting

Donuts.

The Result

Set Up Location

Shot #7 & 8 - The Entrance

The Shots

The super shot.

The Lighting

All the lighting remained from the previous set ups as we hunted for various angles to lay the super over.  They ended up choosing a frame with some dirty foreground window elements which always helps to create depth.

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #9 - Steady...

The Shots

We needed shots of the horse getting ready to exit the starting block. The B cam was able to grab these shots as the A cam got Shots 10 - 11.

The Lighting

See previous shot.  

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #10 - In the Gates

The Shot

This shot kicks off a series of shots from inside the starting gates.  We just roamed from frame to frame as soon as the horses entered the starting gate.  We were low on time here so we hosed it down with coverage.

The Lighting

We blacked all around the camera so that the only light coming through was the direct backlight from the sun.

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #11 - The Same but Closer

The Shot

See previous shot.

The Lighting

See previous shot.

The Result

Shot #12 - The Dolly Zoom

The Shots

This shot was a dolly zoom as the gates opened to give the viewer an odd sense of the movement at the start of a race.

The Lighting

Donuts.

The Result

The Storyboard

Shot #13 - Off to the Races

The Shot

Now the jockey raises up and makes a motion like the gates have opened.  From there we cut to the gates of an actual race opening up.

The Lighting

See shots 10 & 11.

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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