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This week on the podcast we break down a tvc shot with minimal crew, minimal gear, and a budget that reflects that.
There are tips and tricks that we are going to talk about on getting the most bang for your buck, finding locations that work for your budget, and technical tricks you can use to make your images stand out no matter what the budget.
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This week on the exclusive Patreon Supporter podcast we go deep into a listener question about location scouting and determining what is going to work for your budget/crew size.
The techniques and things to look for shift depending on the resources you have access to and we talk about a few small things that can make a big difference to the finished product.
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Case Study: Small Crews + Tiny Budgets
Our case study today is an ad for an app featuring multiple characters in multiple locations.
We are going to be looking at two different locations/set ups and all the work that went in to getting the final images.
Let's start by discussing the action:
In set up #1 a woman and her roommate are having a discussion in the kitchen. Nothing out of the ordinary and all pretty straightforward from a storytelling point of view.
In set up #2 we see the same woman out to eat with another friend as they sit at the table and are presented the check.
So when I first see the boards all looks nice and easy. One of the main issues that happens with lower budget projects is they overload the productions with unrealistic expectations.
Luckily on this job it was a seasoned producer who knew that we could make this idea work on the budget provided. Let's take a look at the final images from the spot and then we will get in to each set up individually to see how we made it happen.
Small Crews + Tiny Budgets: The Final Images
On a smaller budget job locations and scheduling are even more important to nailing the look you want. You don't have the luxury of a plethora of lights and art department goodies to help you out.
Location #1: The Share House
This little kitchen space worked perfect for our needs.
It wasn't facing a particularly great way, didn't have amazing natural light but what it did have was a bit of character and because there wasn't a ton of existing natural light we could easily over power it.
The other great art department find was that it had vertical blinds already in place.
Location #2: The Restaurant
The best part of this location was the big windows we could throw light into and the fact it was already partially dressed.
The practicals where a bit all over the place in terms of color temperature but we were embracing that look for budget purposes anyway.
The Gear: RED Weapon & Lomo Anamorphics
I am not a huge fan of owning your own gear but it works out nicely in these situations.
Most of the camera stuff I have picked up over the years and even though I don't normally put it all out on jobs (for a variety of reasons) it certainly helps in these budget situations.
Camera: RED Weapon 6k (shooting 6:5 Ana Mode)
Lenses: Lomo Anamorphics
Matte Box: Bright Tangerine
Support: Easyrig Cinema 3 w/Serene Arm
Follow Focus: RTmotion 3.1 WFF
CF: Tiffen 138mm Diopters (+.5, +1, +2)
Shots 1-3: The Kitchen
The kitchen set up was scheduled right in the middle of the day. On the location scout I knew it wouldn't matter for timing as long as we were out of there before 3PM. The sun would slowly creep in from there.
Shot #1 - The Wide
Our main talent is standing in the kitchen. The second talent enters.
We were lighting out of a small van so we didn't have access to anything crazy big. We used both m18s we had and blasted them through some diffusion from the outside.
Small crews require a shift in approach and we tried to keep things as light as possible. Inside there is no lights. Just bounce from the outside HMIs.
The little key in this shot was adjusting the pre-existing blinds to hide our HMI in the window and shape the background.
Shot #2: The Reverse
This was a simple reverse of Shot #3.
We had to swing one of the M18s around to make the light a bit more side-y and then we added an Area 48 LED through a 4x4 in the background for some ambient. It was dimmed down to about 20%.
Shot #3: The CU
We were punching in straight down the line from the wider angle. The lighting is exactly the same as shot #1 except we have walked in the 12x12 to just out of frame left and we further adjusted the blinds to give the background more shape.
Shots 4-8: The Restaurant
In the restaurant we wanted to move quickly and work with what was already there. The existing lighting was not super flattering inside so we opted to switch out the overhead light and take away as much of it as we could.
The idea was to create some warm pools so viewers wouldn't be distracted by the busy backgrounds.
Shot #4: The Wide
We needed to see the two talent and an empty restaurant.
We turned off most of the existing restaurant lights, dimmed what we couldn't turn off, then added some Area 48s above the two front tables.
The LEDs were diffed and skirted. Then we added some yellow and red party lights and added some mustard gels to the existing exterior fluorescents.
The final light was an Arri 2k to edge out the car on frame right.
Shot #5: The Group Shot
The interior group shot to take us in to the dialogue.
We kept the Area 48 above the table, lowered the intesity and spread out the diff to get as much level as we could in the eyes.
The practical in the background is dimmed by putting a napkin over the LED inside of it.
The edge is from the Arri 2k which we repositioned for some sodium vapor streetlight looks.
Shot #6: The Insert
We needed to see the struggle for the bill for the story.
Exact same as above. All we did was slightly reposition the 2k outside to make it a bit softer.
Shot #7: The Single
One of the singles we punched in on for the dialogue.
We shifted the Arri 2k around to ad some edge then placed another napkin on the practical in the background.
We kept the Area 48 up and just added a poly on the edge of frame camera left to catch a bit more level.
I don't like the up the nose look on table scenes so I kept the poly vertical and it was just ever so slightly catching and bouncing some of the light coming from the Area 48.
Shot #8: The Other Guy
The chef wants to go home and has his little reaction moment in this single. I chose this angle as it had the most interesting BG.
For this shot I lifted the skirt on the Area 48 and dimmed it down as he was standing rather than sitting and that meant he was much closer to the lamp. Then I pushed it a little bit further away from camera to make the shadow on the near side of his face a bit more exaggerated.
Moving the lamp still wasn't enough to cure the flatness so I brought in a 4x4 floppy to cut all the bounce on his downstage cheek.
Finally I added a 2nd Area 48 dimmed all the way down to edge out the back of his neck and head.
Small Crews & Big Results
These jobs are always fun to work on as the team is so small and tight everyone has to be on their game.
It isn't always easy but we got there in the end.
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