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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.

Patreon Podcast: Locations On a Budget

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.

The Creative

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

Small Crew Two Shot

Shot #1

Small Crews 2nd Single

Shot #2

Small Crews Single

Shot #3

Small Crews Night Wide

Shot #4

Small Crew Night Two Shot

Shot #5

Small Crew Insert

Shot #6

Small Crews Night Single

Shot #7

Small Crews Night 3rd Single

Shot #8

Locations

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

Small Crew Two Shot

The Shot

Our main talent is standing in the kitchen.  The second talent enters.  

The Lighting​

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.​

The Results

BTS​

Shot #2: The Reverse

Small Crews 2nd Single

The Shot​

This was a simple reverse of Shot #3.​

The Lighting​

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%.​

The Result​

BTS

Shot #3: The CU

Small Crews Single

The Shot

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.​

The Lighting​

The Results​

BTS

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​

Small Crews Night Wide

The Shot​

We needed to see the two talent and an empty restaurant.​

The Lighting

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.​

The Results

BTS​

Shot #5: The Group Shot​

Small Crew Night Two Shot

The Shot

The interior group shot to take us in to the dialogue.​

The Lighting

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.​

The Results​

BTS

Shot #6: The Insert​

Small Crew Insert

The Shot

We needed to see the struggle for the bill for the story.​

The Lighting

Exact same as above.  All we did was slightly reposition the 2k outside to make it a bit softer.​

The Results​

Shot #7: The Single​

Small Crews Night Single

The Shot

One of the singles we punched in on for the dialogue.​

The Lighting

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.​

The Results​

BTS

Shot #8: The Other Guy​

Small Crews Night 3rd Single

The Shot

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.​

The Lighting

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.​

The Results​

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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2 Responses

  1. LightRight

    Thank you for these posts, they are beyond helpful. Really, really useful to see your technique and process. Keep on sharing, please!

    Reply
  2. Sean Conte

    Love the approach to interiors with minimal lights. What kinds of diffusion were you using for those units? That’s a pretty critical piece of the lighting.

    Reply

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