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On the podcast today we are going behind the scenes and taking a peek at how we filmed a recent TVC campaign featuring a CG elephant. 

The sun played a key role in the shape of the cinematography and we discuss how you can use a location and time of day to help you maintain consistency no matter what mother nature throws your way.

Not everything went according to plan but we got there in the end.  My hope is you can use some the tactics we discuss and push your own work to the next level.

Patreon: Live Stream & LA

Thanks to the Patreon support the podcast is hitting the road in 2018.  We are coming to Los Angeles for Cine Gear and are planning a series of events around the trip.

We will be hosting a live podcast in LA and, due to the sheer volume of interest, patrons of the podcast will get first crack at the tickets.  If you are interested in coming out I highly suggest you sign up to become a Patron of the podcast as seating at the event will be limited and I am anticipating it selling out fairly quickly.

Of course when you become a Patreon you get immediate access to hours and hours of exclusive Patreon podcasts, videos, and all the past live streams.

To see the Patreon page and watch the live streams click on the link below:

The Wandering DP Patreon Page: Live Streams, Podcasts, & Videos

The Gear: Camera & Lighting Packages

We shot on the Arri Alexa Mini with a set of Cooke S4 lenses.  The camera was shooting 3.2k Prores 444 and we shot everything at 25 fps.

We used the same standard accessory package as always and if you are interested in exactly what that entails you find the full list in past show notes pages.

For lighting we used a few 12x12 frames and fabrics (most neg in the 12x12) and then a 4x4 frame of Hilite and a 4x4 Poly for a shot or two.  The look came down to time of day, location, and blocking.

The Commercial: Sun Seeker

The concept was for the female talent to be washing her car and for the male talent to come and admire it, all the while the man is oblivious to the elephant standing behind the car.

As with any CG shoot it takes a little bit of planning to get all the necessary boxes ticked but with some skilled VFX artists on board we were able to come up with a relatively easy plan of attack.

The Shots: Sun Seeker

Shot #1 - The Approach

The Shot

Our opening shot sees the male talent walking down the side of the car.  The camera tracks along the car as he makes his way toward the front of the vehicle.

The Lighting

The location was a north facing house and that was key in making sure we were able to maintain continuity over the course of the morning.  We scheduled our angles around the sun and backlight and then worked backwards from there to establish our time table.

The sun is backlighting and there is a 12x12 Neg camera right to try and mitigate some of the natural bounce that was coming off o the existing white house attached to the drive way.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Shot #2 - Lady in Back Light

The Shot

In our first mid shot we see the woman slam the hood down and reveal the CG elephant.

The Lighting

This was the second shot of the day and we did it as early as possible to have the backlight play.  The sun got a bit high in the sky so we took the edge off of our talent with a small 4x4 frame of Hilite. 

On her fill side we had the 12x12 Neg trying to add some contrast to the foreground.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Shot #3 - The Reveal

The Shot

This is the widest of the shots and the initial reveal of the elephant standing behind the car.  It is also the first shot of the day that we did.

The Lighting

The lighting for this scene could not have been worse.  We got what we didn't want and had to make it work as best we could.  

We wanted sunny and early morning and we got cloudy and mid morning.  So to add some contrast we just had 2 8x8 negs on either side of the camera to soak up some of the ambient from the overcast sky.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Shot #4 - The Reverse

The Shot

As morning shifted in to afternoon we too switched directions.  Now we are facing west as the sun wraps around but unfortunately our schedule for the rest of the day meant we could not wait till the sun was low.

We had to shoot at the worst possible time.  So we needed solutions.

The Lighting

Enter the old diffuse, neg fill, poly bounce combo.  We have seen it at least 10 times on this podcast alone. 

When the sun isn't playing nice you take the edge off the foreground with a textile/diffusion frame then as that greatly lessens the contrast and makes it feel a little weird and filled in, you add some negative fill to reintroduce the lost contrast.  

Then finally a 4x4 poly camera left adds just a hint of light from the fill side.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Shot #5 - The Reflection

The Shot

The last shot of the day was a reflection shot of the rear window of the car.  We needed to see the elephant in the reflection but keep him out of the frame.

We had to do a few different passes for all the elements but with the VFX supervisor on set it made it all pretty easy.

The Lighting

We had multiple passes on the shot.  One was all natural light, one was stopped down for the real reflection on the day and the last was with a 12x12 black blocking the real reflection and only capturing the interior of the car.

Stitch those together and add an elephant and we are all wrapped.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Sun Seeker: Wrapped Up

The real challenge was matching early weather with later shots in full sun.  Exterior scenes always run the risk of continuity issues and this is a classic example of what can happen and what tricks you can do to mitigate the damage.

Hopefully seeing the way these images were made can help you out the next time you are faced with similar issues.  Many thanks for listening and see you next week!

2 Responses

  1. Ross

    Hey Pat, after that first overcast setup hosed you, where you tempted to use 1/4 grit etc instead of the hi lite from then on to bring it closer to the overcast world? Yes back grounds might have been an issue though right? and that tracking shot along the car pretty much impossible with that level of grip right?

    • Wandering DP

      Yea the sun popped fairly quickly so there was no saving the overcast look with the team we had. Too much rigging and not enough time meant we went sun look instead.