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On the show this week we take an extensive look behind the scenes of a recent commercial I shot using the Canon K35 lenses on the Arri Alexa Mini.  We will look at the lighting, the set ups, the color and more.

Every job requires it's own unique approach and in speaking with the director (Corrie Jones - a guest on the Episode # 84 of the podcast) we decided to embrace some of the inherent flaws in the older Canon K35 lenses to help set our world apart.

In this podcast you will see how we accomplished the final look by combining lighting choices, color decisions, set design and everything else on the day.

Patreon Podcast - Skin Tones & More

This week on the Patreon podcast we chat all things skin tones.  The treatment of skin tones is one of the main questions I get from the Patreon supporters.  

What IRE should they be?  What about different shades and pigments inside the same frame?  What filters do you use to help soften skin?  Should males and females be set at different IRE levels?

If you have ever had any questions about exposing for skin tones than this episode is for you.  We go over typical skin tone levels on retail type ads, what to look out for when lighting various skin tones, and a few tips and tricks to help you on your way.

Click the link below to listen to this week's Patreon Podcast:

Patreon Podcast: Skin Tones & More

Canon K35s & Commercials

For this particular commercial we wanted a softer edge and a quality to the image that pulled the viewer out of what could have been a very sterile world.  The choice to go with 40 year old lenses helped get us there with minimal fuss.  

Working with older lenses has its pluses but it also has its drawbacks which we will talk about.

The Technical Info - Camera Gear List

  • Arri Alexa Mini - 2.8k RAW
  • Canon K35 lens set - 24, 35, 50, 85mm T1.4
  • Arri WCU-4 - Wireless Follow Focus System
  • Arri LMB-25 - Clip On Matte Box
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Filter Set - 4x5.6" IRND Filters (.3 - 2.1)
  • OConnor 2575 - Fluid Head
  • Flanders BM090 - 9" On Board Monitor
  • Easyrig Cinema 3 - Handheld Camera Solution

The Sell - Medium Shot

The Shot

We open on a woman sitting at a sofa.  In the BG we needed to be able to read her husband as his action was motivating the humor in the ad.

The Lighting

We battled the dull overcast skies with a 12k out the kitchen window and a 6k for the talent coming from camera right.  Once we got everything in position we were able to soften off the lamps while maintaining enough level to create the kind of look we were going for.

It helps to have the lights outside as the nautral windows on location add realisom by not allowing the light to bleed all over the room.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

The Great Outdoors - Neg & More Neg

The Shot

We see the Mom packing a family's worth of stuff in to the back of an SUV.

The Lighting

The look is almost entirely down to the overcast (soft) sky light coming from behind the car in combination with a large 12x12 black solid hanging camera right hidden by the door frame.

There is a small Poly inside to bounce some level at the door frame so it wasn't completely black.  We needed to see the frame as it helps the viewer establish where the Mom is looking back to.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Wide Open - Canon K35s

The Shot

This shot shows the beauty of the old slightly softer vintage glass.  Mom is now at the side of the car still yelling at the house.

The Lighting

The lighting here is once again very basic.  Use the soft backlight to etch out the talent from the BG and then Neg fill all around the camera to try and create some shape.  This is the 55mm wide open and you can see how quickly things drop off.

The Results

Walk in the Neg - Canon K35s

The Shot

The family has returned from their weekend excursion and come back to find their house is disarray.

The Lighting

In keeping with the overcast and neg fill theme we go to that well again here.  We are shooting into darker regions of the BG which helps make the job easier.  Even though it was cloudy we were prepared for sun by the angle and time of day we chose to schedule these shots.

The Results

Same Place, Different Time

The Shot

The Mom an Dad are now inside the half empty home.  We needed the light to feel different than the couch shot so we decided for a warm-y inside look couple with a bluer outside.

The Lighting

Inside we used practical lamps on dimmers to really warm them up and we turned off the 6k from before.  We added a 2 stop net over the kitchen window to cut down the ambient levels there and then lastly added a tungsten china ball to help the warmer tones reach further into the BG of the image.

The Results

Behind the Scenes

Closer In - The Finale

The Shot

The follow up shot to the previous breakdown.d

The Lighting

The set up remains from before with the only change being the adjusting of the practical lamps to help guide the viewers eyes where we wanted them to go.  We turned off the practical on camera right over the book case as we wanted folks looking at the action on camera left.  

The Results

Canon K35s & Commercials

Overall I was very happy with the Canon K35 lenses on this job.  It would have been nice to use a proper set with well looked after mechanics and an 18 and 24mm lens wouldn't have been bad either.

Sometimes it is nice to operate within a limited set of lenses and just eliminate another set of choices that can bog down a set.  

The lenses were OK stopped down but the real magic was embracing the flaws and having them opened up all the way.  I look forward to using them on something a bit darker next time.

5 Responses

  1. Chris Freilich

    Hi Patrick,

    I’m wondering about your use of a 2-stop net.

    What we call a ‘double net’ in the US cuts about one stop of light, using 2 layers of bobbinet, whereas a ‘single net’ uses just one layer of the fabric. Whenever I’ve used nets on-camera like this, I’ve been unable to use more than one double net before I start seeing a moire pattern, even with fairly out-of-focus nets. Maybe a triple total might be doable in some circumstances, but 2 doubles has never worked for me.

    Are your nets made of the same material in Australia? I’m wondering if what you’re calling a 2-stop net is just Australian terminology for what we call a double net, even though it actually only cuts about one stop of light.

    If there’s a material that can cut two full stops of light without being visible on-screen, I would love to know about it!


  2. Ash

    Hey Pat
    Why did you use a 6k for the talent on the couch and nothing bigger?
    Thank you!

    • Ash

      To confirm.
      You had said that a bigger source further back leads to more natural, even fall-off. Was there not enough space to do that, was the 6k powerful enough for you to begin with or were those fixtures what you had available to you?

      • Wandering DP
        Wandering DP

        To a point that is true but the bigger the source relative to the subject the softer the light will appear. We used a 6k because we didn’t need a 12k.

        The 12 was outside and so far back that it wasn’t gicing a lot of level so if we keyed with a 12 in the foreground it would have been way too much level. Even the 6 we had to diffuse multiple times to get it in the world we needed.

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