We are back with another breakdown this week as we jump behind the scenes to see a recent spot I shot and discuss a few of the many challenges.
Day exterior spots are always tricky and this one even more so as a few location issues meant we had to re-arrange the schedule to put ourselves in with a fighting chance.
TLDR - When in doubt, back light.
Enjoy the behind the scenes look!
A Cinematography System: The Playbook Approach
You like the breakdown episodes and you want to be a better DP? Would you like to hear how I think when it comes to cinematography and steal the methodology I built up over the years?
OK. Check out the course I created at the link below:
My mindset around cinematography has morphed and changed over time as I am always seeking the most efficient workflow to get the best results I can. In the course I lay out exactly how I breakdown a scene to make sure I am maximizing the tools I have available to me.
This is the closest thing I have created to a cheat code for up and coming DPs to bypass the years of trial and error I had to put in.
Patreon Video: Lisey's Story
This week on the Patreon Breakdown we look at Lisey's Story shot by the great Darius Khondji ASC AFC.
I looked it up after I recorded and it was shot on the Alexa 65 and Tribe 7 lenses. It is basically a cinematographer's dream in terms of color and lighting and it was fun to jump into the world and see all the details at play.
You can find this week's Patreon content by clicking the link below:
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.
Shady Business- The Spot
We shot this ad on the Alexa Mini LF paired with a set of Cooke S7 lenses.
No filters or any magic ion front of the lens just the Cookes at near wide open and a whole lot of ND filtration.
The Location - Beware of the Trees
The whole spot is supposed to play out over 30 seconds but we had just over 8 hours on location to get it done.
The location was perfect for sun orientation but it had one major challenge: the trees. The giant trees in the background meant we had to schedule everything around where the action would take place relative to the constantly moving shade.
It wasn't easy to get around but we got there in the end.
The Spot - Shot by Shot
Shot 1 - The Wide
Our hero talent exits the store and stops to look at a group of young kids on a road trip.
This shot set the entire schedule for the production. We knew we wanted the sun out of the frame and behind the talent which was only possible in a very small time window.
We shot this set up second on the day and the main challenge was filling in the shadows in the foreground with no lamps (almost). There is a little Arri M90 trying it's best but not doing much in the lower right hand side of the frame.
Set Up #2 - The Track back
The camera tracks back as our talent walks out of the market.
This was the first set up of the day because we could shoot it when the sun was just cresting above the roofline of the market in the background.
We were ready to roll as soon as the sun was acting as a backlight because we knew we could balance the levels in the grade to match the wider shots.
The only lighting here is a little 4x4 Poly for the eyes and some negative fill trying to create some shape camera right.
Set Up #3 - The Social Shot
This was a standalone ad for socials and framed up for 1x1.
We scheduled all of the social stuff in the middle of the day because they are standalone pieces not meant to directly match the main action and because the TV ad takes precedent for quality of light when doing exteriors like this where time is short.
This is the infamous sun sandwich in all it's glory. Sun on frame left behind the talent as much as midday sun can be and then bouncing with a 12x12 Ultra Bounce from frame right.
Set Up #4 - The Vertical Cut
Again a social ad framed for 9:16 center cut from the Alexa Mini LF Full Frame sensor.
In this shot and the punch in below we again had to bounce light from the opposite side of the sun leading to the dreaded sun sandwich. Sometimes due to set up and action it is an unavoidable reality.
Set Up #5 - Down the Line
Tighter on the previous shot.
Shot #6 - The Turn Around
The camera track is on a group of young kids packing up for a road trip.
We made sure the sun was out of the frame camera right as we are now facing west for the rest of the shoot day.
For this set up we could go with the Sun Wrap approach by bouncing from the same side as the sun with a 12x12 Ultra Bounce and then adding negative fill from frame left to create some contrast in the foreground.
Shot #7 - The Overhead
The on camera talent nods at the older talent and gives a little salute as the camera tracks in.
The same as above except now because we don't see the ground we are able to massage the levels even further using an 8x8 Hi-Lite as an overhead to cut the harshness of the sun.
Shot #8 - The Stand Alone
This is part of a stand alone ad like the earlier socials but we kept the same lighting set up as before but rotated all the in camera elements to make it appear as if the camera had moved.
Same as above.
Shot #9 - The Finale
The camera tracks behind our hero talent and pulls focus from him to his family in the vehicle.
We were racing the setting sun here to get this in the can. We have neg camera right to take away some of the bounce from the ground and then added the 12x12 Ultra Bounce frame left to help lift the level on the family and the car.