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    Key & Peele - Behind the Scenes with DP Charles Papert
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    Two of this season's 13 episodes have aired so far (new ones Wednesday nights on Comedy Central). The network has cut back on the number of sketches released to the internet because they are looking to drive traffic to the broadcast; the interesting part is that the choice of sketches is being made based on viewer popularity (each episode has its own hashtag).

    My favorite so far has been the parody of "Les Mis" which I mentioned elsewhere, which was a notably elaborate scale for us to pull off.

    I had a blast shooting the East/West Bowl Rap, which continues the characters of the outrageously named football players that formed the basis of one of most popular sketches to date. The first half of this clip takes its cue from the Superbowl Shuffle from the mid-80's, and I sourced a couple of broadcast tube cameras from that era to recreate the look (along with deliberately terrible lighting and camerawork). The second half incorporates a more contemporary music video vibe with an truly absurd numbers of lens flares (Blue Streak filters and Xenon flashlight aimed at the lens--as the director and I described it, as douchey as possible)!

    Finally, Terrorist Interrogation was inspired by a scene at the beginning of Zero Dark Thirty although I went a little more stylized with the lighting than the movie scene. FYI this clip is only on Vimeo, where you will find the other ones above as well, sans Comedy Central badges. See the playlist for more clips.

    Happy to answer any questions.
    Charles Papert
    charlespapert.com


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    Wow no questions? allright I'll start. What's your lighting scheme for the terrierist sketch. Seems like large side soft light?


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    Yeah, not sure how I missed this thread. That Les Mis spoof is amazing. I was so caught in how great it looked that it took me a while before I started getting the joke. Wow. I would love to know what those big soft sources are in there? They stayed so consistent through the blocking and camera moves. I thought the set was lit beautifully.

    "You all dont want any of this Ozzamatazz"... great! I loved the West. You're able to achieve so many disparate looks. How'd you get those flares? Is that a True Streak Schneider filter? Do you prefer to do filtering in post or in camera?

    Same question for the Terrierist Interogation as the Les Mis scene, what are the big soft sources? I also thought the set was lit beautifully, what was behind that fan and also how did you get that great split ray in the background?

    This is really funny stuff and you guys do such a fantastic job with the lighting and production design.
    Last edited by hscully; 10-03-2013 at 04:59 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Nhat Nguyen View Post
    What's your lighting scheme for the terrierist sketch. Seems like large side soft light?
    The sketch was based on an interrogation scene that appears early on in Zero Dark Thirty and I used the lighting design of that as a jumping off point. That set featured a window perpendicular to the actors but unfortunately our location did not, so I had to create the effect of it for the coverage angles. I used a Mactech 360 LED unit (comparable to an Image 80) as the window key, augmented with a Joker 800 into a floor bounce from the same direction which wrapped underneath the actor's faces. Departing from the look of the movie, the director requested shafts of light in the background which we made with an M18 on the master angle (Hscully's split ray, shaped by existing holes from pipes entering the wall) and a JoLeko 800 on the terriorists side. I always wrestle with the tendency of units that replicate sunlight to make non-parallel beams since they are mere feet away as opposed to, you know, 92 million miles (another typical example is pushing them through venetian blinds, where the angle of the slats will splay out from top to bottom), but obviously it's not something that the average viewer will ever notice.

    One curveball that I was thrown was that we had only talked about shooting the two sides of coverage with no 50-50 (side angle) or big wide master, since we didn't have that practical window. However, at a certain point during the shoot the director asked if I could give him that angle anyway. I had noticed a big industrial fan that the art department had brought in that we fortunately hadn't already established, and I set it up on apple boxes a couple of feet from the wall, put diffusion on the back and pushed light into it from behind (maybe another Joker)--suddenly we had a believable window source that wasn't just a big blown out square (:50). Also I remember now that there was a little jog in the room just beyond that which featured a lot of great pipes strung together, so I had the guys take a Kino back there and rake it back along the pipes to add some more background texture (visible to the left of the fan at 1:32). Considering that this was all a last minute, unplanned set of choices, it's actually one of my favorite shots in the piece!

    Once the actors move to the wooden box, I added some more units making the hot splashes on the back wall and cross back keys for the actors. When the female character enters, she's sidelit from outside by an M18 through diffusion and the JoLeko filling the downside just enough to read her face. Outside of that I used little to no fill in this piece, opting to keep it contrasty and true to the source material.
    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 10-04-2013 at 03:52 AM.
    Charles Papert
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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    I'd love to know how long you usually have to prep and then shoot each sketch Charles. The quality of the look and the production value blows me away everytime (when I'm not laughing that is).


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    No questions, but I did get a link to those videos on Vimeo and I love the football parody video. Nice work and I'll keep an eye out for more.


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    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    That Les Mis spoof is amazing. I was so caught in how great it looked that it took me a while before I started getting the joke. Wow. I would love to know what those big soft sources are in there? They stayed so consistent through the blocking and camera moves.
    Thanks! It was an epic night for us, it came at the end of our first week of shooting this season and I will admit that it was a relief when we wrapped that night!

    We shot "Les Mis" on the Universal backlot, it was a relatively minor build for our amazing art department as a lot of it was already in place (they added some signs, small set pieces and wall sconces). Originally this sketch was planned to be shot for day as that seemed simpler, but my key grip reported that half of the facades were literally that and they wouldn't be able to tie silks to the top, so I wouldn't be able to maintain consistent light throughout the hours needed to shoot the sketch. I suggested then that we move it to night. That choice, born out of practicality, resulted in what I think is a much more effective version of the sketch (it's hard to now imagine the opening playing as well in a soft diffused daylight look!)

    This did present the challenge of what to use for the primary lighting source. From studying a comparable scene in the movie I could see that a soft cyan top source was in effect, and after a lot of discussion of options that ranged from an HMI balloon (too expensive) to a 20x20 Ultrabounce on a Condor with units on the ground firing up into it (a little clunky), we landed on the 20 by on the Condor with five 2K blondes rigged above it. The blondes were gelled with Lee 241. It took the guys a few hours to build and position the rig, and as the sun went down it slowly moved into place and went up in the air. I was admittedly nervous at our gamble (did we use enough heads, would it provide enough stop, etc) but once it landed I could see that it was doing exactly what I wanted and the level was perfect.

    I augmented with Barger Baglights positioned up on a staircase that helped get light in the eyes, and a few units hidden around the set. The sconces were straight incandescent and thus they photographed quite warm against the blue/green key. When I needed to augment them, such as the backlght on the girl when she first appears, I used various incandescent fresnels and small Chimeras with 1/4 CTO. To continue the toplight down the street where the soldiers march in, we added a Gem ball gelled with the 241.

    In a perfect world the art department would have been able to scenic the walls and street to make them darker and dirtier, but budgetary constraints prevented. I ended up having to do a fair amount of windowing in color correction to achieve this, and we were pretty successful although I still would have loved to see the cobblestones disappear more. Of course with the top light, there was no way to knock them down on set.

    Camerwise we were mostly Steadicam with some handheld and stayed on Master Primes, especially the 18mm, to duplicate the shallow look of the film (I believe I shot around T1.8 for the wide stuff and up to 2.8 for the longer lens).
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    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 10-04-2013 at 04:12 AM.
    Charles Papert
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    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    "You all dont want any of this Ozzamatazz"... great! I loved the West. You're able to achieve so many disparate looks. How'd you get those flares? Is that a True Streak Schneider filter? Do you prefer to do filtering in post or in camera?
    That was an Optefex Blue Streak Filter, I believe the #2. For the recording studio I positioned a series of par cans of different sizes and intensity around the room pointing back at the cameras, and also pulled a "Star Trek", i.e. raked a Xenon flashlight back into the lens, raising and lowering it during the shot so the flare would sweep up and down. We wanted to change things up for the second half (with the girls on the bikes) which was a different location, and I suggested worklights which would go along with the industrial feel of the space. I left the daylight as is (an M40 on scaffold pushed through the window) to make a nice color contrast against the warm worklights.

    I do a combination of filtering on the lens and in camera, depending on the desired effect. We've done post flares before on the show, this was our first time using the filter and while I've been a little mixed on the results with those filters in the past (they never really duplicate the true look of classic anamorphic lens flare), they were great for this video. I sometimes use Classic Softs here and there for diffusion and highlight glows but a lot of the time I prefer to experiment with the look in post and dial it in more precisely than we have time to on set. It also helps avoid issues like flaring and highlight reflection with stacked filters etc.
    Charles Papert
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    The floor bounces work so well with that MacTech 360. I couldn't figure out how you were getting all that wrap and still keeping those gorgeous shadows. The bounce! Nice. LOVE the fan! Great call. It makes that 2 shot. I don't know if it worked as the back light on the terrierist but when you see it it pulls that in too. I think the light beams look fantastic in that shot as a part of the composition of that shot. It really works. I can't tell you how helpful it is to get this setup from you. Thanks, Charles.
    Last edited by hscully; 10-03-2013 at 07:12 AM.


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    The streaks look great with the work lights and the Star Trek gag. I don't have a streak filter but I've seen them. It looks great horizontally. They seem a little taller than anamorphic ones. Really gorgeous. I think about grabbing a ProMist and an ultra contrast for camera. I don't usually have the budget for the specialty ones so I hope to do that stuff in post.

    That's a great picture of the set. I can see the edge of that top light. The cyan from that huge light gets picked up slightly in the whites. It looks fantastic. You get that with the skin tones holding so well. Offah! So you used windowing in post to knock down some spill... oh, Man, this is a clinic.

    Frankly, I like your stedi better than some of the moves in the original ;)
    Last edited by hscully; 10-03-2013 at 07:14 AM.


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