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    Save The Day PSA with Joss Whedon and Chris Pine
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    I had the delightful fortune the other week of shooting this clip directed by Joss Whedon for Save the Day (savetheday.vote/), his get-out-the-vote media company. It was a fast-moving production; we rolled less than two days after we scouted the location, a small office in Santa Clarita.

    I had a humble 2+2 grip and electric crew on this one, so we kept things pretty scaled down. Our primary instruments were two Jo-Leko 800's and two Arri Skypanels, and a selection of Litemats. We had to work off house power so LED and the small HMI was the most appropriate choice.

    The bullpen section of the room had some 50 can lights with 2900K LED bulbs. It would have been helpful to replace them all with daylight balanced globes but that, as well as gelling the windows that stretched across two sides of the office, was cost-prohibitive. So I opted to turn them off and simply suggest a daylight-filled office (which would have been easier had we been able to light from outside the windows, but it was on the second floor so again...budget). I left the incandescent bulbs playing in a hallway seen at the very back of the room as a bit of color contrast.

    Both the opening testimonial and Chris's 48 fps entrance were shot after sunset. The testimonial was a Jo-Leko filling a swatch of bleached muslin hung over the window with another just above camera for fill (very scrimmed down). For his stroll down the aisle, I pushed the Skypanels into the ceiling headers off camera left with the Jo-Lekos as ceiling bounces off right at a lower level. That same setup appears later in the piece when Chris is rolling around on the office chair.

    In the conference room we hung two Litemat 4's over the table pointing straight down. I would have normally motivated some return from the windows since they are so prevalent in the room, but Joss wanted a pretty significant change when Chris turns the lights off, so it was best to avoid this.

    The rest of the scenes were a series of variations on Skypanel key (sometimes through a 4x4 with grid, such as in the lunchroom scene) and JoLeko bounces.

    In color we cooled off the shadows and then qualified the skintones to bring them back to a relatively neutral level of warmth.

    Camera-wise, we used two Amiras with Alura 15-45, 30-80 and a Fujnon Cabrio 19-90, plus a 21 and 25 Master Prime. Joss and I had planned a Coen Brother's-esque approach of close and wide for the singles, as can be seen in the first conference room scene (where I used the 21mm on Chris' coverage). However, our shooting speed resulted in many scenes being shot in classic wide and tight two-camera coverage, so we had to modify the more meticulous single-camera Deakins style as required! Such is life. We were primarily shooting off sticks, with a little handheld and Steadicam. For the shot of Chris landing on the conference room table we used a Matthews Cam-Tank which I acquired for this shoot, a really beefy and elegant variation on a classic rocker plate.

    It was a smooth running day, we finished up a little ahead of schedule and I think it's a really funny and effective piece. Both Chris Pine and Alan Tudyk were hilarious and great to work with.
    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 11-02-2016 at 02:04 AM.
    Charles Papert
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    Nicely done, and entertaining too! Thanks for the tech details. Pine looks like he'd be fun to chat with.


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    Really nice! Very fun. Had to watch it twice.

    Makes me wish I could vote (green card, not citizen).

    Hey, if you don't mind me asking, did you use the diffusion and grid for the litemats on the conference room scene? Also, which model litemat did you use? Was it the 4s? Or do you roll with the smaller units?
    -Thanks in advance, Rafael


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    Quote Originally Posted by abreu-canedo View Post
    Hey, if you don't mind me asking, did you use the diffusion and grid for the litemats on the conference room scene? Also, which model litemat did you use? Was it the 4s? Or do you roll with the smaller units?
    The conference room was two Litemat 4's, with diffusion but no grid. We hung a skirt on the outside edges to take down the white walls. I had them anywhere from 90 to 50% depending on which direction we were looking (each were on their own dimmer).We also carried a couple of Litemat 2's and some Quasar 4x4's and 4x2's, which we used here and there. This was a smaller package than I would normally prescribe but we were on a tight budget. We had to kick an M18 off the order, for instance.

    What helped immensely in that location was that the windows were tinted, cutting the level by at least two stops. This allowed me to work with smaller units inside. The flipside is that we started to lose level at 5 pm, with three scenes left that were light-dependent.
    Charles Papert
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesPapert View Post
    The conference room was two Litemat 4's, with diffusion but no grid. We hung a skirt on the outside edges to take down the white walls. I had them anywhere from 90 to 50% depending on which direction we were looking (each were on their own dimmer).We also carried a couple of Litemat 2's and some Quasar 4x4's and 4x2's, which we used here and there. This was a smaller package than I would normally prescribe but we were on a tight budget. We had to kick an M18 off the order, for instance.

    What helped immensely in that location was that the windows were tinted, cutting the level by at least two stops. This allowed me to work with smaller units inside. The flipside is that we started to lose level at 5 pm, with three scenes left that were light-dependent.
    Cool! Yeah, I was wondering how you controlled spill. I do love it when windows are already tinted. I'm sure that made the litemats plenty bright. But I didn't think about the flip-side of losing the window light so early. How much were you relying on that window light for fill?

    Also, were you using the quasar tubes and smaller litemats for lighting subjects, or just for accents in the background...sorry, that is a very generic question. Just wondering whether those smaller units get use as key lights, or even fill lights, or if you use them mostly for accenting location.

    Thanks again for your feedback and contribution!


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    At :37 you can see the natural ambience through the windows (I believe we had a JoLeko ceiling bounce coming from way upstage right to give a little more ambient to the background, which you can see on the edge of the cubicles. Compare the level of the windows to that of 2:17, where it's barely reaching clip (and I think we brought the exterior level down in that first shot and boosted it up in the 2nd). So in that second shot, very little ambience was making it through the windows at that point so I had to re-create it as much as possible with the skypanels bounces, and a Quasar in the furthest cubicle on the left. If I'd had more time I would have covered the windows that were out of frame with bounce and pushed into those, and better still if we'd had the $$ I would have had 18K's on condors pushing through the windows...

    In this instance I think the only time I used the Quasar or smaller Litemats as a key was on the very last shot. We had to black out the window behind camera to prevent camera reflection in the glass, so I had to build some level back up which I think we did with a Litemat 2. I have certainly used either as a key or fill in other environments, I don't have any reservations about their color accuracy. Mostly it's a source size thing. When I was shooting on Varicam at high ISO's we might have used either through a 4x4 of heavier diffusion like 216. Generally I don't key with a smaller source unless there is a specific look required.
    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 11-03-2016 at 02:07 AM.
    Charles Papert
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    Senior Member abreu-canedo's Avatar
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    Got it. Well, I gotta say, you handled lighting continuity very well. I did not notice the discrepancies when watching. And thanks again for your in-depth answers!


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    As always, Charles, thanks for sharing a bit of bts into some nice work! Clever script and well executed.


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    As ever I'm astonished at what some people consider "scaled-down."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes View Post
    As ever I'm astonished at what some people consider "scaled-down."
    Safe to say this was a tad more humble than the Avengers or Star Trek movies.
    Charles Papert
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