I work with a guy named Cam who is one of the biggest advocates of DSLR’ing that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. From time-to-time we get an opportunity to work with each other on some of the series that he produces for Canadian Tire and I had such an opportunity a couple of days ago…I’m gonna tell you all about it!
So, Cam tells me that we are gonna be doing a 5 camera shoot for a show called Talkin Shop and we were going to shoot 8, 10 minute segments, and of course I was game. It was a forum type of setup that consisted of 5-6 panel members sitting around a round table. The table was custom designed with a colour balanced, white finish that acts as a bounce for the 3k of diffused light coming down on an angle from over them. This created a massive Clam Shell lighting setup that encompassed anyone that was at the table. Clam Shell lighting involves using a top light or a light in front of your talent above their head level and a reflector or a bounce card underneath your talent to reflect the toplight under the chin, nose, eyes etc. filling in all of the dark spots that the toplight doesn’t reach. Let me just say, the talent glowed! It is very flattering lighting.
Those lights up top (the ones lighting the talent), were on a grid that Steve Lindsay built. Steve is another amazingly talent guy that it is always a serious honor to work with. Steve is a Camera Operator, a lighting guru and a Jib/ Crane master. He does such amazing work and I learn from him every single time we work together. It’s really an amazing experience. Anyways, Steve created this lighting grid that hung from the ceiling of the garage that we were shooting in. Attached to it were 3x 1k Fresnels, 4x 300w Arri Fresnels and 2x spot lights for the vehicles on set. There were various other lights used as background and accent lights in addition, he used 2 Diva lights and other strategically placed Arri 300s. And yes, I DID say the Steve made this lighting grid. It is a temporary fixture. Great what you can build out of necessity and with a small budget, huh?
Steve also did some cool accent lighting on the walls with floor LEDs and the entire back wall which was windows was covered with diffusion sheets to make the light coming in more useable.
This setup allowed the background to be quite a bit darker than the people at the table and really gave a polished look. Amazing job!
Here’s the list of gear other thank lights that we used on set:
4 nikon d7000 (3x 70-200, 1x)
1 7d (70-200)
5 zacuto z-finders
1 zacuto evf
4 zacuto rail setups
1 Small hd monitor
1 cinivate pegasus
6 arri 300
6 wireless sennheiser lavs
D|Focus Follow Focus System w/ D|Mount
I got to borrow a bunch of rigging by Zacuto on this shoot and I loved it. Although expensive, the Zacuto line is very well thought out in design and functionality, is great quality and looks amazing. I’ve been a Zacuto supporter for some time now, owning a Z-Finder Pro and EVF Flip myself, but it was great first hand experience using some of the rails and other mounting accessories. I will definitely be investing in more Zacuto gear in the future. I also really liked the Small HD monitor on our main safety camera. So sharp and accurate. Over lunch I was to comparing it to my EVF and there were some pros and cons for both. For instance, my EVF has a smaller screen size. This may be a problem in some studio environments where a larger on camera monitor can be used, however the EVF does have an HDMI loop-through to go out to larger monitors and the EVF is equally as sharp as the Small HD monitor. In addition, the EVF Flip allows quick flip adaption of my Z-Finder so I can really get in there and focus well. Another cool thing that I found was that there was no problems at all meshing my D|Focus gear with the Zacuto gear, like they were made for each other. Good to know if you want to purchase the far less expensive D|Focus sytem to go with you 15mm Zacuto rails.
The view from Cams cam.
So, the shoot starts with an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hasbrowns, fruit, toast, juice and coffee…I know! I couldn’t believe it either! Needless to say, that’s how you start a day off! We had 8 segments to do that were each supposed to be 10 minutes each…yeah right. Do you think any of them went to time? Cam was calling cut for people sometime after they had gone on talking for 22 minutes or so. Now with DSLRs this is a problem because Canon has the 12 minute recording time limit and Nikon has a 20 minute limit. To remedy this for post-production we just kept all the cameras rolling at the end of the segments and did a “Tail Slate“. A Tail Slate is an upside down slate with a clap so that you can sync footage using that common shot of video (the tail slate) as the syncing point, just as you would with it at the beginning of the take. Because cameras had to stop rolling part way through, the tail slate is the common marker for all cameras after the 12 or 20 minute recording limit has been reached and the recording has been resumed. Anyways, this obviously put us a bit behind schedule but the segments were good, so we went with it. I was getting a bit nervous when I first realized this trend of the panel going over the time alotment because I was really hoping to leave the shoot on time. That night was the night of the Rock The Bells concert featuring Nas and Lauryn Hill and I was hooking up with Claude (I’ve mentioned him in other postings) to go to the Molsen Amphitheater. It was no surprise to me that we ended about an hour behind the planned wrap time but I still made it out in time to stick to my plan for the Rock the Bells concert! Great day! Big thanks to Cam Jenkins, Steve Lindsay and the crew, Nas and Lauryn Hill for making this a great day.