Monday, September 24, 2012

Compromising Situations

Here are a couple of picts from a shoot that I lit last week. We were on the rooftop of a building in  Atlanta shooting promos for a cable television network.

Most of our lighting came from the sun. We used silks and bounce as creatively as possible for each of the different angles that they chose to shoot. We used just one light for the shoot, the ARRI M18, an 1800 watt HMI, and had quite a time keeping even that one on using the power from the  building. It is an old mill that has been converted to loft apartments, and the circuitry is quite outdated.  The HMI was used as the key light when the subject was backlit by the sun, and as the rim light when the sun was the key.

Our biggest issue on the shoot (other than fog that would not lift for several hours) was that a key visual element in each shot was a large sheet of plexiglass on which an artist was painting. And, of course, every camera, stand and lighting instrument was reflected in the shot. It took very unique shooting angles and unconventional reflector placements to keep the shot clean. We kept our grips busy moving from spot to spot until we could find just the right position on each one. I think it turned out well in the end, although I much prefer being able to put the lighting where it needs to go rather than having to compromise. But, the fact is, compromise and creativity is a huge part of lighting for film and video. If every scene could be lit from a textbook, then anyone could do the job and it would not be nearly as much fun. It can be quite rewarding to end up with a great shot from a situation that seemed impossible when you first arrived on set. The challenge of it all is the thing that makes you actually look forward to working in the blistering Atlanta sun for 14 hours on the top of a building.