Production Journal - Commercial Shoot



Hello all,

I just wrapped a small one day commercial shoot. The concept was pretty simple, pretty much a librarian moving through this big, older library after hours.

Of course, the big challenge was lighting this large space on a low budget. On top of that, any solution would have to be very low-profile because the space was fairly narrow, so to get nice wide shots, any lighting from the ground could not be very deep.

I wanted to motivate light from about 30 table lamps that went down the center of the room for almost the entire length. My gaffer (Chris Hughes) and I were having trouble coming up with the best solution for keying this long walk next to the lamps, while seeing almost both walls of the room. Originally we were planning on some 9-lights through very heavy diffusion, but I didn’t really feel this was the best solution because of how deep a 9-light with large frame of diffusion is, even if very close to the light.

Then I remembered Lumapanels. They are 7 feet long by 4 feet tall and 5 inches deep. They consist of 28 fluorescent tubes, and the entire unit can either use a vertical or horizontal bale. These were perfect for us. I called the company, and ended up speaking with Dave Devlin (the inventor of the unit, not to mention an extremely good gaffer). He helped us get a few of them at a price we could work with, and recommended trying ½ soft frost with the units. They worked great, very beautiful lights.

So we used a row of the Lumapanels for her walk. For general ambiance in the room, we used an 8k balloon light, floated up to the ceiling, in the middle of the room.

There were also several halls of books that were across from the tables. We put something like 16 2k zips far back to make some nice ambiance as she walked across them.

For a nice backlight on her we used a Big-eye 10k up on a balcony. Unfortunately, the building was extremely old, and had very narrow hallways up to the balcony, so the crew had to hoist this big ass light up to the balcony with rope. They did a great job, and did it fast and safely.

To key her in close ups I either used a large Chimera, another Lumapanel, or some other soft source.

To top everything off, at the end of the commercial, in a wide shot, every single light in the room cross fades with an extremely hot top light. That meant that everything had to be wired into a dimmer, over 30 table lamps, 16 soft boxes, the 10k, and the balloon. That made for an interesting cable run. They used a CD80 and single 20k dimmer (for the 220 balloon). Of course the Lumas can’t dim, so for that one shot we supplemented their light with a 9-light through a 12x frame.

(wish I had better ones, but I barely had time to take these while setting up, let alone ones that had the talent in)

The piece was shot on a Panavised F900, and I have to thank Phil Radin for again helping us get a very nice camera package at a price we could deal with.

We wanted a very classy, soft look. So I netted the rear of all the lenses, and sometimes used either a ¼ or ½ classic soft, or #1 glimmer glass in front.

I have to thank my great crew:
Gaffer, Chris Hughes and his crew who got us up and running quickly, always two steps ahead of me
Key grip, Adam Ginzink and his crew
Operator, Ken Bender who nailed big dolly shots and macro stuff with great skill, far better than I could do!
1st AC, Darryl Harrington who also nailed the above, often times with no rehearsal
And DIT, Elhanan Matos who kept this camera up and running, and brought a great eye to a job that a lot of people do with little artistry.

These guys all rolled with the punches, it was an enjoyable shoot.

Kevin Zanit