Sunday, November 13, 2011
Short: "Rays Of Darkness"
___In the middle of October I shot a short called "Rays of Darkness." I was pretty excited to be hired to D.P this job because I knew the director was looking for a dramatic low key look and that it would be fun to light. We shot on the RED with a set of CP2 lenses. I rated the camera at 320 ISO most of the shoot but there were a few scenes that I pushed it to 640. I was concerned about doing so at first but looking at the dailies after the fact I actually like the slight graininess of the scenes shot at 640 better than the footage that was shot at 320. It definitely adds a grittiness that fits well with the look of the piece. We used our 1 Ton lighting/grip package on this gig as well. This was the first shoot I've D.P'd that consisted of sets as opposed to practical locations. It was definitely challenging because obviously every light had to be placed and created without looking fake or unnatural. It was a lot different than working in a practical location where you would be augmenting and or adding to the existing light. It was fun in the fact that it was like starting with a blank pallet every shot but it was challenging because it was tough to make each light feel and look natural.
One of the lighting set ups that I was most proud of was in a "morgue" set complete with real body slabs. (TOP LEFT) Gaffer John Hafner and Key Grip Jeff Marlowe were able to have a decent amount of time to pre-light and it definitely payed off. They did a great job. We had spoken about the morgue set earlier and that I wanted it to have a green feel off in the background but I wanted the key to feel a bit more neutral. The mix in color temperatures really looked great, the green background with a slightly more neutral key and fill. We ended up gelling the recessed practical lights with green gels to light the background and then a 750w par was rigged to the ceiling pointing straight down bouncing into a silver operating table. This provided a key for the actors in the middle ground as they stood around the table. The par created a really cool hot spot on the silver table that was motivated by a crazy circular"operating lamp" visible in the frame. The "operating lamp" also provided a nice back light for the actors on the right side of frame. We then added a big CFL softbox to help raise the light level in the foreground as well as add some fill to the actors in the middle ground. The only other small tweaks we made were adding another floor practical lamp to the background to balance out the frame on the left side and then flew in a 1x1 light panel to key the actress as she moved closer to the foreground later on in the scene. We added some haze to the scene as well which looked great.
1st A.C Austin Ahlborg did a great job all around as well. There were a lot of hand-held scenes in the short and they were definitely challenging to pull. It was really one of those deals where I just had to feel out the scene and go with the flow as I was operating and he just adapted well on the fly. I learned quick that the RED fully decked out with two on board monitors, hard drive, brick, matte-box etc. was not easy to shoulder for long periods of time but It it all worked out. We shot about 12 pages in two days. It was stressful at times and we were rushed at points but I think all things considered the footage looks great.