The Untimely End of Ms. Xiang short film

I just got back from shooting a short film the past 3 days up north of Lake Tahoe. We shot on location, in the snow, which is quite a change from my usual warm Los Angeles weather. While it's always more challenging to shoot in colder weather, the shoot went surprisingly smooth, which is a good thing, as the script was ambitious in both content and page count (27 pages), and the director liked to come up with technically complex camera moves that I tried to accommodate as much as possible, which requires creative solutions with crews as small and budgets as tight as we were dealing with.

We ended up shooting on the Canon 7D Mark II with Canon L-series zoom lenses. I opted for a 16-35mm and 24-70mm, keeping in mind that the sensor crop would give me enough zoom without needing to add on a 70-200mm. Having conducted some tests with the 7D, I was aware of the tendency to get the dreaded "jello" frame if the movement was too erratic, so made sure that the handheld shots, even when the director wanted more energy, were somewhat subdued. Using any of the pre-installed looks, the camera tends to crush the blacks and clip the whites, while saturating colors way too much. After doing some testing, I ended up installing Technicolor's Cinestyle profile on the camera, which gave me a much flatter image with better dynamic range and more realistic colors. It wasn't my favorite camera to shoot with, but fit within our budget and, when lit properly, gives a decently cinematic image.

Although the director and I had prepared a fairly comprehensive shot list in pre-production, a lot of the shots got tossed out the window and changed on set, so a lot of flexibility was required. While I think we managed to get a decent rendition of the director's vision, I'll keep in mind for our next project together to make certain to get a stabilized gimbal or hire on a Steadicam operator, as those tools would have made my job a whole lot easier, though probably neither were within the camera budget for this film.

Mixing up that daylight key with the warm incandescent fill of the "house" lights.

It was challenging to balance our actress's dark skin inside a car with the bright white snow outside, but I let the brightest clouds clip just a little and went with it.

Probably my second or third favorite shot of the movie.

Mole Studio Junior (x2) daylight LED with full CTB doubled up for the background, and the key light provided by the house's walkway lights plus a 650W Tweenie Fresnel panned slightly off from about 30 feet away.

Another Fargo-esque moment.

China ball wrapped with bleached muslin on the lamp side (black duvatene draped on the back side to keep the light off the wall), and two Mole 1K Baby Baby fresnels bounced into the ceiling to provide ambient and fill.

No comments: