Last driving plates for Mom

Well, all good things eventually end and our time shooting driving plates for the Warner Brothers show Mom has wrapped. After running 8 seasons, we shot the plates for the final episode which aired just this last month. This was a pretty good show to shoot driving plates for, as they have quite a few driving scenes in them, much more than Young Sheldon, Bob Hearts Abishola, or any of the other WB shows we occasionally work for. Hopefully a new Chuck Lorre show will take its place and that show has lots of driving scenes.

As usual, we shot these on a RED Gemini with a 14mm Sigma Art Cine lens. This wide field of view gives the post production team some room to reframe as needed. The camera is mounted on a DJI Ronin 2 on a Flowcine Black Arm system to keep everything smooth, with us matching the camera height and angle of the original photography.

When we're shooting, we are provided with footage of the scenes that were shot on green screen, so we know the angle the camera was at, how long the scene runs (so we know how long of a continuous run to make), and if there are any vehicle maneuvers we need to make (such as pulling over, swerving, sitting at a stoplight/stop sign, etc) and when those maneuvers take place. Of course, we have police escorts involved to make sure everything is done safely and in a controlled manner.

Generally, we try not to fly the camera with an eyebrow, as even at low speeds and using our mesh eyebrow, the motors in the gimbal work hard, especially if the camera is facing forward. But all these shots were shooting backward and to the sides, and speeds were fairly low, so we were able to get away with the eyebrow on the camera. When we can't have an eyebrow, and due to the wide field of view on a 14mm, we have to plan the time of day carefully to both match the lighting of the already shot show footage while also avoid shooting into the sun as we can't have flares.

While these sorts of shoots are more technical in nature than creative, I enjoy putting that side of my brain to use, solving technical issues and not worrying about how I'm going to light a scene, for instance. Fortunately, I have a mix of projects that allows me to do both technical as well as creative work.

So, what do the final results look like? Well, here are some screengrabs from the episode this shoot was for, with all the backgrounds being the footage we shot that day.


Hacks HBO Max series plates

Earlier this year I went up to Las Vegas to shoot some driving plates for a show called Hacks. I had no idea what it was, but knew we had to rig the camera array 13' up in the air to match the second story of a double decker bus. We used a triple RED Gemini array, controlled through a router so we could roll and cut all 3 cameras at exactly the same time.

We did runs on both the Panavision lenses they shot the series on -to exactly match the optical characteristics- as well as 14mm Sigma Art Cine primes to give them larger field of view options. Better to give them both options and not need one than shoot one option and need the other that wasn't shot.

I was pretty surprised when a couple months later I saw ads for a new HBO Max show called Hacks. And dang it, it looked pretty funny. So these plates worked in episode 3 and, while I know they shot some of it practical, obviously plates were needed for other parts. Watching the show, since I knew plates were being used in the scene, I kept a close eye on stray hair strands, as that's usually the biggest way to notice VFX backgrounds. Whatever they did, they did nice work. There were a few instances where I think I can tell it's VFX backgrounds, but overall they did a really good job compositing everything together.

We shot plates for another scene as well, but I haven't seen them appear in the show yet. I'll keep an eye out for them and share once they're up. In the meantime, if you haven't see the series, I recommend it.