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Guest Stephen Murphy

"Birthmark" Music Promo Lighting Notes

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Guest Stephen Murphy

https://vimeo.com/70679379

 

The majority of this music promo was shot on an Arri Alexa 4:3 in 2K ProRes using Panavisions C-series and G-series Anamorphic primes with some additional photography shot on a RED MX with Panavisions Xtal Express Anamorphic primes.

The main visual references the director and I discussed were photographer Gregory Crewdson's work and the films of Wes Anderson (shot by Robert Yeoman) so we were trying to achieve a surreal atmosphere with a vibrant colour palette.

For the main location I used Lee Medium Blue Green gel on most of my background sources (a combination of daylight balanced kinoflos and smaller HMI cinepars) while keeping the keylight neutral (usually a combination of tungsten jemballs warmed slightly on the dimmer). I kept the camera at 3200K and 800asa and the stop was usually a T4. I hung 2 x jemballs w/500w bulbs above the table and skirted them to contain the spill. Opposite camera there was a Kinoflo Flathead hanging just above the frame that worked as a backlight for the lead actress, and this was supplemented with additional Flatheads on the floor as 3/4 backlight where necessary. Depending on our angle of view I'd use smaller Cinepars and 4x4 kinos bounced into the ceiling to add some colour to the background. For a flicker effect I had 2 x redheads running through a a flicker box and pushing through a frame of Muslin and for the sweeping spotlight I used a source 4.

 

For the shot of the girl looking at herself in her bedroom mirror at night I used a single 4ft x 4tube kino just outside the window to key her and used a 575w HMI Cinepar with a spot bulb sitting on the floor just outside the window to add a slash of moonlight across the floor. A handheld HMI pocket par sat just out of frame right to flare the lens.

For the warmer coloured scenes inside the dance rehearsal studio at night I used the Xtal express lenses for a softer, more dreamlike feeling and kept the shooting stop at T2.8 which enhanced the softer aberrations of the lenses and made a nice contrast between the C&G series. A pair of 2k's and another pair of VNSP parcans, all gelled with CTS, pushed through the window to work as a backlight and I used the ambience from the room as fill. For close ups I supplemented the light with some smaller Kinos again with tungsten tubes and CTS.

There's a couple of lighting plots below (designed in the Lighting Designer App - can't recommend this highly enough!) and a few BTS photos from the unit stills that give you a sense of the lighting rig in the main location.

 

Theres also a brief clip showing the Dolly/Lighting Rig we used for one of the shots here

https://vimeo.com/71200843

 

 

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Wow this is great, and thanks for taking the time to post this here Stephen.

 

I have a few questions of course! What are gemballs? Are they like plastic chinese lanterns? Is there an advantage to them?

 

Were the MX scenes shot in 4K ANA?

 

Were you deliberately trying to achieve a different look by shooting on the 2 different cameras or did it just kind of work out that way?

 

The MX bits sort of reminded me of "attack the block" for some reason.

 

My fave shot was the one where you see the table reflected in the wine glass for a moment.

 

It certainly was very surreal. I was perplexed by all the little calor gas heaters. At first I thought they musn't be on the mains but then I noticed they certainly have mains electric and the candles are there just for decoration. Then I thought it must be a pain to chop wood for the fireplace so they use calor gas instead but it does look like there is a central heating radiator too. 2 calor gas heaters seems like a lot but then I guess it is supposed to be a big big room.

 

I also didn't get that the sparse office space was supposed to be a dance studio at the end of the video, but I kind of liked it anyway. It made me think "now she is in this huge empty office space with no furniture or anything but at least she has a friend and two radiators to keep her warm. I thought that said something emotionally.

 

Was this all shot in two locations? Where was the stuff on the TV shot? Was that shot in the big office space only with curtains?

 

I loved the way that you cheated the shots to hide the real location so well. Was the fireplace already there?

 

Freya

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Guest Stephen Murphy

Hey Freya - wow lots of questions...:)

Gem balls/spring balls are basically Chinese lanterns that use diffusion material (grid cloth usually) instead of paper. The advantage is there isnt any paper to burn!:-) plus they're easy to skirt. I usually use them wrapped in an additional layer of diffusion but not in this case. I use the term gem ball interchangeably with spring ball when I probably shouldn't but they're basically the same thing.

 

The Red mx footage was 4k anamorphic at 25fps or 3k anamorphic for 50fps material. Yes we deliberately wanted a slightly different look for that material, and the red mx rental was cheaper then another alexa 4:3 rental so it also sorta worked a little bit too:)

 

Yes all shot in two locations, one of which was filled with a lot of really quirky dressing. The tv vfx stuff was shot by the director in front of a greenscreen and then comped into our footage.

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Guest Stephen Murphy

2 days Phil, 1 in each location

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The Red mx footage was 4k anamorphic at 25fps or 3k anamorphic for 50fps material. Yes we deliberately wanted a slightly different look for that material, and the red mx rental was cheaper then another alexa 4:3 rental so it also sorta worked a little bit too:)

 

I like the idea of using different cameras as different film stocks! :)

 

Freya

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