SUPER STYLIZED MOON LIGHT (and how steadicam makes everything difficult)

A few moons ago, I shot two completely different films back to back, in the same location. This was the master mind idea of Director Jad Olivier who asked me if I would be interested in being his DoP. The compact but quirky shorts, written by Elezabeth H. Vu gave us a great backdrop to get creative with the lighting and cinematography. Although we didn't have a huge budget, we did have enough to hire some decent sized lights...although not enough to hire rigging equipment. I mention this because ideally, I would have liked to light this film from above - especially for the steadicam shot right in the middle of the film which spans across three rooms.

When shooting steadicam it's one thing to use it cleverly - slowly revealing information as the camera moves to help tell the story - but it's another thing to actually light the joint and make sure that the camera does not see the lights! I've been flying steadicam for a number of years now and often this is the biggest challenge. So, we had no option but to place all of the lights out doors and shine them through the windows. This actually worked in the films favour because it was set at night and the light coming through the windows was supposed to be moonlight...and that's what I mean by super's pretty darn hard moonlight! That was the brief though, and in the end we were both happy with how it all turned out :) In fact, I love the look! Here's a frame grab of actress Simmone Duckmanton from early in the film.

Shooting that scene was relatively simple...I think that shot was a 35mm and the light on her face is coming from a 1.2K PAR HMI from out side (a long way away hehe). A lot of DoP's I know stay well clear of hard light, but I'm one to embrace it! It doesn't always work, but in this film I think we nailed it :)

Now it was time for the steadicam shot. Several rehearsals and a few lighting tweaks later, we got the actual shot in 11 takes. The problem with moving the camera is that so many more things can go wrong! Framing, focus, a light in shot, performances, a heard of moving crew, footsteps, bumps into walls, etc, etc, etc. Anyway, here's the shot and below is the lighting diagram. You'll notice my diagrams have been revamped! I probably won't go back and fix the old ones, but from now on, this is the new look :) Check out my icons! I designed them myself :) Dem pegs!!! hehe ;) 

And here's the diagram :) The new ones are even optimized to fit modern 1080p phone screens! Werrrrd.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that Jad approached me about two films...the other shot is diagram to follow soon :) Thanks for visiting and be sure to check out more diagrams at the LIGHTING section above. Cheers!

Posted on August 13, 2015 .