When Adam Wilt and I shot "Fire and Ice" together on a prototype FS700 we had no idea that it would be shown at NAB... and that it would be hit. We wanted to do more, so we pitched Sony a commercial concept for a local company that involved high speed "veggie baseball." Guess what: they sent us an FS700 again. Edible baseball never looked so good.
A while back I shot a spec spot/demo piece with director Ian McCamey and a prototype Arri Alexa. After the success of "Fire and Ice" I approached Ian to see if he had any ideas for future projects that might take advantage of affordable slow motion. As it turns out, our timing was excellent: Colin Stuart, star of the Alexa demo video, is CTO of a company called Betabrand, a boutique clothing company that makes a lot of very cool and unique fashion items, and they wanted to shoot an offbeat promo for their new line of vegetable-dyed clothing. Ian had a discussion with Colin and CEO Chris Lindland, and the upshot was that they decided to shoot a slow motion food fight in a San Francisco park.
Our plan was to capture all of this at 240fps, the highest speed at which the FS700 can record in full 1920x1080 HD.
The camera arrived last week fitted with a Nikon lens adapter, and Adam Wilt volunteered himself as camera assistant along with his collection of Nikkor zooms (12-24, 17-55 and 70-200) and Vinten sticks to shoot the project. We both invested in garbage bags, drop cloths and full-body Tyvek painting suits as I expected to be quite close to the action and we didn't want to destroy a camera that hasn't been officially released yet. I like to get the camera close and wide in order to enhance depth in action shots, and this paid off in a big way for at least one take.
We had two location options for our shoot day (Friday, May 11) and we opted for the second. Our first choice had a baseball diamond but was up on a hill and high winds made it unusable. Our second choice, Precitas Park in Bernal Heights, was considerably less windy, so we rallied there. As we financed this shoot ourselves we didn't bother with permits and such; we just showed up with a bunch of fun people and a new camera and littered a park with food. (We did clean up afterward, which was a bit of a chore.)
Ian and I set up our first shot. Note that we are not yet wearing any protective clothing. Ah, we were so young and naive then...
Initially we hung back on longer lenses and got some pitching shots, but before long we felt the urge to destroy food with a bat so we wrapped the camera in a garbage bag, taped plastic drop cloth around the legs, and gaffer-taped my Formatt ND .30 filter to the front of the lens as an optical flat. This made operating quite difficult as I had to cram my head under a garbage bag and pull the bag taught so the wind didn't blow it between my head and the on-camera monitor. I operated a couple of shots by instinct as the bag occasionally blew in front of my face at just the wrong time.
We started with hot dogs and quickly moved into half gallon containers of milk, chocolate pudding, balls of frozen ice cream and, at one point, a whole baked chicken. You'll have to wait for the final spot to be completed to see most of this, but there will be a piece cut specifically for Sony to show at CineGear 2012. (We'll see if the chicken makes it into that cut. It's one of those shots that causes hysterical yet guilty laughter.)
Let's start with a simple tomato: