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Ooops, we did it again

Wherein a small crew on a low budget makes an HVX-200 look vastly better than it ever should.

By Art Adams | July 24, 2008

Recently I wrote of a wildly successful music video shoot I did with the HVX-200. Well, we did it again.

A few weeks ago I shot a music video project with director Jono Schaferkotter. The project turned out spectacularly well in spite of working with an eager, but inexperienced, crew and an HVX-200. Between picking shots that worked within the confines of what we could achieve with the gear we had, along with some basic color correction in Final Cut Studio using Magic Bullet Looks, the project looked much better than it had any right to, considering the budget was about $200.

Excited about the possibilities, Jono contacted me shortly thereafter about shooting a promo piece for a feature film script he was getting ready to pitch. Titled "Night Light," the movie will feature an ensemble cast, a number of rich looks, and some complex visual effects shots. The idea behind the promo was to capture "real people" interviews with five characters who had read the script and were excited about it: an actress who had landed the lead; a musician who was going to write the soundtrack; a studio executive who was interested in green-lighting the project; the art director; and the visual effects supervisor. Jono's instructions were clear: he didn't want to see anyone's face, and he wanted to accentuate the texture of the clothes. He wanted the shot to be mid-thigh to neck, with the idea that he would rotoscope animation onto the characters' bodies in post. He wanted each shot to be a still that might have been pulled from a magazine. And we had the same budget and equipment as our last go-round.

Our kit consisted of (1) Panasonic HVX-200 camera; (1) Firestore; (1) Arri kit containing 2x300w fresnels and 2x650w fresnels; a couple of extra light stands; a small selection of bounce cards; and my bag of tricks, containing a 6x6 light grid and a 6x6 full grid. Oh, and I brought a lawn chair.

We had five setups to do in 14 hours and in two different locations. We finished two hours early. I've included screen shots from each of the setups, along with lighting diagrams and behind-the-scenes photos (by our two still photographers) where available. Go to page two to see how we did it...

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chucksav: | July, 25, 2008

Lovely, lovely work & “Art-fully” explained. Could you kindly define the terms “active” fill & “passive” fill? Thanks.


Art Adams: | July, 25, 2008


Passive fill means you’re just adding a bounce card to catch and reflect light that’s already in the scene.

Active fill means you’re adding a bounce card AND a light that is specifically meant to bounce off that bounce card.

stupper57: | July, 25, 2008

You beat me to it!  I couldn’t post as I wasn’t registered earlier!!!!

I don’t think Art is up that early 6:34am?!
I believe “active fill” is the bouncing of light from a fixture and “passive fill” is the bouncing of incident light.  It that right Art?  Glad to see you using that HVX-200 again!

chucksav: | July, 25, 2008

Thanks Art & stupper57. I suspected that using a dedicated fixture for the fill was the difference.

RC Fisher: | July, 29, 2008

Excellent work Art.

Just a brief question, what is that Reflectix Board you use? It looks like the space blanket material we use for camera covers glued to foam core or some other material. I used that space blanket material years ago on a 6x6 frame to light someone a block away from the reflector, hard but soft and brighter than shiney boards.

Art Adams: | July, 30, 2008

Reflectix is water heater insulation, available at most hardware stores. In my neighborhood I get it at Orchard Supply, but you can find it most anywhere. It comes in rolls and you can buy it by the foot. I tape it to foam core to make it rigid. It’s a bit softer and more reflective than space blankets, but the same basic idea.

alexa: | May, 19, 2009

Canon is still one of the best lens makers around and there’s still plenty of time for them to put some of that glass in front of an HD CCD: boy would I love a 720P GL3!

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