Last night Joe (DP) and I left the lighting rigged ready for the opening shot down aisles 2 and 13. This meant we could arrive slightly later, however upon arrival we discovered a change of plan meaning we would be shooting the tracking shot from aisle 5 first. It was slightly inconvenient as we had to rig from scratch again, however it made much more sense logistically as we could film that first tracking shot, then switch over the lighting for 2, 13 and deli for the rest of the day. I drew up some quick plans on the set to help organise lighting movements.
The initial idea was to light up each aisle Peter walks down with a 2K located the other side of the aisles out of frame. The Arri M18 could be positioned behind the track for an overall light source at the front of the frame, with 650Ws to capture any darker areas (i.e. outside of aisles). By lighting the front aisles it allowed placing the distribution power box behind the camera tracks and running cables around the outside of the shot. However having implicated this plan I realised that the back of aisles would also need to be featured in frame due to the wider nature of the shot.
Craig (Director), Joe (DP), and Ben (1st AC) were able to clearly block through the movement so I knew exactly what elements of the frame had to be lit. This was one of the most ambitious shots to light as I had to accommodate for six aisles, three deli counters and the front of three aisles with the limited amount of lighting kit available. Once blocked out we realised some elements of the frame that didn’t need to be lit, constructing the following floor plan.
The three 2K Arris were able to light up an entire aisle section without any trouble. The HMI remained at the front of frame to cover majority of the aisle fronts, mostly focused at the front centre aisle. The 650Ws helped to light up any darker areas towards the front of the frame. The back section of the left and middle aisles weren’t too much of an issue as they weren’t featured in frame.
The deli counter (should be top right, not top centre) was lit with two 650Ws concealed behind the end of each aisle. Two KinoFlo Divas featured in the centre of the aisles to light up the visible ends of the middle section of aisles. All of the cables had to run around the entire live set, with two having to creep into frame, but subtly taped down with black so that it was barely noticeable on camera.
There was one minor issue when the fuse blew on one of the 16V extension adaptors. Having reviewed the power distribution there were no obvious reasons, we were nearing the top end of the power limit for the single port but hadn’t hooked up enough lights to cause a trip. Despite its surprisingly occurrence it was a good thing to happen to remind me to keep an eye of the working power load and distribution of power.
The deli counter was a particularly interesting element to light as I had to accommodate for a variety of practical lighting sources. I am extremely proud with how this was executed. Initially for the wider shot I used a 350W placed inside the counter to give the sense of it being lit up. However later in the shoot I discovered that the entire counter was fully working so ended up using the actual LED strips inside for the closer shots.
I also noticed the overhanging light fixtures, which unfortunately weren’t working as it was part of the Panalux rigging. However I played around with the idea of fixing micro LED panels inside of each fixtures. The best result was to remove the existing bulb and tape the LED panel in its place before screwing the plastic cap back over. This subtle difference in lighting helps to make the entire setting more realistic. It is one of those factors that could easily be overlooked until post-production when you query why there is no light from the source. Thankfully I noticed it on the shoot, this is probably one of my favourite lighting choices to date as it was so subtle, but a clever way around the situation for a great effect.
The tracking shot around the aisles proved hugely successful. There were a variety of extras to wander around the frame (including a cameo from myself). The entire studio really felt like a supermarket once it was all lit. Nothing felt too staged, it just felt a natural environment which is the perfect feeling for the film.
The second setup for the day was aisles 2, 13 and the deli counter. I was able to revert back to the original lighting setup from the previous rigging day, but did adapt this to cater for the camera movement – i.e. the checkouts were no longer featured, discovered the deli counter could power itself.
The 2Ks were placed either side of the aisle bounced on the canvas roof to evenly light the entire aisle. I opted for the M18 closest to the centre of the aisles as it provides the largest source, ideal for the close up on Peter on the opening tracking shot. The KinoFlo Divas maintained their position lighting the front of the back aisles. Two 650Ws placed either side of the deli counter provided an evenly lit shot, introducing a 350W on the character as a back light to remove shadows cast against the back tiles. Two micro LED panels remained in the visible light fixtures.
When it came to the close ups of the deli counter I was able to shift both the KinoFlo Divas into the shot. I prefer the quality of the soft light, it wraps around a subjects face beautifully to help pull it out from the background subtly. With the focus on the deli counter it meant the 2Ks/M18 were sufficient for the aisles in the background as they purely had to be illuminated for continuity purposes.
The final shot of the day was Peter and Jess walking into the toilet. This was a quick and easy setup, bouncing a M18 and 650W for even coverage. At the end of the shoot I lowered all the lights and unplugged them so there were no power hazards by leaving them active overnight. I am going to be drawing up another lighting plan ready for tomorrows shoot which I anticipate three setups.
The shoot was a huge success, the work ethic was great, the actors enjoyed themselves and I am extremely proud of how the lighting was executed. Having Joe as a DP was great, he makes an extremely good gaffer so between us lighting moves and setups were a quicker process than anticipated. I really feel like I have constructed a realistic representation of a supermarket. I noticed it the most when I switched off the lights, it wasn’t until then I realised their impact and how submerged in the studio I truly felt.
Going ahead for tomorrow I am feeling extremely confident. I think the best working method is to calculate the light placement, then arrange the cables and power around to accommodate for what is visible in frame. I have almost no negative points going ahead, so for tomorrow just continue the same work ethic.