Contributions Completed

When I think of my contributions to this project I tend to think of my work at the Bottleyard Studios, forgetting about further work for the final shoot in the UWE bathrooms. This project offered me so much valuable experience in lighting, and through this I have made some useful connections and learnt so much regarding lighting for media production in Bristol.

Having the ambitious job of lighting up an entire warehouse really made me think about the art of bouncing and distributing light in order to fill a large space. Having to consider the logistics of lighting alongside its technical and creative application called on my skill set as a producer, combining all of these elements made for a challenging yet enjoyable experience. I feel like I really pulled through in my role, and without my input the entire production could have failed. Not taking away from everyone else’s contributions, but at the same time a lot of trust was placed on me to make the location work and I’m so proud to say I continued to prove myself as a lighting specialist.

Whilst I am considering a role in live event and theatre the ambitious nature of lighting the warehouse is something I can use to promote my abilities. It combines a knowledge of kit, how to apply light, along with demonstrating professional connections with companies such as SkyOne, Bottleyard Studios and Filmscape.

The professional connections I have made during this production have already proven useful and I think they can play vital elements in finding my career. I have names of individuals and companies that can find a home in how I market myself. I’m so glad I chose to join this project and I’m so proud of what I have achieved purely in illumination the location without factoring in the creative application of light.

I really hope the edit for this project goes well, it was great fun to work on, but I understand how difficult it can be to convey comedy on film. No matter how it turns out I will continue to be proud of my contributions to the project.

Shooting Day 3

Despite a few delays in scheduling the final filming date the whole crew were back together today to wrap up Lost In A Supermarket. Today we were filming in one of the toilet cubicles in UWE Bower Ashton. Having previously taken a quick look as an informal location recce my first job of the day was supplying power inside of the room. I grabbed an extension reel to source power from down the corridor, making sure to pull out the entire reel to avoid burning through the coil, and then taping down everything safely with sufficient filming signs to warn public. Due to the limited power it meant I had to be creative with lighting, but also the available space proved the bigger issue.

Initially I played around with Dedos clamped above the cubicles, this soon became too fiddly a job and started to prove difficult in cables and restrictions to camera movement. Instead I flooded the room with a 2K Arri bouncing off the white ceiling. I then concealed a KinoFlo Diva behind the end cubicle and directed it towards the mirrors acting as a practical solution for bouncing light. Unfortunately the spacial restrictions meant there was little else I could do.

In an ideal world I would have composed lighting for every shot, instead I found myself standing with a reflector to best utilise the available light from the Arri and Kino. I am happy with what I achieved concerning the circumstances, there is definitely continuity throughout the scene, I do worry about the lack of illumination at times, but then filming on the REDOne does have the RAW capabilities to pull in the grade.

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Once the shoot was under way there really wasn’t much else to report. The lack of space meant I wasn’t on location at all times, but whenever I was around I was happy with the state of lighting and would stand with a reflector, especially key for close ups of characters faces.

Today was so different from the previous filming, it’s really allowed me to experience both ends of the spectrum as a gaffer. One where I have full control over the entire studio, and the other when I am having to squeeze and utilise every bit of light as best as possible. Nevertheless I am extremely happy with how everything looks, I have already mentioned to Dipo (Colourist) to play up the vibrance of colours for the slightly oversaturated and bright comedy look.

Lighting Small Spaces

The final day filming is set to take place in one of the bathrooms in the Bower Ashton campus of UWE. Due to availability from actors the original date had to be pushed back, but now with final confirmation of when we will be filming I can start to considering lighting. Having recced the bathroom in question my main concern is the lack of power access and the small amount of space to operate. The power can be sourced from outside via an extension cord, but the space cannot change, for this reason I felt it was worth doing further investigation into lighting under these circumstances.

Lighting small spaces can prove challenging, it may seem restrictive but ultimately you need to start embracing the ideas of bouncing lighting and using practical sources. Cinematographer Andrew Rivara discusses his approach to lighting a small space in ‘Drinking Games’:

I mainly used the desk lamps that were in the room because we didn’t have the time to move around a fresnel unit, not to mention the space and heat issues. We controlled the desk lamps with lighter diffusion grades and black wrap, and all practicals were hooked up to dimmers. We swapped out bulbs regularly. Notably, we used clear glass bulbs for Noopie driven scenes later in the film to get harsher key lights. 

Once again this shoot is making me think creatively with light, rather than building a typical 3 point lighting rig I am having to think of ways to provide the same illumination without the luxury of power sockets and space. Ultimately the key light is the most essential whilst other lights can be removed or bounced. The general consensus from industry professionals is to bounce light in this scenario then use reflectors and cards to manipulate light further. The location presents a white ceiling so with a larger lamp this should be easily achievable.

Thinking beyond bouncing another suggestion is creative placement of lamps. Where floor space isn’t available there could be room to clamp fixtures, for example placing a dedo on a bathroom stall. This is something I could explore in order to have more control over light than bouncing it around the room softly.

Two different techniques so I will be eager to try them both when I am presented with the location on shoot day. I’ll book equipment taking both ideas into consideration and see which one ultimately has the best execution. Part of me sways towards bouncing light as I can imagine I will need to light for the location for quicker turnover as opposed to individual shots.

180 Rentals

180 Rentals were the other company I got in contact with regarding lighting for ‘Lost In A Supermarket’. I found it difficult to arrange a time to go through the studio with them in the lead up to filming, their lack of familiarity is ultimately why I opted for Filmscape instead. Nevertheless the company were extremely helpful, I ensured the deal ended on good terms so in the future I could approach them again regarding hire or employment opportunities.

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180 Rentals specialise in camera, lighting and grip for film and broadcast industries. The smaller size of the company enables them to work to each clients individual needs, shaping quotes and requirements to encourage media production in Bristol. Employees of the company are able to offer their expertise, whether they are hired to go down on shoots is not clearly stated suggesting probably not.

Their headquarters in Bottleyard Studios also boasts studio and production spaces for hire. They’ve built a strong base in this venue as it further strengthens the quality and amount of media production in the facility. Having been inside their headquarters I was impressed by the amount of kit on show and spaces available for use, they are most definitely kitted out with state of the art equipment (e.g. Arri Alexas).

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As I’ve been conversing with Chris Rees I now have a possible avenue to approach in the future. I don’t feel like this is the type of work I ultimately want to do as I thrive for the production atmosphere. However this would be a good starting point as an option to familiarise myself with the latest technology and start networking in the Bristol film and broadcast production scene.

Further Reading:

Filmscape Lighting

Following the completion of this project and confirmation from Russ (Filmscape) I felt like I should take the opportunity to pass on my thanks, also using it as an opportunity to plug myself as a media practitioner.

As this was a more casual approach to requesting work I have kept the covering email fairly brief. I’ve highlighted by experience and background, focusing all of it towards working with lighting and acting as a technician. Along with attaching my CV I’ve added a breakdown of how I lit the supermarket. Not only does this show him how his contribution help, but it also demonstrates my capability and competence in lighting.

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Filmscape have branches in Bristol and London, marketing themselves with camera, lighting and studio hire facilities. Russ Greening is the rental manager in Bristol with over 16 years of production and post production experience. His professional profile has a slightly casual and comical approach on the companies website, this instantly changes my approach in my email as I haven’t treated it as a fully formal document, taking breaths to break this tone.

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The bristol branch is the first outside of London, the reasoning behind its introduction is to “establish a base in Bristol from which to serve the West of England region and develop our lighting division”. This suggests the lighting department is relatively new to the company, potentially suggesting a need for talent to undertake their new investment? In addition they highlighted the Bottleyard Studios as a crucial driver in the production industry, so definitely a space to keep an eye on.

I’m not holding my hopes on anything as I’ve approached this out of the blue. Nevertheless I might as well take this opportunity whilst we are in conversation with one another. Worst case scenario he’ll at least have me on record for any future work.

Further Reading:

Initial Trailer Review

Craig has gone ahead to form two short teaser trailers and share them with the entire production team. These are only the first edits of them, so I provided some in depth feedback to help improve them. Generally I really enjoyed them and thought they were perfect for the tone of the film, so I had to do some real nit-picking.

I enjoyed this trailer, the more you watch it the more you notice what is going on in frame – i.e. shoplifting, items being bought, etc. The beeps were well timed and the background music had an upbeat vibe to it that would be typical of a supermarket. Part of the frame (white rack middle) appeared overexposed, but I’m sure they could be catered for in the grade along with boosting the vibrance of colours. Also the title needs to be motion tracked better to match the angle of the conveyor belt.

Once again the music fitted perfectly, with a slightly more sinister vibe to match the on screen character. The shot was nicely framed and held, with the sound of flickering titles matching effectively. I felt the font made the ‘Clean up on aisle two’ appear offset from the centre, looking at the still it is centred though. I knew we also filmed some funny footage of the character caressing chicken so it would be interesting to see if that worked. The lack of vibrance in this trailer heightens the sinister sense of character.

Relating these trailers back to my role on set, I am extremely happy with how the lighting has turned out. The first trailer is evenly lit, it does seem fairly bland, but this is something we were aware of knowing Dipo could sort out the levels and vibrance in the grade. The second is evenly lit too, with the lights from the cabinet acting as a stronger light from below to build on the eery vibe. The reflections in the background heighten the sense of light emitted from this source.

Filmscape Follow Up

I have just received an email from Russ confirming that all the equipment was returned and in working order. I went through and neatly left all of the kit as we found it, so he easily de rigged the power to collect the distro, light and cabling.

Hi Joshua,
Just to let you know that I de rigged the power and collected the distro and the light. All returned and in working order.
I hope the filming went well ? I didn’t receive any calls so presuming all went to plan ?
If you need any assistance with future location shoots , I’ll be more than happy to help out. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
In the meantime all the best .
Kind Regards,

Russ Greening

This is a useful connection to have and from the success of the shoot he is happy to assist with shoots in the future. I have taken the opportunity to contact him in regards of working for the company as it would be a great opportunity to get a hands on experience for lighting. Having a huge variety of kit on a daily basis would be the perfect chance to learn it and all the inner works of lighting. Along with thanking him for his time I have dropped him a CV, copy of the lighting breakdown and included information for future opportunities. Nothing may arise from this, but it makes sense to email now whilst we have a stronger form of contact rather than completely out of the blue.

John Podpadec Feedback

Seeing as John had to supervise our shoot due to the nature of the studio arrangements I saw it as a great opportunity to get some feedback on my work as a gaffer from an industry professional. I met with John after the shoot to talk through how it went, I’ve paraphrased his general feedback to me as a practitioner.

Did really well, sure it will come out really nice. When lighting faces be cautious of shadows, especially in close ups. It wasn’t an issue due to so many soft boxes, but need to consider it in the future – i.e. stronger key light. Cable management was well kept – aisles you could and couldn’t walk down, with that many cables it can become an issue. Cable manage where there is traffic.

John was pleased with the way I worked and had almost nothing negative to comment. Most of the talking points were evaluating how to take on the knowledge learnt from this shoot onto future projects. It means a lot to get such positive feedback from an industry professional, and further highlights the success of this shoot. I just hope all of our efforts behind the camera translate well across to the screen in post-production.

Shooting Day 2

The amount of footage shot yesterday meant today’s shooting schedule had reduced dramatically, only having to film where Peter knocks in Dorris. This allowed time for Joe and I to perfect the lighting for the complicated scene. We also all decided to introduce a shot of a worker scanning items at the checkout for a possible end credit sequence.

My initial plan referring to the blocking diagram was to bounce 2K Arris systematically throughout the frame to light as much of the shot as possible. 650Ws could then be concealed down each visible aisle to light elements of the inside that would be visible to the camera angle. When it came to setting up the lights Joe (DP) and I started working to my plan, but remembered from yesterday the best work ethic would be to place lights and then cable around to accommodate.

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I decided to continue with the basic idea of systematically spreading the lights to bounce around the entire scene. The M18 was used for the front of frame for best quality of light/coverage as this is where Dorris would be placed for the collision. Judging by yesterdays Deli counter being able to light up, Joe and I chased the cable for the freezers in the rear of the shot. I tried inserting LED panels and a KinoFlo Diva inside without success, thankfully having chased the cable the freezer was working and able to light up. Once again taking care for the minor lighting details in the shot to make everything that more believable.

LIAS Lighting Breakdown

 

This diagram breaks down the lighting construction for the complicated nature of the shot. The larger lights for coverage, the smaller ones for minor details. I was then able to separate power sources to each aisle, evenly distributing the voltage. Once again certain aisles were out of order due to large amounts of cable, with some addition cables taped down for safety.

I am extremely proud of the lighting in this shot and personally feel like it is the best execution for the shoot, and possibly one of the best I’ve achieved. All of the lights are tactically placed to ensure everything is evenly lit with no obvious shadow, then smaller fresnels to bring out minor details including practical lights.

Having spent the first part of the day setting the lighting plan in stone I then shifted some of them to light the checkout scene as this was the first shot of the day. For this the M18 provided an overall wash, with several 2Ks to ensure even distribution of light so everything was evenly washed, free of shadows. This was a relatively simple setup and once again proved really effective. Following this shot it meant a quicker turnover for lighting as everything was pretty much ready to go from the earlier layout.

Having successful filmed the tracking shot in the first take I could then quickly rotate the lighting setup to focus purely on the four aisles covering all angles of the collision. Once again I used the same method of bouncing the larger lights for coverage, then the smaller fresnels for minor details. As these few shots featured a lot of close up angles I utilised a LED panel with tungsten gel to subtle shine on the subjects faces to ensure that “twinkle” sweet spot in their eyes.

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Following filming the collision we were able to call it a wrap for filming at Bottleyard Studios. The entire weekend had gone from success to success, with no major problems at all over the course of the weekend. Everyone was well fed and kept happy resulting in a positive attitude on set for the entire time. From my perspective everyone fulfilled their roles perfectly, the acting was strong, making for a speedy turnover over the production period. Having spread the shoot out over two days meant we never felt rushed or pressured so everything was enjoyable. Obviously if it was a expense for using the studio we would have compressed to one day and worked even quicker, but thankfully this was not the case.

I feel like I fulfilled my role perfectly, the fact that I had to deal with floor fixtures rather than the existing overhead rig made the experience much more enjoyable. I liked that I had to come up with elaborate plans to evenly light all subjects, conceal cables and work with safe voltages. I really cannot see anything to do differently in the future. This is the exact type of work I would love to do in the future, I really felt in my comfort zone as a gaffer. I much prefer the indoor environment where I have plenty of power at my disposal to truly utilise the art of light, this is a rare situation of having this much power in such a domesticated environment so I am really happy I utilised this experience to the best of my abilities.