Monday, 9 July 2007

Lights, more lights, even more lights, cameras and action...

Day one. We started with three scenes that ran into each other – taking place across three rooms adjacent – the recording studio, the control room and the corridor between the two.

It was a nice, slow start to the day and the job – or perhaps the days are always that slow, and I’ve just forgotten about them. I’ve learned that for me it takes at least 3 days of early rises and late nights before the body rejects exhaustion and just gets on with it. I also worked hard to not slip into that easiest of defaults, eating for the sake of eating something, anything – usually the junk that they have laying around on sets.

My poor boom-op bore the brunt of the day, stepping onto a small set, probably about 20’ by 12’, and having to work with wide lenses to accommodate three shots and lots of props, and also having to work around some of the most disgustingly unfriendly lighting. Above the room, peering in from the corners, are x4 200k lights – one at each corner. Across the flats of the room, also high above, are x4 Kino-banks. Finally, directly above the set are x2 lights – the names of which I forget because of distraction and late night tiredness (morning addendum: Space lights).

To give you an idea of what this does, shine 12 torches at a bare wall from slightly different heights and angles. Now make a shadow puppet with your hand. Now count the shadows. Where hard-lighting shadows could be cheated away, soft-lights shadows soon appeared. We filmed most of the scenes with two mics practically static above actors. This means that there is a 3 way compromise - first you put the mic ahead of the actor, because of the space lights above - once the actor turns their head, you lose some richness. Then you put the mic higher above the actor's head than the frame line because of the hard shadow caused by the 200k, so you life the gain to compensate, bringing up back-ground. Thirdly, the soft shadow caused by the Kino means that you can't move the mic or rely on flags.

However, despite being wider than we could have been, the stage was dead enough so that lifting the gain didn’t hurt too much, and we were able to get the sound pretty good. Until the thunderstorm started overhead.

All in all, a good day, frustrating for those on the boom’s, but satisfactory for the mix – the actors’ levels were good, voices were strong, and the scenes played out well. Now, to bed, ready for day two…

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