In Notes From the Set by Rod SantianoLeave a Comment

Our first shot of the day was the opening shot of the film. Notice Evan’s fine dolly-leveling skillz. I just ask for it and it happens. Thanks, Evan!

So day 7 of the Uphill Battle shoot was a series of flashback sequences.  I wanted to make sure they looked different enough from the rest of the film so I took everything about the scenes we’ve been shooting so far and flipped them to their opposites—or at least changed it.  Seemingly obvious, but effective :)

For example, all shots have been on locked off on sticks or on a dolly; so handheld we went.  The lighting and contrast ratio has been pretty natural; so I went with higher contrast.  Color saturation has also been pretty natural but black and white for these flashbacks seemed wrong; so I went somewhere in between and desaturated the colors.  Also, we have been lighting scenes to be as natural as possible but still look pretty.  For these flashbacks, I tried to make the lighting as imperfect as possible without looking totally ugly.  That’s a difficult task for me since I always want to make things pretty.  I’m not sure if I accomplished that because, I’m looking at the shots and… they still look pretty… in a natural way… hmmm.

See for yourself:

For the lighting, we used the 1200W HMI through a 4×4 frame of 216 diffusion where the main window was and tried our best to not control it—although, sometimes it just needed to be controlled.  We used one or two KinoFlos to fill in areas that got too dark from the key source.  That’s it.  We only had half a day to get all the flashbacks done so I wanted to keep it as simple and possible and have a docu-style imperfection to it.

For the night shots, we just blacked out the windows that were visible in the frame and left the ones that weren’t.  I changed the color temperature of the camera to 4400ºK (to make the scene a little more blue), turned off all the KinoFlos and used just the 1200W HMI and diffusion frame as the only source of light. We also cut off some of the light from the walls and ceiling to help sell the night contrast. There was a shot where I could see the bathroom window’s daylight in the reflection of the glass shower door in the mirror (?!).  I didn’t want to have they guys black out the window because of time so I just hung a towel on the glass, and presto! Insta-blackout (but without the blackout)! Sometimes, the laziest solution is the best solution. :P

Shooting RAW with the Red One is awesome because I know we can fine tune, alter or even change the look of the sequences in post, but I did as much as I could in camera to preview the look for the crew to see.  It looked great on the monitors but when I looked at the footage tonight on the computer, it didn’t quite look the same.  So I fine-tuned these images to look more like the way I think they should look in the final film (subject to change, of course). Who knows if any kind of flashback/dream effect will be applied to the images in post.

It was fun to shoot everything handheld and I never used any focus marks—just went with it and hoped for the best, trying to get that documentary feel.  Of course, the best part of that was that we got to do another take… not like a documentary… well, not like a real documentary, at least.

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