No Turning Back: Baking-In Black and White

In Notes From the Set by Rod Santiano1 Comment

I shot a commercial today that took place in a pseudo 50’s environment. After some discussion of whether the spot should be in black and white or some kind of “other” look, the director and I decided the spot should ultimately be in black and white. Typically, especially in the video realm, the B&W effect is something you do in post—you shoot your video in color and drop the saturation completely in the color correction process. This leaves the options open for other possible looks; should you or the producers decide to change their minds. “Baking in” a look can be risky, but in this case we decided to throw caution to the wind and commit to it.

This was a simple and quick shoot, very much along the lines as my previous post, Shooting with What You Got. This spot is also for a commercial competition with a fast approaching deadline. I used the same equipment (a bare Sony EX1) but this time only utilized two lights (the 1K softbox and 1 650W fresnel) and existing daylight. Dropping the saturation on the camera end made the shoot a lot easier since I didn’t have to worry about the differing color temperatures of the tungsten lights and the daylight from outside. I tried to go for the old 50s TV-show look with flat, high-key and directional hard lighting. I also shot it in 720p rather than 1080p to help with a softer look. These photos below are straight from the camera with no color correction at all and have the exact look we were going for.

The last shot above is another example of committing to a look on set. Some may choose to shoot this type of shot in perfect focus and later defocusing it in post. For this shoot, I just kicked the camera into macro and adjusted the amount of “out-of-focusness” to what seemed to be appropriate for the superimposed logo that would be “in focus.”

All in all, it was a fun little shoot and a cool experience in committing to a look on set without a safety net.

Click here to see the final spot.


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