Video production stories #1

Blat GarciaVideo Production

Welcome to this new series. We are a video production company based in Dublin, Ireland and hope these blogs can help other production companies, freelancers and anyone who creates anything video related. Although our angle is commercial, some of the techniques we would use can be applied to drama too.

We will use real stories of real shoots. The challenges we face (and how we solve them), our thought process, the gear we use, and how we learn and improve on every shoot.

For the stories from 2020 and 2021, there were a lot of protocols about the superflu, otherwise known as COVID19. At this stage everyone knows (or should know) how to operate safely so we don’t want to put much emphasis on this and keep the focus on the video production.

Cloughjordan house

Emma at Doghouse media reached out to us to help with the video production for one of their clients: Cloughjordan House. The ask was simple: a single-day shoot and handoff the dailies.

There were a few emails and pre-production meetings to establish what was needed. The location was about 1:30h from Dublin and as we had an early start the day of the shoot, the good people from Cloughjordan House accommodated us to come down the day before to do a recce and prepare the interview setup, as well as allowed us to spend the night in their beautiful ‘pods’. Some of the perks of working in video production I guess!

The Video Production

Ok so let’s get to the meat and potatoes! On the shoot day, we met at 7:45am, had something to eat and coffees (very important). The interview was the first thing we were going to capture, so after breakfast went to light that room first. Although we had a shooting schedule, this was a dialogue led piece and there would be a lot of details about the house that we didn’t know and would not have been in the shot list.

Winter days in Ireland aren’t very long so at 9:00am the light in the living room was still very dimmed, so we decided to use 4 Astera titans and one Aputure 300D with a fresnel to light the scene. We placed the 300D outside to simulate the Sun.

We had a choice to use either the Aputure Nova P300C or the Astera Titans. The Novas are a little bigger than a 1×1 and have a ton of power, but to create a natural atmosphere we would have to add a 4×4 silk for the key and a softbox for the fill. The Astera Titans, although not as powerful, produce beautiful soft light and the quality of the light is magnificent. They also power from internal batteries and take a much smaller footprint than the Novas (+ C stands + sandbags +softbox + 4×4). Also, the setup time would be much faster with the Titans and they had more than enough power to light the scene.

Looking at the picture below you can see the beauty of those lights. They recreate the characteristics of natural light beautifully. It is important to note that all the pictures and screengrabs have not been colour corrected or colour graded. they come straight from camera shooting on ‘natural’ profile.

We were very pleased with the results, but if we were being very picky about our work we could have added a flag to mask the bottom of the fill light to prevent it from touching the couch.

After the interview, the rest of the day was very smooth, we decided to operate one camera with the Canon 16-30mm F2.8 in the gimbal to get all the establishing shots of the rooms and different areas of the house. The other camera, handheld, with the Canon 85mm F1.4 IS for all the detail shots, in addition to this we also brought the drone to get the establishing shots of the house and inside one of the rooms where they do the ceremonies to have a birds-eye view of the space. During the golden hour we went into the ‘Ball Room’ to get some shots and we added a bit of artificial haze from the atmosphere aerosol (basically smoke in a can) to add a bit of dimension to the room.

Dusk started at around 4:30 – 5:00 pm and then we went into the kitchen to shoot some of the delicious food they make and we wrapped the shoot at around 6:30 pm.

Conclusion

Everything went as smooth as it can be, but the secret source to the success was a well-planed pre-production. We can’t wait to see what the good people at Doghouse media come up with in the editing suite, but as soon as they have it we will share the link in this space.

Equipment used:

  • x2 Panasonic GH5S
  • Canon 85mm F1.4 IS L series
  • Canon 16-35mm F2.8 mike L series
  • Feiyutech AK4500 Gimbal
  • Atomos Ninja V 5″ monitor
  • Atomos Shinobi 5″ monitor
  • Vaxis ATOM 500 SDI
  • x4 Sennheiser EW100 G3 packs
  • Sound Devices MixPre6
  • Rode VideoMic Pro
  • x4 Astera Titans
  • Aputure 300D
  • Aputure Amaran MC
  • DJI Mavic Pro