BBC Multi Platform - 'The Burning Room'

A while ago we had the pleasure to co-create a test platform for BBC's Multi Platform department. The brief was to explore the possibilities in interactive media that can be accessed by BBC's millions of online viewers.

Ace camera assistant Mihali Moore and Coob's Donnelly brothers discuss the required technicals for the panoramas.

Working again with Producer Jon Aird as we have on many previous adult education interactive experiences run on the BBC website. This time we had a 'blank canvas' and together, creative control in creating something that would explore the possibilities for online experiences, and something that could be easily adapted to terestrial projects such as Dr Who or Eastenders for instance.

Teamed up with Coob as we have done again in similar projects, we got going on drafting a scenario for our story to take place. For this a horor / suspense genre was chosen, as we also wanted to test out VFX elements in this experience.

ALL flame effects were filmed live in a Chromakey set up on site, and in the end up to 100 layers per frame were made to enhance certain scenes. The mastery of our VFX guru William Chang brought this to reality, while Adam Cutts, our Set Designer and Props Master worked his magic in creating the various sets to the final 'burn-out' set.

Exploring the paroramics was a key action we wanted to incorporate, as well as video insertion and sound cues.

The biggest hurdle we came up against was the compression in the platform of Flash video, where the very large VFX files had to be compressed heavily to ensure the smooth running of the experience.

Well received, we are now exploring the options of taking this and translating it to other genres like drama.

So take a moment, turn out the lights, and Enjoy!


Light Hackers Photography - 'Lighting Deconstructed' 3

Shooting with children is something we have done for the past 20 odd years... Sometimes a challenge, yet always rewarding.

We were commissioned to shoot a model portfolio series for a young girl, Hana who was aiming for the catalogue genre.
I mention the genre early on as I find it important to know which type of genre the shoot is being designed for. This is important when designing and choosing locations, and lighting themes as well as wardrobe. You need to marry these elements to suit this type of work. For an actor's portfolio perhaps, you are looking for a more muted background and flatter lighting style to show the actor as the key focus, and not to be up staged or competing with a busy setting. Also for this tighter head shots are required.

Here you see the first in this series of shots, as the lighting set-up for which we are deconstructing, carries through to both shots.

To add an important element of 'fun' in child shoots we went for an activity theme, and brought in a trampoline... focusing on Hana's ability to be staged, yet look natural in her poses.

We also styled the lighting theme to compliment the wardrobe outfits... in this shot we chose the blue gelled background to set off the blue / purple dress.

Light metering on the skin tones, we established a ratio that set the black BG two stops lower, and then dialled in the gelled accent light to suit.

With the gridded source being a flashgun strobe, it does take a few test shots to aim the light and zoom the lens to have it exactly where you need it.

The full lighting plan for this and the second shot is below:

For a more traditional pose after a costume change we had Hana do a series of standing poses. Again the only change in lighting was the angle of the strobes and the back ground gel... to compliment the red ribbon and prints in the dress.

The BTS shot for this series shows the location of the lights and the set-up used... shot while we were testing the lighting.

We chose to shoot in a large open space that offered us not only room for a mobile studio, but which had a classic art deco style of trellis that worked well as a setting for this final shot.

As always we hope you found this write-up useful and inspiring. Please feel free to leave your comments, and if there are any questions, please feel free to ask.

Until next time...
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Light Hackers Photography - 'Lighting Deconstructed' 2

For the second lighting breakdown in this series we chose to deconstruct another favourite image, and one we waited to shoot till the end due to the mess this shot produced.

The image we produced, entitled 'Under Her Spell' was from the same portrait series with Deborah as the previous post in this 'Deconstructed' blog.

Greatly inspired by a series of images created by Montreal based photographer Von Wong, we wanted to try what he accomplished with an array of studio strobes, but with just 3 flashguns!!

Here is the image that inspired us:

We were very pleased with our results especially considering this was the very first attempt in shooting with flour, and the lighting design was something we had planned in advance, so it was a case of fine tuning the settings and A LOT of trial shots (9 to be exact) to produce 2 images from the shoot.

Here you can see a behind the scenes shot from the location.

As you can see, we were lucky to make use of a VERY large veranda... actually this was at the mansion house built for Captain Livingstone's return from exploring Africa.
I can't stress enough the mess that flour creates... in Von Wong's work they went so far as to use electric fans to disperse the flour... it took them hours to clean up the mess produced, and they were shooting in a vacant warehouse. We chose to lessen the required cleanup, and still it took ages to vacuum the walls and everything in sight... Be warned, only leave essentials you are using in the vicinity!

In this 'Lighting Diagram' the full lighting arrangement and settings are shown.

The lighting was something we created to work, and it did. The hardest part of this type of photography is that you can't meter the flour in the scene or compose for it exactly. It becomes a trial and error at first till you home in the lighting and the way to disperse the flour at the chosen moment.

We found that a third amount of flour was needed to be thrown in, and added to what Deborah was throwing out.That came from the camera assistant throwing in a handful, using a verbal countdown to be in sync with Deborah's throws. A technique in actually throwing the flour was needed so it spread out correctly... A lot of variables we hadn't considered till on the actual shoot.

We shot 2 further clean plates, just of flour being thrown in front of the lens, to be backup elements in Photoshop... a very necessary move!!!

The final 2 images were graded in Lightroom, and composited in Photoshop.

Here is the second finished image from this series titled 'In The Clouds'

Well that's a wrap for now, but keep checking in for more 'Behind the Scenes' write-ups from us at Light Hackers.
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BBC 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Tutorials

For BBC's series 'So You Think You Can Dance' we were brought in to shoot 13 x dance tutorials with the series choreographers. From Cha Cha, Waltz to Hip Hop and Disco, we covered the lot. These all were to support the series being TX'd and went online as part of the S.Y.T.Y.C.D website's goodies.

Sisco warm up for one of the tutorials.

Down time in between shots.

I love the catchlights our 'kisslite' gives for this type of filming... very soft and wrap around.

Shot all on location we provided 2 x HD camera crews shooting on jibs and dollies with an EFP lighting package and for the main key and fill we went with follow spots to move with the talent.

It was a very tight schedule on these shoots with an output of about 3 dances per location scheduled over 5 days,...however we managed to complete the series in only 3 days of shooting.

In this example, Charlotte Stevens puts you through the paces to learn a DISCO routine.