Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Total Confidence -- Zero Ego (Take 2)

Vince and his students preview the documentary short
before showing it to the world on Sunday morning.
OK, let's try this again. A big thanks to everyone involved with this past weekend's CreativeLIVE workshop with Vincent Laforet.
Listening to Vince and Chase do their intro and then listening to all the Friday discussion this phrase kept going through my head. Have total confidence, but zero ego. Do what you need to do for the project, be a part of the team, and don't take offense if you need to change what you are doing. Being part of a production team is much different than being a lone-gun still photographer out working on your own.

As I mentioned in part one, I was nervous going into this. But the folks around me had confidence. And that built up my confidence. I was surrounded by great talent. The students in this class were great. The teamwork they developed over the three days was amazing. No clashing egos. They listened to Vince and his crew (Marcus and Justin). They listened to each other. They figured out their strengths. When they needed an editor at the end of the day on Saturday, everyone turned to Travis. Needed a soundtrack? Jef was right there to compose and edit the sound. 

For me, the Saturday documentary set was easy to work with. All I really worried about was the sun acting as a backlight and going in and out of the clouds. But Seattle delivered and the clouds seemed to stick around to get us through the interview part. For the B-roll stuff I got to get the lights in where I really wanted them and didn't need to worry at all about the sun.

Sunday started for me with me going on set with Vince to talk about each of the lights we placed for the dramatic narrative. I only found out I was going on set to talk to the audience about 5 minutes before it happened when someone came up to me to wire me up for sound. I thought that went well.

Then we moved to the cut-away shots. I was in my element. Getting to light a beautiful actor. Diffused spot light directly in front of her, slightly above and angled down. A little fill. Dramatic black background. I thought that scene looked great on the video monitors in the studio. All nervousness gone now. On to the big set.

That started out nicely, too. The lights looked good for the angles we had. And then someone said, "OK, time for the reverses." Ugh! There's no light on the female actor's face. All the key lights are on the other side of the set. Vince calls out for a Litepanel. I confidently (remember "total confidence") set it up over the new camera position to light her like a beauty light. One of the camera operators or DP (I don't recall who it was) wants me to move the light over to the side. We do that. Vince looks in and says, what about the shadows on her face. Put that light over the camera. My initial reaction is to start saying "I had it there. They asked me to move it." But "zero ego" jumps into mind. We need to get this done. So I don't say anything. Just move the light back where I originally wanted it. The shot works. 

Well, almost. As soon as the male actor gets up and moves across the room to the door we realize there is still no light on him. Combine his dark skin, the darkness of the door, and the medium green wall and he is lost. Quickly, Vince says to reposition one of the 650 watt lamps that was lighting the clock (that is now behind the camera). But a bare spot is ugly. Quickly grab a 4x4 opal diffusion scrim, put it on a C-stand, and he looks fantastic. Teamwork. Confidence. No egos. We get to hear WRAP! And we're done. Well, almost. Justin and I are still doing final cutaways of the packages on the desk and then back to the clock for a closeup. Got to put that 650 back where it was before. Happy to do it. Then we really wrap.
The only thing left to do is to get that ellipsoidal spot down from that Hi-Hi safely. Enlisted three other folks from the crew and we got it handled. Teamwork. Its great.

Now looking forward to working with CreativeLIVE on Bambi Cantrell's posing and lighting weekend. Back to my real love, still photography. Hope to see you there!


  1. Hey this is Michael with @jindaphto. Sounds like you had a blast with the crew and Vincent. Really looking forward to the Bambi workshop as well! We all could use some help with the posing and lighting. See you online!

  2. Hi Michael. Yes, the entire CreativeLIVE crew is a blast to work with. Are you going to be in the live audience this weekend?


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