Designing the Visual Landscape of Deadfall

When Stefan Ruzowitzky and I sat down to talk about the look and feel of this film he immediately showed me these Todd Hido shots. They blew my mind! I loved the feel – the light was so interactive with the landscape. I love the blackness that surrounds the light, which was the perfect analogy for our main character Addison. Together, we set out on a mission to deliver this and so far the film looks amazing.

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

We finished our first week and WOW!!! What a ride so far. We shot a high speed snowmobile chase with Eric Bana up in the hills of northern Quebec called Sacacomie – it is an absolutely beautiful location.  Elite team Mike Svitak was brought in to rock out all the 5D footage.  He has been shooting plates for all the poorman’s process that will be in the film as well as hangin’ with the action unit as a human clamp on camera to ski-doos. Poorman’s process is where you put your actors in the picture car on stage, surround them with green screen and you key in all the plate footage that Mikey shot at dusk for dawn.  Mikey took the Canons to the edge with delivering 1250 ISO, driving while the twilight lingered and one word described what he shot. STUNNING!!!

We also landed a town car, a snowmobile and a tire on a 5D in our signature Pelican Case crash cam. The last one we sacrificed was just a stripper, which is just the 5D and a lens.  The town car comes down the road and whips a 360 degree turn, which slides right over the top of the 5D. At least that was the plan. We blasted that baby three consecutive times till it finally died. Off to CPS. Thanks Chris Canada. One is on its way.

Charlie Hunnam rocked out his first scene on day two in a cool boxing gym. Day three, we shot with Kate Mara and Treat Williams. Amazing cast on this film. The director Stefan and I are getting along very well and loving the performances.  He is an incredible director, LOVE his energy, instincts and execution. Last night before shooting the night scene with Treat Williams, we shot the opening of the movie which was shot at dusk for dawn. I have come up with a wonderful recipe for shooting at dusk. I am shooting with Kodak stock 5207, which is designed to take colors in the spectrum and bring them closer together. Why shoot a stock like this at dusk or dawn? I find that the color temperature during this time period goes incredibly blue, which I do not like. I like a more subtle cyan blue tone for dawn, and I always see them more greenish blue. With this particular film stock, the hyper blue that you get will be more balanced and not as cobalt blue as it seems to the eye. I under-expose the film 1.5 stops and push it one stop as well. This little cocktail looks amazing and gives you that silky feel that I see when I have to squint to see while driving just before night.

Many of you asked to see my lighting list for this film so I would like to share some of this information with you. As a cinematographer, your biggest asset is your pre-rigs. Thinking through the lighting of each location and passing that information on to your Gaffer and Rigging Gaffer so that they can prepare this before you show up is paramount. Inspiration on the day is always still possible but at least you have the building blocks in place to get you up quickly.

In the boxing gym, I had our production designer Paul D. Austerberry hang a large banner to hide one of the 18k’s behind the boxing ring.  In addition to the existing lights over the boxing ring, I hung 4 4-bank Kino Flos with cool white globes to toplight the boxers sparring, then I turned off half of the practical lights above the ring to create darkness in the foreground as we dollied across them.

When we went into the boxing gym, for example, I wanted 4-18k’s, blowing through the windows. Now that would have required condors, scissor lifts, etc., along with many more men and women to operate these lights so I opted to hide the lights inside the large space. We had two walls that we could hide them behind but my critical light was in the open.  Paul D. Austerberry, our Production Designer, had the idea to hang a banner in the middle of the mat area so that I could hide our 4th 18K.

Director Stefan Ruzowitsky discusses the opening shot in the Boxing Gym that Charlie Hunnam enters

Director Stefan Ruzowitzky discusses the opening shot in the Boxing Gym that Charlie Hunnam enters

The pre-rig crew came in at 9pm the night before to cable the place and rig the lights in the gym, boxing ring, and trainer’s office. Once call time hit and we blocked with the actors, my gaffer who did “The Greatest Game Ever Played” with me, John Lewin, did a beautiful job as a lighting artist. He and his exceptional crew had us up and running in an hour and a half after call.  They ROCKED it out!!! Without his rigging gaffer Peter Mathys and the rest of his amazing hard working crew, this could never have happened.

Here is the Boxing Trainer’s office that we built in an existing area of the gym. We made a false wall to get 2-6K pars to light the window on the right side of the set and give bounce light into the room.  I put one 18K on a 80′ condor outside of the window on the back wall to give me shafts and the feel of hot over-exposed sunlight racing into the window.

Paul and I discuss what it will take to fly the wall to grab this low angle shot of Charlie hitting the floor

Now on the grip side is Michel Periard. Two words describe this man: SOLID IRON. Michel and his talented crew, along with his best boy Paul Tremblay, rigging GIZMODO Kenneth MacKenzie have been helping me rig Canon 5D’s to snowmobiles for high speed action. They have helped to control the natural light and deliver breathtaking 50′ Technocrane shots in incredibly hard to reach locations.  His rigging grip Mario Roussy and his phenomenal crew have been a huge part of why they have been able to do this so effortlessly.

The Main Lighting Package stays on the truck and moves from location to location with all the specialty lights that are needed to light the scene and assist the drop loads that have already been rigged.

The drop loads are lighting and grip lists that pre-rig the location before we land. These lights are on a weekly basis with rigging, shooting and then de-rigging. The main lighting package will be for the whole duration of the film and the drop loads for each location.

An essential part of a cinematographer’s job is getting together these lighting and grip lists as well as working with your crew to streamline the packages.  We were a little over budget in lighting so I sat all of the department heads down and we went through the whole schedule, specifically what was required at each location.  We quickly realized that we had some man days overlapping and could reduce some labor costs as well as cut some lighting to help us into the budgetary box. You have to be accurate with this and frugal at the same time to maximize your budget.

Next week I will go into the camera breakdown for the whole film and how organization plays a big part on how much you can put on the BIG SCREEN.

45 Comments
  1. Corey Allen 4 years ago

    Man,you the best,I pray that my cinematographer is good as you one day!

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Corey Allen, thank you so much for the kind words. He or she will. It is all about feeling the light.

  2. Daniel B 4 years ago

    Shane,

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading (and re-reading) your blog. You are very talented and seem to be a very genuine person. I appreciate the fact that you give credit to those who work with you and not take it all for yourself. I also really appreciate your willingness to share so much information. I recently purchased a 7d and have been scouring your website for info. I purchased a couple of Nikon AI lenses (28/2.8 and 50/1.4) after reading your post on lenses that were good for cinema.

    Thanks for giving your time and expertise to help me learn and be able to do better work.

    Best,
    Daniel

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Daniel B, thank you so much for these kind words and support My crew makes me shine. Without
      Them I am not able to bring our vision to life.

  3. K Wasley 4 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Thankyou for putting in the time and effort to do this. It’s invaluable and brilliantly educational.

    Unfortunately i can not get the lighting list or drop list to work, am i doing something wrong?

    Thanks

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Thanks for the heads up. The download problem has been solved. Try again now. Thanks.

  4. Alex 4 years ago

    Thanks for the updates, Shane!
    Love reading your posts.
    The download link did not work for me.

    • mel haynes 4 years ago

      I couldn’t get it to download either. Dang

      • Author
        Shane 4 years ago

        mel haynes, we have fixed the problem, so sorry. You can download it now.

      • Author
        Shane 4 years ago

        Hi Mel, the download problem has been solved. Try again now. Thanks.

        • mel haynes 4 years ago

          Looks good, Shane. I am able to download it now. Now Im going to take it to a local rental house and just see what they say ha!.

          • Author
            Shane 4 years ago

            mel haynes, that is great, little technical problem, but I am glad we were able to fix it so that you can get the price of that package. he he

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Alex, thank you so much for these kind words. We fixed the download, check it out now. Peace

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Alex, the download problem has been solved. Try again now. Thanks.

  5. mel haynes 4 years ago

    I love these blog posts. What a great way to wake up in the morning. I wish there was a fantasy camp where we could just be a fly on the wall for a day, but I have to say this is as close as we can get to that. Look forward to seeing this movie and see the final product. Thanks again Shane.

    Mel

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      mel haynes, thank you so much for your kind words and support.

  6. Cedric Yu 4 years ago

    Hello Shane,

    love the updates and posts! Thanks for sharing so much with us.
    I’m still pretty new to lighting big spaces, I wonder how you made the 18Ks look like they were shining through the windows when you hid them inside. Did you have the 18Ks face the windows with diffusion in front of them, and placed reflectors on the outside of the windows?

    Cheers,
    Cedric

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Cedric Yu, we don’t see the windows that the 18K’s were hypothetically blasting through. I let them go hard, just like harsh sunlight. This was set in Detroit, so we wanted it to be raw, white and harsh.

  7. Dave 4 years ago

    These are so informative the greedy part of me wants a “What would Shane do?”
    section.

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Dave, thank again so much.

  8. Matthias Saunders 4 years ago

    Shane,

    Thanks so much for your teaching and insight. For years, I have worked with other producers and directors to get them to understand the importance of planning and pre-production. At times I have been made to feel that my ideas and requests were radical and out of place. But after, reading this, you have reassured me that my approach to new projects is in fact on base, and I am thinking the right way. Thanks so much for your inspiration!!

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Matthias Saunders, you are very welcome and thank you so much for all of your support. I am glad that I have confirmed your approach.

  9. Oli Kember 4 years ago

    Another winning post. Great stuff, and I’m pleased you’re able to share the ‘making of’ with us as it happens, which usually one waits for until DVD release ages afterwards (and naturally it’s never as in depth as your posts). I have a quick query about your fluorescents, on the Excel they state a colour temp of 2900/5500. I’m aware that Tungsten has a colour temp of 3200 Kelvin, so I’m wondering when you’d ever use the warmer tubes? The obvious answer is when you want it slightly warmer than 3200, but instead of putting new tubes in, wouldn’t you just add a 1/4 CTO or something, for example? Thanks.

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Oli Kember, thank you so much for all of the kind words and support. Here is the deal with Kino Flo, the 3200 tubes are really not 3200, they tend to come in at around 3400 to 3500 most of the time, I like warm light on skin in general. The 2900 tube was something that Frieder at Kino Flo and I had been talking about and working on for years. Engineering a tube that is warmer and more appealing photographically. The 3200 tubes feel very antiseptic to me.

      • Oli Kember 4 years ago

        Thank you for such a speedy and informative response. I imagine a lot of other DPs would just gel it slightly warmer to taste, but I love that you go right to the source and fix the problem where it lies. You continue to inspire, thanks.

  10. Tim Kang 4 years ago

    Shane – usually I have a question, but this is a beast of a post that answered every one of them before I could ask. Thanks for writing, it’s an informative, entertaining and inspiring read as always.

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Tim Kang, thank you so much for the kind words. The camera breakdown is next. Getting inside Kin’s camera perpectives.

  11. Nick Barros 4 years ago

    Hello Shane

    I wanted to say thank you for sharing all the information that you do. I have worked as a best Boy grip and electrician for almost 8 years. Within the last few years I decided to hang up the Grip towel and start shooting. I just purchased a Canon 60D and will be shooting my first short on it in less then 2 weeks. I have had the pleasure of working around you on Terminator, as I day played on that film for a week or so. I will be shooting at Ryan Fritz’s Ranch for my short, and he was the one that introduced me to this blog and your wealth of information. I can only hope that I become half the artist and half as humble as you.

    Thank You so much

    Nick Barros

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Nick Barros, these are the comments that keep me doing what I am doing. Thank you so much for those kind words. I started as a grip and I felt that what I learned as a grip gave me far more experience as a lighter than being a gaffer. Grab a hold of your dream and run with it. Ryan s
      Rocks and good luck shooting. Break a leg

  12. S Martin 4 years ago

    Thank you very much for posting this.

    What other stocks (if any) besides 5207 are you using?

    And I noticed that 5207 wasn’t listed in the packages of your earlier “prepping” post (http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2011/02/09/prepping-kin/). What led you to choose 5207, and would 5205 have not provided the cyan tone you described?

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      S Martin, I am using 5201, 5207, and 5219. 5205 has been discontinued so I went onto the vision 3 stock and love it. Sam characteristics as 5205 just more detail in the blacks. I have been pull processing all of the snow day exteriors and wow it looks so amazing. The snow takes on this silky smooth texture and tone.

      • S Martin 4 years ago

        Thank you for that info, Shane. I didn’t think it had been discontinued.

        (And since 5217 was recently replaced with 5213, I wonder if Kodak is looking into making a Vision 3 50D to replace 5201. Maybe not anytime soon, since I’ve heard 5201 is a great match with the Vision 3s.)

        I will watch this film and am very interested in seeing what you’ve been doing.

        I also appreciate the fact that you’re reading and replying to everyone’s posts, even though you’re clearly very busy. Your creating this blog in the first place shows that you care a whole lot about your work and sharing what you know, but taking the time to follow up with everybody – that’s what really sticks out to me.

        Thanks again!

        • Author
          Shane 4 years ago

          S Martin, thank you so much for these amazing comments and thoughts. Yes I am slammed and will always answer the questions personally, this is what Hurlbut Visuals is about. Educating and inspiring one filmmaker at a time. I love that you see what I am doing, it makes all the time and long hours worth it. Thank you for inspiring me.

  13. Arthur Tarnowski 4 years ago

    hey Shane,
    it was nice to finaly meet you the other day… i have to say your KIN article was incredibly informative… Like something out of american cinematographer…The real joy is that I get to cut your beautiful images! Not having been around in prep on Kin, it’s very cool and helpfull to learn about how you and Stefan approached the film. So keep them pictures coming! Your passion is contagious…
    Best,
    Arthur Tarnowski,
    Editor, KIN

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Arthur Tarnowski, thank you so much. It is a pleasure to see your amazing cuts of the film. I feel the fragility of the light is such a character piece in this film. Let’s continue to rock this baby out together.

      • Arthur Tarnowski 4 years ago

        Rock on!

        • Author
          Shane 4 years ago

          Arthur Tarnowski, yeah baby!!!!!

  14. Bill Hamell 4 years ago

    Shane,

    As always another superb post!
    To complete the scene (pun intended) could we the shot list for the above scenes?

    Bill

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Bill Hamell, Thank you for the kind words. I will post some of the Director’s storyboards in a future post, we do not use shot lists.

  15. Nacho Martinez 4 years ago

    Hi Shane, you Rocks, man!!! Thanks a lot for sharing with us all your shinning knowledge, tips and lighting tricks, I do love these BTS!!!, they have no prize for the aspiring filmmakers!!! I am a lighting camera and steady op. from spain. I`ve just got a 5D and some lenses and gear , I read your blog from a few months ago and I wanted to thank you for your inspiring and brilliant work and the effort and hard work of sharing it with us !!!! I do really appreciate it. Thanks again and good luck shooting , Greetings from spain. ( sorry for my bad english)

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Nacho Martinez, thank you so much for these kind words my friend. You inspire me to do my very best. Thank you for your support and your english is perfect.

  16. Daniel Thomas 4 years ago

    Shane,

    thank you so much for your posts and the web series you did. you have no idea how much it means for guys like you to take time out of your schedule to put up information like this. seriously, your work allows kids like us to go out and just go for it, using info from professionals like you. just wanted to say thank you so much.

    • Author
      Shane 4 years ago

      Daniel Thomas, this comment is the reason that I take the time. I love you all and will always give freely to inspire and educate. Thank you so much for all of these kind words.

  17. Daniel 2 years ago

    Hello, I really like your site but the new layout cuts of text in this post and others i have seen. Also the downloads on this post don’t work anymore. i have spent a lot of time on this website I really do like your work!

    Daniel

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Daniel, I am so sorry that you are having problems with the new site. I know we are working the bugs out and I will pass this onto our web team. Thanks again

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