A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about my lighting package that looked like an aisle inside a Home Depot store. I wanted to share how I recently lit a scene for a Call of Duty Jeep Commercial pick up shoot, only armed with my hardware store package. The setting was supposed to be a Military Forward Operating Base (FOB), but we actually shot it in our office in West Hollywood.
The Cinematography interns and I grabbed our Hardware Store Action Packer and set out on our minimal lighting mission. “What do you want to key him with?” I asked. Derek held up a cool white florescent trouble light. “I like it.” We will make General Taylor a little green. We taped that to a C-stand and armed it out overhead to mimic a desk lamp. I said, “we will need some fill.” We just happened to have another one of these which we rigged back slightly camera right. What are we missing? How about a little warm backlight? Danny ran in with a 6” diameter clamp light. We added Rosco full CTS to add some color contrast. We were getting flared from that light. We didn’t have any flags so Freddie grabbed a piece of plexiglass that still had the brown plastic on it. This worked perfectly.
The General was handled and our shot composition was set. Background comes next. Always line your shot up first. Agree on the size and then see what your actors are doing. Then light them accordingly. Once this is done, you can proceed to lighting the background. The reason for this is that many times you end up lighting areas that never end up in the frame or the actors block them the whole time, which is double the work.
Background lighting is one of my favorite things to do. It gives your shot scope and dimension. I wanted to go for small sources and moving imagery on monitors to give the background some energy as well. We started with our first background light which was another “trouble light.” “Don’t we have anything else in that kit of ours?”
Freddie said, “Yes, but I think it will hang well on the shelves.” He was right. It needed some warmth to separate our General, so we added some Rosco full CTS gel to the light. You can see it next to his left ear. The Camo net was going to dark; it needed an edge light.
An edge light is something that rims, rakes, brings out dimension and texture in something that is dark. We set a 6” diameter clamp light so that I could pan and tilt it to get the light in the perfect spot. You see that over his left shoulder hitting the Camo net.
I needed a colorful source, like it was some control panel, so we put a green bulb in a 12” diameter clamp light, which fell on the far left side of frame. After we added all these specials, we needed a cool grey tone to bring out the texture in the camo net as well as the feel of moon light. I did this with a 2 bank fluorescent shop fixture with one daylight balanced globe and one tungsten balanced globe.
The background was complete. Now, it was time to get our actor warmed up and shoot this baby. The video is not color corrected and the moire is NOT removed in After Effects yet. I wanted you to see what it looked like coming out of the camera. We shot this with a Canon 5D MK II with a Zeiss 50mm CP2. The goal was to have more contrast and a slightly cooler image for this, and they delivered. Here is an excerpt from the spot.