Monday, December 13, 2010

The best equipment for the job

Ever wondered what the best equipment for your current job is? It´s exactly the equipment you have with you. Okay, Joe McNally said that.
But what do you do if you have almost no equipment with you? In fact, nothing more than a camera?
Use the...

Todays cameras do not depend on a roll of film that will only take daylight or else go blonde like Belgian beer. They have numerous white balance presets that allow you to shoot in any kind of light and get a decent result.
I shot a couple frames for a friend´s recording studio. All I had was a 5MP Casio Exilim (pocket camera!) and three Dedo lights. Okay, Dedo lights are tremendously expensive. I had them borrowed from a good pal whose father works at the movies. They produce tungsten light that can be shaped with four barn doors. They have only 100W each, so I reckon that if you got a lamp with about any 100W bulb, some gaffer´s tape and a bit of black wrap, you can easily reproduce similar effects.

I shot the control room:
Existing light fills the room beautifully. It comes from a straight overhead window. Only thing I did was hide a Dedo on the floor behind the desk and let it cast a nice shadow from the palm tree. Plus, lights turned on in the studio behind the window. That´s why it looks so warm in there: yellow walls, a bit of daylight, electric lights that are pretty low-powered. It´s wrong technically, but doesn´t matter to me. All eyes on the great desk and tape recorder. I let the camera do its own thing. Long exposure. Computer and console monitors show nicely, because it is relatively dark in the room after all and the monitors are... well... relatively bright.

On to the studio:
Again, you can see that the light in the control room on the other side of the glass is much cooler, because the window is larger and lets in more daylight. Here, it´s two lamps. One behind the camera, bouncing over the ceiling and brightening up the room, the other one just out of frame to the right, producing the line over the black cabinet. That line is so defined, because the light has barn doors (equals black wrap) almost closed and is standing close to the wall.
You can see that there´s daylight coming in from above, because the sheet on the stand catches some of it and gets a blue hue whereas the camera is balanced towards tungsten light.

I found that the black cabinet has a lovely grill in it (it is a Leslie!) and decided to put some light through it:
This is what you see in the background. You can zoom Dedo lights, because they have a PC lens as front element. That produces a clearly defined shadow from the grill, although the lamp is not very far away from it (you usually need distance between object and lamp to create a sharp shadow). Another Dedo from the left, with a blue gel and a third one making the greenish spot (blue gel plus yellow wall = green spot) behind the microphone. Full exaggeration and extreme lack of taste. But I somehow like it.

Finally, on to the fantastic Studer A807:
How do you make a car look fast and cool? Spin its wheels. And with a tape recorder? Um, anyone knows?
I let it stand pretty much where it was, using the existing light. Then I raked a blue-gelled Dedo across it real flat (top picture, on the spool). This is what anyone can do with his desktop lamp. The low quantity of the light let me expose long enough to make the "wheels spin". Daylight balance. And nothing but a black coat as a backdrop.

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