Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist

Showreels

Niu Studios - Breaking Bad Promo

 
 

This promo was filmed in a western suburb of Melbourne on a hot sunny day. Instead of the desert we took over an open field for half a day and shot until sunset. We weren’t quite out of civilization as the original scene was. Behind us and to our left and right were farm houses that we had to avoid getting into shot. Off-screen were about 3 more cars that made unit base and provided shelter with areas for make-up and food.

The shoot wasn’t a tough one but there were elements that challenged us from the start. We were immediately battling against time, as we came from the previous location later than scheduled and we knew we had to finish shooting before sunset. The tall grass didn’t make it easy as we couldn’t just place things down for fear that we’d lose sight of it. Using only available light did help with the quickening the process but I just wouldn’t be able to control the light as much as I would’ve liked to.

We used the Canon EOS R for this promo and recorded to an Atomos Shogun in C-Log for the extra bit-depth and codec.

 
The opening shot of the scene

The opening shot of the scene

 

These were the two master shots which are iconic to the scene and ones that I wanted to get right. The above wide shot is a 35mm at F11 while the bottom was a 35mm at F8. For the 2nd shot I should’ve gone wider, lower and closer to the actors to look more like the original shot but because we were in a field with grass it would’ve obstructed the frame alot more.

The position of the sun was also an issue. In the original the sun was more top-down as you can see from the shadow under Walter White. However in our situation, as we shot between 2-6pm the sun was already at a lower angle which resulted in our actors being side-lit rather than top-down.

 
Three-shot of the Walter White crew

Three-shot of the Walter White crew

 

Despite coming close to the original in terms of colours for the two shots mentioned above, for the final piece we weren’t able to match all the shots consistently which led us to develop our own look. The inconsistency was due to the sky having clouds in some shots but none in others. We decided to add some warmth in to the shots which caused the white clouds to turn straw-yellow and then we matched the grass to that colour. Below is another version of the grade which we played with before finalising on the look in the final video above. All the exposed skin in the images below had to be qualified and individually graded to get the colour you see. You could say that it is a more watered down version of the teal-orange look. It took about 9 hours and 3 revisions to get the final look.

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Nicholson Ren