Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist


Niu Studios - Fight Club


We filmed this promo video in a public carpark underneath the director’s apartment. The biggest concern we had during the shoot was neighbours who weren’t aware of it being a film set would look out the windows and see a group of people pointing a gun at a kneeling mans head and call the police on us. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

When comparing all the promo videos which we filmed for Niu Studios, I would say that this particular scene was the most faithful to the original in terms of it’s visuals. I am especially happy with the close-ups and the contrast ratios which we managed to replicate on a budget level.

The original plan was to shoot and deliver the final video in black and white but during the post-production stage, changed it to be coloured.

The public carpark location

The public carpark location


The above picture shows the set up for the shots. We had an Aputure 300D through a diff as our key-light that was angled 3/4 of the way to the actors. This allowed us to see their face but still keep it dramatic with the back-light. The fill side had to be light enough to give us flexibility in post to manipulate the ratio. I chose to shoot infront of a fluro light despite the colour temperatures not being consistent with our LED lights because in the original scene, the neon colours in the back were different to the key lights as well. It was just a source for motivation but not the key-colour.

The key light was only powerful enough to light the front two actors and the actor playing Norman at the back had to have his own light source from an Aputure 672 to be able to see his face. Given more time I would have liked to add a source for the back stairs to separate the subjects from the foreground alot more. For the close-ups we just moved the diff in closer to get a softer wrap around the face.

Setting up for the wide shot.

Setting up for the wide shot.


We filmed on the Blackmagic Production 4K Camera with Samyang Prime lens in ProRes HQ.

Plastic Guns still look real

Plastic Guns still look real


If we were to compare the original to our attempt you can easily see that the original had alot more colour and pop to the background than we did.

  • The store front is not the same colour as the key lights which gives some more colour contrast.

  • The light source was also alot harder than what we use giving a higher contrast ratio than what we have especially on the face.

  • The clothes of the characters also gave more character to the shot compared to our black and white wardrobe.

  • The backlight was most likely coming from a source that was behind the actors and higher up. Our backlights were probably too close and too harsh giving a very artificial look.

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This shot below was my favourite from the scene. We managed to perfectly capture the look of the original down to the contrast ratio, framing and feel. I would use this particular look as an example of creating a Hollywood look from budget materials.

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Nicholson Ren