Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist

Ten flights





We filmed for 4 days on location at Melbourne University's Redmond Barry building utilising several tutorial rooms, elevators and it's whole stairway to make this film. The team was essentially a skeleton crew of the Director, 1st AD, DOP, AC and sound recordist.





  • Blackmagic 4K Production camera

  • Canon 24-70mm f2.8

  • Tokina 11-16mm f2.8

  • Rokinon 85mm f1.5

  • Rokinon 50mm f1.2

  • Lanparte Shoulder Rig

  • Blackmagic Video Assist

  • Hocus Focus Wireless Focus Puller

  • DJI Ronin


  • 2 x Aputure HR672S LED lights

  • 1 x 1000W LED studio light

  • Reflectors

  • CTO/CTB Gels


  • Zoom H5

  • 2 x Sennheiser EW 112P G3



The tutorial room which we shot in was lit with 2 large windows that had diffused blinds built in. For shots facing the window I decided to use them to cut down the amount of light entering so that the exposure of both interior and exterior would be similar. This kept the city skyline somewhat visible and not blown out. I would not have had enough powerful lights to balance the levels in the room to keep the skyline visible without the diffusion.

A. Screenshot

A. Screenshot

B. Behind the scenes

B. Behind the scenes


For shots towards the window (A) I drew down the blinds in order to keep the background visible and not blown out as you can see in the left window of (B). This cut down the back-light which I had to add back in using an LED light (B). Since the window on the left was not in frame I lifted up the diffusion to increase the light levels in the room and to also have some light spill on the left edge of our main character. 

A challenge

When scouting the location, one concern I had was the practical challenge of lighting the stairway as well as shooting on it. We wanted to be ambitious and planned a shot where the characters walked down ten flights of stairs in one long continuous take but didn't have the resource to change the practicals to be more suitable nor did we manage to get a steadicam operator.

The next best option we got was a ronin operator who had to walk down backwards which quickly became a safety issue as he tripped and stumbled while trying to keep pace with the actors. In the end we didn't get a perfect one take but decided that we would intercut it with other footage and use just the best parts.

We had no choice but to use the lighting as it was even though the levels from the overhead fluoro lamps were too low to expose properly at times. To furthur make things difficult I set the aperture at f4 or f5.2 in order to keep focus while walking up and down at the expense of underexposed footage which I hope to save in post.


Test Footage

Before shooting, I spent half a day with the Director going through shots and visualising the film through rough camera placements and light tests. The video below compares our tests to the actual footage to show you what we were thinking and what we actually captured for the film.