Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist

Winner

Winner

 
 
 

Camera and Equipment

We used the FS7 to shoot the music video because it is an extremely flexible camera in most lighting situations as well as having the ability to record in 60fps slow motion. The lens we used was a set of 5 Rokinon prime lens - 14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm. It was my first time using these and they were phenomenal.

For lighting we had 3 red-heads, a 4-bank Kino Flo, a bi-colour LED and some reflectors. Most of the set up was very simplified and we ended up not using much of our equipment as the available light was sufficient. Additional gear included a Wally Dolly which we used on the 2nd day for only 1 shot (that didn't make the edit).

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Locations

Gym - Yarra Valley Grammar

The first location was a gym at the director's old high school. They had pretty much everything you would need in a gym but we only used the dumbbells and bike. The large window that opened up to the oval made it harder to shoot more cinematic images because we didn't have enough power to balance out the light. I had to blow out the background in order to expose the actor. To slightly balance out the sunlight we bounced a red head with 1/2 CTB onto the wall opposite the actor.

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Croydon Athletics Track

I don't usually like outdoor shoots because at this level I don't have the resources to control the direction of sunlight. To make matters worse for this day there was no shade around and we all got sunburnt. When reviewing the footage for this day I think that we got lucky with the position of the sun for the shots we decided to shoot at the time. We never considered the sun's position when designing the shot list so as we moved through the day the direction of sunlight changed but it was in the perfect positions for some shots and we kept the continuity flowing. Pure luck on my part.

House

Filming at this location was my favourite out of the 3 days. It was difficult to get to, I had to take a train and a bus but I felt that I captured the best images on this day. The available light was perfect in creating a more atmospheric setting than in most urban houses. The sources of light were mostly from 1 large window and I just used the built-in ND filters to control the amount coming in. 

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No additional lights were used in this room. All shots used the only natural source - the window.

No additional lights were used in this room. All shots used the only natural source - the window.

Similarly in the kitchen I didn't add a fill light as I felt the moodiness contributed to the relationship between mother and son in the story.

Similarly in the kitchen I didn't add a fill light as I felt the moodiness contributed to the relationship between mother and son in the story.

Day for Night

Another scene took place at night in the kitchen and I had to make it look different.

Another scene took place at night in the kitchen and I had to make it look different.

Interior with window blocked and light bulb switched on.

Exterior of cutter set up.

In order to create a totally different look in the kitchen I decided to block out as much natural light as possible and use the only artificial light they had. The naked bulb luckily wasn't typically placed on top but at the side in a corner which gave a more run-down, DIY look to the kitchen. I kept the bulb exposed to give the mom a harsher look, she's a loose character, angry and enraged at her son.

To block out the sunlight I placed a black blanket and sleeping bag over a C-stand and placed it outside as close to the window as possible to prevent any spill on to the back wall. It wasn't a perfect job but the light got cut down significantly enough to make it look like a different scene. I also folded the curtain inside on itself to create a thicker layer of diffusion. 

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For the reverse shot of the runner I just added an extra LED light at a cool temp to add a kicker to his side. The light is motivated by the bathroom light which we see previously in the video when he comes down the stairs. This shot contrasts really well against the mother as it is lit more evenly as opposed to his mother's harsher high contrast side lighting.

This shoot taught me a lot more about using available light to get what I need and manipulating light with the bare minimum to change the mood of a whole scene. On previous shoots I was adamant about always enhancing and adding artificial light to get what I need but seeing the images from this I was really happy with how they turned out. I definitely felt more like a cinematographer on this shoot when making the choice to shoot only with the available light and when asked to change the set up to look different in under 10 minutes I came up with a very simple and effective solution. Again, it could be that the camera and lens I was using were far more capable than my normal set up but that just goes to show that each project should be thought about carefully to be the most efficient it could be.

Cast and Crew after the end of Day 2

Cast and Crew after the end of Day 2