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Take a look under the hood and see what I'm working on

Coldplay "Up and Up"

A producer reached out to me asking about my green-screen experience and I told him I'd send what I had, and then I asked who the video was for. Needless to say I was excited. 

As far as green-screen experience goes, I had plenty. I considered myself very proficient in it. Besides the tons of sit down interviews that came my way, and I didn't bother to hold on to :-/, I also shot Season 3 of The Legend of Neil  Directed by Sandeep Parikh way back in 2010 that had some large scale (on a web series budget) vfx work including flying miniature fairies, giants, and our main character falling off a cliff. The difficult thing about this project is that it's always difficult to know wether to send to clients as the effects, styling, and art direction are low-fi on purpose, 8-bit in a way. It's difficult to know wether a client can see past the stylistic choices and see the technical accomplishments. 

The directors on the job were Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia who both have a great body of effects-driven work. Natan Schottenfels and Juliette Larthe of Prettybird produced and we shot the band portion of the video here in New York. They sent me the 13 or so plate shots we would comp the band into, truly larger than life! Most of them were stock footage shot from above and from planes, helicopters, or space stations and the band would perform as giants on farmland, in valleys, or on an island. 

This job was purely a prep job. Almost all the work would be done before we get to our shoot day. My initial concern was getting the perspective right, deciding from the plates where the camera was in relation to the earths plane and the horizon and what the movement was. Since most of the shots were from far away, the perspective changes but very slightly, we would want to be on mostly long lenses sometimes from high angles. 

Immediately I knew the space we were planning to shoot in was too small. They were holding a studio with 12' ceilings and I knew we'd want to be on a jib/dolly or telescopic crane. After the top of the crane, the remote head and the camera, we'd be near 9' and that would mean I'd have to be on wider lenses to be able to shoot someone full body, especially from more top down angles. I had to urge production to book a larger stage. In the end we settled at Highline, as they were the only place in Manhattan with the largest ceiling height that was within their budget and had all the other production niceties. 15' ceilings would have to do. 

With a set time with each band member for their shots, this job would be all about efficiency. I planned the lighting to match our plates way in advance and created diagrams for every shot I had a plate for. There were separate diagrams for our Techno 15 and lighting, so I could send to my gaffer and techno tech beforehand and on set all we had to do was flip a page and execute. 

The general lighting plot involved 6k spacelights in the air, 10ks into 12x12 bounces, a 20k for a hard sunlight punch, and some 5ks for here and there. Lighting green-screen for exterior work is fairly easy when you start to break down what the environment is doing. Where is the sun? Are their clouds bouncing back? Are we in space and the dark side should be very dark? I ended up ordering a 12x2 skyblue muslin for when the bounce back was just sky and we warmed up the sun when needed with Straw gel.

We shot Arriraw on a Fujinon zoom and I used a sharper shutter to minimize the motion blur. I must say they did and excellent job blending all the stock, archive, and Kiev footage shot by Roman Linetsky with our band stuff. I couldn't have expected a more amazing masterpiece out of it all and am very grateful to have been a part of it. 

John Schmidt