Andrew Peterson - Dancing/Dark - Breakdown
One of my favorite things about my job is getting the opportunity to work with people who inspire me. I've been an Andrew Peterson fan for a number of years, and Dancing in the Minefields in particular was really important to me and my wife during our engagement.
When I saw that he was playing a show in CT I immediately reached out to see if we could make something happen, and thankfully he was down! We had a very limited window of time between him arriving from LaGuardia and having to soundcheck, so I got to the venue early to figure out our location options and set up audio/lighting.
The location was a big modern church, and I knew going into it our odds of having a cool moody room were super low, as usually those buildings tend to be lots of relatively empty white walled rooms. My plan was to create as much contrast as possible and most likely use a silhouette if we ended up in a room like that, so I packed some 24x36 floppies and my Chimera Pancake - 1k Tungsten. I also created a black and white LUT for the Alexa Mini (from LensProToGo.com) which I installed on my SmallHD 702.
When I arrived I quickly found that my worst fears were correct, and there were thousands of square feet of very beautiful modern building which unfortunately weren't well suited to the look we were going for. Thankfully though they had one tiny little prayer chapel room which was different. It was still light walls, but it had some stuff on the walls and it had a really cool stained glass window in it.
I asked if it was ok if we used the room and moved a few things around, and as soon as I got the green light I started removing things. The big sign on the right came out, the plants on the ground, one of the benches, the stuff on the window sill... and initially I was going to remove the hanging plant but then it looked really cool with the haze.
So about the haze - normally I rent DF50s from lighting houses, but I'd been wanting a small hazer for shoots like this for a while, so I went to our local guitar center and picked up an ADJ VF1300 Hazer, along with Black Label Ray Tracer liquid. They had regular haze, but the guy there said the Ray Tracer would hang longer so I decided to try that.
I was extra pleased when I noticed the room didn't have any smoke detectors in it, as they tend not to get along with hazers. I popped the hazer in the corner of the room and started adding a little texture to the room, which sliced out that beam coming from the window above the stained glass. If we didn't have haze I probably would've flagged off that hotspot, but with the haze it looks awesome (in my opinion). The light was actually so good that I didn't use ANY of the lighting and grip gear I brought, just the hazer.
From there on it was simple - do a quick level check with Andrew and then shoot the thing. I had the Alexa Mini from LensProToGo.com, along with a Canon 15.5-47 CN-E Zoom. I added a 1/4 ProMist filter to the front, and my SmallHD 702 with my new Black and White LUT to the top. Popped the whole thing into my Easyrig Mini Strong and was off to the races.
I shot 4k Prores 4444 in Log-C for maximum file strength in the grade, but I ended up not having to change much after applying that initial LUT I had made, though I did end up going black and white on Dark and color on Dancing to mix them up a little.
Titles were done by Jonathan Reynolds, Audio Mixing was done by Joel Rousseau, and I obviously did the color grade. Overall the shoot was a giant success. Here's the final edit.