A few weeks ago I got a phone call from my friends at FABRIC MAGIC, the production company that created the hit series #LikeMe. National radio station Radio 2 commissioned them to create a brand new song to celebrate the Day of the Flemish Community on the 11th of July, and they needed a campaign image for the cover art.
The only caveat was that it was to be created during the video-clip shoot. A day already jam-packed. So we chose to occupy the moment the set-redressing from day to night to built our own set.
I quickly started to research traditional old Flemish parties in classical art like Brueghel, modern interpretations of it, and my own creative ideas.
Quickly the idea became an essemble photo hanging up the bunting and preparing everything for a large dinner on a table. I sketched everything on my iPad with Procreate, and packed my gear for the big Sunday shoot.
Arriving on set I saw that most of my ideas would be pretty close to the actual video-clip, and after a quick on-set meeting with the creatives at FABRIC MAGIC and Radio 2 my idea got completely approved, and we could create the shot.
As is always in Belgium, we were blessed with amazing blaring sunlight, only to be cursed an hour later with the most horrific rain torrent you could imagine. It wasn’t a tropical storm like last summer, but we had to shut down production and just wait until everything cleared up. At least we came prepared, as just after we unpacked everything on my two gear-carts, I wrapped them with a large rain-proof hood.
After the rain stopped, production resumed, and I started unpacking as well. One cart has been tweaked for camera-transport and tethering station, with a built in MacBook Pro stand, two Manfrotto quick-release heads and room for my ThinkTank Airport International Trolley, while the other one has a C-Stand deck and room for my ThinkTank Production Manager trolly with 6 Profoto heads.
Together with the prop department and creatives we built a set with bunting, table dressing and the start of a feast.
Light wise, the key night was my 180 cm umbrella with a Profoto B1, while a Joe McNally Skylite 3×3 with a 1/4th CTO gelled Profoto B2 providing some fill. Up high above and behind them is a B2 with a full CTO in a 1×3 stripbox to emulate the strings of lights in the background. All the way in the back of the plaza is another B1 with a telezoom and a pink gel, to lighten things up in the background.
Camera wise it’s no surprise we shot on the Hasselblad X1D-50C on the XCD 90. It was tethered to my MacBook Pro with a Tether Tools cable. To make things as consistent possible we shot locked off, with triggering happening through Phocus on the MacBook Pro, so if needed we could have shot a clean plate for retouching. In the end, we got it in a single shot.
While we shot two big shots in less than 15 minutes, but with a whole lot of hours of preparations. For projects like these you need a battle plan, as there are a whole lot of moving pieces that rely on each other, and when things start to change (and they always do), you need to be ready to Improvise, Adapt, Overcome! (Thanks Bear Grylls for that quote). That, and it’s a complete team effort with a lot of input from clients, creatives, talent and more.
You can watch the music video here:
Fun fact, I provided the moving fill light in the long tracking shot with an Astera Helios Tube while our DOP moved his Arri Alexa Mini on the Ronin 2 through the crowd. A cool bit of lighting gear!