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Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations

Lesson 26 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations

Lesson 26 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

26. Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is Cinematic Lighting?


Motivated & Practical Lighting


5 Cinematic Lighting Tips


Low-Key & Upstage Lighting


Control Your Fill Lighting


Show Depth In Your Image


Pre-Production for Cinematic Lighting


Grip Tools: Clamps


Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads


Grip Tools: Pins & Portable Gear


Grip Tools: Scrims, Silks, Flags & Tape


Grip Tools: Wind and Haze Machines


Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Grip Tools: Filters


Grip Tools: Q&A


Theater Shoot: Concept


Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Gear


Theater Shoot: Motivated Lighting Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Walkthrough


Theater Shoot: Capturing The 1st Shot


Theater Shoot: Hero Shot


Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats


Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Working With Scrims On Location


The Haircut: Getting the Shot


The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Staggered Planes: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Staggered Planes: Getting The Shot


Capturing Plates With Talent In Background


Airstrip: Environmental Portraits


Airstrip: Location Shooting Q&A


Using Plates to Create a Pano in Lightroom®


Transform Tool


Post-Processing 1st Theater Shot


Retouching Details in Photoshop®


Color Grading in Alien Skin Exposure X3


Post-Processing Theater Hero Shot in Photoshop®


Creating a Spotlight in Photoshop®


Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting


Post-Processing: The Haircut


Coloring the Sky and Removing Modern Building


Creating a Pano Using Plates in Photoshop®


Developing Cinematic Portraits in Lightroom®


Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Color Grading Cinematic Portraits in Alien Skin


Lesson Info

Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations

So, let's take a look at the mood board. So, once I've got my concepts in place, once I've got my drawings sticking around, I go to Pinterest, and I start pulling images together. This is the same idea you saw me address yesterday. This is just a very different set of images, and so the idea of showing you this is to show you what my head space was like, what kind of colors I was looking for, what kind of framing I was looking for, general look and feel to the images, and so this is what I was pulling from. It was a combination of historical photographs, a few things that are modern that were people doing recreations in photographing, which helped me source costumes, and then also like those illustrations and stuff. There's also a still down there from, I think it was an old Spielberg. It was like Amazing Stories or something like that. Remember the one with the cartoon wheels? I know it was Amazing Stories, but that one. That was the one that was going through my head when I was makin...

g it, so that was definitely kind of in the back of my mind. This was generally the look and feel that I was going for and where I would pull source material and inspiration from. So, then we get to the location we send someone out. We send a couple of people out to do to do some location scouting. They get out there and take a lot of pictures of planes. The collection is available online, but you don't necessarily always get really a thorough understanding of what they have available and what can be done, how things work in the space, what the outside space looks like, the places in which you are going to shoot. 'Cause I wasn't planning to shoot inside. I needed to see what the outside looked like. All of these things also allowed to pick the planes, and so we went with both of these. The one on the left they call Grumpy. It has a seven door character on the side of it. This is an old classic Spitfire. The Spitfire is actually the plane that is in the background of the original photograph, and that was why I chose that one. Okay, so take a look at some of the wardrobe. This is just a couple examples of what we went with. Some of this was relatively... Some of it could be a little more modern than you can get away with like the flight suits. They really haven't changed too much, especially when you're just looking at something that's underneath a jacket. Same with the barber. We went with just a generic vest. You could find that in any old normal store. Nothing dress shirt, vest very simple. Not of the period. The stuff that was a little bit more difficult to find were stuff like the jackets, getting the same jacket, the different kinds of hats, different kinds of boots all of these different things, and so one of the places that we pulled from was a vintage costume shop here in Seattle, which I've used many times before. They're really terrific, called Vintage Costumers. You can also find this stuff if you have enough lead time online. You can go into... Sometimes costume rental shops will allow you to pull it off. But sometimes you really need to pull vintage stores, thrift stores things like that. eBay is another great resource. I find that when you are working in period pieces, costumes a lot of times can look really costumey, and that's generally what I try to avoid. And so, I'm a big fan of pulling from as many different sources as you can to layer different elements, and that's what's gonna make your costumes appear a bit more believable. So, that's where a lot of these things are taken from and from different people I found stuff for. Like, I needed an old boxer. I went to Vintage Costumers. I got the gloves from them. I got shorts from another costume shop, and then I got the boxing hat from eBay. Right, and so the whole thing cost a $100 or so. You get something that looks a lot better. That was the direction of the wardrobe. Then we get to hair and makeup. With the guys I was looking for two characters; one, who had kind of a little bit of a fade in the hair because I wanted him to match the barber a little bit. And so, fortunately that's very stylistically popular with young men right now, and so, that made it pretty easy to come by. With the other gentleman I was looking for someone who was in that blonde, strawberry blonde kind of a look, and fortunately we found one as well. We happen to catch him in the summer where he didn't have much of a beard, and so we got him to trim it down and made it work for the photograph. And so, that was what I was going for. Obviously, we don't need extensive hair and makeup, but we slicked the barber's hair down a little bit and the other one was kind of meant to be a little bit long and messy. I wanted it to catch wind because I love that little detail about this photograph is that the wind watches and blows some things around. You have a little bit of movement. You have it in the cape. You have it in the hair, and so I was looking for a subject that had a little bit longer hair on the guy sitting down. Okay, let's get to props. Dressing out this scene with props was one of the trickier parts of this whole process. We found the guys pretty quickly. They all signed up onboard. We had a location down. The props and the costumes were probably the trickiest part of this particular shoot. When I was looking at the original photograph, I knew that I'd need a series of things, and so the barber obviously needs like a pair of scissors and a comb. That was pretty easy. Wood chair that's pretty easy. Pipe. Relatively easy to come by. The book was a little bit tricky. They've done several additions of it. I was really hoping to find the same edition, which was a little bit difficult. I did, I found it but a lot of them are over in England because that's where it was printed. I found like there was one in the U.S. and I had it shipped in. I mean it wasn't too expensive. I think it probably cost me 25 or $30 for the book like priority shipped. So, it was worth it for me to have that little detail 'cause I really appreciated that little element. So, that was what the book was. The cape was just a piece of fabric. I sent a bunch of different sample fabrics. I said anything that looks like this go to the fabric store and find me something that we can just wrap around him. It didn't have to be a barber's cape or anything like that, and so that was relatively simple to use. The tools with the wrap was a little bit tricky. Finding a wrap that was in a similar color. The tools are kind of mix and match. You have the brush. You have like a straight razor. A few different things we kind of just found in a vintage shop, and we can lay on top, which you'll see a little bit in the frame. The yellow wrap what we ended up using was a life vest, which I was originally looking for for the pilots to wear on the outside of their coat. Because when you look at a lot of the images of the time, they would regularly wear the bright vests over top. It was near impossible to find that especially 'cause I was really trying to stay as true to the RAF as I, and so it's really difficult to find British Royal Air Force stuff in Seattle from World War II believe it or not. So we couldn't quite get any of that over here. The closet we got was the Navy one, and because it just didn't look the same to me, I ended up incorporating it as the wrap, and I think it worked really well because we kind of hid it a little bit. Lastly, we needed a fan. I wanted to make sure that I would have some wind going, and so we bring the fan out or a blower in this particular case. We actually found that on the day we were getting some nice breezes, but it was just a matter of preparing just in case 'cause I was anticipating a sunny day. Hey, we got the fan out here, and I can make the wind move if I need to. Those were kind of my considerations for the props. Then we get to our actors. This is what they looked like. I felt like we got them relatively close. We've got kind of the blondish, reddish blondish hair, and then we have kind of the high fade. And so, that was what I was looking for. I wanted similar haircuts. But I was also cool with them looking a little bit just more modelly, more traditionally modern, modern handsome, I guess. Not that the other guys weren't. It was just a different time period, and so we went for a little bit more of a stylized version of the image. This guy also had some tattoos down one of the arm, which I didn't necessarily mind. I thought it was a little bit anachronistic, and it was just kind of a cool little detail that I think tweaks the image in a little bit of a fun way. So, it doesn't really give you as definitive of a sense of time to the image as the original would. So, I thought that was pretty cool. Alright, so let's talk about the lighting. Now, if you remember and you remember from the theater shoot, that was one really complicated. That was many, many lights. We had to light an entire scene. But the benefit of being outside is that the scene is lit for you, and so all you really have to do is control the light on your subject. And so, this one is a little bit simpler. And so, what we've used for this is one head. I used one Profoto D1 1,000 watt head. That was the only light that I used. The reason I used and I opted for a 1,000 watt over the 500-watt that I traditionally would, because I was putting it through an Octabox and I was overpowering daylight. And so, I wanted that extra socket power from the 500 to a 1,000. Basically when I'm working outside in these kinds of environments, I'm looking for more power. I can always dial it back, but I wanna have it if I possibly can. I had originally just in case brought two of these heads because I could always stack them together put them side by side, and it gives me an extra stop of light at full power. I ended up only using and needing one, but I did bring it just in case. Now to go a long with that, I know I said we only used one light, but I did modify the light that was there. I modified the daylight, and I used two 6x6 Scrim Jims with a Full Stop Diffusion. These are side by side just to make the diffusion really large. You could've also gotten away with a much larger Scrim. You could've also, in all fairness, probably done it with one. But the two allowed me just a bit more comfortability in the way I was moving around, and it allowed me to blend the scene a little bit better in post. And so, yeah, I could've done it with one, and you're gonna see some issues when the modification of the light using the Scrim is a little bit more narrow in the second set of images 'cause I needed the height on it. It definitely makes a difference, and it makes the post production a little bit more challenging. But that was what I used for this. Then the modifier like I said that I used on the Profoto D1 was the five-foot Octabox. And, I'll talk about this a little bit later, but if I happen to have a cloudy day, I don't need the Scrims. I just happened to have a sunny day, and I wanted to make it look cloudy. But know that the clouds are built-in Scrims, so you can always keep that kind of a thing in mind when you wanna minimize gear. If you really strip this down, it's just a light with a soft box is what's creating this effect, okay? So, we're gonna take a look at the inspiration image, the sketch one more time. Before we actually break into what the walk through of this is gonna look like on video, maybe we'll see if we can field some questions about the inspiration mood board stuff. How much time do you spend on Pinterest? (people laughing) When you're making a mood board, do you do it in one sitting or do you come back to it? I do it in chunks. I do my Pinterest thing in chunks. It's pretty conducive to how you wanna find stuff. Maybe I'll spend a half an hour to an hour putting some stuff together once, and then if I ever have to come back and add to it later on. 'Cause it'll also automatically generate close images for you, which I find is really helpful, and so it kind of almost ferments your board a little bit. You leave it up for a bit, and then you come back and you're like, "There's something new I can add to it." And so, the longer you lead out on this material kind of the better you are with making it happen. Yeah, I mean half an hour, hour, and then I'll occasionally poke back in and spend a few minutes. But, not a huge about of time. Since you are the art director, and there is no client at the end, correct? Yes. In this particular case. Are you looking to recreate or be inspired by? To what degree do those compromises or other decisions come in? Is that as your sourcing things and you realize I don't have this exact duplicate I guess, I'm going to be inspired by? How does not process help? I generally aim for... I generally aim for really trying to nail the authenticity as best as I can first. I inevitably have to make compromises. That's generally how it goes, but I always push for the top stuff first, and so if things happen that I have to to make concessions for, then I will. In this particular example, I really wanted to make the recreation as close as I could that was the whole thing. I was kind of on this Kubrick kick with Barry Lyndon he was going through and almost nailing certain paintings. Barry Lyndon almost exacting, and so I was kind of going for that here. I just wanted to create like a much wider scene of it. Basically, if I were there in that space, what were maybe some variations on that image? Like what would those might have looked like? That was kind of what I was going for. So, I wanted to make it look really close. So that like if you've seen the image before and you're familiar with the image, you undoubtedly you're like that's doing that image. It's very much on purpose. I'm not saying, hey, this was a completely original my idea. Like this what I came up, it's not. It's absolutely me trying to recreate this photograph. I try to be very exacting, so that it appears that way. Whereas, on the other image it's a little bit more of a hodgepodge of a few different things, and so, that's not as close to anything. It gives me a little bit more leniency. And so, it's just different approaches. Sometimes I'm looking to be a little bit more true to the original, and then sometimes I'm looking too to just be very lose with it. I think, the second one is a little bit more on the lose side. But I wanted to make it feel visually and stylistically very similar to the first set. And so, the second one, although it's inspired by something that looks very different, it's meant to look more visually similar to this one if that makes sense. Yeah. So, obviously, you're well into your career at this point. You've got probably more flexibility than a lot of us. But could you see doing a shoot like this just as your own personal work as opposed to something that was commissioned? Like you go out and say, hey, I wanna do this, and go out and do all. Sure. There were other places that I was looking at that we didn't get into for Creative Live that were out here that was just cool locations. I ultimately didn't have time to do it. You can definitely do personal projects that have a bit of scope to it. Obviously, I wouldn't say like I necessarily need to go out and spend $5,000 putting together a singular image. But, you know, if an image cost me a few hundred dollars, $500, a $1,000 whatever it is and it becomes a showcase piece for me, you know, then I can use it as promotion material. You don't have to. You can call in favors. I've got shots that look very heavily produced, and it was me calling in favors across the board for every spectrum of it. I think by the time it was all said and done I was out the cost of lunch and a few other miscellaneous things. You can achieve this kind of stuff if you put in the legwork to do it. Paying for it tends to make things... It greases the wheels, greases the gears a lot, a lot easier. When you are doing it for favors, you have to work with time and around people's time, and be a little bit more patient with certain things. I mean, other than the ability, like the access of this particular air field, which everyone has different levels of access, and you can call in things and get permission for things across the board. Like the vintage train museum is one of those examples. They do engagement shoots there. I mean, everything that was actually in this image, I would have no problem funding myself in terms of the cost of what that image. I mean, if I'm not paying for models because I'm doing it for a trade. I'll commonly when I'm doing personal work say, "Alright, so I will shoot some stuff for you "if you do this for me. "And, we'll get like some cleaner "simple whatever images you need for yourself," and so it becomes a trade. That becomes the way you can call in that favor. Then sometimes you have makeup artists, hair stylists that you work with that are friends of yours, and they'll come in and do it just because it's a fun cool image. Just to do something fun and cool and creative. That takes care of a lot of that. I'd borrow this chair from somebody. The fabric is raw material that cost a few dollars. I buy the book. Okay, you go buy a few other miscellaneous props. This image other than the access to the location wouldn't really cost me that much in the grand scheme of things. So, once you can figure out kind of the key humps that you need to get over, this stuff is a whole lot more attainable than I think people may assume it is. It's just generally you gotta get out and ask. You gotta talk to people. I find that emails are rarely. Emails are not always the most successful tools of communication. It's the phone. That you have to just call up people and talk to them. Or go visit is another one, and people are more likely to say yes if they can put a face to it and talk to you and everything else. So, also something to keep in mind.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Chris Knight - Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture Grip Quick Reference Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Bruce Walker

This course is simply terrific, and I highly recommend it. Firstly it arrived at the perfect time for me as I am soon to do a studio shoot very much in keeping with a cinematic or theatrical aesthetic. Secondly it's taught by Chris Knight who I swear is like a long-lost twin brother. :-) There are so many parallels in the way he thinks and works to my own style. So I avidly watched this as soon as it was available for anytime streaming. This is the first time I have made extensive use of the CL iPhone app, btw, and I love how it pretty much enabled me to seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop viewing to my iPad that I carry around the house during the day. I was able to make coffee and still carry on taking in the course, uninterrupted. The content is fantastic, delivered succinctly yet entertainingly. Some material and ideas are already in my repertoire and were reinforced and validated by Chris' demonstrations. But he also introduced a lot of ideas and methods new to me and very welcome. I was particularly glad to see how practical it is to stitch a series of tripod shots into a wide pano. I have been afraid to try that but I will now be using that in my next shoot, for sure. As alway, his post production practices revealed all kinds of tips about Lightroom and Photoshop I didn't know. Negatives. The volume level mastering is iffy. It started out at a decent level then midway through one of the early lessons dropped so much I had to turn up my sound system to compensate. And as I write this one lesson (34) is missing and in its place was a duplicate of the next lesson (35). I expect CL will have that fixed shortly though (I sent support a note).

Jeph DeLorme

One of the best classes I have viewed at Creative Live. Definitely worth the investment of time and money. The pace of the class allows you to learn extra tips and tricks throughout the process. Great instructor, highly recommend this class to anyone looking to step up their creative game.

a Creativelive Student

excellent class in all regards. outstanding instructor with experience in complicated cinematic shoots but who also is willing to thoroughly cover the basic nuts and bolts. i wish all creative live classes were of this quality.

Student Work