Comping on Set
All right, so now we're gonna talk about what it really means to be comping on set. What that last session was about was really things you're looking for, and ghosting, and seeing how things lay out. So comping on the set, the main overview I wanna start with is, come prepared. You come prepared to the business. You are showing up with your suitcase, packed, ready to go, and what I mean by that is you show up with, for example, your layout. You show up with your table. You show up with your hard drive. You show up with all your equipment ready. You come up with your down and dirty tricks, yeah?
Yeah, you do.
So what does that mean? You come up, you're showing up with your layout. So your client's gonna have a layout that they've already given to you. What you wanna have is, you don't just have a flat layout, you have it ready, you have your live, you have your bleed on there. If they've given you specs for other buyouts, something they know is gonna come, you have that all ready. D...
o you understand what I'm saying? So you don't sit down and start, ah, they're shooting, and oh, let me build your layout. No, your layout is already prepared, at size, at ratio. It doesn't have to be...
Well that, and this just looks more pro, so if you start with a shot of a sky and a grassy field, it looks one way. Lisa and I go on there, trying to look as elite as possible, this looks killer. When you have all your lives and bleeds and crops in there, it just looks another elevated step. And, it saves you, too. So you can put this template in the horizontals, as well. So everything that makes them, instills confidence in you, from them, do that.
Yeah, and so for example, I often go on shoots for kinda high-end computers, and what will happen is, they have sketch comps. And they know that they're gonna have a sky, and maybe a bike, and a scene, and they have whatever figure they're shooting, with the computer. I have the sketch drawing of the computer in the front, on the top layer, I'm ready to fly the guy in, or gal in, underneath, if there's a sky, I put a sky. Now, I know it's not their sky, but I put a sky in the back so it helps them visualize what they're trying to do. And how this saves money, I'm gonna give you a little story of how a typical photo shoot like that looks. I get a sketch comp with an idea of what they're gonna shoot, the photographer has them. For every scene, every model, there's a sketch comp. I have them already lined up and ready. When we get a shoot, they'll start shooting in a frame, a frame or two. Now it's not the final frame that they're gonna use, they may have, for example, they may have a character going, "Hey." And in the end, they're gonna end up using a guy going, "Hey." But what I'll do, is I'll sketch out one of them, and what, er, mask out, excuse me, and so I'm just gonna have some tips about what to do for that. And what they're looking for is, they're looking for lighting, they're looking to see if the camera is the right angle, is the camera the right height. And as I said, on the set, you gotta help 'em. You gotta stick it in something so they can see it, and see if it's working. They'll worry about the expression and the hand poses later. So it's down and dirty. You were gonna talk about the masking, one of the things you like to use for the masking.
Yeah, so we are finish artists, and we usually come at the end of this. But at this point, we're kind of compositors, artists, so we kinda step into a different role. And it is, get the idea down, and viewable, and believeable, and palatable, quickly. But there are a couple little things you can do to make your stuff look faster and cleaner. So where regular masking would be, and alpha channel, and airbrushing out what you don't want, leaving the figure you do want. Or, quick lasso tools, there's a new option for selecting, and it's just called Select Subject. That came out in Photoshop last Tuesday, I think.
A couple weeks ago, I think.
And it's fantastic, holy smokes. You have the pictures of, Tyler, and you just bring it up and you just hit this one button and Photoshop looks through and finds the subject and lassos around there and says, "Okay, this is all gray stuff in the background, he's probably gonna want the subject," and it's pretty cotton pickin' good.
Yeah, it's fast. Now it's not a finish, it is a comp. So what I'll do on a set, so for example, if you look at this comp here, I will have the comps set up, and as I said, there's often multiple models, and multiple setups, I have 'em all ready, and I drop 'em all in. I get all the figures in. I don't worry about finessing. But what I do do, is there's downtime, they're switching the Model A to Model B, you know what I'm doing? I'm finessing the heck outta those. Why? There's a commercial for me for this client, so I've got a client coming out of Chicago, not my client, the agency comes from Chicago. They hired a photographer, the photographer hires me, I'm just comping on set just to make sure they got what they need. That's all they want, it's just to make sure the shoot is handled. Well, heck, I'd like to work for that agency, I'd like that Chicago agency to call me as a finisher, or a comp artist. So while I have down time, even though they say they don't need it any better, I'm not sittin' there going, "Okay I'll just wait for the next model to show up." I sure as heck am makin' that look really good because I wanna work for them. It's a golden opportunity for me to show, "Look what I can do." Plus, I'm there, right? Why not do it? And then the photographer's got something that looks more polished. And I don't think we talk about this often. So that's kinda trying to... It's looking down the road. Like, I'm not just doing this singular job, I'm going, "Hey, there's an opportunity here, this could be a client of mine. Why don't I make this look better? Why don't I start to make this." So how I do this, and we're gonna discuss this in a few more minutes, is we have some bags of tricks, and I know to get Adobe stock, I'm linked in, so I'm grabbin' stuff, I'm findin' the bike, I'm, "Hey, how does this look? Look, aren't I thinking?" And how this helps a big agency from Chicago, for example, is in the old days, before they'd have a retoucher on set, that creative director, who makes a pretty healthy salary, is sitting in his motel, hotel room at night, masking these out and dropping 'em in the layout to send to his team back in Chicago, so they can get more approvals and get further down the road. Well that man gets a lot of money, he's been flying on a plane, he's tired, "Darlin', let me do that for you. That is why I'm on set, so that I can help you." But again, it's this new thinking. They're not thinking about that, they just wanna know if the shot's good. Why not, at the same time, don't I help you, and see if it can do me some good. And, on that note, do you see how we have comping questions? We have layout, horizontal/vertical, what could change. What could change? What other ideas were you guys tossing around, that might rear its head again, that you'd like me to make sure I have coverage for? Coverage is the word of the day, you know this, right? I keep saying. Camera height, low, middle, high. And I just wanna reiterate, I wanna make sure that was completely clear. Shoot from below, shooting up. Shoot mid-level, shoot high, and below. That's not just switching camera lenses, okay, it's actually positioning. And then, lens, wide or portrait, and make sure you know. And then, I'm gonna
And it'd be at that point where, you point out to the folks who need to know, how, in their best interest, you are looking, "Hey, if you would've stopped at this camera angle, this is what you woulda had. But, this is why this checklist, that we all agreed on earlier, is workin' out. This is where you would stop, this is what you woulda got, this is what we did because of the checklist. Look how much better this looks." And take a little minute to toot your horn. Do what you should be doin', look for the opportunities, but kinda, "Hey, look what we did there. I want you to look good, I wanna be here for you, I wanna be your support."
"I got your back." This is a really important point. Do you remember earlier in the day when I was telling you I worked for an entertainment agency for television, and I would build the ad, that was small, I built it big because I knew two days later, they're gonna need it big. Look how much money I made the company. And do you remember, I said I told the company? I made sure they know. Well likewise, what Simon is saying is, when you save someone's cookies, make sure they know you saved their cookies. You don't have to be arrogant about it, it doesn't have to be a big deal, but you just wanna be like, "Hey, good thing we caught that, huh? Aren't you glad I'm here?" So on that note, I do wanna reiterate that with the class, course, there comes bonus materials. You want these on the set. I think retouchers don't realize, the job check sheet, bring to the comp. The comp session. You're on the job. And the estimate might, might or might not come in handy, but I would bring it. The working sheet, a hundred percent, and then the delivery. Because even though you're actually comping on set, there's delivery issues. Okay, so I've comped for the day, "Do you want me to clean these up?" If it's a multi-day shoot, "Would you like me to clean these up tonight and bring 'em to you all finished tomorrow? Would you like that? It'll cost a little extra." Or, if it's within time, budget I'll do it. "Would you like this on a hard drive?" Oh, I'm gonna have to charge for the hard drive I'm giving them, because you're not gonna get it back. Is it an expensive hard drive? Is it cheap? It's all on check sheet. So you know if you need to charge for that.
You talk about color profile, it's there, what color profiles,
Do not gloss over this, this is hugely important.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's somethin' to be aware of while you're there, 'cause color profiles happen in camera as well, yeah? And then they can change or stay the same, or in parallel with the computer on set, then they can change or go in parallel to the design team, then the finisher. All these spots have a spot where it could go sideways. And if you're in on it, you can keep things smooth between the cameramen and you, and then bring it up to the guy in charge, there, and say, "This is something, let's keep an eye on it because I had a problem with it, job 10 ago," or whatever. But again, it makes you look good, and it makes the job that you're involved with go smooth.
And that'd be a horn-tootin' time right there, too.
So, on the job estimate sheet, or actually, probably more importantly, on the job working, we talk about color space. What color space is the job in? The photographer's gonna shoot in whatever color space he shoots it, is it ProPhoto, or is he giving Adobe RGB, you need to a hundred percent have that conversation. The XMPs, do you remember I talked about the digitech? The digitech and the photographer are coming out with their color, their look, you need to have those files. But not only do you need to have those files, if you are the one who gets the files from the digitech, and you're comping, and then you give those files to the client, you sure as heck better have those XMPs for the client. Because now it's gone through your hands before it goes to the client, you need to make sure you have all those pieces. And it is very easy to not have those files with you. Hence, the check sheet, to make sure you understand your delivery is going to the client delivery.
And all this stuff is emails and telephone numbers as well.
"Hey, that went well last week, man. That was really fun working with ya."
"Thank you for having me on the set."
Yeah, thank you note time.
I never had anyone say I was a waste on the set, that they didn't need me. Not once.