Behind every shot is a story. What may look simple on screen is often the result of a whole number of processes, many of which the casual viewer will never notice. When you go to the theater to see this Summer’s latest alien-robot themed blockbuster, you probably don’t consider the tremendous amount of 3D computer graphics and modeling required to make those robo-tentacles appear so life-like. Likewise, when watching a relatively straightforward shot of a couple walking in the rain in your favorite Netflix miniseries, you probably wouldn’t expect that the sounds of their footsteps were created months after filming by Foley artists stomping on a wet piece of cardboard. In many aspects of production and post-production, filmmakers will go to great lengths behind the scenes to create a seamless finished product. And Galileo Media Arts is no different.
On our shoots throughout the Boston, Albany, and Saratoga Springs areas, Galileo often has to be innovative in the process of video production. Recently, while producing several TV commercials for the Northeast Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA), we had to tackle some tricky lighting situations with a bit of inventiveness on set. The project involved planning, filming, and editing several commercials that showcased NHPBA’s fireplace offerings. However, going into the shoot, Galileo knew that filming a fire lit set would be a challenge, mainly because the heat from the flames would make it difficult to place the cameras, lighting, or actors too close to the hearth.
Luckily Galileo foresaw such obstacles and came prepared. Before the day of the shoot, Galileo Director of Photography Alex Kenyon took a drive to the local Home Depot near our Boston office and gathered supplies. Using a lamp, an electrical outlet, a fluorescent light starter, and some basic electrical skills, Alex whipped up a homemade flicker box, a device that is able to safely generate light with random flickers — just like those of a natural flame. With the addition of cinefoil, diffusers, and gels, the flicker box worked perfectly. We were able to shoot very convincing shots of our actors in the scene with “firelight” softly reflecting off of them. With some preparation and creativity, Galileo was able to adapt to the circumstances and capture a beautiful shot, without the whole set going up in flames.