Oftentimes the job of a cinematographer is to elevate the look of a project beyond its limitations, and sometimes you have the time and resources to use 26 lighting fixtures — this was one of those projects. So grab your Stanley mug of cold brew, pull up an apple box, and take a seat.
At the beginning of 2023, A/C Pro tasked Lure with producing a series of training videos to roll out to their retail partners. Having worked with A/C Pro on similar projects in the past, we knew what we had to accomplish. However, this time Lure was asked to shake it up in making these videos stand out. We began tossing words around like “cool” “contrasty” and “moody.” Not to say that our previous work with A/C Pro wasn’t cool, but those projects had a more high-key approach to the lighting and an
emphasis on technical information. This new round of training videos would still focus on the technical information, but the parameters of the project (empower sales reps with the knowledge and enthusiasm needed to confidently recommend the A/C Pro product line) allowed Lure to take a more creative approach in choosing the location, designing the set, and then lighting it. And the lighting is what I’m here to geek out about!
We had one key piece of inspiration for this project and it was a commercial created for Valvoline. I first saw the piece in my Instagram feed posted by colorist Rob Bessette. I sent it to Bria Little, our
creative director, as a conversation starter (as we often do when we find cool stuff in our feeds) way before we even knew A/C Pro wanted to shake it up for their upcoming project. A few key inspirations that we took from the Valvoline piece were the lighting ratios; though we wanted to push ours further, color contrast, and that super cool neon sign of the brand logo in the background.
On our pre-light day we started with lighting our talent with x2 Aputure Nova 600C @3200k pushed through 1/4 Grid. We then filled (not much) with an Aputure 600D with a spotlight attachment @5600k pushed through full silk, and then hung a Jo-Leko 800 @3200k from the rafter as a hair light.
For the environment, we kept the lighting individualized rather than using something like a space light. We placed Astera Titan tubes under most of the work benches, these bounced off of the concrete and added separation and contrast. There were Aputure B7C bulbs in every practical lamp in the frame and a smattering of Aputure MC Pros and MT Pros stuck behind toolboxes. On either side of the frame were 600Ds adding a bit of shape on the brick walls. Hung above the truck were a pair of Titan tubes creating a slight glow and light reflection on the truck. Lastly, we slid a Titan tube underneath the truck for a bit more separation.
Having so many practicals in the frame lead to the conversation of filtration. How do we want those lights to look on camera? We ultimately chose a combination of Glimmerglass and Black Pro-Mist Filter to give the light a bit of character and halation, but we had to be careful not to overdo the filtration as we were using a neon sign and didn’t want it to become too distracting. All said and done we had 26 lighting fixtures lighting our set. Pretty rad!
Selling the final vision to the client is ultimately our goal, and the way we were able to do that was by shooting a test clip at the end of our pre-light day. Having that test clip beforehand achieved a few very
important goals. I was able to bring that test clip into my coloring software that night and create a LUT
(think advanced, highly customized Instagram filter) to use in camera on the day, so that the client (who would be on set) could see a final looking image as we were filming. Creating this LUT also meant that there was minimal time and budget spent on coloring in post-production. The test clip also helped with choosing the correct wardrobe that our talent would wear on set. It was also nice for Bria and I to just sit with the image for 12 hours before we had to actually start rolling. We were able to come to set with complete confidence that we achieved what was pitched to the client.
The Day Of
The day(s) of the shoot went very smoothly and was a fun set to be on, frankly. Having the set completely lit allowed us to move very quickly between setups. We had a pair of LiteMat 4 lights built and powered that we could quickly fly in for tighter shots under the hood, inside the truck, or working at the bench. We were also able to control all of the Aputure lights using the Sidus Link app, which made for quick adjustments on the fly.
The crew size for this project was modest, but you wouldn’t know it. Throughout the 2 days of production, everything went off without a hitch, minus the regular production challenges. Ultimately the effort that our crew put in allowed Bria and I the time and space to orchestrate the vision we had in our heads, allow time with our talent on set, and drive creative collaboration with our client that led to on set approvals.
That’s A Wrap
This project turned out to be one of my favorites of 2023 and I’m incredibly proud of our ability to achieve what we set out to accomplish. This job is inherently stressful and I would argue that we are all “time fighters,” and great compromisers in the name of it. Whether it’s zero lights or 26 lights, the ethos remains the same: what’s the best way to achieve our storytelling goals and make this as visually striking as possible?
Hopefully, my efforts in this blog helped you in some way. It’s been fun revisiting this project through photos and lighting diagrams, if you take away anything let it at least be to document your work and share it. If you’re a brand, hopefully, you’re interested in learning more about Lure Digital and how we creatively connect people to your brand.
Director - Bria Little
Executive Producer - Ky Schultz
Producer - Jamie Connors
Director of Photography - Chris Kas
1st AC / Cam Op - Alex Velasco
2nd AC / B Cam Op - Wiley Schott
Gaffer - Sergio Crego
Key Grip - Tiara Olson
Production Designer - Eve Axness
Art Director - Nick Lugo
Hair & Makeup - Shaina Paulson
Wardrobe Stylist - Trevor Dow
Sound Mixer - Nick Carignan
Photographer / BTS - Karla Espino
Production Assistant / Teleprompter - Nicklaus Myers
Edit - Jonathan Blanton
Energizer Holdings, LLC
Mike Sherman, A/C Pro Brand Manager
Ross Ballot, Assistant Brand Manager
Jake Fahsbender, Director of Marketing
View the final video series here!
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