Shooting Production Stills

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Cinka, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone, looked and found one post about shooting production stills, but was wondering if anyone had experience and could offer some advice?

    I'm up for a job shooting production stills for a pilot and want to know what are some basic rules? I have a 40D, 24-105mm lens, and a 580EXII flash. Can I use flash on set? When are you supposed to shoot? During filming? What I should I be shooting? Is there a better lens I should use?

    I'm pretty useless in this department. Never done this sort of thing and not getting paid - no budget, apparently. Anyway, could be good exposure.

    Thanks!
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I assume this is for a commercial production of some sort, so first and foremost get things down on paper; what they want, what you can provide, and especially usage rights of the images! That said, the rest of your questions are best put to whomever you are dealing with in the production company. Ask them specifically what sort of images they are want, if there are particular scenes, people or acts that they want photographed, if you can use flash, where you can shoot from, if at all possible read the script beforehand so that you hav an idea of what's coming next, and try and walk the set before hand, check lighting and get an idea of where you want to be when. Really, it's not much different than shooting a wedding.
     
  3. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No flash allowed usually, and you need a special box for your camera that stops all the noise from the shutter, i have an article on it somewhere i'll try and find it
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hmm... that's interesting. Never thought of that, makes sense. I'd like to read the article myself, if you can find and post it.
     
  5. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    I just found a thing called "Sound Blimp" - it's expensive and looks cumbersome. In fact, since the 50D came out, the blimp costs more than my camera. Oy vey.

    canon

    There's got to be another way?
     
  6. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    You may not need to reduce the shutter noise. You can still shoot in between takes remember - as for shooting during a take - ask the sound man.
     
  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    For a mere few hundred dollars you can disguise your modern, expensive digital camera as a Box Brownie! :lol:
     
  8. jcolman

    jcolman TPF Noob!

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    One of the jobs of the production still photographer is to shoot during a take so that the director/script supervisor/cameraman/gaffer/set designer, etc can see exactly the placement of the actors, props and lights so that they can recreate the shot at some point in the future if necessary. This is the reason you will need a totally silent camera or blimp for your camera.
     
  9. javig999

    javig999 TPF Noob!

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    Looks like Sound Blimps will refer you to rental affiliates if you call them. It may be worth it to have this available to shoot during takes.

    All the best
     
  10. henkelphoto

    henkelphoto TPF Noob!

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    Okay, I've worked a little with small productions in Los Angeles in my past. First off, if they are not paying you, don't rent or buy a blimp. Have them do it if they want you to use one. On one production, I didn't have a blimp and was able to shoot the rehearsals and usually the cast would hold their positions for a couple of seconds after the director yelled "cut" so I could get a quick shot. Flash generally will not be allowed. You are there to "document" the production, therefore you will need to shoot with the same light the film camera is using.

    As for using your photos to "recreate" the scene, well, it can be done, but that is usually done by the costumer or script girl using a small p&s to document continuity. Since you are not getting paid, I will bet the production you will be working for is doing this on a shoestring and won't worry too much about going back for reshoots anyway.

    One thing to remember when shooting stills on a film set (or commercial, or whatever). You are not doing anything which will help the filming of the production. You work for the producer, not the director. You are not involved in setting up the shots, sound, lighting or anything to do with the actual filming for the production. Therefore, you are low man on the set. You will have to work hard to build a rapport with the camera crew and director. I have seen films go through two, three and even more stills shooters due to friction with the camera crew, sound crew or director.

    Good luck, it's a real kick to be involved with a film!
     

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