First Assistant Makes Short Work of Twin Shoots.

Ben, on location at Zach Theatre.
Lighting: Elinchrom Monolights.
Camera: Panasonic GH4
Lens: 35-100mm X f2.8
©2014 Kirk Tuck 

Ben was between projects today and agreed to come along and assist me on the back to back, still photo/video project I had on the books for this afternoon. We hit the ground running at Zach Theatre and set up our background for the stills. This is a shot of Ben standing in for the actor who will be starring in Tommy in July. At this point we were still doing some fine tuning and I needed to bring up the levels of the background lights. But I liked the image of Ben so I kept it. 

Ben has done probably  a dozen or so serious video projects and maybe 100+ fun, goofing around video projects with friends and at school so he's very conversant with the role of director and producer. He also knows his way around lights and grip equipment. 

Once the stills were done we moved on to lighting for the green screen video. Again, he moved smoothly and quickly through the process all the while keeping his ears open for changes in the agenda. He likes to think a couple steps ahead...

The director on the set was happy with the lighting and got the shots he needed. The Theatre now has good building blocks for print, web and TV to use in promoting the upcoming show. As soon as the actor left the set Ben was wrapping cables, pulling down lights and packing up stands. 

After we dropped off our intern at his college dorm Ben and I headed home. He's not a cellphone addict so he left his phone at home during the shoot. He checked his messages when we got in, critiqued (at my request) my current edit on the restaurant video I've been editing and then headed out the door for a dinner party. 

I was able to teach him something new today. Not sure when he'll ever use it again. But when you light for green screen your biggest fear is that the green reflectance will "wrap around" your actor or talent and give you green edges on the main subject. Then it becomes a nightmare to composite. I learned a long time ago to put a high backlight at the back of the set, aimed at the subject's back. The light should be gelled with a magenta gel (opposite of green) which will help cancel out the color of the reflectance. You don't need a heavy magenta. A 1/4 to 1/2 minus-green works great. We looked long and hard at the video footage in an onstage monitor and couldn't find a trace of the dreaded green wrap. 

It's fun to work with the kid. He's been booked up with projects and social functions since the end of school and I feel like I barely get to see him. Nice to work with someone really good.


  1. "He's not a cellphone addict so he left his phone at home during the shoot."

    Wow! He sounds like an unusual kid, in a positive way. I'd accept him as an intern any day. ;-)

    Based on that little tidbit alone, and unless college life manages ruin that later on, you can except great things and some actual accomplishments from the kid. That is, something real and useful, not just an overpriced college graduation paper. :-)

  2. What a great thing to have this time with your son, as an assistant and someone who can give you legitimate feedback on the projects.
    Not to mention that you're instilling in him a great work ethic that will last a lifetime. As you are already discovering, these moments are so fleeting and are the ones we remember for many years to come.
    You get kudos from your blog readers and clients, but your roll as a father is also up there on my list of your accomplishments.

  3. What a great father you are Kirk, right up there with all of your other accomplishments.


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