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Faculty Chairs & Backdrop Extensions

I recently completed a series of six videos for Fordham Law School highlighting their new Faculty Chairholders. These are professors whose positions now incorporate endowed appointments allowing them to pursue their scholarship with a greater degree of intellectual freedom and with increased financial resources.

Here are three of the videos:




These were filmed in with my C300 Mark II in 4K. Shooting this way and editing in a 1080 timeline allowed me to punch-in in post mimicking a second camera and it also provided potential edit points.

One of the trickier aspects of the project was having to film in very tight spaces. This directly affected the backdrop width (it was limited 7′ wide), the lighting, and the subject positioning. Those constraints then determined how best to do the post-production.

Faculty Chair video project setup on Day One – ~9′ wide conference room. Room emptied on the lower right and then equipped for shoot just above it. New York, NY. July, 2017.
Faculty Chair video project setup Day Two – wedged to the side of an immovable conference table. New York, NY. July, 2017.

The setups seen above for Day One and Day Two are essentially the same. A Litepanels Astra pushed through a RoadRags II diffuser is the key, an Astra in a softbox is the fill, two Astras pushed through RoadRags (v. I, the smaller size) light the backdrop, two RoadRags II Black Flags keep the backdrop lights off of the subject, and a Litepanels Sola 4 is a backlight on the non-key side of the subject.

On Day One the white wall on the right side of the conference room provided enough fill that the fill light was not needed. On Day Two, the conference room has a floor-to-ceiling glass wall behind the camera which overlooks an atrium so I blocked that off to mitigate any spill coming in.

The C300 Mark II was set to 4K, CLog3 in the Rec709 color space. I used a Canon CN-E 18-80mm T4.4 Compact-Servo Cinema Zoom lens wide open and at ~38mm for each subject. What this left me with visually was a frame which had beautiful light on the subject but which also contained the backdrop lights’ flags and the areas beyond each edge of the backdrop.

Day One setup; original frame with color grading. Black flags, Sola 4, and frame extends beyond the backdrop. New York, NJ. July, 2017.

Two questions arise – why not shoot tighter to avoid the flags and what to do about the frame? For the former, I couldn’t shoot tighter and still have the option to punch-in in post. Technically, I could but the punch-in would end up being too tight on the subject or if held back too similar to the original view. So, that determined by my focal length. For the latter, I knew I would render the background as pure white so I could reframe the subject as needed and then add white to cover the flags and the room or to simply fill-out a slightly shifted field of view. In FCPX’s Generators palette there is an option for solid colors. Setting that to pure white and masking it did the trick.

Here is a sample of the steps involved:

4K in 1080 Timeline with Backdrop Extension from Jon Roemer.