Karn’s house is an awesome set which I had been walking past at Ren Studios for six weeks before I finally got to light it. It didn’t disappoint.
In the words of my camera assistant Andy Roughan, I had to John McClane it to get the HMI up on the metal tank behind the set. After climbing onto the tank via a stepladder, I had to shimmy around an incredibly dusty pipe to get to the spot where the lamp needed to be. Getting the lamphead, the low boy stand and sandbags up there was fun. At one point I lost my balance and fell backwards, towards the roof of the set. I shouted a naughty word at the top of my voice, thinking that not only was I going to injure myself quite badly, but I was going to destroy everyone’s favourite set before we’d shot a single thing on it. Fortunately it was so well-built that it took my weight, or at least the part of my weight that I was forced to put on it, and no harm was done. Except that me shouting the naughty word in such a tone of utter panic had given everyone within earshot a minor heart attack.
Why was it so important to get light up behind the set, rather than shining it down through the roof from in front? The answer is smoke. You can’t really see smoke unless it’s backlit, so in order to get those magical shafts of light coming through the set, the HMI had to be at the back.
After shooting the video blog, Andy and gaffer Richard “Squish” Roberts finished building the cyclotron for the firelight effect. This consisted of three 100W bulbs behind a red gel, and two behind an orange gel. I don’t want to give away screengrabs yet, but you can see the fire effect at work on set dresser Amanda Stekly in this ropey iPad photo:
This fire effect served to light Ren (Sophie Skelton) in the foreground of the master shot very nicely, and separate her from the background through colour contrast. It rendered the 2ft kinoflo shown in the video blog unnecessary.
When we came in for the close-ups I continued to differentiate the characters of Ren and Karn (Christopher Dane) through light quality, as I had in Wales. I brought in an LED fresnel for Karn’s close-up, to get a hard sidelight, then for Ren’s close-up I used the 2ft kino to get a much softer look and from a less severe angle.
It’s a shame there was only one scene to film in this set; it would have been great to use it more. But it will certainly add a lot of production value to the opening episode of the series.
Ren is copyright 2014 Mythica Entertainment. Visit www.rentheseries.com to find out more.