Produced: November 2006
Executive Producers: Castle Green, LA-18
Script, Cinematography, Editing and Graphics: Ming Lo
The Project. I’ve been through Pasadena many times and never even knew Castle Green existed. As you can tell, it’s a beautiful hidden gem. It’s a historical landmark, and a private residence for many. A couple times a year, they open their doors and give tours in order to raise funds for its restoration projects. LA-18’s Director of Community Development, Joyce Shimazu, was familiar with Castle Green and wanted to do a PSA for them as part of LA-18’s work with the community.
The Creative Challenge. This project was mostly about shooting and capturing the sense of the location. A lot of credit goes to the camera, the Panasonic HVX-200, for it’s ability to deliver saturated, captivating colors. There’s a few shots that took a bit of work, like the opening, which is basically a manual rack focus. Not difficult, just took a few takes to land on the right focus point. The camera also gets a lot of credit for handling low-light and high contrast situations.
Behind the Scenes . The key to this shoot was really camera settings, knowing the lighting, and color correction.
– Camera Settings. I like to crush the blacks when I shoot, so I took down master pedestal on the camera to about -10 out of a possible -12. For those of you that aren’t familiar with that, it basically makes the blacks really black. When you look at a digital interpretation of the video information, you would see that the blacks are compressed, or basically “crushed”. The rest was shooting at 24p using the cine-like setting.
– Lighting. If you play around with a camera enough (and that’s a video or a still camera), you’ll find that color becomes more saturated at lower light settings. For example, hazy gray days actually give you great colors. So for example, when it’s cloudy, the colors can be richer. When shooting Castle Green, I like to open up the aperture and allow the windows in the scene to blow out to white. It gives great colors and interesting contrast in the shot.
– Color Correction. The rest was color correction, which took me a bit to learn in final cut pro. It’s actually not very hard, it just took some hunting to find a tutorial on it. And this is where the photography came in handy, because I learned color correction for still photos first, and the concept transfers to video – basically pull in the whites and the blacks, and then tinker with the mid-range by eye. Gotta love modern technology.
– After Effects. The graphics were done in After Effects, which I have a major love-hate relationship with. It can do lots of great things, but it’s unwieldy, it crashes, and it’s a major pain in the butt to learn. Can you tell I’ve spent many hours staring at the computer screen, stumped by some arcane, unexplained setting in the program. The graphics for this piece weren’t difficult, but learning it was. I’ll just throw a thank you and refer you to some great sites for learning: Creative Cow, Digital Media Net, Stephen Schleicher, and AE Freemart. I’d be lost without all the free tutorials they’ve written. Gracias, gracias.