A Scene from “The Town” w/ Nicolas Barbeau

Here’s my first full-scale attempt at shooting a true cinematic narrative scene with the new Canon EOS Rebel T3i.

This is a piece from Ben Affleck’s brilliant Boston heist feature The Town (originally delivered by Affleck himself) performed by my dear friend and Encore colleague Nicolas Barbeau. It’s a really sharp turn in front of the camera by Nick.

We shot it in my apartment living room in about three hours using Rokinon Cine lenses on loan from my good friend Mathieu Seguin (director of Revisions). I used the 35mm for most of the coverage as well as the 24mm for the opening shot and the 85mm for close-ups.

I wish I had had a follow focus for this shoot, especially working with these Rokinons that feature a built-in geared focus ring. But man, that T1.5 de-clicked aperture is stunning compared to my 18-55mm IS kit lens (which can only go as fast as f3.5) and the action on both the focus and aperture rings is heavenly. They’re all also impressively sharp. The 85mm especially is ridiculously crisp even wide open.

I shot most of the scene at around T2 (with all lenses) to preserve sharpness and keep the lighting (mostly) uniform.

This scene marks the debut of my new Henry’s brand fluid head video tripod, an economical $129 set of sticks with great pan and tilt action. The only drawbacks are that the head isn’t detachable and it doesn’t return to centre when you let go. The QR plate is also a little big which means I have to remove it to change the battery.

I lit the scene with nothing but a $25 100W CF work light from Canadian Tire (clipped to a $20 tripod from The Source) as the key, a Victorian-style floor lamp used for fill and eye light, and an incandescent 60W desk lamp for the backlight. You’ll notice some gnarly shadows in some shots. Nick and I have decided to form an R&B/hip-hop group called the “Gnarly Shadows” as a result.

I went hand-held towards the end of the shoot and got a bunch of great coverage but couldn’t use most of it because I didn’t relight the rest of the room. Lesson learned.

Audio was recorded on a Rode SmartLav running into my iPhone 5 and synced with PluralEyes. I made the mistake of not cranking up the mic gain before speeding AND not playing back any audio during the shoot AND recording separate clips at different levels for each shot, which made for some pretty nasty room tone I’ve tried (in vain) to remove.

Post editing and colour grading was done in Final Cut Pro X.

This final print is really heavy on the cuts. That’s intentional as I wanted to feature as much of the coverage as I could and the exercise was ultimately all about continuity and angles. If I was cutting this for a longer narrative, I would have used longer takes than what you see here.

YouTube significantly dimmed the final cut in conversion which is a big drag. The original master is much brighter throughout.

More from Nick coming soon.


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