Shooting A Music Video. On A Roof. Downtown Los Angeles
By: Jared Abrams
I got a call to shoot a music video from Director Darcy Fray. It was for a song called “Goodbye L.A.” by Reagan Browne. There was not a ton of money, but enough to get a proper crew and cool location. I am always game for that kind of shoot. The only hitch was that the band was only available to shoot from 9am till 3pm, very harsh lighting conditions. There was no way I was going to bring a twenty by twenty silk to the roof. No man power, too much risk. We met for the first time at the location. It was a great roof top in downtown Los Angeles. I brought some sunset grads to show Darcy how we could fake it in camera. Give it that magic hour look. On the day of shooting, it was cloudy, with a chance of rain. The sunset grads would not look very good. I went with ND 9’s and a Polarizer to darken the buildings in the background. I decided on a neutral picture style with the contrast and saturation both turned down one click. (See Photo)
The hardest part was shooting the band dressed in all black against the white ominous sky. I was trying to keep it at a T4.5 for the Canon 5D Mark II and around a T4 for the 7D. We were both shooting at native 160 ISO. I ended up exposing for the sky and adding a 575W HMI on Reagan Browne’s face for a little eye light. I had a doorway dolly. Two pieces of track and track wheels. I ended up not using the dolly but shot the last scene handheld with a Red Rock Micro Eyespy Rig. We had a few cameras, four in total, I think. Only the “A” camera was wearing a 7″ Marshall HDMI with a 2-port splitter to another 7″ Marshall HDMI for the Director. We also brought a full set of Zeiss Ze primes. Jason brought a set of Nikon primes. Nancy brought a set of Canon primes and a few zooms. I think she was using a Canon 70-200mm T2.8 IS. I am not sure if it was the new one. We ended up using the Zeiss ZE lenses for most of the shots. We also used a broken Canon Ef 50mm f1.8 for some lens baby type stuff. Nancy Schreiber, ASC came out and shot second unit for us. Nancy is awesome. She has embraced the DSLR’s and lent us her expertise for the day. We were so lucky to have her eye for Downtown street scenes of Los Angeles. The Bui Brothers Vu and Lan came over and helped us shoot our now famous “Drop Test“. We shot some really gorgeous footage on that rooftop. The clouds that seem to never grace the sky gave us a dark and dreary scene that played well with the song “Goodbye L.A. ” I really had a fantastic time working with everyone. Thank you so very much Darcy Fray for making that call! Here are some shots taken by Hunter Kerhart. It was such a fun shoot. Thank you all.