A priceless haul. A crack team of thieves. A plan that can’t fail. A 1×1 LED that can light an entire movie?
In a new promotional video for LitePanels’ Gemini 1×1 soft panel, audiences are transported into the world of heist cinema. A genre littered with cliched camera techniques, but also the infinite pleasures of watching criminals trying to beat the odds and avoid getting caught.
Expect to find contra zooms, bullet-time photography and, finally, a huge twist! The thief’s priceless haul is not your average gem – but the Gemini 1×1 itself, revealed as one of just 20 others used to light the whole movie.
The brains and labour behind the project can be attributed to director and DOP, Joe Ransom, who was tasked with creating the concept for an epic heist film, showcasing the new light.
Ransom explains: “The client, Vitec Group, wanted me to show the light working in different scenes – in exteriors and interiors – before revealing that it was all made possible with the one model of light fixture.”
Using only 1×1 fixtures to light a scene – let alone several of them – certainly isn’t traditional. Unsurprisingly, Ransom had a couple of initial concerns.
He says: “I called the client a week before the shoot and asked: ‘Is this definitely the only light we’re going to be using?’ I wondered whether or not it would be possible to have other lights as a backup. But I actually remember lying in my hotel room the night before and thinking: ‘There’s no way I’m going to use any other light – because I want the challenge.’ I just needed to think how I could use them differently.”
Ransom got to work, doing just that. “Even though there were a couple of backup lights loaded up on the lighting truck, I genuinely didn’t use any other lighting. I wanted to be able to talk honestly about this project afterwards.”
When you see the film, you wouldn’t know that it was lit without additional lighting support. “The most amazing thing about the Gemini 1×1 is that it’s versatile,” comments Ransom.
“I was able to use it to create hard shafts of light on a background; put a 5ft octo dome on; get a soft top-light. I also found that I could put a snap bag on it with an egg crate, giving myself a nice key light – and so, I quite quickly discovered that I was able to do everything I wanted with just those 20 1x1s.”
The project was produced in collaboration with G6 MoCo’s Ramy Anwar, who enhanced the film’s heist narrative using motion control robots and tracking vehicles.
“Our brief to each other involved utilising this gear to shoot something cool. Immediately, we brought a motorbike into the fold to get tracking shots with a stunt bike rider,” he laughs. “It’s all quite tongue-in-cheek, especially with the contra zoom and flashback sequence at the end of the film.”
Ransom was supplied with a RED Gemini, which proved to be the perfect tool for the project – its colour space paired well with the Phantom, a camera the crew used to capture super slow-motion shots.
He adds: “The Gemini also has dual native ISO. That got us out of jail shooting the night-time exterior scenes because we could base the camera at ISO 3200 and get a better-exposed image.”
A RED Komodo was also brought to the set, with the intention of using it as a B camera alongside the Gemini. “Actually, I was so impressed with its performance, I swapped the two cameras around in some scenes. For example, each scene captured from the motion control rig was done using the Komodo.”
Ransom purchased the camera from CVP last year. He was one of the first in the UK to receive the compact, yet groundbreaking new camera – although extremely fortunate, it was a great reward to cap plenty of previous investment.
“I’ve spent a lot of money on equipment from CVP. They definitely put me on a bit of a VIP list to get the Komodo, and I was very grateful for that,” he beams. “I’m a cinematographer that owns a lot equipment – I buy something new on an almost daily basis.”
As such, he’s built a great working relationship with CVP, especially praising sales representative, Lucy.
“If I was shooting tomorrow and suddenly realised that I was short of an ND filter or needed a different battery, I would be able to give them a call and get the equipment delivered on the same day.”
He adds: “They’ve got me out of trouble a few times!”
Filming the heist, Ransom also brought film camera accessories he’d amassed from CVP over many years, including SmallHD monitors and an LMB-5 matte box. “I kept my Alexa Mini LF at home, though!”
“Even though there were a couple of backup lights loaded up on the truck, I genuinely didn’t use any other lighting”
“The Gemini’s dual native ISO got us out of jail shooting the night-time exterior scenes”
If capturing an epic heist wasn’t tricky enough, Ransom performed the task using just Gemini 1×1 light fixtures
On set, Ransom teamed up with G6 MoCo’s Ramy Anwar, supplementing great lighting with all manner of film gear