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Breakdown of the cinematography of the film 'Blanc sur la comète.'

DoP Deyan Parouchev explains how to setup some beautiful looking shots

We caught up with Deyan Parouchev who was the DoP on the short film Blanc sur la comète.

Tell us a little bit about 'Blanc sur la comète'.

The film is an original screenplay by Christophe Sailly. It was written a few years ago and he has finally produced and directed the project. This short film is a genesis for a full-length project that Christophe is preparing also. When I received the script it didn't take long for me to be convinced. The story is just so poetic and touching, with a fantastic young girl playing the leading role. When Lionel Abelanski accepted to be part of the project, I KNEW that we would get a really good movie!

The premise of the film is; Alice, a 9-year-old girl has a dream that she will one day be an astronaut. Unfortunately, a serious eye disease makes it impossible, until a surgeon and a strange hospital roommate help her see that dream differently. 

Imdb link : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt60...  

How did you get to work on this project? 

I was the D.O.P. on Christophe Sailly's previous project. Having had the experience of working with Christophe on his 1st film we got to know each other very well and that really instilled confidence in both of us to want to work on this film together. In general, I align my creativity to the vision of the director to tell a story from his point of view but quite often Christophe gave me the freedom to propose the visual solution to a problem with my team. 

 

What equipment was used to shoot the film? (camera, lenses etc). 

As this was a self-funded project we used our own camera and lenses, and some light set up. We rented a few car rig solutions and some HMIs for certain shots but the objective was to keep the cost down as much as possible.

We decided to try and get the best of the Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4,6K, opting for 4DCI (4096x2160) resolution and 4444 12 bits ProRes codec. These settings are very storage hungry but a very flexible format for color grading and real time editing without proxies. 

The main Lenses we used were the 35 and 50mm T1.5 Xeen lenses. I loved the combination of these lenses with the Ursa mini 4,6K, they give a gorgeous image. We also used some Canon Glass (24-70mm f2.8 and the 70-200mm f2.8) for certain shots as well as the popular Sigma 18-35 f1.8, which is very versatile and makes a great run and gun lens.    

For the exteriors, I used a Format Firecrest IRND filter 4x5.65 in a Tilta Matte box to fight the IR pollution that the URSA suffers from and to reduce the quantity of light to use the best dynamic range of the camera staying at the native ISO of 800. These filters are just perfectly neutral, the best for this camera, by far! 

The light was mainly LED projectors used with big soft boxes, octodomes, snoots. Also, my favorite fresnel light: the Lupolux. For the eye shots, I used a big ring LED light for this special effect style and for the school sequences the lovelly ArriSun 2,5K HMI light which was more than sufficient for this situation (15 kids in a 50m2 room). 

 

Could you explain the scene below and talk about how the lighting was done? The colour scheme and why it was chosen? The camera movement? And any other motives to help tell the story. 

In low budget, independent movies, you need to be creative. Sometimes this means that you need to be a little inventive and use some practical lights or adapt systems to have the result that you expect without renting a big light set up. 

These 3 examples show what I mean: 

 

In the little girl astronaut shot, we filmed it on a black carpet on the floor, we put a half plexiglass sphere and the lightening is a Christmas garland tree light to get these tiny light spots, very easy to put on different part of the face of our talent. The rest is the magic of VFX. In fact, if the final light and effect in general is not so realistic doesn't matter because it's a dream sequence.  

 

In this particular sequence, I thought that the light would be a nightmare. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, without any power. My initial thoughts here was to use some battery LED solutions but when I saw the beautiful tungsten balanced interior lights of the Jaguar car I just decided to use that existing light as the key light and bring some fill with a Led panel balanced to 3000K from the exterior. I also added a back light with dark blue filtration, which is almost not visible in the shot. 

The biggest challenge was the top shot crane movement. To suggest a sort of escape from reality, Earth, gravity and transforming this moment into a beautiful poetic and suggestive sequence, we needed this type of travelling movement. The crane movement perfectly suggests this feeling, especially because the next shot is just full of a starry sky.   

 

Here is another sequence lit using only practical lights. When I looked at this room with the garland and the little lamp near the bed, I knew that we didn't need anything else to get realistic and effective lighting. We implemented the camera push in movement which suggested the entering of the mother in this late hour to go to hug her daughter. This travelling shot helps the audience to focus on the little girl sleeping and prepare for the next shot which is a close up of the mother kissing her daughter. 

Typically, what other kinds of scenes would be setup like this in terms of lighting? 

Here are some more examples with more artificial light set ups: 

As a special effect and to help create a strange look of the reflections in the eyes, we used the Ring LED light.

 

To reach the natural day light, here I use a 1K LED projector with a big octodome softbox with  double layer of diffusion and a grid over the shoulder of the actor.

 

On the other hand, we used a low-key version of the same lighting for a night time scene. The LED projectors need to be tungsten balanced to have the same temperature as the practicals:  

 

Here is another example of an extreme low key configuration.

 

For larger rooms with a lot of kids, I chose to use a HMI. The ArriSun provides a powerful and beautiful light all day long. We put it outside behind the windows with a ¼ diffusion layer.

 

You can find out more about Deyan here. http://deyan-parouchev.com