Fog & Water

Lighting a waterworks set-piece for The Watchman's Canoe

RE: Indie Tricks-of-the-Trade, or how to get good production values on a modest budget

If I may, I would like to contribute a set up I did for a $500k feature I did last year.

The Scene

In the film, two characters must use a canoe to return from an island to their coastal home. However, their return home becomes dangerous when a thick fog rolls in. Inevitably, they become lost.

Behind the Scenes

I only had a 3 ton grip truck for this feature, supplied by my gaffer Jarrod Wilson of Pirate Grip/Electric. Joe Paulet was my key grip for this project.

My plan was to find an inclosed pool, block out all sun light, black out the pool, and then fog the crap out of the room. We found a pool that was 20'x40' long. We were scheduled to have one whole day to shoot this sequence. I split my G/E team of 4 up the day prior to send 2 of them for pre-rigging. Most of the pre-rigging was spent on blacking out the pool.

On the day, we continued to black out the pool and then blacked out all the windows. Once we got our "base" made, we began to light. I used a 1.2 PAR HMI shooting through a 20'x20' half grid (folded up to 20'x10') as our sun. Our key light was a 1k Baby with FCTB bouncing off a 4x4 beadboard.

We used an industry standard fog machine, the name of which is escaping me. I think it was a 12AMP fogger; Jarrod would know.

To make moving the camera easy, I used a Matthews Intel-A-Jib hard mounted to a doorway dolly on track. This allowed me to float the camera over the water instead of going handheld, preventing any risk of me slipping with the camera. Plus, it smoothed out all of my camera movement! :) Joe would operate the dolly while I operated the head/jib in the water. This set up proved to be super helpful with getting the various angles we needed.

The fog was so thick that the color temperature of the 1.2 HMI went closer to 4300K, so we regelled the 1K Baby accordingly.

We were able to set up, shoot, and tear down in a 12 hour day with 4 hours of pre-rigging the day before. I'm beyond proud to have had Jarrod and Joe work with me to attain some marvelous results. I'm doing a similar set up like this again on a feature in three weeks; I'll share photos from that too!

I hope this is helpful! Let me know if I need to elaborate on anything.