New Lighting Workshop July 27th & 28th, 2012!

•June 24, 2013 • 1 Comment

Whether you’re working in fine art painting, still photography or cinematography there is one discipline that unites all of the great art throughout history: Lighting. You can’t create an image without it. This two day workshop is for filmmakers, cinematographers, still photographers, VFX artists, gaffers, grips, electricians and anyone involved in moving images who wishes to understand the fundamentals of lighting.

This class will give you the confidence to work on real world sets by covering all of the most widely used grip and lighting equipment as well as delving into the philosophy and psychology of the art and craft of lighting.

Friday July 26th we will start by having a 2 hour orientation from 7pm to 9pm. After class introductions we will discuss our goals for the weekend.

On Saturday morning at 9am we will start by covering the names of all of the most widely used grip and lighting gear.Then we will cover safety procedures when working with electricity and grip equipment. After that the class will go hands-on and allow you to learn the finer points of setting stands, shaping light and working with HMI, tungsten, fluorescent and LED lighting instruments.

Day 1 will also include a camera demo with an HDDSLR. Topics discussed will include t-stops, exposure, footcandles, color and lenses. We will also talk about getting the most out of your images in post-production. Time and availability permitting the class may include a demo with the RED Epic.

Day 2 will be almost entirely devoted to lighting exercises. We will be both in and out of the studio, lighting car interiors, interviews, a beauty light, day exteriors and dramatic interiors.

Plan on spending (2) 8 hour days receiving intensive lighting instruction.

Tuition for the workshop is just $40.00. Due to the generosity of our sponsor, the “Nebraska Independent Film Projects” we are able to offer a $400 class at a huge discount.  The price of tuition gets you a catered lunch on Saturday and Sunday, drinks and snacks throughout the workshop, a free Death Grip t-shirt and 50% off your next Death Grip equipment rental.

To save yourself a spot for the workshop you must fill out a registration form and pay for the class in advance. Checks can be made out to “Death Grip Electric, Inc.” Contact michael@deathgripelectric.com to register or call his cell (818) 536 – 9728

Michael Lang of Death Grip Electric will be the lead instructor. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

DG GripLightingPoster-Web

Intermediate Location Lighting Workshop Nov 30 – Dec 2!

•October 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Based on the success of our first lighting workshop in March 2012 Death Grip Electric is proud to announce the next chapter in its educational lighting workshops: INTERMEDIATE LOCATION LIGHTING

This is for the person who has a basic understanding of G&E equipment and is looking to begin focusing on lighting as an art form. It is highly recommended that you already take Basic Grip and Lighting or have similar experience prior to taking this workshop.

By traveling to different locations students will learn how to overcome the challenges of location lighting. Working with a script, actors, a director and cinematographer, students will face the responsibility of working as a crew and successfully setting the tone of the scene and executing the vision of the director. Students will learn how to use and shape existing light to their advantage, deal with the power requirements of location lighting as well as making creative choices with their lighting based on the story and production design.

Friday November 30th the class will have an orientation from 7pm to 9pm. After introductions we will discuss our goals for the weekend.

On Saturday Morning at 9am we will work in the Studio spending the morning working with bigger lighting instruments. First we will use a 5k Tungsten Fresnel to create soft beautiful light. Then we will move outside and use a 12k HMI. Discussion will include using the light in full sun as a fill light or using it as a key light on an overcast day. After Lunch we will travel to our first location and begin lighting a scene.

The rest of the weekend will be spent lighting on location.

Plan on spending (2) 10+ hour days receiving intensive lighting instruction.

Tuition for the workshop is $225+ tax. However if you have already completed my previous workshop you will be given a discounted rate of $199 + tax. This includes a catered lunch on Saturday and Sunday, drinks and snacks throughout the workshop and 25% off your next Death Grip equipment rental.

To save yourself a spot for the workshop you must fill out a registration form and give a $35 non-refundable deposit. The remaining balance is due by orientation. Contact michael@deathgripelectric.com to register or call his cell (818) 536 – 9728

Michael Lang of Death Grip Electric will be the lead instructor. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

Basic Grip & Lighting Workshop Nov. 23rd – 25th

•October 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Whether you’re working in fine art painting, still photography or cinematography there is one discipline that unites all of the great art throughout history: Lighting. You can’t create an image without it. This two day workshop is for filmmakers, cinematographers, still photographers, VFX artists, gaffers, grips, electricians and anyone involved in moving images who wishes to understand the fundamentals of lighting.

This class will give you the confidence to work on real world sets by covering all of the most widely used grip and lighting equipment as well as delving into the philosophy and psychology of the art and craft of lighting.

Friday November 23rd we will start by having a 2 hour orientation from 7pm to 9pm. After class introductions we will discuss our goals for the weekend.

On Saturday morning at 9am we will start by covering the names of all of the most widely used grip and lighting gear.Then we will cover safety procedures when working with electricity and grip equipment. After that the class will go hands-on and allow you to learn the finer points of setting stands, shaping light and working with HMI, tungsten, fluorescent and LED lighting instruments.

Day 1 will also include a camera demo with an HDDSLR. Topics discussed will include t-stops, exposure, footcandles, color and lenses. We will also talk about getting the most out of your images in post-production. Time and availability permitting the class may include a demo with the RED Epic.

Day 2 will be almost entirely devoted to lighting exercises. We will be both in and out of the studio, lighting car interiors, interviews, a beauty light, day exteriors and dramatic interiors.

Plan on spending (2) 10+ hour days receiving intensive lighting instruction.

Tuition for the workshop is $199 + tax. This includes a catered lunch on Saturday and Sunday, drinks and snacks throughout the workshop, a free Death Grip t-shirt and 25% off your next Death Grip equipment rental.

To save yourself a spot for the workshop you must fill out a registration form and give a $35 non-refundable deposit. The remaining balance is due by orientation. Contact michael@deathgripelectric.com to register or call his cell (818) 536 – 9728

Michael Lang of Death Grip Electric will be the lead instructor. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

Stacking Kino’s

•June 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As we all know Kino Flo’s are great when you need beautiful soft light in close quarters. From car and house interiors to everything in between. Another great advantage to Kino’s is the fact that they operate so much cooler and draw much less amperage than tungsten and HMI units. They are simply perfect for conducting interviews on location. How many times do you find yourself in an office the size of a sardine can where all the plugs in the room are on the same circuit? Using bigger tungsten units will most likely monopolize the 20 amp circuits and would raise the temperature into the 90’s. Not to mention the fact that you would crowd the room further by having to use more grip to try and soften up the light. This is where Kino’s really shine!

I recently gaffed some healthcare tv commercials and as usual we needed to conduct both patient and doctor interviews. I decided to stack (2) 4×4 Kino’s and then put them through a 4×4 frame of 250 diffusion. This gave me a bigger, softer source in a relatively small space. Matthews sells whats called a K-stacker for stacking Kino’s but I came up with a way to do it on the cheap by using a c-stand and an extra grip head. This allowed me to forgo using several stands and keep things compact in the small shooting environment.

By stacking (2) 4×4’s I’m able to have essentially a 2K softlight which gives me an extra stop or two depending on what ISO we’re shooting at. In this particular case we were shooting with the EPIC at ISO 800.

2 Kino’s on a c-stand. The bottom kino has a 1/2 grid flozier or what some refer to as a “bra”.

By putting an extra grip head on the arm you can fully adjust where you want your bottom kino to be…

Grip head used to secure the bottom kino.

Here is an example of one of our interviews using the stacked kino’s as a key light:

(2) 4×4 Kino’s stacked and put through 250 diffusion from camera left.

As with any situation in lighting there are infinite ways to create different looks and configure your lights. The next time you need soft light try thinking of different ways you could configure kino’s to achieve your desired effect. The sky’s the limit!

Michael Lang

 

Scrim Teacher

•May 30, 2012 • Leave a Comment

On April 27, 28, 29th DGE held it’s first Grip & Lighting workshop for eleven students. It was a fantastic weekend that started with a solid foundation of craft and then moved on to the art and philosophy of lighting.

Students learn how to put a silk on a 6×6 frame.

Guest Instructor Ben Drickey was a welcome addition to the class. Ben brought with him a wealth of experience and even loaned his RED EPIC as a teaching tool. The students received a primer on the camera and also were able to shoot 2 scenes to get a sense of what the camera is capable of.

Ben Drickey’s enthusiasm was palpable as he discussed using the EPIC while lighting a daytime car interior.

I learned a great deal from the students and was excited at their enthusiasm and curiosity. Tons of great questions were asked and everyone was fully engaged. One of the most exciting moments for me was when we broke the class into 2 teams and they went off and lit their own interviews. Both teams delivered excellent results and I could see that they were taking what they were learning in the class and applying it immediately to what they were doing. Not only that but they had reasons for the choices they were making and that’s such a crucial part of what we do as gaffers and cinematographers.

Student Mike Machian contemplates the effect of bouncing a 1K fresnel off bead board to introduce a little fill light.

One of the more advanced setups the class did was a beauty light with a model. As a class we wrote up a quick diagram and then students got to work acting as the crew. Everything was meant to be as hands on as possible and this particular exercise was great because we used several lights and lots of grip equipment. Thank you to our model Liz Hunt for her patience and great attitude. It’s not an easy thing to sit for 2 hours while a bunch of crew people are constantly staring at your face to see what the lighting is doing!

The class studies the subject in our beauty lighting exercise.

The results of a beauty setup with Liz Hunt.

The final exercise of the weekend was a class favorite. We called in director Jonathan Tvrdik to come up with a quick scene for the class to shoot. He took things a step further by producing storyboards on the spot to further communicate his vision. Then we assigned crew positions to all of the students. The scene was a night car interior/exterior. Jon worked with the student cinematographer who in turn worked with the crew to create a mood for the piece. The team used the EPIC to shoot the scene and myself and Ben Drickey guided the students with their choices so they could get the most out of the exercise. It was a great way to end the weekend. There was a ton of excitement and it felt just like being on a real set because we had time constraints and weather to deal with!

Director Jonathan Tvrdik and student Dave Weiss discuss the details of the final class exercise.

From running distro to setting stands to skinning frames and creating soft, beautiful light the Death Grip Electric Basic Grip & Lighting Workshop was an informative and fun way to spend the weekend. If you are interested in learning how to light please email me: michael@deathgripelectric.com. Death Grip is already planning it’s next workshop.

Thanks to the students and everyone who participated!

Michael Lang

PS – All photo’s courtesy of Marc Longbrake Photography.

 

 

2012 Cinematography Demo Reel

•May 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Click on the link at the bottom to view my 2012 Cinematography Demo Reel.

It’s that time again. Time for a new demo reel.

Creating a new reel for yourself is something I’ve always found a little daunting. First there is the task of just tracking down all of your projects that you’ve shot over the last year. That can be difficult in itself. Sometimes the projects you’ve worked on aren’t finished or maybe it’s simply hard to get in touch with people.

Once you get the footage then you have to sift through it and actually decide what will make it into your demo reel. Some of the shots are a no-brainer. Those aren’t the ones I’m concerned with. It’s the ones that you watch over and over and start to wonder if they are any good at all or have any business being in your reel in the first place. It’s very easy to become “too close” to the material and stop seeing the forrest for the trees as they say.

When I finally get a cut of my reel done I like to show it to a few people to get some feedback. This part of the process is where things really get a little tricky… because EVERYONE tends to have a different opinion. So which one is right? Well, that’s where you really have to rely on your instincts. If you show it to enough people and enough people comment on something then I usually start to listen.

The most terrifying part of he process however, which conversely is the most beneficial… is simply confronting the reality of your own work. There it is. That’s your work. There is no way around it. The quality of your own work is there for the entire world to see and you can’t talk your way out of it. It is what it is.

The important thing is to learn from it. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You’ve accomplished something. Then start to ask yourself “What can I improve upon and how can I improve upon it?” What’s missing? What are more experienced colleagues in my field doing that I’m not?

The whole process is a great leveler and can be a great teacher if you let it be. Hopefully, the process of creating a new reel can actually be the catalyst to growing as an artist and doing what it’s actually for in the first place… getting more work.

Here is my 2012 Cinematography Demo Reel.

Thanks!

Shooting The 2nd Season of “THE DEAD HOUR”

•May 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Melissa Holder as DJ Raven in a screen grab from the 2nd season of “The Dead Hour”

Recently I was looking at some of the work I’ve shot over the last year and I realized that I had never written a blog post about a show that took up almost six months of my life. That show was “THE DEAD HOUR”. Here is my story:

The first time I heard of “THE DEAD HOUR” my response was “Why would anyone want to do that???”

A friend had told me that Nebraska native Dan Iske was in the process of shooting season 1 of his horror based web series. My thought was that nobody would really care or take it seriously. The world wide web is still trying to find its footing as far as content delivery is concerned so I dismissed the entire thing as being misguided. “Why not shoot a pilot and shop it around to networks like Cinemax or Syfy?” I thought. Little did I know that a year later I would be shooting the entire second season of the series.

I had heard of Dan Iske because of his horror feature “THE WRETCHED”. It played the Omaha Film festival several years ago and took everyone by surprise. I think everyone had low expectations at the time simply because so few features are shot here, especially by locals. The film ended up playing to large audiences and winning an award and made several fans out of people including me. It was a true no-budget, DIY effort that showed a lot of promise and I was interested to meet Dan.

In late 2010 Dan and I met at a Nebraska Filmmaker gathering. We chatted over a beer and it didn’t take long before we decided that it might make sense for us to work together. By this point Dan had shot the first season of his series and it was getting quite a bit of buzz especially around town. This caught my eye because so many filmmakers end up with a product but have no idea how to market it and find an audience. “THE DEAD HOUR” was different. Series creators Dan Iske, Wendy Iske and Scott Coleman were effectively using the web to find an audience and it was making all the difference.

After a series of emails between Dan and I we finally decided to meet and discuss the possibility of me coming to the series as a cinematographer. At our first meeting I told Dan that I wanted to be as involved as I could but based on my schedule I didn’t know if it would be possible for me to shoot more than a couple episodes. Most of my time is spent shooting television commercials and corporate pieces as well as the music videos and shorts. I didn’t think I’d be able to do more than a few episodes so I told Dan to send me some scripts and we’d go from there. A week later “Fright Fest”, “Fame” and “Gross Anatomy” were in my inbox.

“Fame” was my immediate favorite. It’s the story of a struggling actress in LA who answers an audition notice only to find out it’s for a SNUFF film. That alone was interesting to me but the fact that the actress says YES really took it to the next level. I lived in LA for over ten years and was an actor myself, so I knew what it was like for a struggling actor. I’ve seen that town just destroy people from the inside out especially young actresses who are so often judged solely on their looks alone. I felt strongly that my experiences would help lend something unique to the visual language of the episode.

A BTS photo from “Fame”. The Cornerstone Mansion was my favorite location of the entire season.

“Fame” would be purple I decided. Or at least have the color purple in some of the scenes. Every time I read a new script I try to determine an overall look for the piece often deciding on a dominant color. I chose purple for fame because it has a royal and majestic quality associated with it. If you take that a step further it also has an association with Christ. You often see purple at Easter which has to do with The Resurrection. Cara from “Fame” is making the ultimate sacrifice. It was going to be another piece of the visual puzzle that would help drive home the narrative.

As for the other two scripts, while they didn’t hit home quite as strongly as “Fame” they each had unique elements that I thought would be challenging and interesting to film. “Gross Anatomy” was kind of a classic monster piece and “Fright Fest” had a huge scene with zombies so how could I pass that up? At the end of the day I liked the idea of having to create so many different kinds of looks and scenes with different color palettes. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to shoot all three episodes and I’d do what it took to make it work with my busy schedule.

Life imitates art in “Fright Fest” as zombies take over a movie theater during a horror film festival.

When Dan and I met again to hammer out the details he told me that not only was he going to shoot a 9 episode season of “THE DEAD HOUR” but that he was also going to shoot a feature film version of the series. While Dan didn’t have a budget for “THE DEAD HOUR” series he said he was committed to raising funding for the feature film. We decided that I’d donate my time and that my rental company DEATH GRIP ELECTRIC would donate the lighting and grip equipment to the series. Then, when the movie was shot everyone would be paid. A deal was struck and we set out to shoot the first three episodes of the season.

Director and Cinematographer discuss the next setup in the first episode of season 2 of “THE DEAD HOUR”.

The first episode to be shot was “Fright Fest”. As production started on the season a great group of local crew came together to lend their talents to the show. As challenging as no-budget filmmaking is, it can be just as rewarding. It was no different on “THE DEAD HOUR”. As with just about every experience in life it’s the people that make it worthwhile. We were always shooting at night or on the weekends, often times for 12 hours at a time, sometimes until 4am. Keep in mind this wasn’t anybody’s main gig. Everyone was coming from a full time job or school or both. Sacrifices were being made for sure. But the crew got along well and made the tough schedule easier to swallow. There were of course tense moments but they often gave way to laughter as one thing we had in spades was a bunch of big personalities who knew how to have fun. I looked forward to almost every time we shot. This might have been Dan’s show but none of it would have been made possible without all the great people who worked on it for free. I have a bunch of great memories and friends from last year and am very thankful to the entire cast and crew. Two guys in particular really made it happen day in and day out for me and I want to single them out: Ryan Long my Camera Operator and Mason Kenton my Gaffer. They both practically never missed a shoot and helped me so much in creating the look of the show. And both of them are about the nicest guys anyone could ever meet.

Gaffer Mason Kenton and series Executive Producer Wendy Iske look on during the filming of “Fame”.

Camera Operator Ryan Long adjusts a china ball while the cast and crew rest between takes on “Fame”

As filming progressed and the crew became closer the three episodes I agreed to became five. Somehow my lack of sleep wasn’t deterring me from showing up and everything was clicking so I decided to stay on the crazy-train a little longer.

Then along came an episode entitled “Inside Man”. Scott Coleman typically writes all of the episodes of the Dead Hour but this time it was my Camera Op Ryan Long who put pen to paper. Ryan is a great filmmaker in his own right and “Inside Man” was one of the best episodes of season 2. It tells the tale of Tony, an agoraphobic who unfortunately lives in a house that’s haunted. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

“Inside Man” was definitely one of the most challenging episodes to shoot as we shot both “day for night” as well as “night for day”! “Night for day” was an insane challenge as the biggest light I had was a 2k fresnel… and I only had one. We ended up shooting that scene at 2am! When it’s all said and done however I think it’s “Inside Man” that I’m most proud of. I loved how the lighting and some of the compositions turned out. If you haven’t seen it take a look. And let Ryan Long know he’s a rockstar!

Andre Davis, star of “Inside Man” laughs at one of my bad jokes as I take a light reading.

Season 2 ended up being only five episodes of which I shot all of them. They are “Fright Fest”, “Fame” “Backseat”, Inside Man” and “Gross Anatomy”. Unfortunately the season was cut short due to some circumstances in the Director’s private life and the feature film that was discussed never materialized.

At the end of the day I never anticipated working on the entire season because I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of the horror genre. There are some horror films that I do like, such as the Exorcist, but many of them aren’t that intelligent or are just filled with mindless gore which I’m not a fan. “The Dead Hour” proved to be more psychological and therefore interested me more than the typical horror fare.

I’ve decided to move on from the series. I had a wonderful time and learned an incredible amount. It constantly forced me to think on my feet. I’m a better Cinematographer for having worked on the show. With that said, working on another season I fear I would be repeating myself. After putting together my 2012 Cinematography demo reel recently I realized I needed to focus more on narrative drama and commercial work.

The good news is I’ve heard that an all new season is in the works along with a feature film that will all be done this year. After all is said and done I wish Dan Iske and Scott Coleman nothing but the best and I look forward to seeing new DH in the future.

Thank you to everyone who shared in the experience. To the future!

To watch episodes of “THE DEAD HOUR” visit the website at http://www.thedeadhour.com/

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.