For this Masters Project, which is going to be a Pilot/Episode one of a webseries of Indonesian Cooking programs I was tasked as the Cinematographer/DOP to setup three locations, the first for an Interview and the second for the actual cooking show and finally in the Dining area.
For the interview I used a Cinelight Lighting Kit with the 850W fitted with a softbox. I stepped slightly away from the standard 3 point lighting setup by using the natural light coming through the large windows as the fill light. The Director Hazlin wanted a shallow depth of field so I brought the subject position forward away from the walls and setup the camera (Panasonic AF101) with a wide aperture (Voigtlander 25mm F0.95). Pradeep as camera assistant operated the Panasonic for the interview while I setup the kitchen location.
For the cooking show I used a similar lighting setup to work in conjunction with the kitchens Halogen lighting and worksurface spotlights. My main light that is Keylight was the 650W fitted with a Softbox and for the backlight I added a diffuser to reduce the level. Again for the fill light I used natural lighting coming through a side door. While the interview was being conducted I setup to film some of the ingredients that would be used in this days cooking. Using a Canon 5D MKII and a slider I filmed the ingredients displayed on large plates sliding the camera from left to right making 3 passes for each and a static shot for coverage. I’d fitted the Canon 5D with a Macro lens.
For that days filming in the kitchen area I setup the Panasonic AF101 to cover the main cooking area and facing directly at the Chef. During the actual cooking I used the Canon 5D to follow the action and take close ups of the food being cooked and the ingredients being added. For this I used the Canon hand held without a rig or follow focus again fitted with the Macro lens.
Day two started from where day one finished with more filming of ingredients using the Canon 5D on the slider but with a difference. I positioned the slider so that it straddled 2 worktops and then positioned the ingredients on a temporary platform below. With the Camera swivelled 90 degrees facing down I made 3 passes to give a different perspective to the previous days footage. While doing this I noticed that the Canon 24mm to 105mm Zoom would Zoom in under it’s own weight in a perfectly smooth motion, which I used instead of the static shots for each of the sequences of the ingredients.
While checking the footage from the previous day I felt that the Macro was being overused with the depth of field being just that too bit shallow so I switched it out for day two and used the Zoom instead. Again I filmed the cooking sequences from a variety of positions to make sure I had lots of coverage for the Editor to use as cutaways and for close-ups of the cooked food and the cooking processes.
For coverage the Panasonic AF101 this time operated by Dimitriois was again positioned where I’d located it the previous day, to cover the Chef mainly for mid shots and wide shots.
Finally at the end of the day we relocated to setup in a Dining area. I felt we could have done with at least 1 more light for this location but none where available so again I had to use the natural light coming through the windows as fill lights and used the main, key light again fitted with a softbox. I didn’t use a backlight as such but used 2 lights as fill lights from the other side of the room to remove shadows from the diners faces who had their backs to the windows. I showed the Director how to work the Panasonic for the coverage shots required from 2 locations while I again used the Canon 5D handheld to film closeups from multiple angles and locations within the room.
It’s a wrap.
Filming in this environment was very challenging. Surfaces were reflective and difficult to light well. For example you need to be able to light for the Chef but also for the ingredients and the cooking process without too many compromises. I also felt colour would be very important and for that reason used the Canon on the Faithful picture style rather than a cinestyle or flat option.
I was one diffused light short for this project and it’s need was felt in all three locations and without the benefit of good natural light the results would not have been anywhere near as good as they are.