During this recent Adidas campaign I took a rare quiet moment on the last day of the shoot to talk with the editor, who was ensconced in a dark corner of the stage. After a few exchanges about the nature of the work he described what I was doing as the ‘brain surgery of cinematography’. When I look at the completed spot, which appears almost severe in it’s simplicity, the complexity of the work is not apparent. But perhaps that is indeed it’s success. It was the masterful Leonardo Da Vinci who said ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.
This was the reality of the photography on this project; 25 people in 7 different geographical locations, appearing to have a relaxed conversation whilst practically never actually seated at the same table. 57 camera positions with many final composites featuring as many as 6 layers that must blend seamlessly. As guided by director Stacy Wall, we would shoot simultaneously on 3 cameras only stopping to reload the camera, whilst the other 2 cameras and sound continued to roll. We had approximately 15-40 minutes with each person. I devised a grid system to map the camera positions co-ordinates based on x y axis centered on the table. This enabled us to accurately replicate the camera positions in multiple shoot locations.
Then all we required was matched focal length, tilt angle, subject distance plus a quick check on the mix and overlay, to create a perfect match. All the necessary camera positions for each plate were marked on the floor in advance to shooting. By using a flexible, modular, zone based, LED lighting system I was able to make adjustments remotely without interrupting the shooting process. Therefore adapting to the requirements of the various skin tones and facial structures became a ‘live’ process.