Technically Speaking: Don Dixon's Human Car
May 2, 2010
As told to Jack Neubart
Challenge. The talent could only hold this pose for 15 to 20 seconds, so we had to work extremely fast. What's more, we had to emulate the lighting used in the TV commercial while optimizing the shot for print ads.
Gear. Hasselblad with Phase One H25 back and 150mm lens; Nikon D3 with 105mm Micro-Nikkor; Profoto D4; Avenger stands; Gitzo tripods with ballheads; Mac G5 with 30-inch monitor.
Soundstage. Harbourside Studios, Toronto.
Talent. Pilobolus dance troupe.
Crew. Luna Simic and Heather Price on retouching/compositing, with digital assistant Shereen Mroeuh and digital tech Scott McKay; Chris Ressor served as producer and post production supervisor.
Exposure. F/11 (to hold depth—and it was the sweet spot for the primary lens used in the shoot).
Solution. There was no car on set—only the performers and car parts. We were working practically in tandem with the director of photography Ian Foster and his crew as they were shooting the TV spots. We were of course secondary on the set, but I'd shoot stills of their lighting to gain a better sense of what we needed. They'd view the captures on my monitors and use that information to tweak their lights—I had two complete computer setups working simultaneously. The TV crew was using 20K lights, whereas our lighting consisted of Profotos.