Spinning Phones!

A bit ago we were commissioned to light a commercial for T-Mobile for a new phone by the wonderful Garrigan Lyman Group. We’ve worked for them multiple times on similar shoots, and have always been a pleasure to work with and easy to see why they are one of the top agencies around and abroad. Superb Actor and Director Rodrigo Demedeiros was directing and working again with DP Connor Hair who we’ve mentioned on here a few times.

So of course one of our objectives is making phones look great, and one way to do that is to make them spin while playing something. Now most times it’s easy to do this using 3D compositing. It usually looks great and you have a host of options available to you. Doing 3D we whipped this up quick to demonstrate with a few little lighting tricks.

But we were not commissioned to do 3D work on this, we were hired to light and rig it. So GLG turned to Connor and I and asked if we could do it for real. Never wanting to turn down a challenge on the spot we made it happen. Though what you’d usually use to make this happen we did not have. So again, it’s time to IMPROVISE!!!!

What we did have is a c-stand base, lots of clamps, stand arms of all sizes, and a matthews doorway dolly. Lot of indi people I know usually will make a dolly, but I like having a doorway, because I’ve always found you can do a lot of unorthodox things with it with so many adjustable parts. Like an impromptu phone lazy susan.

What we did was take the front wheel off of the dolly, stick them into the base of a c-stand. Then take a 12-inch mathellini clamp, stick a knuckle and with a short arm, arm inside towards the center bolt of the wheel. From there stick a knuckle on that arm and arm straight up. All that should look something like this.

Rig Photo

At the top of the arm we put black gaff type to hide the shiney silver arm. Also to put a little pedistal I just took a simple clothespin, took it apart, and snapped a piece in half, and wrapped it up in gaff tape and put it on top of the arm. We placed the phone on top of the pedistal taped it tight, but dicreatly towards the bottom.

Connor shooting Phone

Lighting it was simple, two kinos behind a 4×4 diffusion frame, and a small Fresnel to highlight the phone and all that looks like this.

Phone Spinning

Now it’s all about spinning it. Mind you that’s not an easy thing, just make sure to give a nice smooth fling. Not too hard, not too soft.

Someone once told me you can make anything that professional rigging and lighting gear can do with a trip to Home Depot. But sometimes when you get to set it’s not about what you intended, but what you can do on the fly. So many of gear I use, while it is expensive, can be used, taken apart, repurposed, and be used to achieve things well beyond their original design. Achieving the types of things that make a typical shoot into a great shoot. When you work for a great Client like Rodrigo and GLG, great is always something that should be in the mix.

Garrigan Lyman Group

Final Video