Spotlighting SOL

Hey there Gang! Today we’re going to talk about a music video we shot from a while ago for the awesome Seattle rapper SOL produced by the duo Kyle Seago and Ryan Hills from Big Time Hype. Great team! We were hired to handle the lighting and grip of this shoot.

The concept was simple— dollying in and out from SOL as he sings, with a hard spot light and little to no spill on the walls. First problem was that there was little structure on the ceiling to attach a spotlight. Now, you could use a menace arm (if we had one), which can support a light on the long arm, but it wouldn’t be as long as we needed. On set solution: I attached a 1000 watt Fresnel light to a short rod then extended 3 arms to the ceiling to strengthen the support. The reason for 3 points was two fold. A) One point would not be strong enough to hold the whole apparatus, and B) There was no point available directly above the apparatus.

Sol Spotlight

Next challenge, balance. SOL was entirely in the frame, including the bright white floor space surrounding him. The bigger the light, the more bounce we got from the floor onto the walls. Solution: we put a lite diffusion, as well as a “skirt” on the light. A skirt is a piece of black fabric (duvetyne) surrounding the light projection to cut down on the spill. Result: bright enough to see our guy, but dark enough to keep the mood and tone of the foreground and background.

Another problem was rigging the camera on the dolly. Ideally mounted on a hi hat but we did not have one with us. (I actually have two, but they were not present). So again, it’s time to IMPROVISE!

Sol Dolly

Like always, when it comes up to increasing height, whether for a camera, or an actor, you can’t beat apple boxes! We strapped one down on the dolly and I screwed on two plates with baby pins. From there, I put a baby/junior adaptor (you can look up the lewd grip slang for this adaptor elsewhere) into the front receptor that is meant for the push bar. With a couple of knuckles, a small arm, and a cheese plate, and bam! Better only a hi hat, but one that sticks a little more out in front of the dolly, perfect for our purpose.

Sure, this was a fairly simple shoot, and the problems were not huge. But sometimes it is the little things that keep the day interesting. These details required attention, and solutions that avoid compromising the shots, because that’s what matters most. I’m glad the results matched Kyle and Ryan’s creative vision. It was a fun shoot and a good time with such great artists.


Big Time Hype