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Thursday, 30 May 2013 01:51

“Shameless” Lighting

Written by  P3 Staff
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Shameless SMThe hit Showtime series “Shameless” is the story of a highly dysfunctional family that, when put to the test, can come together and hurdle hardships and stars Oscar® nominated actor William H. Macy. 

For gaffer David St. Onge, the lighting challenge “Shameless” is to have the sets 75% ready to shoot when the company moves in. “Then we need to keep the lighting setup time down around 15 to 20 minutes,” says St. Onge. “We shoot with two cameras and between them we cover 180 to 250 degrees of the set, on just about every setup,” he explains. “That means all the lighting has to be attached to ceilings and walls to keep it out of the shot. Litepanels is constantly reinventing itself and upgrading its products. They are key to our speed and creativity.

“The 1x1 Litepanels is quite useful on our sets, as I can attach a plate to the wall or ceiling, slap a V-block battery to the light, and I’m ready to go – all in two minutes or less,” he says. “I will often attach a Chimera for softening and a honeycomb for lighting control. These 1x1s are very versatile and now, with the color mixing capabilities of the newer models, I don’t have to put gels on to correct color, just turning a knob does it.”

St. Onge also finds the Sola ENG LED Fresnel light extremely useful, saying it is small and powerful with a built-in dimmer. “It has flood and spot capabilities and it’s about the size of a baseball, so you can hide it just about anywhere. They will run most of the day on one fully charged battery. I use V-block plates to power the lights. And I’ve had some plates made similar to baby nail-on plates, but instead of a spud I had nuts welded to accept Israeli arms and that gives me a full range of pan and tilt.”

Shame smFor a recent car shot, St. Onge deployed the Sola ENG lights. “The camera was in the front passenger seat for a scene where Child Services collected all of the Gallagher kids,” he explains. “The kids plot to get away. To light the car, we put the ENG in as a liner for the person sitting behind the driver. And, because of the tint on the glass, we had to push this light to its limits. We then put a second ENG, with a soft adapter, between the driver and front passenger.”

For another sequence, some of the children help a friend retrieve his possessions after being thrown out of his house. “The handheld shot starts at the front door of the house and continues with someone jumping in the side door of a van,” he explains. A second camera shoots into the rear doors of the van. Again, the Sola ENG is lighting the driver for the rear camera as well as lighting the passenger behind the driver for the side door camera.”

With all his new lights, David St. Onge says he still uses his trusty MiniPlus, “the brick” as he calls it, that he bought for the award winning series, 24.  “We used them in just about every shot,” he says. “And, today, I use a variety of Litepanels on practically every sequence I light on “Shameless.” I feel the ability to run these lights on batteries is key to lighting quickly but still keeping the look we like. I can’t wait to see what lights they come out with next!”

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