Top DP Alan Caso, ASC worked with the legendary Director John Frankenheimer on “George Wallace” and the film Reindeer Games, and he’s shot and lit many TV shows, such as “Into the West” for Dreamworks and “Six Feet Under” for HBO.
Currently working on the Fox show “Lie to Me,” Caso reports, “As with so many TV shows, the tight schedule is a big challenge. The studio wants to keep the shows shot in eight 12-hour days. For a high-profile, primetime network show, that’s not a lot of time anymore, as the ante has been raised in terms of producing provocative, high-quality and high-end entertainment. There’s also a much more sophisticated, finished look to TV than before, and I believe the audience is as sophisticated and demanding as well. The scripts for this show are very dense. It’s definitely a character-driven show, but there’s a lot of science involved too. The procedural stuff requires the dissemination of a lot of information, so it’s hard to get it done in the time allotted.”
“Lie to Me” shoots on the Fox lot for four to five days, and on location for the remainder of days. “When I’m outside, of course, we use HMIs for daylight,” Caso says. “However, on stage we use a lot of Kino Flos, more than I usually use.”
Fox provides all the lights, and Caso describes the overall look of the show as a little more high-tech. “The main set on stage is a kind of sterile science lab, so we use the Kino Flos to provide a nice glowy feel to it,” says Caso. “There’s a lot of purity to the set –– purity in the whites, off-whites –– a clinical feel and texture. The reason I generally don’t use Kino Flos as my main lighting source is that they’re hard to control and tend to go all over the place, but they work for this show. Many have been built into the set along walls and ceilings, which gives it this very futuristic, high-end look.”
Caso also uses what he terms “booklights,” as they’re shaped like an open book. “Basically they’re very narrow profile configurations, where I take some Rosco Silver Pebble sheets, put it on the back of a bead board, and I put them anywhere –– on the floor or on a wall,” he explains. “I place the source light into the pebble, just inches away, and then have a 4x frame of diffusion forming this sort of wedge, and thus softening the light reflecting off the pebble. It’s very directional, very bright and very soft, and also fairly easy to cut. More importantly, I can fit this set-up in the most difficult situations because it has the smallest profile, for example, right next to a doorway if a character’s standing there talking, or along a wall that leaves no room for a traditional light source. It gives you this great, very controllable light source that is soft and painterly. I use them quite often.”
Caso notes that the show doesn’t need a whole new set of tools to light. “It’s more about the choices you make and how you let the light fall –– the balance and the contrast,” he says. “Basically I’m saying there’s nothing new here, just my visual interpretation of the word according to Lightman, the main character. Actually, I’m using a little more contrast and adding a little more color than I normally do, whereas I’m usually very subdued and desaturated and diffused in lighting. Also, in order to create a more high-tech environment, I’m not using any filters. It’s a fun show to shoot and light, and I think we get a great look.”