With that long descriptive title one can easily figure out what this post is all about. For Halloween this year I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Erin Frew of Frew's Bridal (frewsbridal.com) and (bestbridalprices.com) to produce a video of their now annual Mannequin and Flash Mob. It was an exciting night and mildly stressful night that was over faster than it started.
I had actually covered this same event two years ago with my good buddy and film partner Damon Wilgus. At that time we approached the project in a very simple run and gun style. With that experience in mind, when I was hired to work this year I took a more formal approach. Realizing I would need more angles I enlisted the help of Kai Patterson and Vince Lomascolo so that with me on camera I would have three angles to work with. This allowed me to also be more creative by having each camera be either: wide, telephoto, or glidecam.
The event follows to events: the monster mannequins and the flash mob dance. Frew's Bridal in Alton Illinois is a fabulous and gorgeous bridal store with a cozy family "hole-in-the-wall" feeling. The store resides in a classic midwestern brick downtown building with a high ceilinged first floor, much window space, and lots of square footage. For Halloween the city, Alton, traditionally has a parade that travels right in front of the store. To get in the spirit of the holiday, the store replaces the static mannequins with live models in dolled up in monster makeup and costume. These live mannequins then stand in the windows and entertain the huge crowd of parade going spectators.
For the first half, or intro, of the video I wanted to get some solid detail shots of the mannequins and be sure I got all the detail the makeup artists and hair stylists put into each person. Basically I just had each person go and get whatever b-roll they wanted, making sure they felt free to use their creativity.
The second half of the shoot is the most important and real reason for the video, the flash mob. The Principia Dancers and the Alton High Dance Team worked with Jason Wissman to choreograph an exciting flash mob dance that was performed in the street immediately in front of the store. This is where the shoot got very tricky.
With three cameras I was not worried about coverage of the dance so much as getting solid and interesting shots. Further only I had previewed the dance before hand so I had to rely on Kai and Vince to adapt quickly. Luckily I managed to have the dance performed twice. Further, on top of the very live nature of the dance was the poor lighting of the street. I had hoped to be able to get third party lighting which unfortunately didn't happen. Even so, boosting my exposure to be at 180˚ f/4 ISO 1600 on a 5DmkII on glidecam turned out fine with some color correcting work in Davinci Resolve. Kai used my 7D at 180˚ f/~2 ISO 400-800 which was plenty solid. Lastly was Vince using his Black Magic Production 4k camera. Unfortunately his camera, while an awesome cinematic camera, made a poor low light event camera with its limit at ISO 800 which I managed to boost exposure with a 360˚shutter angle. Fortunately recording in ProRes422 at 4K gave tons of room in post to boost color and exposure.
WIth these technical issues aside, the shoot went very smooth with plenty of footage and coverage. In post I edited everything in FCPX using multicam clips heavily for the dance portion. From FCPX I graded everything in Resolved with which I had a few technical hiccups with mixed frame rates (24fps and 23.976fps) which I managed to iron out by hand in FCPX. Basically the audio unsynced itself from the multicam and I had to go clip by clip resyncing each to the song track.
Overall I am very happy with the final product. It's great experience working live events and this was no exception. Big thanks to Kai and Vince for being able to work it. Another thanks to all the dancers and Jason Wissman for his awesome choreography. Another shoutout to the mannequins and the makeup and hair artists. Finally thanks to Erin Frew and Frew's Bridal for the opportunity to work on such a project.