June 27, 2017

Bridge Illumination Project – Started, notes

Scenario:

Historic bridge sits without lights at one side of the bridge. A piece of it was left for historic purposes.

This section, about a football field long, and about 30 feet wide, is unlit and only receives ambient light from parking lot lights and lights which shine down on it from the replacement bridge which towers above it nearby.

Goal is to illuminate the intricate steal structure of the bridge using various lighting techniques which yield a desired result. Currently experimenting with portable strobe flashes, and exposures which are below 30 seconds. Light painting is also being used at this time.

It is not sought to create a composite or HDR illustration. The final shot will be obtained in camera during a single exposure.

Project Log:

Log:

(10-28-2016 21:00)

Initial survey and test setups of portable flashes to light the bridge.

(10-31-2016 23:00)

Continued testing light exposure settings and effectiveness of using flash units to light bridge. Also improved ability to focus on structure (at pitch black from about 300 feet away) for final composition shot.

To be continued.

Krog Street Tunnel Graffiti Jib Shoot using Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler Portable Jib System

This video shows the practical application of a portable jib system in a field environment inside the Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia.

The jib system used is this video is the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler. The system lived up to its claims to be a lightweight, one piece portable jib solution promising smooth results. User dependent of course.

One has to pay attention while using the jib. I would say the degree of effort and concentration to get to the threshold point for a smooth shot is like poring a glass of beer into a glass without creating a foam of bubbles.

Over the course of several weeks, I managed to record some solid pieces of me putting the portable jib system to use at a number of different locations. What may not have been covered at one location, may be revealed at the other location. So be sure to watch them all to get the full breath of my use of the jib system.

I call it a jib system because it requires a number of different pieces to work beyond the actual jib. A solid tripod and head, to include a secondary ball head on the end of the jib for the camera mounted there as well. The weights are also vital as well.

Once the physical hardware is put together, you will then need to add the electronic portions to the system which include the camera, and monitoring systems as well.

Various adapters and mounting arms are also needed to tweak the mounting of the monitor and other accessories, such as an external microphone, should you desire to record quality audio from the jib’s camera as well.

Across the several location, I tried to focus on a few key areas of using the portable jib system. The most important of which, is actually using the jib at a real “in-the-field” location, as part of a solid visual composition.

I mention this because many of the video’s I’ve reviewed as part of my research seem to be backyard demonstrations.

I actually try to show the entire process of actually getting to a location with the jib, which I feel sets the stage of the actual effort that is needed for a particular project. Things like properly testing your gear before departing to the jib site are covered.

In addition, the packaging of the gear to transport is also important not only to safely get the gear to the location, but to also repack the gear when your done. Some locations require a good walk to get to. So you don’t want to be just walking around with all your gear dragging behind you. There are clear steps to getting to the location. So that means properly packing, transporting, and then repacking the gear when done. This will ensure that the project is successfully accomplished with no loss or breakage of gear.

I also try to illustrate various composition considerations as well once the gear is setup. Such as carefully exploring the beginning and closing shots of a jib movement. Sometimes this is clear from the start. Other times, its an evolutionary process uncovered once the jib is set in motion.

Since I used a DSLR to record video during the jib shot, properly setting the exposure and focus are an entirely different category of the shoot which is also important to get right. The need to bring extra external lighting will also need to be considered if the jib shoot is going to be done at a location with limited or low lighting conditions.

The Krog Street Tunnel

This particular jib shoot takes place at the Krog Street Tunnel. It is one of my favorite places to explore. It is an historic site in Atlanta, Georgia. Basically it is an underpass which goes underneath the CSX Transportation rail operations allowing traffic to get from one side of the tunnel to the other.

Inside the tunnel, there are two pedestrian pathways on each side of the two lane street. There are three rows of supporting concrete columns holding up the overpass above the tunnel. Graffiti painted over metal hand rails spanning the entire length of the tunnel’s pathways too.

The dusty road debris ridden pathways are lit up by a row of cob web covered lights that lead from one end of the tunnel to the other. The lights, even though sufficiently bright, reveal the graffiti riddled surroundings in an almost gloomy manner.

Because the tunnel interior construction is made up of concrete, with the exception of the two hand rails leading down each of the pathways, it echoes any and all of the sounds which enter it. This means that when cars, trucks, motorcycles, walkers, bikers, skateboarders enter the tunnel at one end, their presence is made know quite vibrantly until spewed out the other.

As you can see, the tunnel really can make an impression. I recommend visiting it at night. During the day, it seems to lose its mysterious qualities almost like when all the lights are turned on in a night club at closing time. So, yea, visit it at night. Oh, after 9 p.m. to allow rush hour traffic to pass. This way you can experience the Krog Street Tunnel at its fullest.

If your lucky, you may even observe a graffiti artist at work.

Getting back to my jib shoot video.

As an ongoing student of using a jib system, my shots are a work in progress.

That means, developing and honing in on the skills needed to achieve adequate jib shots with smooth action and quality compositional demands takes work and practice.

But that is both the fun and challenging part of deciding to use a portable jib system.

Once you get the hang of it, you really can start designing some cool shots.

The Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler

In terms of my decision to use the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler system for my series is concerned. The actual system you decide to acquire will undoubtedly be decided by your style of shooting and budget.

In my research before getting the Kessler system, I took a look at the other brands out there. For the most part they all seemed to offer the same degree of performance balanced with a system designed for portability. Prices also varied, but not by much.

The one you choose will ultimately be up to you and your budget.

I hope your able to pick up a couple of things from my jib series. They were difficult to produce, adding to the gear I had to lug around from one jibbing location to the next.

I found the use of the jib system a welcomed tool to use for composing video shots. It surely changes a static tripod shot to something that is dynamic full of parallax. Parallax is the funky perspective shifts between foreground and background objects which takes place as the camera is moved using the jib.

I would compare the significance of the parallax video effect when using a jib system to stark difference in still photograph taken at a shallow depth of field using an F/1.4 lens. The two results are that dramatically different and appealing. But each effect come at a price one in effort, perhaps, while the other is with specialized gear.

In addition, for the most part video footage obtained using a jib system is only part of the bigger picture of a production. It will primarily be used as B-roll material on the timeline, much like the material gotten when using a slider.

There are many ways to use the jib system, and I’m sure your find your niche if you choose to explore the tool and use it to create create compelling video imagery.

So sit back and enjoy the series. I hope you find it both informative, insightful, and entertaining.