5 for the Fight Jazz

The Background

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Qualtrics for over a year has sponsored the Utah Jazz with the jersey patch. But unlike other companies they didn’t put Qualtrics on the patch but rather a non profit foundation called 5 for the Fight. This is an initiative to motivate people to donate 5 dollars to cancer research to help eradicate this horrible disease.

The Situation

We were in the middle of getting ready for a shoot in Baltimore and we were asked to help out on a last minute project for 5 for the Fight. At first we were told we would have the 4 players for 30 minutes total the follow Thursday which was 8 days away. We had to film all the players saying a line and exactly the same way and set up multiple stations to film these players simultaneously so we didn’t waste their time. This was a task that at first I didn’t feel was possible to accomplish. There was no clear budget and to film all the shots they wanted in the time we had is impossible. However, they up’d the budget and said spend what you need to get this done right. Oh and we had a total of two hours to set everything up.

This is where the rubber meets the road. I started making tons of phone calls to get everything set up in time. We would need another camera operator to handle all of the pick up shots while I learned how to use a motion control rig in a few days to see if we could even pull this off.

The Prep

After hiring the gaffer Spencer Scanlon, he and I meet and went over a plan of attack to be able to film three different situations simultaneously. The nice part was the third set up was with all the players so we decided to split the court in half and shoot in two things at once. My station would be the motion control station and the other would be the players doing some drills. Next we needed to determine the number of people we would need on the crew to pull something this ambitious off. That is where the million and a half phone calls came in. A player would go to station one while another would go to station 2 and than they would switch.

The lighting set up was based off of some concept photos from our creative director John Johnson. Station 1 He wanted a black background with some good contrast in the image a bit more of a low key light. Station 2 he wanted it to feel almost silhouetted but still have enough detail to identify the players. Spencer and I went to work and came up with a plan. For station 1 we put a bunch of 4 foot quasar tubes on speed rail above the player with a little backlight on the back. Than using 12x12 solids to block the light from station 2. Station 2 we would place a few m18s with snoots on them to focus the light more up in the rafters to make it feel more of a spot light feel. Than using flags and floppies we shaped the light to avoid unwanted spill. Finally for station 3 we would turn off all the lights from station 2 and turn on a large 20 foot speed rail with quasar tubes attached and a 12x12 silk draped under them to create a final beauty shot with all the players together.

I rented all the gear we needed and got the crew in place. Next was making sure I knew how to use the new motion control rig I had rented. We needed a longer track and something that was available that day so I could spend a few days getting to know the gear. We found a eMotimo Spectrum 4 rig for the dana dolly. If you haven’t dealt with motion control rigs before they always have a very steep learning curve but are super fun to play with. With the limited time we had I was super nervous about getting it up to speed in time. It took two days to really understand and feel comfortable with the system to the point that I could nail the shot every time. Here is a fun timelapse of me mastering the system over two days.

Once I thought we were all set another wrench was thrown in and we wanted some close detail shots as well so I was forced to add another camera which meant another camera crew to support it. In the end we shot on Alexa Mini with Arri Ultra Primes, Ursa Mini with Canon CN-E primes and a C200 with CN-E primes.

Overheads from the Gaffer Spencer Scanlon. Stations 1 and 2 set ups

Overheads from the Gaffer Spencer Scanlon. Stations 1 and 2 set ups

Overheads from Gaffer Spencer Scanlon. Station 3 set up

Overheads from Gaffer Spencer Scanlon. Station 3 set up

Shoot Day

Finally time for shoot day and honestly because of the amount of prep we did and the unrestrained budget we were able to get the crew and equipment needed to pull off the shoot. It was tight but when everything was set up we got into a great flow and were able to pull off a really complex shoot and not take up much of the Jazz players time at all. In total we took up an hour of the players time which confused me because I thought we only had 30 minutes but I was told after that we had 90 minutes but the Jazz had had a really bad experience with another crew going way over that they told us a much tighter time.

When we called wrap and started cleaning up I couldn’t believe that we had pulled it off. It was a crazy shoot that I didn’t think was possible when the idea was first pitched to me. I didn’t think it would work but with the help of a big enough crew that all know where to be and what job to do its amazing what can get done. Here is the final piece.

Micah Brown