Los Angeles, CA- Production company Smoothworld TV and Lighting Visual Effects / Lighting Designer Jeff Barco recently turned to 4Wall Los Angeles to provide gear for a tightly scheduled commercial shoot for automotive giant Nissan.
The commercial, titled ‘Spotlight’, shows the Nissan X Trail SUV being caught in the spotlight no matter where it goes in the city.
Shooting at seven different locations over three days in downtown Los Angeles left the team, which also included Director of Photography Sebastian Winter Hansen and Gaffer Mark McCarthy, with tight windows to complete some of the creative lighting ideas storyboarded for the spot.
McCarthy tasked Barco with lighting three separate locations, each focusing on various light sources- such as street lights, storefront lights, and a live band concert rig- turning to focus on the X Trail as it passes by.
“In the first scene, which was shot on upper Grand Avenue, we had to mimic streetlights magically panning and tilting to follow the car,” said Barco.
The team was forced to get creative in mounting 4Wall’s Clay Paky Sharpy Wash fixtures to existing DWP streetlights in such a way that the art department could shroud the units without obstructing the beams. The second challenge arose from the car itself: how would the lights track it.
“We decided not to use a tracking system, as we wouldn’t have time to calibrate it,” said Barco, who also programmed the scene. “So the question was, how would we follow the stunt driver when no two car paths would ever be the same, and how could we keep the pools of light moving in straight lines up and down the street without seeing the pan or tilt arcs.”
Barco found his answers in a particularly great feature set of MA Lighting’s grandMA2 console.
“I used the MA2’s 3D focusing reference, and its powerful set of speed and rate tools to adjust the sequences on the fly, allowing me to speed up or slow down to follow the car.”
To get the vantage point necessary to pull off the ‘live’ running of the lights while also keeping a visual reference of the car, Barco took to a 32’ scissor lift to operate the console.
Barco found the Sharpy Wash to be the perfect fixture for the street light simulation. “They are fast, small, and have a soft edge while putting out a lot of light for their size,” he said.
Once he had solved the issue of how to follow the car, Barco utilized that solution in two more locations: a storefront featuring Martin MAC Auras, and a performance ‘club’ scene featuring Vari-Lite VL2500s, Martin Atomic 3000 Strobes, and numerous other fixtures creating a flash and trash concert venue.
With the X Trail commercial shoot in his own rear view mirror, Barco praised 4Wall LA’s equipment for its dependability.
“The 4Wall gear performed flawlessly as it always does. I choose 4Wall because they keep their gear in tip top shape and I can always count on it working as I expect it to.”
Watch the full video fo the commercial here: https://vimeo.com/104147785