HAIL CAESAR – SUBMARINE AND SWIMMING
Looking at Lighting
This was yet another of our production designer, Jess Gonchar, great set, this time constructed on stage at Sony Studios. The scene was shot on a stage interior tank utilizing wave machines to create the various levels of turbulence in the water. Most of what you see is captured in camera although some of the cloud backings and the rear of the submarine are finished with CG extensions.
The Coen Brothers had storyboarded the scene quite precisely, which gave me a lot of guidance when I considered how to get the camera where it needed to be and how to rig the lighting to provide the best angles of the ‘moonlight’ from shot to shot.
The first diagram shows the camera platform that I felt, in conjunction with a crane arm, would accommodate all the required angles that we couldn’t achieve from the side of the tank. The same diagram also shows the extent of our backings and the track required to be able to move.
The second diagram shows my initial idea of the ‘moonlight’ positions I would need relative to the camera angles I knew we would be shooting. It notes the lamps being used as 20K Fresnel lamps but, after making a test, these changed to T12s, as can be seen in the main lighting plot.
In this third diagram you will see that I ganged up a row of Fresnel lamps to create a directional but slightly soft source as I felt this was a little more forgiving than using a single large source. I used wire rather than dimmers to control the intensity of the lamps and would generally have one lamp, usually a T12, clean and, to the sides, 10Ks wired down by a stop.
I wanted a cool look to the scene but the cost of using gels and the sheer inconvenience of gels led me to shoot with the lamps clean and only ever wired rather than dimmed. This also figured in my choice of a T12 rather than a 20K, as the former is a cooler lamp.
The backings for the submarine were lit with short rows of 2K Fresnel lamps, which could be adjusted using their spot and flood control or by angling the barn doors, to create ‘pools’ of light in the clouds.
The red lines on the lighting plan denote the green bed walkways that needed to be rigged for this scene but also needed to accommodate the lighting for the second ‘water’ scene we were to shoot on the same stage. There was a short turnaround between shooting the submarine and the scene involving the synchronized swimmers so the time it would take to change the rig was a factor as was the matter of how much a second rig of an altogether different lighting plan would cost.
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING SEQUENCE
The synchronized swimming scene utilized the same green bed rig as we used for the submarine as well as many of the lamps. This scene was shot from a great variety of angles and we needed to work quite quickly, though that is never anything new.
I decided on a very simple, though large, rig of evenly spaced Fresnel lamps that would appear ‘period correct’ when seen in shot. The scene is split between the film and the ‘film within a film’ so this rig would create a soft effect for the action in the pool whilst allowing the sides of the stage area to go dark.
The preceding and following images to this paragraph were taken of the rig whilst I was setting the lighting and the image at the top of this section is taken from the film.