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ANNA’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
So far I have shot over 120 videos for the lovely Anna Akana. The playlist above contains the comprehensive collection. We have employed varying degrees of equipment and crew, but all of the videos that take place in her apartment use only one light kit or less and no additional crew. I’ll use a few as examples below to give a behind-the-scenes look on how we make her digs look oh-so-glamorous.
CREW: We have a crew now! It’s me, two grips and one grip/sound person
LIGHTING: Aputure LEDs, Arri 650, Arri 300
CAMERA: Canon C200 with Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4 lens.
When you shoot the same setup more than 100 times, you start feeling the need to experiment a little. I’ll usually mix up one variable with every shoot, from the types of lighting units to lighting placement to contrast ratios to lenses to filters to gels to color grading. The goal is that from week to week, no one will notice much of a difference, but it’s pretty interesting to see all the frames back-to-back. I look back at some and wonder what I was thinking, but I suppose it’s all part of the process. The whole exercise has definitely made every subtle decision much more deliberate and precise.
Here are most of the setups we have done over the last four years, from newest to oldest. Which one is your favorite and why? Message me!
For the apartment videos, I try to shoot them as close to the final product as possible so that very little color correction is necessary. This is because of tight turnarounds and the fact that I’m usually not involved in post for these. I use my Canon 5d mkiii on the Neutral picture profile with Sharpness 0, Contrast -2, Saturation -1 and Color Tone 0. I like the skin tones of the Neutral profile best. I lower the contrast to make it slightly flatter so that there’s more wiggle room to perfect in post, but still comes close to what I want. I lower the saturation because the Canon default is a little too intense for my liking.
UPDATE: Wow, things have changed quite a bit. Now that I shoot RAW on my C200, every video needs to be color graded. I’ve been using ACES in Davinci Resolve and I’m liking it a lot so far. It maps the log image to a pre-designed curve, which helps with consistency when making exposure decisions on set. It kind of reminds me of film, which is fun.
THE YOUTUBE SPACE LA
The Youtube Space is a great resource for content creators, giving us access to a lot of professional-grade gear for the cost of…our souls…Other than that, it’s free.
Anna and I have shot several videos together at The Space, but they usually involve way more equipment than one light kit. Here are some that we could get away with using fewer lights because we wanted a much more contrasty look:
“The Line Up”
“How To Interrogate Your Boyfriend”
I have noticed, when shooting daylight scenes at Anna’s apartment, that the more sources I add, the happier I am with the result. Sometimes I’ll set up a scene using just the 650 key and 1k for fill and it looks fine. It could pass as perfectly acceptable. But then I’ll bounce the 300 off my reflector for extra fill and, without adding too much for exposure, it really brings clothes and skin to life a lot more. Addingmore light adds more life. That can, of course, be difficult to adhere to when you’re only working with one light kit, but it’s something I have been thinking about.
Also, it’s a lot of subtle decisions combined that mark the difference between amateur and professional cinematography. It takes years and plenty of patience to learn all the variables and how manipulating each one affects the final feel of an image.