- Timur Civan
Director / Cinematographer - 917-589-4424
Last month was shooting a tabletop spot for Sigma Cine lenses, specifically the 14mm T2.0. I chose that lens because its massive, nearly spherical front optic is visible from the typical head on product photography position, lending me more freedom for composition and style. Plus having some glass visible means I can use lights to build up beautiful reflections.
I got to thinking about that ball of glass. I wanted its set design to be like the ball of glass. All about reflection and bending light. The deep matte black paint on the lenses and white markings gives them a stark look. Unlike cooke's/Arri yellow markings, Angeniuex's red accents and logo or Leicas grey bodies with splashes of colors, the Sigma Cine are pure monochrome. Just black paint and white markings in a very modern aesthetic. I think they are one of the more attractive looking lenses just from an aesthetic design point of view. Mechanical, yet the textures of the paint feel almost like stone to me. I was also thinking about how reflections and shadows would express themselves on the lens and the background. I started thinking about stones and how I could use them. Initially experimenting with some slate as a background, but it just didn't feel right. I found some commercially polished stones in bulk, and they had a black shiny glass like appearance. On camera, they just looked like marbles. They had no texture, just highlight and jet black.
I discovered that wet river stones had the combination of aesthetics I was searching for. A rich shine, and still enough texture to pick up light. Trouble is, unless submerged, they just dry to a matte black. Then I had the idea to oil them. It wouldn't dry, and would give it the gloss look that almost resembles high end metallic auto paint. I sorted through 18lbs of stones, and picked out only the most perfect "camera caliber" individuals. I felt funny, sitting there passing judgement on individual rocks. Almost a "hot or not" type process.
I used a jewelers velvet backdrop, the blackest black surface you can get. And on top of that I lifted the lens up on a glass block to get some separation from the stones. I didn't want them totally in focus. At this point I started lighting. I used Vibesta Peragos RGBWW Tube lights to give long thin reflections in the Lens and stones. The main Key was a Rayzr7 300W Daylight fresnel with 2 layers of Amber gel pushing through a 4x4 of white milk glass P95 plastic. This was to create a warm amber glow that would reflect in the stones and give a splash of color to the set.
I used the Vibesta Peragos Tube lights because of the combination of high quality +95-TCLI white light (tungsten or Daylight), rich colors in RGB mode and most important their very light weight. They are interesting because unlike other tube lights, the Peragos tubes are modular. You can remove the battery, if you like to make them shorter and lighter. They are already some of the lightest tube lights around, but this light weight gives you some advantages, they can be rigged further off to the side of the tube, without fear of making a stress point. I was able to keep the rigging equipment off the set much easier. In this case, you can see, they are so light, I was able to just rest them on the flags that helped shape the shadows on the left and right of the set.
Two light tubes ran vertical up and down the set on the table surface, just out of frame. They provided the edgelight to the lens, and highlighted the "glass sphere" front element. as well as long thin highlights on the oiled stones. With two more running perpendicular next to the lens. With careful placement of the tubes, and camera angle, I was able to make the colors from the tube lights affect different parts of the image, without too much contamination on the subject. I did want some hint of color reflecting in the center sheen of the lens body, but it was subtle and for the most part contained. Just by sliding the tube near the lens forward or back, I was able to control how much of that spill colored the body of the lens.
I set up one of the overhead tubes to have a cyan blue tint, to add some color contrast to the reflections in the black stones. Cyan on the bottom, orange up top. A play on the "Hollywood" Orange/Cyan color scheme. To demonstrate how simple it is to control colors with the LED's, even the ones that aren't RGB.
The background and lighting for the stones was accomplished with a Rayzr7 300w Daylight fresnel, with a double layer of Chrome Orange Lee filter, pushing through a 4'x4' white P95 milk glass plexi. This gives a soft subtle warm highlight on the background.
I hope this insight into my working process was as interesting for you as it was for me.
Timur Civan Director / Cinematographer - Table Top and Product - 917-589-4424
Represented by WSM - https://www.wschupfer.com/artists/timur-civan-cinematography