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FREELessons: 14Length: 1.6 hours

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4.1 Setup

In this lesson and the next few lessons, I'm gonna walk you through exactly how I'm going to approach pulling off a shot like this. So I wanna show you what I have going on here in my garage studio. You can see, I've gotten to work a little bit ahead of time kind of setting a few things up to save time. And you can see I have a table set up here, and on the table, I've set up some laminate flooring. Now this kind of stuff, you can find at your local home improvement store. It's very inexpensive. It looks fantastic and it's very easy to put together. No tools are required. This stuff basically just kind of snaps together very, very quickly. Depending on the manufacturer, you can get away with between one and two packages of laminate flooring to cover an area about this big. This is about three feet long and about 26 inches wide. It's just enough to cover this table here, or the middle section of this table here. And it's gonna work out really fantastic for the shot. And you can see behind me here I have a background set up. That is a 107 inch wide seamless paper background from a company called Savage. Now for a shot like this, you don't necessarily have to have a huge background because I'm guessing, for the focal length that we're gonna be using, I'm really only gonna need the middle portion of this. So you might be able to get away with a width of around maybe 50 to 60 inches. But I happen to have this so I'm going to use it. The color that I'm going to use is thunder gray and that way I'm not going to get too much reflection of the lights back on to my scene and I can control things. If I want reflections, I'll put reflectors or bounce cards or other lights behind my shoes to get that kind of bounce. But if I have something a little bit darker, it just makes things a little bit more controllable. But, you certainly can pull a very similar look to this off with white. But I think it's gonna work a little bit better to start with this thunder gray, which is kind of a darker gray tone. The paper background is set up on a background lighting support system, which is essentially two lightweight aluminum light stands in a crossbar that goes in between them. And then I have a few counterweights on the signs to prevent the roll from sinking. So I just put a few pretty heavy sandbags on the portion of the crossbar that's hanging over. You can probably just see barely one of the sandbags over there. And what that does is, it just kind of pulls that crossbar up so that it doesn't sag. One of the problems you can run into with paper background is that if you leave them up, especially for a period of time, the paper because it's fairly heavy can start to sag and bow. And that will ruin the roll, then it will be all kind of warped in kinks, and it'll just not be very fun to work with anymore. You can that see this paper background is a little bit warped on the side. It actually came from the factory that way, but because I'm only gonna be using the middle portion of it, it's gonna work just fine. You can also try using a fabric background to pull off the same exact look. And you can find that at your local fabric store in pretty wide widths. Sometimes you can get them upwards of between 60 and 100 inches, depending on where you go. If not, you can definitely find lots of fabric backgrounds online. Now fabric backgrounds are fantastic, they're pretty inexpensive, but they do wrinkle so you may want to give it a little bit of an iron or find some stretching material and use a bunch of clamps to pull it taut. So that you don't have a bunch of wrinkles in your background. But fabric is another way to go for sure. Now in my garage studio here, this is a two car garage that is about 20 by 20 with around 10-foot ceilings. It's actually 10 feet over here and 9 and a half over here. I've painted most of the walls in here black, so this wall's black, that wall's black, this wall's black. My garage door, which is behind the camera here, is white. But what that allows me to do is get a great control over the reflections. Now, if you're shooting this in your living room or your kitchen or some other space that has lots of windows or lightly colored walls, you're gonna have a little bit more of a challenge when it comes to those reflections and light sources. The only lights that are in here right now are video lighting so that you can see what's going on, and that's artificial lighting. And because we're using strobes to shoot this set up here, I'm going to be able to completely kill out all the ambient light, so none of these lights are really going to matter. But if there was a big bright window over here, and the sun was hammering into our scene, that probably would affect things. Because the shutter speed that I'm going to use, which is around one-two hundred fiftieth of a second, is not going to be high enough to completely kill out the sun. The cool thing about paper is that this paper is really thick stuff and it would need a really, really bright light to shine through this paper and affect what's going on in this little set up here. Fabric, on the other hand, is pretty transparent, I mean you can't see through it. But if you set up any kind of fabric, even a black muslin background against a white wall, you could pretty much see the white wall right behind it. So you need to either double or sometimes even triple the fabric in the background to get that level of opacity. So if you're working with a space that has a lot of windows and a lot of natural light, and you're not going to use that natural light. You may wanna think about flagging all of it off so you get maximum control when you're shooting using strobes and speed lights. I'm gonna be setting up this shot here on this table, which is pretty low. A lot of standard light stands won't be able to get your light modifiers and your strobes this low unless you get special short light stands. The standard light stand, the top of it sits right about here, and you don't have a whole lot of flexibility getting it lower unless you use some boom arms. So that's what I'm going to be using for the lighting set up in this particular case. I'm gonna be using some C stands, which are a good bit taller than the table. But I'm going to use those boom arms to get the lights down low and position them where I need to. I have my camera here set up on a tripod. This is a Canon 7D with a third party battery grip here. And this is just a pretty standard, very inexpensive Manfrotto, I think it's 190XB tripod sticks set up here. And then it's a Fancy A little ball head here. It's a pretty inexpensive tripod and head setup, but it works just fine for this Canon 7D and a relatively light lens. You can see I have a sandbag here attached to the bottom of the tripod. That's just to add a little bit more stability because I'm going to be walking around and adjusting my lights, I don't want to bump into my camera and knock it over. And because I don't really want to set my legs really wide because that may become a tripping hazard, and it might get in the way of some of the light stands. It's going to make my camera platform here a lot more unstable, so using a little sandbag here attached to the center column of the tripod makes this very, very stable. You see it really doesn't wanna tip over, even if I help it along a pretty good amount. This is not a heavy sandbag. It's probably maybe seven or eight pounds. But because it's pretty low, it's gonna work really, really well for getting my camera a lot of stability. This sandbag is attached to the center column here with a little piece of para cord. Now para cord, sometimes called 550 cord, is apparently the rope or twine that they use in parachutes, is called 550 cord because it's rated for about 550 pounds. It's really, really strong stuff. And I find it super useful for all kinds of projects in photography and video production and in real life. You'll probably see that I've been wearing this bracelet the entire time. This is a para cord bracelet, and I have this for emergencies in case I need to, I don't know, make a belt or shoelaces or something. But it's really, really useful stuff, I use it for projects all the time. I find it very, very useful to put a little loop on a sandbag like this because just using the handle, at least on this sandbag, won't really attach to some stands very well. You can see I can kind of balance it here, but I give this little push. [SOUND] And it'll pretty much just fall right off. So I take this little loop here and I can wrap it right around, and because it's rated for 550 pounds, it's really not gonna go anywhere. If anything breaks, it's gonna be my tripod, not this little loop of para cord that I have on here. In fact, I use para cord here as my camera strap just because it's really lightweight, and it works really, really well. So that's pretty much it for the basic set up here. I have my table. And my laminate flooring, again, it's a little bit low but I think it's going to work just fine for this set up. I have my thunder gray paper background back here on my background support stand. And in the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to set up the shoes and get things kind of composed right with the camera and see how close I can get to making this shot look just like the illustration. So check that out coming up next.

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