Proper Coffee

In an ideal world I prefer not to direct and DP the same project. I want to really focus on one job and do it well and not fight spliting my time between roles. Sometimes you just don't have the budget to hire a cinematographer. So when I started working on this project I tried to keep things as simple as possible when it came to production. We had to shoot while the shop was open due to scheduling. Another reason I wanted to keep our set ups simple. The reason I could get away with minimal lighting was because the store front was completely made up of windows that allowed in some great light. The biggest challenge was not what lights to use, but what do we use to shape the existing light.

Dolly Shots


To start the day I wanted to get the most complex shots out of the way, and these were two dolly set ups. We used a 12x12 quarter grid to slow the light coming in the far background window. Then we added a 4x4 quarter grid on a C-stand so we could move it around our hero just to soften the light on him a bit.

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Close Ups

We moved in for close ups next. Basically my plan was to move the camera counter clockwise around the room. I was trying my best to be efficient with our set ups. We had a small crew, but skilled. Here we added a Quazar to increase the reflections off of the espresso machine and back light the steam. We didn't need a ton of light so we only used one.

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Flag Montage

This set up was simply modified from what we already had going on in the room. We moved the 4x4 quarter grid in close to our subjects to create a softer look and then put a 4x4 floppy on the opposite side for negative fill. The key was not to nudge the camera because I wanted a very quick locked down montage of differnt people and drinks.

Over the Shoulder

We moved our 12x12 quarter grid to the other side of the room for the slo-mo, handheld, over the shoulder shots. We used the 4x4 quarter grid with a Quazar to supplement the existing light. We were further from the windows now and needed a bit of punch on our talent. Not shown in the lighting diagram are a couple of floppies outside which were used to block light on the back wall to slow its exposure. See the pic below. We also turned the 4x4 set up about 45 degrees on the reverse angles to better light our hero. 

Macro Shots

Finally we ended the day with a series of high speed (120fps) macro shots. I knew our crew could start packing up gear not in use as I shot. I built a small on location studio in the corner of the shop and used a couple of Quazars to top and side light the drinks I was working with.

Gear Used

Here's a list of what gear was used during the shoot:


We knocked out all five of these set ups in one day. In the story Noah talks about making coffee at home. So I scouted his apartment and knew I could shot what I needed by myself. I essentially blacked out three of four windows in his kitchen and used only one window as a side light.

I'm really happy with how this project turned out. My buddy Dave Docimo, a talented director, edited and color graded it and I added the sound design. Not every project you showcase, but this is one project our production company, Wavelengthfilms, is proud of. We'll have more BTS pics up on the site soon.

If you have questions please feel free to ask.