Shooting out on location in a busy environment like New York City can be extremely difficult. When dealing with police, public safety, traffic, and pedestrians, it can often be near impossible to create the look you want without sacrificing your lighting. The way videographer David Geffin tackled these issues in his latest project, "Let's Dance," is pretty brilliant.
David Geffin is an amazing videographer and photographer who used to write for Fstoppers back in the day. In fact, to this day he still has one of the most popular Fstoppers articles ever, and he is also the talent behind one of my favorite personal concepts ever, The Angus Young Halloween Costume. Needless to say, Dave has created some incredibly inspiring work over the years.
When I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, a fashion/dance video stopped me in my tracks, and I thought: "wow, this is really interesting lighting, and that looks like Peter Hurley's rooftop!" Of course, the video was produced by Dave Geffin, and the lighting setup I found so interesting was created using lights I actually own: the Westcott 1x2' Flex Bi-Color Leds. I actually own the older non-bi-color version of these lights, and Lee and I have used them extensively for creating our YouTube content (check out our review here).
Unlike our older versions of these lights, the new Flex Cine Travel Kit allows you to mount powerful 26v Lithium-Ion batteries to the ballasts for powerful LED lighting on the go. Obviously, having a battery option reduces the need for loud and heavy generators, but more importantly, in a shooting environment like Times Square, these lights keep you mobile and free of long wires.
As you can see in the behind the scenes video below (shot by Chuy Guiterrez), Dave and his crew were able to run around uptown Manhattan easily, presumably without the use of permits, and film professional video without all the hassle that usually comes with lighting something of this caliber. I also spy a pretty interesting use of one of our favorite bluetooth speakers, the Aomais Sport II, that we are using for a future project here at Fstoppers.
When I reached out to Dave about the shoot, he expressed how complicated the concept was to pull off:
On a shoot that was specifically focused on being out on location in one of the busiest areas of one of the busiest cities in the world, incorporating dancing and choreographed camera and lighting movement, we ended up through pure bad luck shooting on literally the hottest day of the year. It was 108 degrees with very high humidity, and to say it was not the easiest of shoots was something of an understatement.
I've used many of our own LED lights out on location, but I've never thought of using the Flex lights powered with the lithium batteries as a dynamic, moving light source. Because these lights are relatively large, but still lightweight, they produce a very flattering, soft light source that is a bit more forgiving than your typical, bare-bulb, harsh light source. Dave explained his approach to lighting this shoot, and I'm a bit ashamed I didn't think of it first:
I wanted a mobile lighting situation that was highly adaptable and had a clean commercial look, which so many clients now want to bring on location. Because of the changing ambient lighting, I needed something that also gave me the ability to vary color temperature depending on the look I was going for in a given scene.
It's always fun to find this sort of content spontaneously and then realize it was created by a good friend of yours. David Geffin has some great video and stills work, and I'm always happy when our paths cross in New York. Some of the other talent involved in this video were Britney Young and Alex Nahorniak-Svenski, who you can see helping with lighting. The dancers were Jennifer Daniels, Meki Saldana, and Marsha Larose