22 Aug 2019

How To Shoot On A Submarine


How To Shoot On A Submarine

by Simon Davies, Director of Photography at SDDP.

Step 1: Watch ‘Das Boot’.
Step 2: Haze.
Step 3: Thank Astera for making Titan Tubes!

I recently wrapped on a short film, part of which was set on a submarine. We shot on the HMAS Otama, built in 1978 and retired in 2001. As this sub is non-operational it meant there would be no power supply onboard. That and the fact it’s moored 30 minutes off the coast of Hastings made this a difficult shoot straight off the bat.

HMAS Otama moored 30 minutes off the coast of Hastings

I knew that we’d be locked into small fixtures, more than likely practicals with the option to be battery powered. After a bit of searching I ended up purchasing the Astera Titan tubes.

The Titans are full colour (RGB, Amber & Mint) tubes, each with a battery life of 2hrs at max output and up to 20 hours if needed. Everything is controlled off either my phone or on the fixture itself.

Each tube can be split into 16 sections which are capable of animating not only across themselves individually but also in a flow. Basically transitioning from one tube to the other. We wanted to contrast the handheld look which was being used for the other scenes so we decided to go with a stedicam.

Add a little haze and a few kids and our working environment just got a little tighter. Cinematographer Aaron Foley, ever the professional, took it all in his stride.

This scene was one of our quickest setups taking 10 minutes to block, light and haze. Basically three Titan Tubes on the ceiling set to a teal hue on a slow strobe. That mixed with the colour contrast of the torch and heavy shadows makes for an interesting image.

CX Magazine – August 2019   Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online
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