Shooting in Abu Dhabi in the Summer, literally spells H.O.T! Yep, Boiling Hot to be more precise… I think it was about 48 degrees when we shot for the Shangri La hotel.
The shoot was a branding film for the Shangri La Hotel in Abu Dhabi. It was produced by Muddville films and Directed by co-owner Jac Mulder.
The concept was to simply display the beautiful premises and facilities of the Shangri La in a contemporary fashion. We had a handful of models, a Ferrari, two days and blazing hot sun! The director and I decided to shoot the piece on the RED Camera, with a set of Zeiss Ultra Primes, including a 10mm and an Optimo 24-290 T2.8 Zoom lens.
Having recced the location and worked on the schedule along side 1st AD Brian Shuman, we managed to suss out where and when the hotel would be at its quietest and have the optimum light. We shot several set ups all around the hotel, from early mornings into the night. Shooting in a hotel can be problematic, mainly due to it being full with members of the public who are on holiday…
From past experience of shooting in hot climates, I was worried the RED would over heat, a problem many RED users will be aware of. To prevent it we always kept a flag over it to at least shade it from direct sun. Plus, something a DIT taught me (thanks Andrew Clemson), ‘just treat the Camera like any other member of the crew’, meaning give it breaks when the crew takes a break. So every time the extremely talented focus puller Toyota took a break the camera did too…
We maximized a semi circle track for a ‘fairy tale’ style transition, that would later be comped to look like a page turn of a book. This was a fun idea due to Jac’s post background, he was confident it would work and add some interest to the film. Jac personally designed and executed the post work.
To get the underwater shots we didn’t use an underwater housing as such, but a fish tank. What?? I hear you say, ‘a fish tank?’. Seriously that’s what we did. We put some wood at the bottom and rubber around the lens then carefully mounted the camera into the tank and submerged it so the lens was below the surface. Pretty basic, and some would maybe say ‘daft’, but it worked incredibly well and enabled us to get shots we wouldn’t have been able to get on the budget…and yes the camera did survive… In the future I think it would be wise to customize the tank for such use.
Although we had lots of grip equipment inc 6 straights, a full circle track and a Skater Dolly, the old faithful skateboard and 10mm made an appearance… I have never been that keen on the skateboard shot, thinking it was amateur, but with the stability of the 10mm it made for a very quick and easy set-up and enabled us to grab shots when the lighting and grip crew moved onto the next location set-up. Surprisingly, for what we needed it worked wonders!
The final film was 7mins, here’s a few shots I put together……. all comments welcome.