This nostalgic video shows a day-in-the-life of a couple from the 70’s on one side of a split screen, while the same actors (Alexandra Lowell & Joey Vahedi) portray their modern counterparts on the other. It already logged a million views within 24 hours!
Even though BuzzFeed has produced split screen videos in the past (like this gem), I Photoshopped a series of tests to open a dialogue on aspect ratios with the Director, Mark Rinehart, and fellow producers to evaluate.
In the end, we decided to frame for 4:3 and protect for 16:9. The two 4:3 images would play nicely together in a widescreen output. Mark and his team wanted lots of freedom in post on how they would ultimately frame each shot. With that information, I lobbied to shoot in 4K for maximum flexibility, but we utilized BuzzFeed’s Canon C300 and Zeiss Super Speed ZF primes at 1080p.
Our production designer, Julie Chen, and her team did an amazing job transforming our first location into what we dubbed our “Mad Men set.” Aside from period costume and props, we used softer lighting and a hazer to further separate the two worlds.
Mark wanted as much continuity between the two shots as possible so the audience could solely focus on the differences between the eras. The fewer technical distractions, the better! Given the limitations of each location, I’m very pleased with our success rate. Had this been a studio shoot, then it would’ve been a cake walk!
Day one brought us to a craftsman home in Franklin Village to shoot the period set. Day two sent us to Los Feliz and a modern house atop a very steep hill. The hill posed some serious issues for loading gear, but production’s passenger van assisted G&E on the transportation front. Both days began with a photo shoot of our couple in their wedding clothes.
My 1st AC, Megan Boundy, kept meticulous notes so our lens heights, focal lengths, and distances remained consistent. To further ensure each frame matched the previous day’s throwback shots, our editor, Steve Lee, delivered a rough assembly. By rigging Mark’s laptop next to monitor, we massaged the frame as much as time permitted.
In our initial conversations, Mark warned me that “Frame Fucking” would be prohibited on this show. That’s his wonderful term for spending lots of time getting the lighting and angles perfect. Alexandra had hard outs each day, which kept our schedule tight.
An important element to the story is what my Gaffer, Austin Michaels, calls the “BuzzFeed shot.” It’s the direct overhead that is a staple of their videos. His rig of choice utilizes a speed rail slider and an under-slung head.
Our third and final production day commenced six weeks later at the BuzzFeed stages (aka Big Lots). For eleven hours, we essentially shot two laundry commercials highlighting the particulars of Tide’s relatively new style of detergent, “Pods.”
Knowing that we’d be confined to two sections of the stage for some time, I set-up this time-lapse with my GoPro.
Should I shoot/post more behind the scenes videos like the one above and this old gem? Let me know in the comments section!