This was a fun project.
Problem solving is the name of the game. This project presented two unique challenges while working as a gaffer. 1) How do we trigger the air cannon? and 2) How do we rig our lights so the stands and lights are not in the shot?
I love tinkering and building diy projects. So when I pitched the team the idea of a confetti cannon that the actor can trigger, they were all in.
Here’s a clip of the air cannon loaded with confetti being tested:
Here is how it works. The confetti cannon is just a diy air cannon which uses a PVC tank as a reservoir for pressurized air. After you press a momentary on/off switch, there is a solenoid valve that releases air from the reservoir.
To charge up — or more accurately, “pressurize” — the air reservoir, I installed a tire valve for a bicycle onto the reservoir tank. After a few pumps from a standard bike pump, you are good to go (~40psi).
But how do you trigger the air cannon to fire?
I built a foot switch that has a small momentary on/off switch.
The momentary switch is very similar to something that you would use for a doorbell on a home. I wired the switch to work with a 9v battery.
On the air cannon, the solenoid is the green section with wires. Once a voltage is applied to it, the valve opens and releases air from the reservoir.
Most of the shots for this music video are wide, so the office space is in full view.
The camera movement also really didn’t allow for the use of light stands.
The solution now was to either boom lights overhead or just rig the lights to conduit and beams on the ceiling.
We used a set of Astera Titan tubes for the “Money Room” and I set them to strobe green, so the shot felt more dynamic. I love working with these lights as they are easily controlled from a tablet or phone.
The Camera, Lens & Dolly
The team decided to go with a doorway dolly & track over a gimbal, and our results illustrate the difference. Gimbals have a time and a place, but because of their popularity (tirelessly overused), classic dolly shots have a stronger visual impact.
On this project, the doorway dolly guaranteed consistent shots, since the director Alex Reinhard, wanted each shot to flow into the next — seemingly like an in-camera transition.
For the opening shot, I rolled (on stands) a China Ball on the end of a boom pole, alongside our talent. I was right next to our camera and needed to track with our talent so the exposure didn’t change.
It was tricky because our shot was pretty wide. On a lot of the takes, my arm and boom pole kept dipping into the frame, but ultimately we nailed the shot. (Thanks team, for your patience).
That just about sums it up. Leave a comment or email if you have any questions!