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I was honored to get a call from Kessler Crane to head down to Nashville to help Rodney Charters with a motion control shot for ABC’s new drama “Nashville”. Rodney Charters has DP’d the series “24”, “Dallas”, “Shameless”, “Charlie’s Angels” and much more, so it was a huge honor to get to work with him.
Rodney was given the difficult task of shooting a motion control plate of a cheering crowd on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry during a live performance between a commercial break. The commercial break only lasted 120 seconds, so we had to carry out our rig, get our shots, and get off stage in under 120 seconds so that we wouldn’t interrupt the rest of the concert. The Kessler motion control system is the only system that is lightweight and fast enough to be able to stay under that time limit. That’s not to say this was an easy task. I don’t think I slept at all that night after I talked with Rodney about the 120 second limit. I decided that lasers would be the fastest and most accurate way to line up out shots. I figured out a way to fasten lasers to the Cineslider and the pan and tilt of the revolution head. In total we used 4 lasers. These lasers had to be securely fastened, because we weren’t going to be shooting the actors until 2 weeks later.
Before the concert we spent time lining up and programing our shot. We would place markers on the floor of the stage as well as on the cineslider for placement of the track. If I remember correctly, in total we shot in 5 different locations around the concert. The center-stage shot was the only shot we had a 120 second limit for, the other 4 locations we were able to take more time with.
For the on-stage shot, we waited until the last chord of the song before commercial break, then we ran out with the rig, lined up the 4 lasers, returned the cart to the starting position, and within 30 seconds we were ready to roll. During this time an announcer would inform the crowd what we were doing, then he would direct them to stand up and cheer. We took the next 60 seconds to get several different takes, we recorded 2 different moves and we were able to get both takes. In the last 30 seconds of the 120 second limit we picked up the rig and carried it off stage as the performers were coming back on stage. We were all very hesitant about how it would work, but running off that stage there was such an adrenaline and rush that we were able to do what we thought was impossible. We then spent the rest of the night shooting different shots around the Grand Ole Opry.
Two weeks later we came back to shoot with the actors of “Nashville”. We had put down our laser markers and covered them with clear packing tape so they wouldn’t be scuffed up. Green screen was placed over where the actors were standing, and we filmed the same shots as before. The two shots were composited together to show the screaming crowd of a Brad Paisley concert cheering for the “Nashville” actors.
Gear wise, we used a 3ft Kessler Cineslider with the Revolution Head on the Kessler K-pod. We had two oracle controllers that were fastened to the cineslider using Zacuto Zamerican arms. We used a 100 series motor on the Cineslider.
We also spent a week shooting second unit shots around Nashville. We were given a list of shots and we took a similar but smaller setup around ton. The Director wanted movement in every shot, so we used the kessler setup on almost every shot. For this portion of shooting, the crew consisted of just me and my wife Heather.
The Trailer to Nashville can be seen here:
examples of these shots can be seen at :09 and 1:15
The Season Premiere is Wednesday October 10th at 10/9c
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