The search for the idea for the opening sequence started with thinking around the ‘main title’. Our next thought was what would give us a moving metaphor? Something which would deliver a journey, bright, glamour and hopeful. Also most importantly, an object from the time, mid 60’s in which the movie is set. The answer - Mirror Ball.
As with all our sequences, a seamless entry into the first scene of the movie is imperative and the Mirror Ball again answers this with the addition of taking the view visually to Nigeria / Lagos, as you will see.
Our DOP Jonathan Le Roux explains here how we shot the ball:
The approach we took to filming the mirror ball was to see it as a beautiful woman. So lighting her was fun.
I created a black box around the mirror ball with black Polyboards and black out. This would stop any reflections in the mirror ball. I cut a small hole in the Polyboard and created a window for the lens to peek through.
The choice of lens was our attempt to recreated the 70’s zoom. We could start wide on the mirror ball and then zoom into the small map of Africa, which was stuck onto the mirror ball.
The camera was set at native 800 iso, f-stop 4.5, this allowed more depth of field for the small lighting set up, (which you could not do with the older film stocks). It also created a wonderful filmic feel, no less to the exceptional qualities of the Alexa.
We shot various passes of the mirror ball spinning with different colours, blue then green, just blue and variations of that. The warmer tones we shot with the lighting having 1/2 CT Straw on the lamps. To add more warmth, I set the colour balance to 5600k. This was to reflect the warmth of Africa. There was also a pass with various colours in one shot. We would also have a pass with the smoke, giving depth to the image.
To create depth in the mirror ball, 4 dedo lights where used and one 1 KW Arri Fesnel with half diffusion. 1 kw fennel was used as the key, 1 deco was used as a backlight, the other 3 dedos where used to sculpt the mirror ball, allowing it to stand out from the black background. Dedo’s are great as they have dimmers on them, I could control the intensity of the direct light which I enjoy using.
Working with Richard and his team at The Morrison Studio was fantastic, they know what they want and get the results they need without fuss. What a wonderful day we had in the studio, lighting and playing with a mirror ball, the guys did a great job of assembly and finally the titles.
In order to create this sequence we needed to own the scene. This meant we had to find a way to have complete control over the shot. To do this we decided to shoot passes of several elements that we built up into a 3D comp.
First the ball was shot under serval lighting conditions, which we combined into one element and projected onto a sphere. Then we shot some smoke and atmos plates, which were keyed and placed on cards. Finally, a clean background of the reflected light was shot against black and used as a virtual back drop.
The sequence was animated with a virtual tracking move and the final touches were added, which included graphics and a grade.
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