Magazine article American Cinematographer

Short Takes

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Short Takes

Article excerpt

On-the-Rack Fashion

Rob Zombie might seem an unlikely choice to direct a Woolite commercial, but ad agency Euro RSCG Worldwide actually tailored a spot to him. It's called "Torture."

"The concept is that there's a mysterious figure out in the woods called The Torturer, and he's torturing clothes," says Zombie.

At first Zombie had to turn the project down because of touring commitments, but the agency kept changing the dates and locations to fit his schedule. When they finally locked a date in Vancouver, Zombie called in cinematographer Brandon Trost.

The Woolite gig marks the third collaboration between Trost and Zombie, after Halloween Il (2009) and music videos for the Zombie tracks "Sick Bubblegum" and "Mars Needs Women."

"I really like working with Rob, and we work really well together," says Trost. "The key is that we both know what we want, but we're not so committed ito those ideas] that it's at the expense of doing what's best for the project."

"Brandon is open-minded," Zombie remarks. "I'm never at a loss for what I want on set, but I'm always hoping that he'll have an idea of how to take things a step further. Sometimes he'll make suggestions and I'll stick to the original plan, but that's okay because there's no ego between us."

Filming took place over two days in and around Vancouver, with the first day set on a derelict farmland just south of the city. The Torturer does his worst - stretching out a cardigan on a medieval rack, shrinking a pretty top before using it to strangle a mannequin, and fading a pair of jeans under the brutal heat of electric lamps.

The agency only produced six panels of storyboards, but "we shot it like we would a movie," says Trost.

Zombie says the style he and Trost have worked out is predicated on speed and variety. "When we're doing coverage of a scene, unless there's a problem, I don't like to do multiple takes with the same lenses because then you get into editing, and you have the same setup and the same lens over and over," says Zombie.

The duo managed about 75 setups a day on Halloween I "Brandon gets the way I like to shoot," says Zombie. "And we usually don't have the time to do it any other way."

One way to achieve that kind of quantity and still craft a high-quality image is to shoot with two cameras and minimal lighting. "On Torture,'" Trost explains, "we shot all the spooky stuff in broad daylight. I didn't use anything except for some negative fill."

The "fade" sequence in the commercial employs some practical tungsten fixtures provided by the art department, and Trost punched them up with a couple of 1K Par cans. "Rob and I tend to use practicals or nothing at all," he says.

"Torture" was not only Zombie's first commercial, but also his first experience with a digital-cinema camera; Trost convinced him to experiment with a Red One (upgraded with the Mysterium-X sensor). "Rob and I both like the texture of film because we can degrade it," notes Trost. "But you can do that with digital, too, and I wanted to show him those possibilities."

Based on some tests he'd done with the Red for the feature Ghosf Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Trost decided to shoot all scenes involving The Torturer at 3,200 ASA - even though they're all day exteriors. "It brings out noise in the image, so it starts to feel like grain and starts to look a little more analog," he sap. "When you add a little contrast, the digital grain starts to stand out. When Rob saw that, he got really interested. …

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