In the Jeans: Shooting Denim Among Californian Horse Ranches


Chris Laughter

Director/ Cinematographer

When Snackhaus, a creative content production company based in Los Angeles, was putting together a video shoot for denim fashion brand Articles of Society, Director/Cinematographer, Chris Laughter realised there was a problem. The location, an old house built in the 1920s up among the horse ranches near Santa Clarita, California, had a very poor electrical infrastructure and bringing in a large, noisy generator was out of the question.

In order to decrease his power draw while maintaining the quantity of lighting needed he turned to Litepanels. We caught up with him to find out more.

Why did you pick a location with such challenges?

The location was perfect, with great character and rustic charm, it was just the look we wanted for our Spring/Summer 2013 Articles of Society videos. But unfortunately the electrical wiring was equally rustic. Many of the outlets didn’t work or were unreliable. I knew Litepanels would be releasing their Sola 12 LED Fresnel soon and I thought it would be the perfect tool for this job since it only draws 350 Watts but outputs about 2K worth of light.

Why did you choose to shoot with the new Canon EOS-1D C cinema camera?

 We were primarily shooting video for Articles of Society’s denim jeans line but by shooting in 4K we were able to deliver still photos for concurrent print and online promotions as well.

You were chasing the sun and had twelve different setups, how did you make this work?

The small form factor of the 1D C allowed us to move quickly, but the Litepanels fixtures were just as quick and incredibly versatile. I had a bunch of Litepanels at my disposal: the Sola 12 LED Fresnel, a Sola 4 LED Fresnel, two 1×1 Bi-Colors, and a Micro.

We kept the Sola 12 attached to our longest stinger and our most reliable outlet for all of the interior shots because we kept moving it around the house and punching it through windows to create nice, direct beams of daylight streaming through.

The location was perfect, with great character and rustic charm. But unfortunately the electrical wiring was equally rustic

We also brought it inside for one shot of our model doing some stretches on a rug. Even with the low ceiling in the house we were able to find a great angle and the Fresnel allowed us to focus the beam for a beautiful back light.

Even after running the Sola 12 for hours at a time, our gaffer and key grip were able to adjust and reposition it quickly without gloves or any fear of burning themselves. Not to mention we didn’t have to worry about burning the low ceiling.

Around two-thirds of your setups were inside, why did you choose the 1×1 Bi-Color fixtures to light the model?

Having the option of adjusting the colour temperature was great. With the Bi-Colors I was able to dial in the perfect balance of daylight and tungsten to give her a slightly warm look against the daylight from the Sola 12.

During one scene in the kitchen, the model is making coffee with her back to the camera before walking over to the table and sitting down. You added light to accentuate the Articles of Society logo on her jeans. How did you achieve this?

The gaffer quickly grabbed the Litepanels Sola 4, dropped in a 1/8 CTO gel and trimmed the light with the barndoors. He handheld the Sola 4 about waist-high and tracked our model through the shot, keeping the spot on the logo as she moved. Being able to quickly grab a lightweight Fresnel that is cool enough to be operated handheld without gloves is great, and we used it on multiple setups just like that. We even used the Sola 4 on a stand arm about eight inches from the lens to create some great flares a few times.

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