Light and color play an important role in the art of visual storytelling. Combinations of hues, saturation and intensity can set the tone and mood of a scene or represent a range of human emotions from joy to sadness and anger to fear. To tell the moving story of his friend’s journey from NFL hopeful to football coach, Director ShaBiron Shockley used the power of color and light from Litepanels’ Gemini 1x1 Hard to create the emotionally engaging film.
“This is a story about my friend, Timmy breaker, he is an athlete from the town I grew up in Glassboro, New Jersey,” says Shabiron. “He was a star high school athlete, but he didn’t make it to the big league. This film explores what happens afterwards. If you don’t make it, it shows that there are always options, there is always hope.”
As a commercial director, Shabiron creates tight TV spots, but with this personal project, an eight-minute mini documentary, came the chance to flex and show his personal style with a narrative story. “In this format, I got to stay with the character and try some things that I can’t do in a 30-second window,” he says. With Steph Lee as producer, Taj Devore-Bey as DP and Shabiron as writer and director, the crew were ready to make “Coach Timmy”.
Beast mode activated
With a limited crew and several interior and exterior locations to shoot, Shabiron needed equipment that was lightweight, fast to set up, simple to operate, and mobile power.
“I wanted lights that are small and portable to move around easily but still had a big output.”ShaBiron ShockleyDP
Two Litepanels Gemini 1x1 Hard units provide to main lighting on “Coach Timmy.” Weighing in at just 13lbs, the AC/DC powered one-foot panels can output up to 3,000 lux of daylight, tungsten or RGB light. “I love the fact that I could pop the Gemini light onto a C-stand, or just Hollywood them and carry them around when I needed to,” says Shabiron. “My experience with the Gemini 1x1 Hard was great. They were easy for me and easy for the rest of the crew. I don’t think there’ll be another set that these small beasts won’t be on.”
Color me sad
Gemini 1x1 Hard fixtures have a built-in digital library of 300 industry-standard gel colors available instantly over a daylight or tungsten base. “When I thought about lighting on this project, I knew I wanted an LED light, but I didn’t want something that only did daylight or tungsten,” says Shabiron. “I wanted something that was easy to set up and gave me a bunch of different color options. Litepanels Gemini 1x1s were perfect for this.”
Using the RGB capabilities of Gemini together with the gel library, Shabiron and Taj used color to show Timmy’s emotional state in some key scenes. “For the gym scene, we used two Geminis each with a blue gel dialed in and bounced the light off of the walls to create the atmosphere,” says Taj. “This moment is right after he didn’t get called for the draft. He’s in this dark world where you have this feeling of rejection in the air.” Shabiron adds, “People were kind of counting him out at that moment. I wanted to really highlight him being in his own head, having that cold and empty feeling where it’s just him alone in the gym.”
Color me mad
In the next scene, the mood shifts. “Now we are outside, and the primary color you see is red,” says Shabiron. “It’s opposite color on the spectrum to the previous scene, it symbolizes the pain he is going through, the anger of letting people down when he wanted to be the one to make it.” Instant mood changes come at the push of a button with the Gemini lights and several red options were immediately available. “I wanted that red that you see on a traffic light, a punchy red. We had about five or six different shades to choose from, so it was easy for me to just find one that was super close to what I wanted.”
With various locations, including a gym, parking lot and a living room, mobile power was a must have for the production. Gemini panels have the option of V-Mount, Gold Mount or Gold Mount Plus battery brackets for easy integration on any project. “We were on the Gold Mount plate with Anton/Bauer Dionic XT150 batteries to power the lights and we didn’t have to change them, they would last all day,” says Shabiron. The maximum power draw of a Gemini 1x1 Hard is just 200W so running on battery power for long periods is possible. And as camera image sensors become more powerful, they need less light, so batteries last even longer.
On this project, the crew used an ARRI Mini LF with an Atlas Orion Silver Series anamorphic lens. “That camera handles light so well, you really don’t need much,” says Shabiron. “I wanted something that makes my job minimal. So, I don’t have to bring in super crazy lights.” On “Coach Timmy,” Taj could often run the Gemini lights at just 8% intensity, so the Anton/Bauer batteries could easily last all day. “Most documentaries are run-n-gun, so you need to move quickly anywhere,” says Shabiron. “With the Anton/Bauer batteries we could just run around and have really great light in scenes where we usually just use reflectors, I could soften the brightness simply with a snap bag for the exact look I wanted.”
Shabiron plans to use “Coach Timmy,” as a proof of concept to pitch a documentary series. “I love my town and want to tell the story of people from my town and the amazing things they do to shine light and give people hope,” he says. “The film shows that there is another way if things don’t go your way. In life, you don’t get what you want. You get what you deserve.” Whatever happens next, Litepanels Gemini 1x1 Hard fixtures will be the light of choice for Shabiron.
“It’s just small and simple to set up. For filmmakers, big or small, it’s perfect to fit in any space and with portability and output too everything merges into the perfect light you need.”ShaBiron ShockleyDP