Dark Menagerie – Behind the Scenes

Rachel, Karyn and Allison spent the last few months planning and shooting the Dark Menagerie Promo Video. Here are some pictures from their shooting weekends and a few tips they learned along the way.

This is the set-up for our first shot, where we approach the circus.

This is the set-up for our first shot, where we approach the circus.

Allison and Karyn get the first shot by keeping the zoom fixed and changing the focus to move slowly through the trees.

Allison and Karyn get the first shot by keeping the zoom fixed and changing the focus to move slowly through the trees.

Rachel applies oil to the back of the circus tent wall so the light would glow through.

Rachel applies oil to the back of the circus tent wall so the light would glow through.

Rachel oiling more circus walls over a paper plate to protect the floor.

Rachel oiling more circus walls over a paper plate to protect the floor.

Rachel putting the finishing touches on some trees, before we start rolling.

Rachel putting the finishing touches on some trees, before we start rolling.

Cameras usually condense space, so we spaced out the circus so it would look right when we filmed it.

Cameras usually condense space, so we spaced out the circus so it would look right when we filmed it.

To ensure all the silhouettes could be seen, we placed white figures in front of black backgrounds and vice versa.

To ensure all the silhouettes could be seen, we placed white figures in front of black backgrounds and vice versa.

To get colors targeted to different areas of the set, we set up a light with a colored lighting gel (basically cellophane), masked the light with black paper to create a smaller cone of light, and played until it looked right. Keep an eye (or nose) on how hot the lights are...sometimes they can catch fire when paper is attached.

To get colors targeted to different areas of the set, we set up a light with a colored lighting gel (basically cellophane), masked the light with black paper to create a smaller cone of light, and played until it looked right. Keep an eye (or nose) on how hot the lights are…sometimes they can catch fire when paper is attached.

Having a dark atmosphere was important for this shot, so we used layers of wax paper to dim and diffuse the lights.

Having a dark atmosphere was important for this shot, so we used layers of wax paper to dim and diffuse the lights.

Desk lamps make surprisingly good spotlights. We cover the head of the lamp with black paper and then cut a small hole in the middle to focus the light and control unwanted spill.

Desk lamps make surprisingly good spotlights. We cover the head of the lamp with black paper and then cut a small hole in the middle to focus the light and control unwanted spill.

The circus as seen from afar. You can see the back wall suspended with fishing line and clothes pins (or C-47s as film people say).

The circus as seen from afar. You can see the back wall suspended with fishing line and clothes pins (or C-47s as film people say).

Rachel was our honorary gremlin - she hung out under the table opening tent flaps with a pulley system and doing real-time lighting cues.

Rachel was our honorary gremlin – she hung out under the table opening tent flaps with a pulley system and doing real-time lighting cues.

Karyn and Allison pull focus through the forest of miniature trees.

Karyn and Allison pull focus through the forest of miniature trees.

Karyn gets the final shot of the film. Christmas tree lights behind black linen paper makes for very convincing stars.

Karyn gets the final shot of the film. Christmas tree lights behind black linen paper makes for very convincing stars.