pierce sitdown title

Today I worked as a lighting director and a director of photography for Turner Network Television (TNT) in Waltham, Massachusetts. I was asked to help setup and shoot a sit down interview with John Thompson Jr. (former Georgetown University coach) and Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics.

You can watch a time lapse of our entire day by clicking here.

This interview will be edited and presented world-wide on TNT Tuesday October 28th at 7pm EST during the one-hour pre-game show. The defending NBA World Champion Celtics will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Boston Garden at 8pm EST. For those of you in the Boston area, tune to Comcast channel 833 (TNTHD).

UPDATE! The feature has aired. To see it click here. But read the rest of the blog first!

I worked with two other camera guys from the Boston Market, John and Dave. We also had an audio guy named Bill to handle all of our sound.

We rented most of the gear from Rule Broadcast in Watertown, Massachusetts. I arrived at Rule with Dave at 8am. We picked up two Sony F900 HDCAMs, and one Panasonic 900 VariCam. It would have been nice to get three of the same f900s, but a third was not available. In addition to the cameras, we rented an Arri light kit consisting of two 150s, two 300s, two 650s and plenty of light stands and diffusion/gels. I brought along some of my lighting gear and added it to the rental package. We also rented two HDSDI monitors, three tripods, tons of Anton Bauer batteries and AC power supplies for each camera from Rule. Toss in some tape stock and we were out the door!

We arrived at Healthpoint (Boston Sports Club) athletic complex in Waltham around 9am. This place is where the Boston Celtics practice and workout. It is also open to the public and functions as a full service gym and athletic training facility.

We had the “Hall of Fame” room reserved for the interview scheduled to lens at noon. Basically, we had about two and a half hours to transform the room into a perfectly lit space where two people would sit and talk about basketball.

the set

I decided that we would use the two Chimera softboxes as the keylights. I would use the Arri 150s as backlights hung from scissor clips off the drop ceiling. The Arri 300s would be used to light up the display cases behind the interview. I used one of my Lowel 500 DP lights to hit the banner the would be placed on a black tapestry in the rear of the set.

All of these lamps were warmed with quarter CTO orange color correcting gel.


One of these keylights was lamped with a 1k and the other was a 500 watt. I had a dimmer that I built rated for 1000 watts, so I placed that inline to knock down the 1k fixture. I used black wrap to keep light off the backs of of John and Paul since I already had two 105s dedicated to highlight them. The light from the softboxes was unwanted spill.

sony f900
sony f900 camera two

The two Sony F900 HDCAMs were setup far from the set to utilize the long lens and maximize depth of field. The responsibility of these cameras were to shoot Paul and John as a medium closeup. Chris and Dave were the camera operators. The third camera was a two shot head to toe including the championship banner and the display cases in the background. The two f900s were set to preset 3200 degrees and the Panosonic DVCPRO HD 900 was set at 4300 degrees to best match the warm Sony’s.

many reflections
more glassy reflections

Speaking of the background, it was all glass. So why is this a problem? REFLECTIONS! I spent a lot of time, with the help of Chris and Dave, trying to move lights and flag them off to keep the glassy background free of hot spots. It was not easy, but we actually pulled it off and kept it all clean.

matt the producer

This guy was the field producer for Turner, his name was Matt and he was out of Atlanta, Georgia. I asked him to sit in so that we could see what the Pierce shot would roughly look like. As you can see, no reflections and the background was soft due to the camera placement and using the camera’s zoom lens.

pierce sitdown set
pierce sitdown set tight

At at around 1pm, Paul finally finished up his practice and walked right on set without even stopping in the locker room. Bill mic’ed him up and we started the interview. Dave operated camera one and Chris operated camera two. The two shot was a lockdown and I simply babysat that one. I just hung around in the back behind the cameras and made sure that Matt was happy. I also kept an eye on tape changes. It was nice to just light, direct and stand back.

video village

This was our “video village” and we set it up for Matt and I so that during the interview, we could see the output of all the cameras and also keep an eye on the framing.

ex1 timelapse

I even set up my Sony EX1 camera with a 24mm Nikon f2.8 lens to capture the entire day with a time lapse. I started the camera at the very start of our setup, a room full of tables and chairs lit with the flo lights in the ceiling. The time lapse ran through several hours as we tweeked the lights and then sat through the forty five minute Pierce sit down. The time lapse concluded with our super-fast strike!

If you did not click on the link at the top of this page, you can watch the seven hour entire day boiled down to three minutes by clicking here.