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Pre Production: Moving Portraits

published on 13 February 2014

Explore the detailed planning that went into the shoot for designer Henry Holland's 'moving portrait'; from shot lists and sketches to treatments and technical info.

Explore the detailed planning that went into the shoot for designer Henry Holland's 'moving portrait'; from shot lists and sketches to treatments and technical info.

In order to shoot everything that Clive wanted to, he was aware that the team would need to move quickly and careful planning would make this a lot more achievable. 'We had to choreograph the shoot, to illustrate the different elements,' he explains 'I wanted to open the film with an embryonic Henry. To achieve this we used a 12 foot diameter, motorized turntable usually used at the motor show. A very expensive piece of kit, had it covered in black velvet, then lit and rotated Henry with a single light at floor level. In the final film, we use mixes and dissolves to show transitions in both scale and time. Then because he travels a lot, I added an airline seat in another part of the studio. Interestingly, Henry hates the sound of couples kissing and cuddling on the tube, so we used mannequins, set up in yet another part of the studio, to illustrate fictitious passengers. We produced it with enough kit to light everything at the same time and moved from set to set. This approach of not having to keep breaking down and building new sets, enabled us to meet my hugely ambitious shot list.'

– Shot List

1.Running machine

Shooting from front and side Henry full frame along with hand held detail cutaways as well as extreme wide from low angle. Profile shot shooting into light, Henry halo lit with front view half lit, soft light.

2.Airline seat

Long haul airline seat seen centre frame with slow pull back reveal along with close up cut aways. Also profile view. Lighting from the side mimicking the real thing as well as small spots from above. Possible hanging iPad in front of Henry's face.

3.Speed bumps

Henry centre frame head and shoulders. A mechanism will bump him up in the frame to mimic speed bumps. Lit to give a feeling of intimacy.


Henry curls up in the middle of a large turntable. Shot from above on a jib arm the camera pulls back as he rotates. Lighting is low and strong creating long shadows. Starting tight then to him filling centre frame. Boston both in and out of focus.


Henry is backlit behind a 12 foot frame. In perfect silhouette he dances to the music from his iPhone. Moving in and out of focus his shape is both sharp and abstract


Shooting though glass Henry appears and disappears as moving reflected light burns the frame to white. A sensitive shot (reference Amouage Memoir)


Henry's face twists and turns and bends into grotesque shapes as he looks into a curving piece of reflective acrylic. The effect is like a fun house mirror. The lighting atmospheric.

8.Revolving Head

Henry lying on the turntable looks up into the camera from above. The camera static, Henry starts to slowly revolve. Initially he could have his eyes shut then slowly open them.

9.Heads into one

Henry this time sitting on a chair on the turntable moves past the static camera. This will be cut to show several Henry's all merging into one.


Henry stands small in frame, camera positioned high above him. A strong spotlight moves in an arc around him and the shadow cast like the hands of a clock moves as if time is speeded up. (reference Amouage Memoir)


A simple concept. Shot from a low angle Henry looks up and out with strength, pride and achievement. The lighting is atmospheric. Slightly tongue in cheek.

12.Tube train

Close up we see Henry shoulder to shoulder with others as if on a tube train, he looks with distain as if seeing a couple kissing if public. Others could be in the form of mannequins as well as a cut to two mannequins in silhouette as if kissing.

13.Club Biscuits

Falling like leaves... Chocolate club Biscuits 120 fps falling through the frame in slow motion as Henry talks of eating to many as a child and then throwing up in the car. A cut away could also show a pile on the floor.

14.Gussets stickers

Shot from below a mannequin looking up into the gusset we see white pants, the camera zooms into the gusset until the frame is all white. In slow motion Henry bursts through the screen ( an 8ft frame of frost) as if escaping the Gusset. Light could also flood out with him.


Henry is small in frame jumping up and down, we don't see the trampet just Henry. Shot in slow motion. Also hand held cut always. The background is bright and airy.


Henry is lit by strobe light to give the impression of flash guns. A simple sequence once again this could be seen in slow motion. Foreground mannequins could act as a crowd in shadow.

17.Coming out

Henry is pushing against a translucent membrane. A simple shot seeing Henry in abstract as if trapped the surface bending and stretching.

– Clive's Revised Treatment

Following the audio recording with Henry, Clive wanted to develop his original treatment to share with the team to make sure that everybody was aware of what he wanted to create. 

– Camera Choice - Canon C500

There are increasingly more cameras on the market that have the ability to shoot in 4K resolution, including RED, Sony and JVC models. Canon also entered the 4K market in late 2011 with the C500, which followed the success of the C300 HD large sensor camera. The C500 is very similar to the C300, but has the added ability of outputting 4K for external recording. Due to Clive’s experience with the C300 in previous shoots he was keen to use the C500 and again utilise its 4K ability. 'Because I’d used the C300 already in previous work, moving to the C500 was actually really easy,' Clive remembers. 'Body-wise, there is nothing between them, and the Menu system was virtually the same. So in use, they are identical. Once you’ve got used to the way the Cinema EOS system works, they are actually easier to use than DSLRs for filming and the only real differences you have to get used to are the changes in terminology. So, for instance, Angle is Speed, Waveform is Histogram, ISO is Gain... once you’ve got that worked out in your head, everything else is very similar to an EOS DSLR. There is a cohesion with how the cameras all look and feel, and the Menu systems are very familiar too.' Clive admits: 'I actually now prefer the Cinema EOS cameras: they are incredibly easy to hold in the hand, with or without follow-focus. They are light and compact, ergonomic, and have huge flexibility as to what you use them for. You can shoot everything from a commercial to a feature film and because the sensor’s native sensitivity is rated at ISO 850, you have phenomenal low-light performance.' In order to be able to capture 4K footage from the C500 you need to connect the camera to an external recorder. Again there are a few options on the market, but having worked with industry leaders, Codex Digital, before Clive was keen to work with them again. 'Codex is the number one recording system in the world for feature films and when I asked Ben Perry from Codex for help, he immediately offered me everything he had. Codex liked the project: it was quirky, fashion and different to their usual features work, plus they already enjoy a very close association with Canon. It was a fantastic feeling knowing that all these key elements were magically coming into play.'

– What is 4K?

4K resolution is a generic term for content that has horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels. Full HD resolution, which is categorised by its vertical resolution of 1080i or 1080p, has a horizontal resolution of 1920, qualifying as 2K. This means that a 4K frame, with a vertical resolution of over 2,000 pixels has 4 times the amount of data than a full HD frame. 4K production is becoming increasingly available in film recording with more cameras now offering the ability to shoot in the higher resolution. 

– Why Use 4K?

Shooting in 4K offers many advantages over full HD and Clive was clear as to the reasons why he wanted to work with a 4K system “Because you’re shooting in 4K, you have the output options of both HD and 4K. The 4K system is being pushed very much towards visual effects because you can zoom into the individual frames. So, for me, with an HD output option, I had the freedom of moving in and cropping. You could crop into very select areas of the frame and still retain the output quality.” After filming it became apparent that Clive didn't actually need to crop in as most of the shots that he wanted to achieve were possible in camera. 

As well as the ability to crop into 4K footage for a 2K output other advantages include: 

  • Enhanced detail and better overall image quality
  • Recording in higher-resolution formats will help content retain its value in the longer term
  • Keying tools deliver better results due to more well-defined edges
  • 3D looks better at higher resolution
  • Major studios hope to attract new audiences into 4K cinemas, which easily outperform HD home theatre systems. Many Vue cinemas are now 4K and the difference in quality is noticeable. 

We're now beginning to see 4K used more widely, with 4K content being pushed into the consumer market with the advent of 4K televisions and also selected cinemas (Vue and IMAX) utilising the resolution. Clive also predicts that we will see more and more 4K in point of purchase and in-store advertising, on screen and projected, as it allows for an unprecedented amount of detail.

Another unique and relatively unknown advantage of 4K is the ability to pull stills from the film, which will provide image makers the ability to shoot moving image and stills in the same shoot. Clive has tested this using this footage and the results have been exceptional.


Clive had recently worked with Henry on a previous project in which he had experienced using 4K for the first time. As a result Clive was very excited about the prospect of utilizing 4K again and having realised Henry’s passion, energy and openness, Clive thought he would be a great first portrait. Throughout Clive’s career he has learnt that preparation is key on any production, and was aware that in order to shoot everything that he wanted to in one day it would take careful planning and lots of organisation.

– Clive's First Treatment

Following the first meeting with Henry, Clive put together his initial ideas for the portrait into a treatment. 



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