Up In Smoke
Well we really did have fun with this recent video shoot for a pharma client of ours. We were asked to assist in providing video footage to support an FDA qualification application of a newly renovated vaccine production area. This involved shooting trails of nitrogen smoke to illustrate airflow patterns through various production rooms. Shooting smoke yes. Different? Indeed. As you can guess our creative minds had endless fun with daily quips like ... smoke em if you got em ... this jobs really gone up in smoke ... smokin on the job ... need I continue.
The actual gig was an interesting challenge of lighting and camera work as we had to comply with strict FDA parameters. We had to show the areas exactly as they would be in the production process and yet we had to ensure that the white smoke was visible in a white room to FDA inspectors. We achieved this by balancing the room lights to highlight the smoke and not the room walls - which we darkened with blackout material whenever possible.
Our camera rig had to be mobile and in constant motion to follow operators performing complex tasks while showing the effect on the smoke movement within the ventilation systems. The strict FDA specifications required unedited sequences that often led to long hand held takes that left my arms and back muscles burning with exertion. The tight spaces and constantly changing camera angles ruled out the use of any camera support systems even the lightest steady cam rigs would not allow us the range of motion we needed.
After a few days we refined our camera rig into a light and maneuverable system using our Red Rock Micro kit and a Marshall 7" monitor. We set up a separate monitor in a room next door connected to a Terradek cube which transmitted our camera video output to the monitor so that the quality control team could approve takes on the spot.
Technically and physically challenging as it was, we had loads of fun and learned a lot about vaccine production and its vital role in our health care.