“So you’re saying that we have twenty interview subjects, over the one day, in the same location, that need to look significantly different enough for the edit to work, but we can’t move the lights or the camera position? Let me get back to you on that one.”

A small challenge presented itself for this years Max’s/Maxine’s Muscle Up Challenge filming. The Director made a suggestion of possibly using the standard photo-flex multicoloured backdrop, but there aren’t many people who can get away with that approach. I think Errol Morris is the only film maker who I’ve seen really make that work and that was with the same interview subject. How the hell were we going to film twenty people in the one day and provide some visual difference between them?

Two hotel rooms, two projectors and two fast fold rear projector screens later we had two camera/interview teams filming non stop over nine hours. I actually think it worked. Some of the main concerns from the outset were whether there would be enough separation between the subjects and backdrops, would the noise of the projectors fans be too audible, and between each of the interviews would there be enough visual contrast?

Rear Projection Interview Setup

Rear Projection Interview Setup

Katie Nilan in the hotseat

Katie Nilan in the hotseat

Without having the time to pre-test the set ups, there was a bit of nervousness on the packing-in day (on my part at least) as to whether or not the idea would work. The saving grace; having identical hotel rooms with long dining/living spaces, long enough that we could successfully empty out the areas and still rear project the images of the competition contestants, providing a barrier to the fan noise while still having projected images large enough to fill the interview frame.

Add a little soft focus from the projector and you have subject/background separation! Thanks to Keith, Borko and Darren for powering through the long day and many thanks to the contestants for the interruptions to check focus.

The finished setup

The finished setup

Glenn Black - Winner Max's Muscle Up Challenge

Glenn Black – Winner Max’s Muscle Up Challenge