Director of Photography George Mooradian, ASC is setting up for the new season of one of his two TV Land hit series, "The Exes." This contemporary take on the ups and downs of divorced single life features three men who share their common attorney’s spare apartment in New York, as they try to get their feet back on the ground.
The series uses four Panasonic 3700s, all on pedestals, all on Vinten Vector heads featuring onboard illuminators. With the help of these lights and Vinten support, cameras are able to get into the far reaches of the set.
As with most multi-camera set-ups, the "The Exes" sets are arrayed in optimum position for live audience viewing in real time. The seats are already in place, so the sets are built to take advantage of sight lines instead of the other way around. The main sets are the men’s apartment with a kitchen, and their attorney’s apartment, across the hall. Both doors open up to the hallway with these two main sets interconnected in prime ‘real estate’ in front of the audience. To the right is the ‘downstairs’ bar, their main hangout, and across from the bar is the attorney’s office. All have backings of New York City — which makes it fun to create an urban, gritty feel with a slight coolness to the image.
Mooradian learned about Vinten from a master — Vittorio Storaro, who used Vinten on their signature moves in films from "Apocalypse Now" to "Stalag 17." For "The Exes," Vinten is conquering all contortions in image acquisition. There are constant bedroom scenes, of course, with three virile men.
The director loves those ‘birds eye’ views of the bed.
"So we get into a ‘man’ lift with our Vinten and camera, and groan upwards over the bed," he said. "The Vinten totally acilitates these shots with extreme tilt and tricky moves that require a head to get the job done without effort so the operators can zoom, focus and operate delicately from a rickety above. And do it with a grace that belies itself. Vinten easily supports the extra weight of our eye lights on camera without any extra compensation.
The reverse is also true in that often the cameras need to get to ground level with composition towards the ceiling height. Vinten easily provides one common thread for all these extreme angles without requiring special equipment. There is no need to spend extra time changing heads, and it allows the production to be within and below budget because Mooradian doesn’t have to rent extra heads just for a special occasion.
In this series, the pedestals frequently dolly. Mooradian wants the peds to behave like real Fishers and Chapmans. Vinten has the right amount of finesse, weight, heft, agility and touch to make dolly shots and absorb the uneven stage floors in the camera aisle.