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Filmmaker sheds new light on Big Easy "vampires"

A group of New Orleans residents believe they are vampires, and to capture their story cinematographer Austin Smoak needed to film in dimly lit bars and houses in the French Quarter and on the streets at night.

To stay lightweight and low profile, she equipped her DSLR cameras with the MicroPro and MiniPlus from Litepanels.

"We had chosen to shoot on Canon DSLRs for the look but also because it was easier to get people to be themselves around a smaller, less imposing camera," said Smoak. "The DSLRs have great low-light capability but all too often, we found ourselves in scenes that were far too dark for even the DSLR to pick up and still be good."

The Litepanels fixtures were well suited for use with the cameras because they were easy to adjust and slid right into the hot shoe of the DSLRs, she said.

"We mixed and matched the Micros and Minis depending on what we were doing. The Minis were great because they put out a great deal of light and would quickly light up the scene and let us tell the story, but they're a little larger than the Micros. For situations where we wanted to be lower profile, or just knew we wouldn't need all the punch, the Micros worked great."

According to Smoak, another benefit of using the lights was how much light they put out for such small fixtures. "That was a definite must while shooting 'Vampires' as we were often on location in the French Quarter where we did a lot of walking with our gear. Having compact, lightweight gear that we could easily toss in our bags was a plus," she said.