Photographing John Hurt

John Hurt - Teaser Portrait ;o)I get to meet a number of famous folk with the work that I do. A lot of the time it’s a very passive experience: I might be attending an event or opening night, and can claim to have met someone just because I’m in the same room as them (along with 300 other people!).

However, every once in a while I get to do something a little more interesting. This was one of those occasions. I can’t reveal too much about the cause at the moment, as we’re hoping to retain the element of surprise. As such, I’m only revealing a cropped version of some of the photos I took. But what a collection of photos! I dont think I’ve ever had any stare at me so intently down the lens of a camera!

dsc_6251John Hurt very kindly offered about half an hour of his time for free to allow us to film and photograph him, as well as small amount of voiceover recording. I got to assume the role of lighting-cameraman, photographer and sound recordist for this job, so as you can imagine I was pretty busy!

We have a very limited space to work in, with less than ten minutes to setup in time for his arrival. Despite that, I’m extremely happy with the results. I shot a series of video sequences in HD using a Sony XDCAM-HD PDW-F335K series camera. John then gave me a repeat performance for the benefit of some still photographs (using my trusty Nikon D70). Despite the two red-head lights I still needed to up the ISO on the camera to 1000. I usually hate to run the D70 so high, but the results are quite pleasing.

We finished off the session with a short voiceover recording. Rather than use some alien equipment, I opted to use the same laptop/recording setup I used for Sweeney Todd a few weeks back. This time I used a single Rhode NT-1 mic (a bit bright, but it gets the job done), and Adobe’s Soundbooth software (which handles multiple takes better than Adobe Audition). Five takes later, and we were done. There’ll be some cleanup work to do on the audio, as the room we hired had some broadband airconditioning noise which we simply couldn’t avoid. Apart from that, we got everything we’d hoped for.

Thank you John!