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The logistics of the ‘Big Shot’ Events, Photography

We met our friends from ACMT for the first time today. There are 13 people on the staff, and more than 600 students study at ACMT. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and all thrive at multitasking!

It was a busy day for the entire ACMT staff and the Big Shot contingency. We had two Big Shot meetings today, and there’s another one this evening. There are so many logistics and details to go over before Thursday night’s Big Shot. Here’s some of what has happened so far:

I met Michael, Bill, Dawn and Willie at Pile Gate, the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the site of RIT’s 23rd Big Shot. The Old Town is surrounded by a high fortress wall stretching more than two kilometers. In some places, the wall is 25 meters high and up to six meters thick. To see photos from our site visit, visit www.rit.edu/news and click “Photo Gallery.” Bill DuBois shot all of the images. Thanks Bill!

The planning of this particular Big Shot has been in the works for more than a year. Now I understand why! I walked along the top of the fortress wall to listen in on how they’re going to cover this enormous space with only camera flash units and flashlights—the only light sources for the image. The City of Dubrovnik will turn off all lights on the wall near Pile Gate as well as streetlights in the area. After several walkthroughs and dissecting the area into various sections, Big Shot organizers determined that eight lighting teams will be needed.

The subject area of the photograph includes the expansive high fortress wall, the gate itself, a stonebridge, moat, the Croatian flag, a spire, parapets and Fortress Minceta. In the test photo, Fortress Minceta is on the top left-hand side. This area alone will require at least 200 volunteers. Each lighting team will vary in size. For example, one person will be assigned to light the Croatian flag. We were hoping for a slight breeze so the entire flag can be seen, but our friends at ACMT tell us there will be no breeze at that time of night. Professor Stasa Puskaric, who teaches environmental science at ACMT, will attempt to use fishing line to keep the flag unfurled. He bravely volunteered his services during one of our Big Shot meetings this morning. We shall see how this goes, right?

Also in the Big Shot photograph will be eight models dressed in authentic Renaissance costumes and positioned on the stonebridge. Two of the models will be dressed as guards. They will provide not only some historical perspective, but will also give viewers a better idea of the size and scale of the fortress wall. To make sure they don’t look like ghosts in the final photograph, the models will be required to stand still during the exposure, which could last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. Some of you may remember that models, along with a horse, were part of the Big Shot at Genesee Country Village and Museum several years ago. As seen in the final image, the horse had a little bit of trouble standing still.

The models add another dimension of complexity to what is going to be an already difficult choreography between hundreds of volunteers and photographers. Two RIT photography students have been assigned to light the models. They will need to quickly run on to the bridge, paint them in light, and then run out of the frame of the shot. Once that is complete, Bill and Dawn will open up the camera lenses again and begin the exposure of the structure itself.

Dawn and Bill will shoot four different images using both a Nikon D200 digital camera as well as 4-by-5 inch Kodak film. There is nowhere in Dubrovnik, though, to develop this size film. The closest processing center is in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. It’s about a 12-hour bus ride away! What you will see on Thursday night on Rochester television stations or on the RIT Web site will be one of the images shot digitally. In between shots, Dawn and Bill will evaluate the digital images on a computer screen and make necessary adjustments. People may have to be moved around to change various degrees of brightness and darkness throughout the area.

The weather looks like it will cooperate. The forecast calls for clear skies, and it will be in the 70s! Bye for now, I’m off to interview Don Hudspeth, president and dean of RIT’s American College of Management and Technology. You can hear Don’s audio podcast at www.rit.edu/news (see “Latest Podcasts”).

  1. Karen
    Apr 10

    I've learned so much about the enormous amount of work that goes into these Big Shots. Hats off to all of you as you continue to work so hard at creating another exquisite photograph. Thanks for the blogs, Kelly! Keep 'em coming! Good luck!

  2. Grace Gladney
    Apr 10

    Hi Kelly,
    Everything sounds beautiful! I can't wait to see all the photos. I wish everyone much success on The Big Shot.

    Bring back some of that gorgeous weather - Grace.

  3. Maureen Shannon
    Apr 10

    Hi Kelly,
    I've never attend a Big Shot, so I had no idea of the many details and logistics that must be coordinated to produce the photo. It's great to have these reports and hear what is happening. I'll have to make sure that I fly on Lufthansa for my next visit to Dubrovnik. Looking forward to the podcast and future blogs.

  4. Bob Finnerty
    Apr 10

    Wow. Great detail Kelly on how they will pull this off. Keep us up to date on the weather for that night. Will it really be in the 70s at night? Try 20s at night here :-)

  5. Andrew Davidhaz
    Apr 11

    Kelly, I was wondering if Michael Peres ever made it to Croatia. I did not see him mentioned in your notes yet I believe he is a major contributor. Sort of making up the "triumvirate" responsible for the Big Shot. He is known sometimes for partying late into the night so maybe he is just recovering? Any news you might have about Michael's whereabouts and activities would be much appreciated.

  6. Grace Gladney
    Apr 11

    Great Photos Bill!
    Love the clothesline shot. I guess I wouldn't go there for the fashions ;-)

  7. kelly downs
    Apr 11

    Hi Andy--
    Yes, Michael is indeed here in Dubrovnik. I introduced the Big Shot triumvirate in my first blog posting on Monday. Thanks to the marvels of the computer, Michael is teaching two of his classes from Dubrovnik and conducting student critiques. He's actually teaching right now from Willie Osterman's office at ACMT. Staffan Larsson, director of media at Stockholm's Huddinge University in Stockholm, Sweden, arrived yesterday. Staffan is the man responsible for bringing RIT's Big Shot to Stockholm's Royal Palace in 2003. Staffan flew in yesterday to be a part of tomorrow evening's Big Shot. Michael has already recruited Staffan to be a lighting team leader.

  8. Joan Bourque
    Apr 12

    What an exciting day this is and I can't wait to see the Big Shot. I am very proud of my niece Dawn's work. She and her husband, Bill, are a great team. Reading the articles and blogs is wonderful, especially since I am in the middle of a snow storm in vermont.

  9. Julie
    Apr 12

    Kelly, I'm just catching up on the past few days—this really explains the huge undertaking! You are doing a fabulous job!!! Along with the rest of the RIT contingent—a real team effort.

  10. lukeM|V.com &ra
    Oct 11

    [...] Great commercial. Using a technique that is similar to RIT’s Big Shot called “painting with light”. A great effect, but understanding that all of those images are created by people swirling lights is mind boggling to understand. digg_topic = 'design'; digg_skin = 'compact'; Blog Home | lukeMV.com [...]

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