Building Sets, Making Sausage and Making Fake Snow

There’s the fancy part of photoshoots that, frankly, gets too much press. Because real photoshoots and films are made in the trenches. Might be an epic and cinematic image looking through the camera, but more often than not you’re standing next to a freeway composing the shot with snot running outta your face, the models is standing on platform painted to look like the background because they’re too short for the set, and the PA is running the wind machine which is really a lawn-mower that uses a fan blade instead of a grass cutter. Not pretty. Very real, but far from glamorous.

Sometimes I call this the outside-looking-in-view the Black Box of Photography. That’s the pretty name. More often, though, I call it ‘making sausage’. As in, it tastes good when it’s done, but you certainly would lose your appetite for the stuff if you watched it being made.

As it happens, a lot of photoshooting is really making sausage. Such was the beginning story about the video above. Here we are making a set with corn starch snow when there isn’t any snow for miles. In fact, it’s about 50 degrees out. The original intent of this vid was to show you a little behind the scenes about building sets, but alas something pretty funny happened, which just had to be shared.

So more about ‘making sausage’ in a later post. For now, enjoy this little clip of us…er…making some snow. Happy Friday, have a great weekend.

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40 Responses to Building Sets, Making Sausage and Making Fake Snow

  1. Corey Grusden February 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Haha I totally understand this all too well!!! haha

  2. Matthew Dutile February 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Hahaha amazing.

  3. Nathaniel Rosa February 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm #


    I'm going to show this idea to the guys at my school, will come in use if we ever do a production in a winter setting :)

    and poor guy :)

  4. Isaac February 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    As the police officer in The Hangover said… IN THE FACE! IN THAAAA FACE!

    Good stuff. You shouldn't have to make any snow this weekend in Telly.

  5. Phong February 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    so true. that's what so great about it. :)

  6. Kurtis February 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Oh man, that is absolutely classic. Made my day, haha. I did an experimental shoot a couple of weeks ago involving corn starch and water on rubber stretched over a large speaker. I got what I suppose looks like snow (in much larger quantities anyways) all over everything in the room. Luckily it becomes powdery when the water evaporates and is somewhat easy to clean. Fun stuff.

  7. Shannon Coffey February 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Love how the second guy's instinct is to back away. "You wanted to mess with the tank. It's all you now."

  8. Anonymous February 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    That was the closest thing to someone checking if a gun is loaded (through the barrel) without any casualties. Classic!

  9. Michael Gross February 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Hilarious! Can't believe you have to make snow, New York is buried!

  10. NeoZ February 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Always wear safety glasses. Remember Safety First!!!!!. lol

  11. Chad Zellner February 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Puuuure Gold

  12. Anonymous February 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I like the idea of the snow but felt sorry for the guy… didn't see anyone run over see if he was making this video public feels like you're laughing at his misfortune… but that's just me .. maybe he is cool with all that and that's the "team" spirit that u talk about so much..

  13. DanFigPhoto February 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Funny how "making sausage" for me is one of the most fun aspect of this business.
    I love all the little things involved in creating images. The dirty and bruised knees, the gaffers tap still stuck to my pants, shirts and arms a day after the shoot…all the little things that make shoots a learning experience every time.
    kudos Chase!

  14. Aimee Greeblemonkey February 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    It's interesting you post about this – because we have been doing total guerrilla photo shoots for a few months now on a project. I have been learning so much!

  15. Kaouthia February 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Incredibly awesome. Gets funnier and funnier every time I watch it. :)

  16. Glyn Dewis February 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Get in there!!!…lol


  17. Bruce February 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    I reckon you could have repeated the explosion a few more times in the footage there! haha.

    Bless him, he's not getting a lot of sympathy is he!

  18. Michael Wiesman February 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    The title of the post threw me off as to what I was expecting in the video, but that was awesome! [not awesome for the guy that took it in the face.]

    I did a few years as a beer delivery guy to get my way through college and saw my share of guys try to tap a keg with a very similar result.

    Great thinking with the starchy compound mixed with the air compressors to make a winter wonderland for the shoot.

    Long-time subscriber, Thanks for sharing!

  19. wirehunt February 26, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    LMAO. Beautiful hahaha

  20. NotYourAvgJoe February 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    Hey Chase,

    we have plenty of snow here in NY. Come on over I'll share it with you!

  21. Zoe McEnery February 26, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    Thank you for sharing the video, both informative, and funny.

  22. mike yip February 26, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    ouched! totally pwned by the snowmaker.

  23. gareth walker February 27, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    lol amazing guys

  24. Rick Lohre February 27, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    OK, I just almost peed myself! OSHA would have a field day on this! Good thing you weren't shooting more Kung Fu stuff with a flame thrower!

  25. mjk_photo February 27, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    BAHAHA that was Great, total white wash!!! Intresting way to make fake snow as well — thanks for the video!

  26. Nelson Auge February 27, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Could you share a detailed recipe for the fake snow?
    I really like the look of the cornstarch mixture, but how exactly do you get it to disperse with compressed air? Safely? Thanks much for the illusive magic we love to create.
    Nelson Auge'

  27. JB February 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    That was great! Thanks for the laugh. I really loved the "Oh Shit" part

  28. Trenton February 27, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Could you please post a more in-depth (non explosive:)) recipe/directions for the snow. Something like this would be AWESOME to have in Florida. I've had many requests for snow down here with no local way to solve it. ;) thanks!!

  29. Chase Jarvis February 27, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    everyone should know that no one got hurt in the making of this vid ;) ken is our friend and had a good laugh at his misfortune. he watched the replay on the video camera about 20 times himself, laughing the whole way through…

  30. Xeph Grand February 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    I totally agree about this business not being as glamorous as people think. I cater for a film production company in Mallorca, Spain, and we work long hard days from as early as 3am til midnight. Be it freezing weather, or boiling hot days, high winds, or even beaches infested with mosquitos. The very few times we have cancelled a shoot is if its continuously chucking it down with rain, but we have to get pretty damn wet before they call quit. Fortunately I love my job, and a few snotty noses or sun-burn wont wreck my day :)
    PS Had to laugh at your video, although poor guy!

  31. Anonymous February 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    haha that video is awesome. I have a question for Chase, im pretty sure you read these comments, anyway i was wondering if you could post some of your finished products? i havent been following you for very long, 4 months or so, so i dont know if you ever do and i also dont know if it could have something to do with copyright stuff? Anyway i think it would be cool if you did post some of your finished stuff on your blog.

  32. Dade F March 1, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    AWESOME – sorry for the guy who got it in the face, but VERY funny nonetheless ;)

  33. Rick March 1, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    Hey, in all seriousness, that's why you're supposed to wear safety glasses during these kinds of operations. Loss of vision would not have been cool!! Chase, you might have considered this as an opportunity to promote safety for you and your team.

  34. Tony Obfenda March 1, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    Hey Chase and Co.!
    This is a great site and I enjoy learning new things every time I check it out.
    Question. What is your workflow for getting your videos and commentary on your blog?

  35. Ken Toney March 1, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Making sausage, what a great analogy.

  36. free online kids games March 3, 2010 at 2:10 am #

    Amazing shots! Very cool what goes into making one of those!

  37. Danie Nel March 6, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    I so digg the sausage part of shooting. I always shoot wide shots of what goes on wider than the frame. It's cool to look back and see the AD picking boogers etc. Also… the dirt grime and nitty gritty part is cool. Like my assistant smoking 12 cigarettes in one go for stock images of addiction! Or being tied into the boot of a car for low-range tracking shots on racetrack. Fun fun fun. Great video, chase.

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    World’s Largest Sausage was finished at 13 miles long on 19 June 1988

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