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Night falls on Los Angeles

Colin Rich

A behind the scenes view during the filming of "Nightfall".

Click here to see "Nightfall"

 By Matt Rivera, NBC News:

Cinematographer Colin Rich has released a new film on video called "Nightfall." Here is a brief interview with Rich about what it takes to put together a project like this.

 How do you choose your locations?

The hard thing in a city LA is that it’s very hard to get an original shot. You look at a place like LA, New York or Chicago and you’ve seen a billion shots from the same places. And they’re all shot by amazing photographers.

 It takes a long time, getting access to the shots, driving around at night, stuck in traffic, looking at things and wondering, how can I get on top of that? It could be a building or a fire escape or whatever. I probably shouldn’t say too much about this. The pay off is, after a complete night of shooting where you're frustrated, you may take a weird road and you just find a shot. It’s never an easy feat.

 How is Nightfall different from your last piece, LA Light?

I’ve been working on Nightfall on and off for over a year. In total it’s 105 time lapses in three minutes. It’s intense, much more intense than before. One shot will progress into the next shot. You might see a really wide shot from Mount Wilson, and the next shot you’ll see another landmark from that last shot, but you’re 13 or 14 miles closer.

There’s a different energy behind it. For me, LA Light kind of had a reflective feel. It wasn’t a feeling of loneliness in the city, but it was trying to capture some of that overall feel. I feel like whatever I shoot reflects how I feel at the time. For Nightfall, I wouldn’t say it’s chaotic, but it reflects the movement of the city. I think that once you compare these two, it’s apples and oranges.

 What’s the hardest part of shooting?

You certainly run into security guards or police officers and the best thing I can do when they really don’t want you there is buy time and try to change the subject. Sometimes I’ll point a camera in the complete opposite direction and monitor it. Then they’ll stand in front of it and give me their spiel. Meanwhile, I’ll have another camera pointed at the shot that I want, but I won’t look at it. And then after awhile I’ll say, ‘Ok, I’m leaving.’ And I’ve got the shot anyway.

 Before, security guards would be on you very quickly. After LA Light, things have gotten a little easier. And I don’t know what it is, but the harassment hasn’t been as bad. Last night I was shooting at a train station when a security guard asked if I had permits. I told him what I was doing, he radioed in and they were cool with it.

 I know they have a job to do, and I have a job to do too. I’m going to do everything in my power to get that shot.

 What comes first? The music or the shots?

The music. For me, each shot embraces the pacing of the music. I kept shooting and experimenting with different techniques in the beginning. You know how some musicians write lyrics first and then the music afterwards? I don’t really do that. Once you find that piece of music to lock in to, it helps me define each shot. It’s kind of like shooting a music video.

 What kind of rig do you use?

No matter what the rig is that I’m using, it always needs to lend itself to the particular shot. I never let the rig make the shot. The shot’s defined beforehand. Usually I’m shooting on a 5D Mark 2 or Mark 3.  Some of it’s linear motion control. Sometimes it’s 3 axis motion control. Sometimes it’s just on a tripod. I use Zeiss ZE Primes for my shoot. I have a 16-35, 24-105 and 70-200. But I just use them as view finders.

Colin Rich / Pacific Star Productions

A view of Los Angeles from the time-lapse film