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It’s such a fucking jugganaut!

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When Tim Hudson was a young DP in Melbourne Australia, he cut his teeth on regional TVC’s and industrials with a company called Horizon Films (Hi Greenie!). The work was plentiful, but the budgets slim. The crew consisted of the DP (Tim) and a sound man (Hi Nige!). The grip and the gaffing were also tasks for Tim and Nigel. When the jobs were announced the general question for Tim was “what light do you want?’ Not lights, not lighting package, but what LIGHT do you want. He was allowed one, and some bounce boards if he could find a white piece of poly lying around. If his ‘light’ of choice was a Kino, TIm and Nige would head to the hardware store and hook themselves up with a ‘Kino” (aka cheap flouro tube), lets call it a Fino. ;) Life was good, lessons were learned, and Tim learnt to be very lean with production dollars and very creative with little.

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One of his mentors at the time was Director Richard Franklin, who happened to be Hitchcock’s right-hand man and eventually directed Psycho 2. Richard took Tim under his wing and gave him opportunities to be DP on the second unit of his films, Brilliant Lies in 1996 and Visitors in 2003. This was very early on in Tim’s career, at a very formative time. One of Tim’s strongest memories of the late and Great Richard Franklin was him lamenting on the difficulty of film making “Its just such a fucking jugganaut, I can’t stand it!”. Tim, with his limited experience consisting of one crew, one light shoots really had no idea of what he was talking about, but he would soon learn.

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The first TVC that came Tims way that was outside of the lovely protected learning cocoon of Horizon Films was a Pepsi TVC. Yep, from one extreme to another. The first day of the shoot there were streets lined with trucks as far as the eye could see, hundreds and hundreds of people milling around, all on payroll. What in the actual fuck??? What do all these people even do? The stress for Tim was unbelievable. To have an unlimited budget and access to all the film toys was a dream come true, but a true lesson in “be careful what you wish for”. This. Was. The Jugganaut. Tim of course made it through that gig, the first big job for both him and the Director Patrick Hughes (Hi Patty!!) and their careers were launched.

So from humble beginnings, a seed was planted. Why the jugganaut, why is it so fucking difficult? Over almost 30 years Tim has shot thousands of commercials, all across the globe. Each one with its own varying degrees of Jugganaut. Every now and again a refreshingly simple idea would come along that had Tim just with his camera and one crew member to hold a poly (hello….Bonds Road Trip TVC, circa 2009, Dir. Chris Riggert - shown) but generally, the trucks lining the street became the norm. Its just what we do.

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Regardless of budget every DP on every job has to be inventive. Lights are jerry-rigged for a particular situation, and then discarded or dismantled immediately. We are used to that. But not the Redback. The Asterisk, as it was initially named, was invented for one commercial. It was a Hallmark Christmas Campaign in 2015. A gorgeous picture perfect family walking their dog / reindeer, through a beautiful snow lined street at night with the houses twinkling with their Christmas lights in the background. Beautiful, dreamy….fucking impossible to light!! How to walk for 300 ft with a family and a dark furred reindeer, lighting them without them looking like ghouls, without blowing out the background of all the snow covered houses, and not showing any lights in shot. China ball? Nope. Too much snow. Traditional lights, nope, they need to be able to walk. It was a puzzle.

After 3 days of wracking his brain, the ‘umbrella lined with LED on a boom pole’ idea was born. Soft, directional, LED. It just might work. What what was unexpected though, was the quality of light this format of LEDs produced, are you kidding, it was stunning. These backyard lights were quickly dubbed the Asterisk (due to the eyelight reflection they produced) and were put to work again and again and again. They were incredibly useful, for almost every shooting equation. But impossible to wield off-set, they were huge! They would take up the whole aisle of the trucks, silly things. But for Tim, these were a dream, they cut down the jugganaut! They were directional, no forests of C-stands with cutters, beautifully soft without diffusion, so hence heller bright compared to other LEDS and versatile!! Process trailer shoots were now literally 5 minutes to rig, windy shoots, no problem, beauty light, sure, its ready in 2 minutes. Yeah!

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So, out of the dust, Hudson Spider evolved. But are we done, one trick ponies? Nope. The ideas we have scribbled in our yellow legal pads are ridiculously endless, questioning the status quo of film-making at every step . Each and every one of our ideas is to simplify set life (yes, Tim is still shooting TVCs, almost every day), and as each product is introduced, you wanna bet that Tim has been using it for months, with a big arse smile on his face. Step by step, cutting through the crap.

So, with that lengthy introduction, this week we will be bringing you our newest offering. Its fucking rad. So simple its ridiculous. You’ll all be kicking yourselves that you’ve been doing any other way for all these years… Richard Franklin, a beer for you! Cheers!!

Keep it simple, stupid.
— Kelly Johnson, Lockheed Skunk Works
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