Houghton College

Houghton College and borrego solar have completed a 2.5 megawatt on-site solar energy installation – the largest on a college campus in New York State.

sutro studios was there filming and capturing the story.

 

Day 1

 

The system will generate an estimated 3.15 million kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year of operation—the equivalent amount of energy needed to power 370 homes annually—and will allow the college to realize a 23 percent first-year greenhouse gas reduction and save up to $4.3 million during the 25-year power purchase agreement contract period.
— WXXI News

Atomos Shogun recorder in action at Houghton College, NY.

A screen grab from the shot shown above. We usually quickly apply a simple grade on top of the footage, to just start getting an idea of the feel and mood for the whole video.

Houghton is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. This new solar array will get us 23 percent of the way there,” he said. “We expect to save $119,000 on electricity during the first year of operation, and $4.3 million during the 25-year power purchase agreement contract period.
— Brian Webb, Houghton College Sustainability Coordinator

The campus of Houghton College is perfect to film.

The FS700 and Atomos Shogun provide a ton of flexibility in capturing great footage if you know the camera well, and understand the power of color grading in post-production. Here we have a very quick and simple grade to test a certain look for the footage. 

The solar project reflects both Houghton College’s commitment to renewable energy and our commitment to form creative partnerships for the greater good of our region,
— Shirley Mullen, Houghton College President

Our creative team filming behind the scenes one of the student interviews. Levi Pike of Redbone Media to the left shooting on his 5Dm3 and SmallHD monitor, and Tommy Sunderland (right) of Borrego Solar conducting the interviews.

The students at Houghton College are extremely well spoken, and these were some of the easiest interviews we have ever filmed. We took advantage of a natural shade structure to be able to capture soft lighting outdoors, during a pretty bright sunny afternoon. Simple color grade applied to start testing skin tones, and overall look of the image and interviews.

The project was created and built by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a designer, developer and installer of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, and financed by WGL Energy, through a power purchase agreement that covered the costs.
— Olean Times Herald

Atomos Shogun quickly became our favorite tool in production. That microphone is pretty incredible too, especially for outdoor environments.

Another screen grab of the students we filmed at Houghton. We love playing with composition for the interviews. Outdoors always provides great flexibility and opportunities for cinematic backgrounds, and for guiding the eye in a subtle way.

With this solar installation, Houghton College has taken a leadership role in sustainability in the education space. You’re going to see a lot more 2.5 to 2.6 megawatt solar arrays being constructed all around the state in the upcoming years,
— Amy McDonough, Sr. Project Developer, Borrego Solar
 

Day 2

With this project, Houghton College has shown itself to be a leader in clean energy investment in New York State.
— John B. Rhodes, NYSERDA President

Indoors filming an interview with Brian Webb from Houghton College. Litepanels LED are great for this kind of setup and give a nice soft light with great control of color temperature and hardness.

Shooting indoor interviews in office settings is always a challenge. You have to think about composition to make it interesting, and lighting that typically is very artificial and lifeless. Since we're going for a more cinematic tone, you can see here how we planned this composition for the interview. With Brian on the right of the frame, lit by a couple of soft LitePanel LEDs, the key from screen right, we can still take advantage of the outdoor campus to capture some contextual and interesting activity.

This is one way that we can do that with reliable and renewable energy that will remove a significant portion of our fossil fuel usage and create energy with a contract that we have now for 25 years with Borrego Solar to essentially lock us into a solid rate that’ll be economic and hopefully save about $2.5 estimated million dollars for the university over the 20-year period.
— Marshall Green, Public Relations Specialist, Houghton College

Levi Pike from Redbone Media was our assistant throughout the shoot. He's helping with sound testing for an indoor shoot with the President of Houghton College. We only had a couple of minutes available to us to film an interview after the luncheon meeting with the people associated with the solar array project, so we had to plan this carefully. With a very clinical and relatively uninteresting room, we found an American flag in the corner, and quickly realized this could be the perfect setting for an interview background. We used gaffers tape to secure the interview spot to save time in the end, and to extend the flag on the background wall.

And here's the result, with a quick small color grade applied. With two LitePanel LEDs and diffusers, we get a pretty even and attractive lighting effect for this interview. The key coming from screen left, and a soft fill is pointing towards the wall on screen right to fill in the shadows a bit, and create a bit of a vignette around her. For such a simple and challenging shot, we can still get a cinematic look if you take care in observing what's around you before filming.

The solar project reflects both Houghton College’s commitment to renewable energy and our commitment to form creative partnerships for the greater good of our region.
— Shirley Mullen, President, Houghton College

Closeup of one of the thousands of solar panels part of this new solar array at Houghton College, by Borrego Solar.

A screen grab of a shot we did of one of the rows of the array at Houghton College. Thanks to Borrego Solar, this solar array will be one of the largest solar arrays in an American college campus. Here, we set the FS700 filming a bit of a long shot on a tripod, so that we can speed it up in editing/post and capture the reflection of the clouds moving across the array. It's one simple way of adding interest to what typically can be a pretty cold mechanical shot, and it works really well for this perspective. We are also playing with lines to add a more dynamic and richer depth to this shot.


About Houghton College 
Houghton College is a liberal arts institution that challenges students to academic excellence in the context of a relevant Christian community and empowers them to enrich the world. The college of 1,000 students is located in Western New York just 65 miles from Buffalo and Rochester. For more information, please visit http://www.houghton.edu.

About Borrego Solar 
Established in 1980, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. is one of the nation's leading financiers, designers, developers and installers of commercial and utility solar power systems. Borrego Solar's photovoltaic systems are efficient, reliable and cost-effective. With more than three decades of experience and more than 1,000 solar power installations completed—totaling over 150 MW—Borrego Solar offers a complete line of solar system design and installation services throughout North America. Borrego Solar was recently ranked as the #2 commercial EPC in the United States and the #2 commercial contractor in California by Solar Power World. For more information, visit http://www.borregosolar.com.