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Shooting in low light conditions


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#1 James knox

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 10:36 AM

Hi guys and gals

Im shooting a student short mainly set in the countryside at night (or giving the illusion of night). I will shooting on a pd170, the problem is the university does not have any transportable light rigs and in the middle of the outback id have no way of using them. So how can i solve the problem of lighting withou having any. I thought about shooting at dusk and dawn but im still not convinced i will have enough light onb my characters, subjects etc.

your ideas?

cheers jim.
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#2 Matt Irwin

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 02:27 PM

You could try shooting day-for-night. If you have no portable lights, that may be the best option.

I know you're in the outback, but what sort of terrain will you be shooting in-- desert, trees, hills, plains, etc? Are you going to need wide masters? If there aren't any wide shots and you're not in flat plains, you might be able to get away with some car batteries and small units with power inverters... or do you not have access to any lights at all?
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#3 Brian Wells

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 02:43 PM

I did a night shoot ONCE with 4,000 Watts worth of lights for a rock band in a field in the middle of the night. It was horrible. I don't think I'll ever use construction generators again because of the noise level. I couldn't even hear myself think (contruction genny = extremely loud).

The trick to making student shorts look good is getting locations that you can make look good with the tools you have at hand. If there aren't any lights available, then don't shoot at night. Simply put, if you want it to look good, shoot somewhere else. Pretty pictures aren't always the number one priority, of course.

My only suggestion is try using headlights and bounce boards.

Hope this helps.
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:31 PM

Dude,

Find a house in the sticks and shoot in their side yard, or back yard. As long as the stuff in frame looks right, no one will know that two feet over out of frame is some guy's crotch-rot jacuzi. That way you can run hardware store clamp lights off an extension cord and get some decent stuff. I've done it plenty and no viewer was the wiser. Kurasawa often shot takes with only a breath of room outside of frame where undesireable elements haunted. It's all part of movie magic.
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#5 James knox

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:01 AM

ok let me clear this up guys. My last email was rushed.

The specifics:

-Two men travel across the Yorkshire hills in UK (Heathland, no trees just expansive green rolling hills) there is no civilisation for miles, the two men are lost and the elipsis of time progresses from day to night, there willl be cut aways of landscape shots especially the sky; as these hills have a beautiful sunset. Aswell as close ups of the two men; to try capture and amplify the fear of the being lost.

-The location is acessible but there are no power supplies, I have acess to redhead and daydo lights which require a DC power supply or somekind of battery AC which I do not have. I may be able to get acess to a Halogen light source which attaches to the front of the camera but I have used this before and I know it creates a spotlight on subjects and looks totally artificial, also it only has one battery which lasts ten minutes tops and takes 12 hours to charge (totally unpractible).

I want to able to light my subjects without it looking artificial, I have thought about using blue gels if I can get an external power pack for the lights, to try and create a moonnlight look.

If I cant light my film, what I actually wanted to know are there any things that I should be thinking of when shooting day for night, presets on the camera etc or post production effects and times of shooting for day for night around febuary ( i know it will be different time for some of you but I can work that out.

Too answer the last question my course is a load of rubbish! But this is just me trying to sort out some troubleshooting issues not be judged on my technical abilities, which apart from little niggles like this are otherwise sound.

Cheers jim
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#6 Chien Huey

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 11:21 AM

The specifics:
-The location is acessible but there are no power supplies, I have acess to redhead and daydo lights which require a DC power supply or somekind of battery AC which I do not have.

I want to able to light my subjects without it looking artificial, I have thought about using blue gels if I can get an external power pack for the lights, to try and create a moonnlight look.

Dedo lights can be powered by block batteries or there's also a car adapter kit available for it. I used a kit w/ 24v bulbs so the car adapter kit wasn't compatible. But I ended up taking our monitor's battery block and powering 1 head with it. We had it going for about an hour - you can probably figure out exact runtime by looking up the block's specs and the light's consumption. The problem with block batteries is that they're a pricey rental - $50USD/day.

The other thing I've done in a pinch is borrowed a bunch of large UPSes (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) from my job (this is when I used to be a computer server administrator) and used them to power tungsten fixtures. They have Edison connectors in back and you just plug them in. Issue there is that runtime is pretty low - less if you put large fixtures like 1Ks. Also they're huge and heavy - the footprint is 18" x 40" and up to 6" tall. Weight is roughly 120 lbs for a 3000VA model. You can use the calculator on APC's website http://www.apcc.com/ to figure out runtime for your fixtures.

You could also take a look at lower draw fixtures. Recently I ran two 15w consumer flourescents off a household UPS (APC BX1000) inside an elevator (5'x8'). Along with the existing lighting (6 20w bulbs), the cheapo flos raised the levels enough to get decent exposure. That ran for 1hr 15min before battery went.

Lastly, watch out for CTB - it'll knock down whatever little light you have :D

Edited by Fast Chieney, 09 January 2006 - 11:24 AM.

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