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Exposure for Night Exterior


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#1 Chris Clarke

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 09:17 AM

I have a shoot coming up that is a first for me. I've never shot night exterior before and need some advice regarding exposure and lighting. It's a music video that is set on a city roof top. The promo is for a girl band and the look has to be glossy and slick. The groups name will be in lights next to them as will 3-4 dancers. Similar to the Channel advert with Nicole Kidman. We will be shooting with a London skyline in the background but have not found a location yet. For the roof itself I'm planning on having some architectural lighting and obviously the sign as well. Maybe a little smoke/steam that I could backlight. The girls need to be lit in a colourful and glossy style i.e. not naturalistic. Ring light for close ups maybe? Kinos under the lens and maybe some neon motivated colours. I thought of having the makeup oil them up and get some nice reflections and shine from their skin.
As I have never shot at night before I don't know where to begin with placing my exposure for the background? I'm worried about overlighting the roof top and just having faint twinkles of detail behind. How overexposed can I let the band go in comparison to the background? Another point is shooting speed. The director wants to shoot some double speed playback - 50fps for certain shots. We're shooting on a 500T 16mm stock. Will I have enough light for this or should I push 1 stop for the 50fps shots?
Lots of questions, I know!! Any advice or previous experiences...
This place is SO great for planning and thinking about shoots.
Thanks again!
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#2 Chris Clarke

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:35 AM

One thought I had would be to use a SLR to get a general reflected reading from the highlights in the background. Do you think this would give me a good base to work from?
Thanks, Chris.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 06:21 AM

You need to make sure that you don't overpower the city lights with your own. On 500asa stock a stop of t2.8 should be about right. For beauty lighting a girl band, you should be looking at soft frontal lighting, combined with some hard backlight. Getting the makeup dept to apply lots of moisturiser to the girls' skin will help with getting a nice sheen, paricularly if they are dark skinned.

Using your DSLR is an excellent way to get an idea of the right exposure for the background.

Have Fun!
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 02:37 PM

I am one of those who subscribe to the notion that you can't really overexpose a nightscape. I'd try to shoot as wide open and on as fast a film you can get. But that's just my preference.
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#5 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 03:39 PM

Hi,
I think you are on the right track, the lighting for the girls- kino under the lense, ringlight, loads of eyelights, hot edges maybe a lense flare or two and shiny make-up is all really good for what you are going for, make sure you really soften up all your sources, if you are using kino's open them up as wide as possible and put some diffussion on them so the source is as large as possible, you dont want multiple shadows on the girls faces which is a danger when you use multiple sources. In terms of exposure I agree that you should just go as wide open as possible (this will also give you shallow DOF which is nice for this sort of thing) don't overlight the girls too much so that you get some info. in the skyline without blowing the girls out too much. You might want to think about using some kind of difusion filter aswell: promist, diffusion FX, soft FX, classic soft etc...
this will make the highlights glow a bit and soften up the girls skin texture which might be nice.
Good luck.
Cheers.
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#6 Chris Clarke

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:10 PM

Thanks for all your responses!
Will probably shoot on Distagons, so T1.3 is my fastest stop. Is this going to be too much or is there no such thing as too much on a night exterior? I was actually thinking of using Classic Softs for some shots after seeing Munich. I really liked that patterned halo on the point sources in shot. It could look really good on the sign behind the girls as well as their skin. For flares I was thinking of a Dedo with some coloured gel off camera with the occasional flash down the lens.
As I wont get the opportunity to test, what strength of Classic Soft would be the maximum to use? Is this something that could be judged through the viewfinder?
For my frontal light on the girls I was thinking of a maximum of 1 1/2 stops over the shooting stop. Averaging out at a stop over for most of it. Does this sound about right or could I go further?
Cheers, Chris.

P.S. That thread on Kaminski's diffusion was really interesting, especially as I read it before seeing Muncih.
Thanks!
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#7 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 08:50 PM

Thanks for all your responses!
Will probably shoot on Distagons, so T1.3 is my fastest stop. Is this going to be too much or is there no such thing as too much on a night exterior? I was actually thinking of using Classic Softs for some shots after seeing Munich. I really liked that patterned halo on the point sources in shot. It could look really good on the sign behind the girls as well as their skin. For flares I was thinking of a Dedo with some coloured gel off camera with the occasional flash down the lens.
As I wont get the opportunity to test, what strength of Classic Soft would be the maximum to use? Is this something that could be judged through the viewfinder?
For my frontal light on the girls I was thinking of a maximum of 1 1/2 stops over the shooting stop. Averaging out at a stop over for most of it. Does this sound about right or could I go further?
Cheers, Chris.

P.S. That thread on Kaminski's diffusion was really interesting, especially as I read it before seeing Muncih.
Thanks!


Hi,
Yeah, if your AC can handle focus at 1.3 and you keep the girls skin at 1/1.5 stops over you should go as wide open as possible, the more of the skyline you will see in the background the better it will probably look (depends on what look you want though). I always liked it when you can even see the ambient reflected light of the city in the night sky (collateral for example) so going at a 1.3 would give you the best shot at that sort of detail. Sounds like you are definately on the right track, I think the classic soft will look great, I would suggest never going much higher than a 1 for any diffusion, unless you want a really dreamy/milky look, the classic soft should look really good on the light sources. Also the Dedo light coloured gel flare idea sounds great, I actually did the same thing sweeping over the crowd and into the lense on a music video (with a 1k parcan gelled with straw)- it looked really good!! Also, always give the girls eyelights! it will really help a lot.
As I said, it sounds like you are really on the right track and should get really good results!!
Cheers.
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#8 Chris Clarke

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 09:04 PM

Hi,
Yeah, if your AC can handle focus at 1.3


I normally work as 2ndAC so my focus puller is going to be my day job boss! Hope he still employs me with T1.3 :o
Thanks again guys, appreciate it.
When it's all done (beginning of March) I'll post some pics.
Cheers
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#9 Chris Clarke

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:14 PM

A new development on my 'night/ext' shoot...
The director would like to shoot on a stage with a painted backdrop of a city night landscape. She is worried about about weather (England...) and the effect of the cold on perfomance.
I've seen a photo of the backdrop which is 50ft wide and 16ft high and it looks pretty good. I was thinking of switching to 7217 200T for better grain and contrast. I'm still planning on lighting the band in the same way with about 1 stop overexposure as they get closer to the camera. How far away should the set (about 20ftx20ft in size) be from the backdrop? I'm not sure where to begin placing the exposure for the painted background though? Should I take a spot reading from a highlight?
I should mention that the backdrop has got lots of well lit city buildings on it.
Thanks,
Chris.

Edited by flyingpenguins, 06 February 2006 - 04:17 PM.

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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