Jump to content


Photo

Lighting a forest at night


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Blake

Blake

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Student

Posted 01 March 2006 - 02:34 PM

Hello all,

I am a cinematography student at the University College For The Creative Arts in Farnham (UK).

I am currently in pre-production on my graduation film titled "The Lights".

Colour super 16mm (probably Kodak vision2 500T)

As a basic description it is about two boys who get lost in the words, after running away from their parents. It is titled The Lights, as when the boys find out that they are lost, they encounter these lights that (kind of) chase them through the forest. At one point, the younger brother is standing alone when this huge light turns on and moves up until it is towering over him (much like when the light beams over the truck in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind).

The reason I am posting on this forum, is that I am finding it difficult to come up with ideas to light the forest so that it looks real but still lights up the characters, as have been in the forest at night, and you can?t see anything, unless it is a really clear night, then you can see a little (I have ideas but all involve a lot of lights, but being a student film there is a limited budget to this film), there will be large areas that will need to be lit softly (but there will be no practical lights, as it needs to feel like the characters are alone, until the big lights come out).
The other reason that it needs to be softly lit is so that when the big lights are turned on, they over power the lights that are imitating moonlight.

If anyone can give me any ideas that I can use to acheive a cinematic, but real look, that I am after, that would be most appreciated.

Many Thanks

Blake Claridge
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19760 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2006 - 05:39 PM

Well, you need power out there no matter what, but I've run a string of Chinese Lanterns up high in the trees with blue-dipped photofloods in them for a soft blue-ish toplight effect.
  • 0

#3 Dan Salzmann

Dan Salzmann
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1143 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Paris, France

Posted 01 March 2006 - 06:20 PM

Do you mean the blue "daylight" photofloods or were these bulbs actually dipped into some kind of blue dye?
  • 0

#4 Roberto Hernandez

Roberto Hernandez
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 69 posts
  • Student
  • Orlando, Florida

Posted 01 March 2006 - 06:29 PM

I was wondering if it matters if Blake is going for a fantasy or more realistic approach to his student grad. film?
  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19760 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2006 - 07:57 PM

"Daylight" photofloods are tungsten bulbs with a blue paint/dye on them to cool them off to about 4800K.
  • 0

#6 Blake

Blake

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Student

Posted 02 March 2006 - 06:04 AM

I was wondering if it matters if Blake is going for a fantasy or more realistic approach to his student grad. film?


I am going for a natural look, at the begining of the film, but as the boys find out that they are lost in the woods, it becomes a bit more surreal it becomes the childs nightmare, I am shooting on film.



Thanks for the idea about the china balls, that is a really good idea, what kind of wattage are they, and how many did you use (for what surface area).
  • 0

#7 Mark Williams

Mark Williams
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 811 posts
  • Director
  • United Kingdom

Posted 02 March 2006 - 08:53 AM

Just a few ideas that may or may not be suitable

Car headlights are free and you could put gels on them.. You could find a lampost that is near to trees perhaps film upwards overexpose and put the camera and actor on a wheeled board which when pushed would look like the light moved on film used sparingly it might work.. Also use car headlights to light up the actor.. COULD work!
  • 0

#8 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19760 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 02 March 2006 - 11:33 AM

Well, blue photofloods are either 250w or 500w, so you'd want to build your own porcelain sockets for each China Ball -- a plastic socket would overheat and melt. I'd use the 250w bulbs. Obviously there are only so many you could plug into one circuit before you'd need another powerline.

Actually for a long run a better choice would probably be some fluorescent household bulbs in the Chinese Lanterns, which are much lower in wattage. Either use the Cool White types that give you a blue-green color, or get some of the new fluorescent bulbs that Lowell is making that are daylight-balanced. The final effect would be fairly underexposed, a soft dim light. Don't expect full exposure from these unless the lantern is close to the actor.

How many you'd need would depend on the area but you figure that they shouldn't be much more than 6' to 10' apart.

Be prepared to shoo away moths before each take...

In terms of the moving light effect, some sort of bright tungsten bulb on a boom pole would work, which you'd then paint out in post.

Car headlights are attached to, well, cars -- good for lighting your actors' ankles brightly unless you can lift up the front end. They can be used in an emergency but are far too difficult to position (plus you can drain the batteries), plus would be coming from completely the wrong direction for "moonlight", which would be coming from above.
  • 0

#9 Steve Milligan

Steve Milligan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • North Carolina

Posted 02 March 2006 - 03:15 PM

For general illumination, a guerilla trick that worked for me was to find a stretch of woods next to a public tennis court. The lights were atop 50 foot poles, and of course were aimed at the court, but the ones from the opposite side spilled beautifully into the woods. They were on a timed switch, I think they stayed on for 45 minutes or so before resetting. At a guess I'd say they were 1500W metal halides, two to a pole.

Soft moonlight is a bit of a contradiciton in terms, isn't it? Real moonlight on a clear night is very hard light. I thought these sources played pretty well. Might be able to post a frame if I dig.

We did our utmost to get everything out of the little stretch of woods, shooting the reverse angle and flipping it, etc. A bonus was that since we were on the edge of the woods, we could dolly along the grass verge past foreground trees. The angle you can't get this way is back-lit.

I don't know how likely this scenario is where you live, but it might be worth scouting around.
  • 0

#10 Matt Sandstrom

Matt Sandstrom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 464 posts
  • Director
  • Stockholm, Sweden

Posted 05 March 2006 - 09:41 AM

the new fluorescent bulbs that Lowell is making that are daylight-balanced.


do you know if there are any self ballasted daylight "full spectrum" balanced fluorescent bulbs for normal fixtures? that would be awesome to carry to location shoots.

/matt
  • 0

#11 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11939 posts
  • Other

Posted 05 March 2006 - 12:09 PM

Hi,

I've seen compact fluorescents with either edison screw or bayonet cap base sold in art stores for people to illuminate still-life subjects, view paintings, etc. Rather expensive, and not supplied with any kind of spectral output graph. Enquire before assuming they're properly matched.

Phil
  • 0

#12 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19760 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 05 March 2006 - 12:20 PM

We just had a CML discussion on this topic.

Lowel makes a 5500K flo lightbulb for their "Ego" light:
http://www.lowelego.com/lamp_info.html

There is also this:
http://www.ottlite.c...?product_id=127

And there are blue-painted photofloods (250w and 500w) and these blue bulbs:
http://www.bltdirect...ucts.php?cat=88
  • 0


Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Opal

CineLab

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Abel Cine

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC