Lighting a forest at night
Posted 01 March 2006 - 02:34 PM
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.
Posted 01 March 2006 - 05:39 PM
Posted 01 March 2006 - 06:20 PM
Posted 01 March 2006 - 06:29 PM
Posted 01 March 2006 - 07:57 PM
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).
Posted 02 March 2006 - 08:53 AM
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!
Posted 02 March 2006 - 11:33 AM
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.
Posted 02 March 2006 - 03:15 PM
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.
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.
Posted 05 March 2006 - 12:09 PM
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.
Posted 05 March 2006 - 12:20 PM
Lowel makes a 5500K flo lightbulb for their "Ego" light:
There is also this:
And there are blue-painted photofloods (250w and 500w) and these blue bulbs: