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Source-less ambience for night exterior


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#1 Davon Slininger

Davon Slininger
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Posted 15 May 2006 - 05:46 AM

Hi all. Starting to put together a lighting package for a short I am shooting mid June. One of the scenes takes place outside, at night, in the desert, a female hitchhiker - car rolls up, bit of dialogue, picks her up and takes off.

I'm fairly new to cinematography but come from a still photo background so i've got the basics covered but a lot to learn on lighting. I am planning on shooting HDV (Canon maybe, any suggestions?) and am trying to decide what to do for the ambience of the night. I was thinking of bouncing 3x1200w HMI's off of some kind of white bounce, and then diffused through a couple of large silks. Seems like there are so many ways to go though like maybe using kino's or even chimeras/lanters spaced out around the shot. I'm hoping to get the ambient level up in the general area around the car so that I can get a couple of wide shots with the entire actress and car in frame, but still be able to use it when I move in for the dialogue. Let me know what you think.

8 page script with 2 more exterior shots and 1 motel interior so I'll be back for more advice. Thanks all!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 11:33 AM

Well, if you can't afford Lighting Balloons, then the question is whether this soft ambient light is coming from ground level, maybe from one side. Or if you can get it in the air somehow from a higher angle, either by dangling a 20'x20' frame of white (Muslin or UltraBounce) from a Condor and bouncing the light into it (for closer shots, you could have the frame on high stands). The problem there may be seeing a reflection of this big soft source in the car windshield.

Or find a location with a low small hill right next to the road and put your lights and large diffusion frame on top of that, skirted at the bottom to reduce the spill on the hill, and shoot at an angle so that the soft light is a backlight or 3/4 backlight.

Or shoot the wide shot at twilight so the natural soft light extends to the horizon, and then shoot the close-ups with the small hill behind the heads, lit with a soft overhead bounce, so that you don't have a black background (it always looks a little odd to me in wide-open spaces when the "moonlight" seems to be confined to a small area.)
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