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Questions about lighting techniques


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#1 Joseph Joyce

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:20 AM

hello everyone,

I am attending film school and this session we are shooting with the Bolex 16mm. We will be filming at night with exterior and interior shots. My question is to anyone who can give me advice on how to light the scenes? How many lights? What kind of lights?


Thank you
Joey
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:14 AM

The question is too vague to answer. There are two critical and sometimes opposite issues: one is "what do you want the scenes to look like?" and the other is budgetary, "are you limited to house power and small lights or are big lights and a generator an option?" But the first question is more important. Asking us how to light a night scene is like a painter asking us what colors he should use, or what his composition should be. Those are artistic choices made by the artist. Surely you must have some sort of mental picture of the lighting for the scene? Warm overhead pools of streetlight effect? Cold moonlight backlighting everything? Light spilling out from a window? Blue-green industrial lights mixed with spots of warm light? Harsh & shadowy? Soft & romantic?
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#3 Joseph Joyce

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:51 AM

Thanks for the reply,

Well I have never shot film at night, so my main concern is what type of lights to use? I wont have access to a generator, so I will be going off house power. Well the best thing for me is to learn by doing. I'll let you know how it comes out and after if I have more questions, I'll be sure to ask.

Thank you
Joey
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#4 janusz sikora

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 09:58 AM

:o Joey,
You might consider limiting your coverage to CU and MCU (you need to discuss this with Director) just because you dont have enough lights to light for Wide Angle. Then make sure you light in Narrow or Side Lighting style. With this technique you can do it with two lights and a Bounce Board:
Bounce the Key with a Bounce Board for the Fill and use another Light to splash something on the Background for Separation. Another possibility where you have no Lights is to shoot Day for Night.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 11:22 AM

When I have to use house power, it is useful to have some of the brightest lights that are under 20-amps -- that tends to be the workhorse 1200w HMI PAR (for daylight color temp, like for blue-ish sources), 2K tungstens, and 1K PAR 64 tungstens (particular the ones with spot and narrow spot globes for an intense punchy light.) Plus maybe 575w HMI PAR's and fluorescents like Kinos.

Just remember that a single 1200w HMI or a 2K tungsten will max out a 20-amp circuit (and multiple outlets on one wall or in a room may be on that single circuit.) So you have to know what else is drawing power on that circuit (any refridgerators, etc.) and know where the circuit breaker box is because odds are high that you will trip a circuit at some point. And not all circuits are 20-amps -- some might only be 15-amps or 10-amps.

This is one reason why the 1K PAR 64's lamps are so useful.
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#6 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 11:37 AM

i'm not an electrician, but i've shot kinda a lot using residential and industrial house power.

the 2000w figure is a great rule of thumb and you can often use it all without problems, but in my experience, if it's a residential house and you don't have the time to intermittently reset the breakers and lose a few takes, i'd try to use like a 1000w and a 750w tungsten on one circuit, for some head room. i've had 2000w units pop the circuit on a late model house, even though there is nothing else on it.

if it's an industrial location (like a warehouse, etc.), they often have greater capacity per circuit, though i forget the exact number.

some other things i've learned from experience...
if possible, before shooting, try to figure out what outlets go to what circuits. you can do this by plugging in lights to various outlets and then playing musical chairs on the breaker box. this might save you time near the end of the day when you're changing setups at a faster pace than planned and are moving lights around the house. of course, the inhabitants of the house will have to be okay with reseting their clocks and vcrs, etc.

and if it's an older house that uses fuses instead of breakers, it might be worth it to just find another location.

hope this helps.

Edited by jaan, 17 May 2006 - 11:40 AM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 11:42 AM

Yes, that's why I find 1200w HMI's and 1K PAR's more useful. A few 2K's can be used now and then, but you always run the risk of popping the circuit, so that can be frustrating. Especially if there is a long power run on the extension cord.
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#8 Rik Andino

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:54 PM

We will be filming at night with exterior and interior shots.
My question is to anyone who can give me advice on how to light the scenes?


You call yourself a Director of Photography...
but you're asking folks to tell you how to light a scene...?
If you're going to filmschool is because you want to learn...
How will you ever manage to learn if you don't try to do it on your own.

If you just want others to tell you how many lights, which ones, and where to set them up...
Maybe you should drop out of film school and stop calling yourself a DP--
You can call yourself a electric and you'll find many folks willing to tell you where to place a light.
A DP's job is to make decisions on where the light will be place and what it will do.

Take some iniative--if you want any hopes of succeeding in this career.


Good Luck
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#9 Tom Bays

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:28 PM

What are you shooting my friend?
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#10 Craig Agee

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:33 PM

You call yourself a Director of Photography...
but you're asking folks to tell you how to light a scene...?
If you're going to filmschool is because you want to learn...
How will you ever manage to learn if you don't try to do it on your own.

If you just want others to tell you how many lights, which ones, and where to set them up...
Maybe you should drop out of film school and stop calling yourself a DP--
You can call yourself a electric and you'll find many folks willing to tell you where to place a light.
A DP's job is to make decisions on where the light will be place and what it will do.

Take some iniative--if you want any hopes of succeeding in this career.
Good Luck

this is not my buisiness but im known to ass into things once in awhile.your comment is very rude,someone who may not have as advanced knowledge as you asked a humble question and you more or less make fun of him.when i was studying photography i had asked mentors how to light or how they would light something and i would use their techniques and figure out different creative ways i could do it myself based on their advice...i wouldnt expect any student/inexperienced photographer to light something brilliantly like someone with 30 years experience would.Everyone imitates as they learn and hopefully grow and develope their own understanding and style.Are forums a place to get advice and learn or to brag and make fun of people who know less than you?
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#11 Joseph Joyce

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:35 AM

Hey everyone,

Thanks for the replys. This helps out tremendously!
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#12 william koon

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 03:17 AM

this is not my buisiness but im known to ass into things once in awhile.your comment is very rude,someone who may not have as advanced knowledge as you asked a humble question and you more or less make fun of him.when i was studying photography i had asked mentors how to light or how they would light something and i would use their techniques and figure out different creative ways i could do it myself based on their advice...i wouldnt expect any student/inexperienced photographer to light something brilliantly like someone with 30 years experience would.Everyone imitates as they learn and hopefully grow and develope their own understanding and style.Are forums a place to get advice and learn or to brag and make fun of people who know less than you?

Craiq A,
Well done Craiq A. I join you to make sure that this forum is for all to learn no matter how stupid a person is as long as he/she does not make fun of it. Was the producer whom you commented a producer when he was born ? Surely not. Come on, let us be polite as David Mullen who tries to answer day in and day out to solve and answer anyone who joins in. David, I salute you. I respect and appreciate everyone who tries to put their thought in the forum. You may sometime get question being asked again and again but we have to remember the person who asks is unaware that the question has been asked. It would not be practical for him to run through the old forum first before he can pose a questiion. An instant answer by member saves him a lot of valuable time. Please dont scorn at people, we are not perfect. Again - Graiq A, I am behind you to make this forum platform a better place for discussion.
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#13 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 03:51 PM

hello everyone,

I am attending film school and this session we are shooting with the Bolex 16mm. We will be filming at night with exterior and interior shots. My question is to anyone who can give me advice on how to light the scenes? How many lights? What kind of lights?
Thank you
Joey


Joey, not to sound smug but, YOUR IN FILM SCHOOL!!!! Don't you have professors there who teach and with whom you can consult on about lighting or is this some guy teaching film out of his garage? Ask your professors how to light the scene to get what you need and why your doing it that way. THAT"S WHAT YOUR PAYING THEM FOR, to teach you the art of film a big part of which is lighting. With out light, you film would be nothing but a big, black rectangle! Hell, there should be professors there that JUST TEACH lighting. You may want to ask advice on specific issues here but your professors are right there and they can show you, RIGHT THERE!
Surely I can assume that they HAVE some sort lights there and a stand or 2, gels, barn doors, c-stands, flags diffusion ect. The best way to learn is by doing it with someone next to you, showing you what your doing right and wrong and there is far too much to learn, that can ONLY be learned by doing. Thgis is one of the reasons I'm against film school. If they are not teaching you even basic lighting get your money back, quit school and use the money to make a film because this particular school is worthless and you'll learn more hiring a guy who knows lighting to help you! :blink:

Edited by Capt.Video, 21 May 2006 - 03:52 PM.

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#14 Rodrigo Llano

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 05:40 AM

If you just want others to tell you how many lights, which ones, and where to set them up...
Maybe you should drop out of film school and stop calling yourself a DP--
You can call yourself a electric and you'll find many folks willing to tell you where to place a light.
A DP's job is to make decisions on where the light will be place and what it will do.

Take some iniative--if you want any hopes of succeeding in this career.
Good Luck



Bad experiences at the school or just a bad day rik?


rodrigo
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#15 Tom Bays

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:02 AM

Maybe, the guy wants a fresh perspective. It isn't always good to hang on your professors every word.
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#16 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 11:13 AM

Just remember that a single 1200w HMI or a 2K tungsten will max out a 20-amp circuit-David Mullen

Obviously I don't know how to use the quote tool but Mr. Mullen, even using a factor of ten for
safety, as opposed to 8.5, wouldn't that have a 1200w unit drawing 12 amps? Why would that max out
a 20A circuit?
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#17 Michael Nash

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 05:04 PM

Obviously I don't know how to use the quote tool but Mr. Mullen, even using a factor of ten for
safety, as opposed to 8.5, wouldn't that have a 1200w unit drawing 12 amps? Why would that max out
a 20A circuit?


HMI ballasts draw more power than the head's wattage would imply. 1200W ballasts draw between 17-20 amps @ 120v.

(To use the quote tool, make sure the "quote" button on the lower right of the message window has a + sign, and click the "reply" button next to it.)
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#18 stephen lamb

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 06:37 PM

joeajoyce,

i'll leave my two cents of how i might light night scenes out of this. but what i can say is that you should be careful about using long stingers to run your lights. I am guessing you'll be using consumer level extension cords which are fine, but over any sort of distance, they have so much resistance that they will seriously reduce the size of lamp you can have at the end of the line. so these guy are all right, if you run a 1k tungsten over a bit of distnace, don't neccesarily expect to get anything else on it. that's a lesson learned the hard way:) good luck though, hope you come up with a cool lighting desigin, post some stills when you're done,
Cheers
Steve
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#19 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 08:43 PM

HMI ballasts draw more power than the head's wattage would imply. 1200W ballasts draw between 17-20 amps @ 120v.

(To use the quote tool, make sure the "quote" button on the lower right of the message window has a + sign, and click the "reply" button next to it.)



Thanks, Michael!
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#20 gregory mandry

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 11:51 AM

Maybe, the guy wants a fresh perspective. It isn't always good to hang on your professors every word.


Don't know much about the power in USA but in the uk Watts = Volts x Amps. if you know the ampage of the trip fuse and the voltage on the mains you know what you maximum wattage is.

also and more importantly i think what film stock are you planning on using if you use 500 or 800 asa you may not need a lot of lights.
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