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Ammount of light for EXT. STREET - NIGHT


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#1 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 01:37 AM

Hello, I'm shooting a short in July which is mostly night. We will have roughly 4-5 pages I estimate of exterior night scenes.

Some of that is near a house, the rest is miscelaneous driving. There is one conversation which involves two people in a taxi at night.

I am concerend about having enough light. We will probably have 4-5 1k's and 3 500's, some open-faced, some fresnels.

I'm shooting on 7218. I fully realize the benefit of running tests, but in this scenario we just don't have the time or the money. So instead I appeal to your experience - can I get a decent image in my wide shots? Ideally I'd like to be around f/4 but I'll probably end up wide open. In this scenario, how would you go about lighting this scene, as far as lighting the background and the vehicle? I want the viewer to understand the context, I don't want to just see a pair of headlights darting around.

Thanks for any input - I have a feeling I'm really gonna be winging this one but I'd like to start out as prepared as possible.

-Dave
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 02:22 AM

You should have enough lights for the front of a house, although if there's no people walking & talking in the shot, just a wide shot of a house with a car, you could undercrank for more exposure, like at 12 fps, and then use more light for the close-ups in the parked (I presume) car.

If you're talking about a shot looking down the length of the block as the car drives by, that would be harder.

As for the interiors of the moving car, I assume you don't have a camera car, process trailer, generator, etc. I'd drive down a well-lit commercial block, lots of lit storefronts, and just use something that can plug into the cigarette lighter, like some Kino Miniflos, shoot wide-open, get as much available light as possible, etc.

Why don't you take a long exposure photo of the house at night and post it, so we have a better idea of what might involved in lighting it.
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#3 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 02:56 AM

I'd drive down a well-lit commercial block, lots of lit storefronts, and just use something that can plug into the cigarette lighter, like some Kino Miniflos, shoot wide-open, get as much available light as possible, etc.

Why don't you take a long exposure photo of the house at night and post it, so we have a better idea of what might involved in lighting it.


That's a great idea, I didn't even think of that. The only sketchy part though is that the cab would then have to pass out of the "storefront" area, because soon after the conversation, a black, almost out-of-control van rushes past the cab, and the woman gets out of the cab in a panic...we couldn't really shoot that part in a populated area (though it would add a lot to the woman's character if she did that in a populated area.) A friend of mine has a generator, not sure of the wattage but if we keep those later shots (the van and woman getting out) medium-to-tight, we could probably pull it off with a single 1k, and adr the few lines in those pages right after the takes.

The 'house' is actually a mansion somewhere in Thousand Oaks, which I don't have access to apart from when my buddy gets me access, so I don't think I'll be able to get a photo of that.

Haha, and at this point, I'm not even sure if the taxi has a working cigarette lighter, though that is a good idea if it does. The thing does have a working taxi light and a working fare meter, and it runs most of the time. That beast just has to work until July 13th...
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#4 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 03:04 PM

So now we're going to cheat a different car for that conversation, one that runs a little better, so we don't have to worry about putting the extra driving on the taxi before we have to drive it an hour and a half away to our last location. And if it dies there...good riddance! Plus this way we know we've got a working cigarette lighter.

That works perfectly - because now the interior taxi and exterior taxi for that same scene are really two different locations, since the conversation will happen in a storefront area and the rest will be in a residential area, so we might even shoot them on two different days.

This may work yet...

edit: for the "camera car" i'm gonna lay on the hood. The 16bl is light enough for that...

Edited by David Sweetman, 21 June 2006 - 03:05 PM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 04:43 PM

I wouldn't do that except for a parked car -- even the slightest momentum will mean that if the car brakes suddenly, you and you camera are going to slide off the hood, and even if the car is going very slow, you can still damage the camera. I'd use a hood mount or some other rig -- then at least if you insist on riding on the hood, you can be strapped to something, as well as the camera. But you may be better off just locking off the camera (on a mount) and shooting -- it's not like the actors will be moving too much during the shot for manual focusing & operating anyway.

Besides, for an angle looking straight through the front windshield (which I always find a little to flat), it may be possible to fake the driving using poor-man's process, put some fake headlights in the distance, etc. if the road is supposed to be dark.
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#6 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:03 PM

I've done the hood-shot several times before, so I think I'll be alright. The trick is to get the driver to brake at the right speed so you get a clean "hop" off the hood and land on your feet. At any rate, that's always worked better than the one time I tried to run OVER the car. It worked until we applied acceleration to the car, at which point my knee went through the windshield. That would have been a sweet shot though. The camera I was using was a lot lighter, I couldn't pull that stunt with the arri, but the hood-shot should be fine.

Anyway I don't think it will be too flat, because it's between the driver in the foreground and the passenger in the back seat.

We could fake it...but I really want to see the car turn from that perspective.
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#7 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:05 PM

A Universal Car Mount that straps to the hood is very inexpensive to rent and well worth it. Get a Bullit-rig for the door, too (it's basically a platform one 'hangs' on the door for side shots). Takes no time to set up and can be done by just about anyone.

Or, strap the camera to the hood using a Cinesaddle or something.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:13 PM

I agree, you're much, much better off using something like a cinesaddles or even sandbags as a "head," and secure the camera with ratchet straps. Doesn't have to cost much of anything, and certainly won't cost you life or limb...
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 08:31 PM

I've done the hood-shot several times before, so I think I'll be alright.


Wow. This is a serious risk that is just not worth it. Listen to what everyone is saying to you. Be safe. Don't get hurt for a movie. It is not worth it. Just because it has worked before doesn't mean it will work every time. You are putting you life into the hands of a driver/actor you may not even know, let alone know their driving skills!

It is not worth it.

Aside from the other suggestions one could easily rachet strap a 6' 2x10 acroos the hood of the car and screw a high hat into it. Some companies like Matthews and Norms for example may have extremely low rigging so that the camera doesn't get too high.

Be smart and be safe.

Best

Tim
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#10 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 09:13 PM

So I know I sound like a kid with a dumb idea, and thanks for all the advice, but I'm going to be on that hood. I've considered fixing on a strap to hold onto. I want to stay handheld for that shot, because to me, a locked-off car rig looks really fake and inorganic. When we ride in a car, our heads move along with everyone else's, and we percieve the car to move, not the other people. That's what I want to see in that shot. I don't get hurt very easily and I don't see this as reckless...unconventional, sure, but I know I'll be fine.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 10:27 PM

I don't get hurt very easily


I was thinking more about your Arri 16BL... :D
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#12 David Sweetman

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 10:58 PM

Hah, yeah, that's the only thing I'm worried about. As long as I'm holding onto the camera I think I'll be able to keep it from harm...there's a chance it will get smashed, sure, but I'm confident enough to take the gamble. Anyway once we shoot it I'll post how it turned out. Hopefully that post won't include pictures of the smashed camera...
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#13 timHealy

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:42 AM

At the very least you should check what you health insurance covers so that if you do wind up doing somersaults down the street breaking your neck and snapping your spine, you be covered and you'll have a little old lady feeding you apple sauce with a straw for the rest of your life.

Maybe you can share a room with the football player who got into the motorcycle accident last week in Pittsburgh. I'm sure he didn't plan on getting into an accident either. So he didn't wear a helmet.

But I know this is apples and oranges. He was riding a motorcycle and you just want to lay on the hood of a moving car with your hands holding a camera instead of holding on to the car.

Have a great shoot!

Best

Tim
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#14 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 08:20 PM

Sometimes being stubborn is good and you sound like a get-the-job-done type of guy but LISTEN
to these people! Most of us have done stuff that we wouldn't do anymore. " Know when to hold them
and know when to fold them" as Kenny Rogers says in, appropriately, "The Gambler ".

There are LOTS of safer ways to get the shot you want and several low-cost ones have been suggested
here. You're just pushing it.

I don't really understand your whole insistence on the locked-off camera being inorganic but if you have
to pan and you can't afford a trailer, maybe tether a piece of PVC pipe or something to the handle on
your fluid head (mounted on the hood by itself) and walk alongside the car and push and pull to pan
back and forth. You can test that with the car parked to see how much you need to pan by looking through
the viewfinder and then chalking or using glow tape on the fluid head to mark the pan limits as you
then walk alongside and use them to measure your pan moves. By the way, this should be a lot steadier
panning than handheld with a 16BL!
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#15 rajavel

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 03:19 PM

actually i have taken similar shots without the so called vacuum base that goes onto the hood or side of the car or any segment of car. but i had rigged myself...tied myself to the car....wore a weight lifting belt around my waist and ....tied myself thro that belt to the car......the rope went thro the driver side window and came out thro the other window to again go thro my belt .....there i am secure on the hood.....even at a good speed of the car....i was using arri 3 for that shot....
infact we had extra rigs to cut the sky reflection on the wind shield....a black flag over my head...going over the car. day shoot.
....so please secure urself on the hood....rig urself.
cheers!
rajavel
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