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Bar and Motel Scenes


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#1 Smaisch

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 02:00 PM

I am about to shoot two scenes with my new GL2 from a short I wrote.

One is a man and a woman in a bar late at night. She is the bartender, he is a patron. I want a warm cozy feel to it, a bit dark around the edges and the people and bar to stand out.

The other is just the main character, sitting in a dark hotel room alone. This scene is very emotional and dark. I want severe dark areas and lots of shadows.

One of my biggest weaknesses is lighting effectively. Any hints or tips that can help me? Below is my equipment list I have now, but I have a miniscule budget. Any help would be great.

Equipment:

Canon GL2
Soft FX3 filter and ND filter for camera
Fluid head tripod
Headphones
Shotgun mic
2 - Shop lights with dual 500W bulbs each (each bulb can be on or off)
1 - Bescor VS-65 AC/DC On-Camera Light with Twin Vertical Barndoors
1 - Pack of various colored Gels

Oh and the use of a bar
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#2 chris kempinski

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 09:23 AM

Wow. Sounds like you don't have much to work with. Here's my suggestion, take it or leave it.

A work light is a big open faced splooge of a light source. I would recomend biting the bullet and buying some blackwrap (it's expensive but worth it) and making snoots for your lights. That way you would have something more directional. Kinda like having 4 500W par cans rather than 4 giant splooge thingys that will just light the whole room.

Leave space between sources and try and use as much of the natural ambiance as possible. Just use your lights to highlight rather than key light.

For the hotel go with "the documentary look. A 3/4 4X4 bounce camera right, and a 3/4 backlight 4X4 bounce camera left. Perhaps if there is a practical in the room put it on a dimmer so you can control your background.

Again this is all one mans opinion.

Have fun
Chris
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#3 Smaisch

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 09:39 AM

Chris, thanks for the reply, but I think you are talking slightly over my head, let me review.

What I think you mean about making snoots our of blackwrap is to buy blackwrap (no problem) and wrap it around the outside edge of the worklights individually so as to focus the light ahead like a spotlight, instead of it just bathing the room.

Two questions. Will the blackwrap hold up to the heat of the lights, and should I add colored filters or diffusion filters to them for this scene?

Also, the shop lights each have two seperate 500w bulbs that can be switched on and off. Should I use both bulbs on each light, or just one on each light?

Now when you say use it as a highlight instead of a key light, I assume that means place the lights to the far right and left of the subjects?


The whole explanation of the hotel scene eludes me. The 4x4 bounce camera stuff is terminology I am unfamiliar with. Is that focusing a light on the floor and using reflectors to light the subject?

Excuse me of my ignorance, I am trying to learn.

Ok, I read up on black wrap and it is used specifically because it is heat resistant. Understood.

Silly question though. Why cant you spray paint on side of aluminum foil with cheap black spray paint, and apply that to the lights? Seems like it would be much cheaper than $25 a roll.
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 10:21 AM

You are going to find the shop lights are way too powerful for your needs. Seeing as they are each dual 500 watts = 1000k. Buy yourslf a couple a Chinese paper lanterns and put 250 watt bulbs inside. Be careful not to touch the side of the paper with the bulbs and get sockets that can hold the wattage.
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#5 Smaisch

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 10:23 AM

Can you buy Chinese paper lanterns at local stores?

What if I bought lower watting bulbs for the shop lights?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 10:40 AM

Can you buy Chinese paper lanterns at local stores?

What if I bought lower watting bulbs for the shop lights?


Lighting will range the range from soft to semi-soft to semi-hard to very sharp. A Chinese Lantern produces a soft light that looks natural, as if it were coming from a lampshade or something, as opposed to a hard light where you might wonder what's causing it. The only problem with soft light (and bouncing the hard light off of a white card is another form of soft light) is that it spreads and spills more easily, requiring larger black flags to cut it off areas and to direct the light a little more. You can create flags from cardboard or black foamcore, etc.

A lower-wattage bulb will help make the bulb dimmer but not softer.

But yes, you should get a variety of wattages to be able to adjust the intensity. A simple dimmer could also help do that too, and at the same time, warm up the color of the light as you dim it, if you wanted to create a warmer color without gelling the light. ND gels can also be used to darken the light.

Single-tube fluorescents can be hidden under bar counters, behind bottles, overhead, etc. to provide light. You may need to gel them to the color you want, but at least start out with tubes that are near 3200K (tungsten) like the Warm White type not the Cool White ones (a blue-green color).
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#7 Micah Fernandez

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 11:21 AM

Is renting out of the question? It will save a lot of headache and will channel your energy into actually lighting the scene properly as opposed to making them function like a professional light.
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 01:20 PM

Silly question though. Why cant you spray paint on side of aluminum foil with cheap black spray paint, and apply that to the lights? Seems like it would be much cheaper than $25 a roll.

The heat from work lights will boil the paint right off off broiler foil. Automotive exhaust paint MIGHT work but it's solvent based and takes forever to dry without exhaust heat. I've recycled black wrap quite a few times by taking care applying and removing it.

I don't think anyone mentioned the option of placing a diffusion panel several feet in front of the worklights to soften them. David and Bob's suggestion of Chinese lanterns is worth looking into, I've found them at Pier One in the past - they even had a light kit for them that had a ceramic socket good for 250 watts or so. They're fragile and you really have to be careful to keep the paper away from the lamp's heat but they produce an awesome look, probably the best DIY bargain light option.

I've successfully gelled the 250 watt version of worklights with Rosco 87 (pale yellow green) to mimic the look of limelight footlights. The lights I used had a curved wire safety shield in front of them and I was able to slip half cylinders of gel under the shields. That way the gels were a few inches away from the extremely hot flat protection glass on the front of the lights. I would expect trouble with a more saturated color but light gels should last long enough to get a few hours worth of service life before they started to bleach out.

SIDEBAR: Don't remove the protection glass. If a bulb blows, you'll shower hot glass fragments all over the place. Your actors might object to that!
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#9 chris kempinski

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 06:20 PM

China balls are great for over all ambiance, and soft is what you need. Ikea has lanterns like that for super cheap but the wattage (not too sure) won't hold that much, perhaps 100W.
Definitely diffuse anything that hits an actor. That is what the bounce is for. again a dimmer would be ideal on the end so you can control how much.

buy yourself either 4X8 white corro-plast or syrofoam, point your worklight away from your subject and directly at the card, and the card towards the scene. hand hold it and have someone waive it around. you will see where the right angle is and either hollywood it (have someone hold it there) or use a stand to hold it in place.

you understood correctly about the snoot. and black wrap is pricey. the bounce card is probably more in your price range and better for the lights you have. and try both, one bulb then two. see what you need, and what looks real.

cheers
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#10 chris kempinski

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 06:38 PM

oh and what I meant by highlight rather than key light is.....
you don't have a lot of lights so it's film school 101,
block, light, shoot
while you are rehearsing, notice where the natural light of the bar
is coming from,

then once you have your camera frame in place,

bring your sources, bounce, china ball what have you from the
same direction as the natural source, to enhance it, not to force
your light from a direction that's not natural.

that's all
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#11 Smaisch

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 06:30 AM

Thanks guys, great advice. I will post my results in a few months.
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