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Practicals


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#1 Andrew Evans

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 02:13 PM

I was wondering what techniques people use to make practicals look good. I love seeing them in shots, but I haven't had too much success with them.

Thanks
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#2 Jon Kukla

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 03:58 PM

One very handy trick is switching out the bulbs for a higher-wattage bulb like a Photoflood #1 or #2.
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#3 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 04:23 PM

I was wondering what techniques people use to make practicals look good. I love seeing them in shots, but I haven't had too much success with them.


Most important: You have to be in on the decision making process with the art department on what kinds of practicals/shades are used in the scene so you can have the most control over how they appear in terms of illumination etc.

The two things I usually concern myself with when it comes to lampshade practicals for example is a) how much light is coming through the shade (do I want to hold detail in the shade itself?) and B) how much light is coming from below/above the shade and how is it throwing on to the set.

Where to set the lamps light level can depend on what kind of shade, is it a naked bulb, is it a desklamp? do I need something illuminated naturally by the practical or am I going to supplement it?

If you are working with film, do some tests with a practical in the frame and do spot readings on the shade and on the throw onto the set. See how 1 stop over looks (unnaturally dim to my eye) vs 3 stops over (better). But you'll find that how practicals need to be set changes depending on how you are exposing/developing the neg, what you are doing with the print etc. - particularly if you are illuminating objects/subjects from the practical itself.

With video you can set up a monitor and adjust the brightness of the lamp either by switching bulbs, using nd or using a dimmer and watch how and when the detail in the lampshade starts to go as you get "too" bright. Also, observe as you reduce the light level, that there is a point where the lamp becomes unnaturally dim.

Practicals ultimately should blend very well into the set if they are not going to be an element in the frame that is specifically illuminating something for a story purpose. So when setting your practicals, just keep that in mind. They should be a natural element that enhances set but do not draw the audiences attention away from what is going on in the foreground/background.

AJB
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#4 Andrew Evans

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 05:23 PM

What's the average life of a photoflood? I read 4hrs, but does that mean it just starts to drop color temp. or does it just burst? Also, if a practical is too bright is it preferable to dim a photoflood or use a low wattage bulb?

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#5 Mike Williamson

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 07:36 PM

Also, if a practical is too bright is it preferable to dim a photoflood or use a low wattage bulb?


Like any tungsten bulb, photofloods will get warmer in color temperature as you dim them down. So you have to consider whether you want that added warmth, or a more neutral color temp from a lower wattage bulb.

Another trick is to tape ND gel on the inside of the lamp shade which works because generally the shade is what you're trying to control. You can also gel across the top and bottom of the shade to cut the overall output, but you quickly get into melted gel if there's too much heat.

Photofloods generally last longer than their rated life (which varies according to what wattage you get), but the color temperature starts to change.
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#6 Thomas Tamura

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 12:49 AM

photo floods have more life then that -- self contained pars are good too, available at hardware stores and such. When they die they're dead, but they hold there color temp till then. I keep a few around with some clip sockets to use for catch lights and to replace practicals that need to light things on set.
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