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day/night interior in black &white


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#1 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 07:43 PM

hello everybody,

im a film student and i'm going to light for 35 mm black&white and this is my first time on the 35 mm (scary!).

it is a studio shooting, the stock we use is the double-x eastman 5222, the look im after is a low key, contrasty, with rich blacks. we will have just a one light print, with no possibility of pushing the neg in the lab.

i'd like to submit to you a few issues which worry me and i'll be very grateful to any feedback.

my test were satisfactory for what regards the wide shots. i had the actor lit by a top light simulating a practical, 1/2 over my f-stop (f4), some backlight and the background 2 stops under. it looked good, especially the blacks.

but i was not happy with the close up at all. it's a shot of an actor opening the door, my reading on his key side was 5.6 and i wanted to go under 2 stops (2.8) on the fill while setting my aperture at f4 (which is going to be my f stop throughout the shooting). it came out very flat and muddy, i dont understand why. either my readings were wrong or maybe, since the door was white, was it spilling light all over?

my test consisted of four shoots, exposure set at f4 (as the grey scale) but the lab printed everything at 32...can this also be part of the problem?

but my greatest headache is coming from the fact that all the day interiors will have the window (my main source) almost shut by heavy curtains, just leaving a crack of light coming through. i do not want to have the practicals switched on on the day interiors, but that window is not a sufficient source. indeed there's another small window (at 90° angle) that could be a source, but this is not going to be in frame till the very end of the film. should i be concerned about source lighting that much or can i overlook these details?
what do you reckon?

finally, a very general question: what is, in your opinion, the best way to remark the difference between day and night interior in a situation like this, considering that it is black and white?

thanks a lot to anyone who will be keen to give any suggestions and share ideas.
cheers

Edited by condor, 22 October 2006 - 07:47 PM.

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#2 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 11:37 PM

finally, a very general question: what is, in your opinion, the best way to remark the difference between day and night interior in a situation like this, considering that it is black and white?

You would want to see more shadows of coarse at night, and more use of practicals like lamps. the day scenes use alot more fill.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 01:05 AM

the day scenes use alot more fill.


Not necessarily -- you could have a moody day interior with a lot of silhouettes against windows, or shadowy lighting, yet a night interior that is well-lit by lots of practicals and low in contrast. Just depends on the mood you want to create in each situation.

The main thing is that to establish time-of-day, it is useful to frame in the implied source for the scene, whether a practical lamp or a daytime window, and to take a different approach for each situation if using the same location (i.e. try and key from the opposite direction from the windows for a night scene if possible if intercutting with a day scene lit from the window direction.)

I don't know why that shot came out muddy -- two stops under for the fill (assuming you metered it with the white bounce added) should create enough contrast with Double-X, but it probably also depends on your tonal values. If you have a lot of white in the frame, you may need even more contrast in the lighting to artificially create a black reference in the frame.
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#4 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 08:12 AM

i would say that the main difference between night and day, aside from david's great suggestions, is that at night the walls are dark while in the day they are lit. this is obviously not always the case but it's a trick you can use if you want to change the time of day quickly.

/matt
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#5 Sam Wells

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 09:33 AM

but my greatest headache is coming from the fact that all the day interiors will have the window (my main source) almost shut by heavy curtains, just leaving a crack of light coming through. i do not want to have the practicals switched on on the day interiors, but that window is not a sufficient source. indeed there's another small window (at 90° angle) that could be a source, but this is not going to be in frame till the very end of the film. should i be concerned about source lighting that much or can i overlook these details?
what do you reckon?


Hi Vincenzo, I don't seea reason you couldn't use this second window as a motivted source, in any case you're going to reveal it... it is certainly not illogical there would be more than one window in this room, right ?

Plus -- my own experience / observation is that -- although I'm sort of a believer in motivated lighting, with B&W you simply can wiggle & even cheat a bit more - there's just this level of abstraction - unlike color where the brain is somehow more analytical re "sourciness"

-Sam
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#6 janusz sikora

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 10:11 AM

You can use the same lighting setup for Day and Night except that you should bring up your ambiance in Day Look.
There seems to be a Lighting Logic issue in your approach though....

If in the Master your ambiance is two stops under- walls - , and your key 1/2 over with F4 on the lens... than where you get 5.6 on Key and 2.8 on fill when actor is in the door...
With the white door I can imagine how Flat is the Look.

For any Low Key situation it is crucial that you light Narrowly and dont let any spills to occur.

jotes
ITS ABOUT LIGHT
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#7 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 06:31 PM

thank you all for your time, your posts are quite relevant and helpful.

im working with my director and the operator in order to have some logic in our shotlist, but as you can immagine logic is not always the most available resource in a film school (at first the director came out with a shotlist of 120 shots for 15 camera set ups ...still havent understood what he originally meant).

david you're absolutely right about establishing the time-of-the-day, my concerns about that depended on the fact that the main window is almost shut by curtains for 95% of the shooting (and you guessed right...it is a studio shooting, with one only location or i better say, set). i guess i'll have to be creative about that or recur to practicals.

sam i believe you're right too, indeed my idea was to have strong backlight (hard) and no fill.
can you (or any other)possibly tell me what a "top chopper" is? guess it's a flag that cuts the top of the light coming down from a fresnel rigged from above, but not too sure about the effect.

matt ill keep your suggestion in mind but i would like to keep the walls half in shadows even during the day. would a grade filter help or it could look too fake? i was very fascinated by john alton's cinematography in "the big combo" and i noticed that he would always have the background half in shadow and half bright with a strong divide. somebody told me that at those time the would paint the walls black to enhance this effect, is that true?

jotes there is lighting logic issue in my approach, you're right...this person (the main character) lives in the shadows of his small flat most of his life, when it goes to open the entrance door i wanted him to be hit by the light coming from the outside world, that's why i tried the key side 1 stop over and the fill 1 stop under my lens aperture. but i think, as you guys pointed out, that the overwhelming white of the frame (doors + walls) blew the effect i was after and that's why i asked the production designer to provide for a dark wooden door.

thanks again to you all, this forum is such a great resource...
cheers,
v
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#8 Gaurav Kandpal

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 02:18 PM

i think that u can add more shadows at night.what u can also try is imitate some neon sign's light falling inside the room

over expose the windows for day, it will give the frame a feeling that there is alot of sunshine outside, but keep the light just soft enough
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#9 Ken Minehan

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 10:44 PM

hello everybody,

im a film student and i'm going to light for 35 mm black&white and this is my first time on the 35 mm (scary!).

it is a studio shooting, the stock we use is the double-x eastman 5222, the look im after is a low key, contrasty, with rich blacks. we will have just a one light print, with no possibility of pushing the neg in the lab.

i'd like to submit to you a few issues which worry me and i'll be very grateful to any feedback.

my test were satisfactory for what regards the wide shots. i had the actor lit by a top light simulating a practical, 1/2 over my f-stop (f4), some backlight and the background 2 stops under. it looked good, especially the blacks.

but i was not happy with the close up at all. it's a shot of an actor opening the door, my reading on his key side was 5.6 and i wanted to go under 2 stops (2.8) on the fill while setting my aperture at f4 (which is going to be my f stop throughout the shooting). it came out very flat and muddy, i dont understand why. either my readings were wrong or maybe, since the door was white, was it spilling light all over?

my test consisted of four shoots, exposure set at f4 (as the grey scale) but the lab printed everything at 32...can this also be part of the problem?

but my greatest headache is coming from the fact that all the day interiors will have the window (my main source) almost shut by heavy curtains, just leaving a crack of light coming through. i do not want to have the practicals switched on on the day interiors, but that window is not a sufficient source. indeed there's another small window (at 90° angle) that could be a source, but this is not going to be in frame till the very end of the film. should i be concerned about source lighting that much or can i overlook these details?
what do you reckon?

finally, a very general question: what is, in your opinion, the best way to remark the difference between day and night interior in a situation like this, considering that it is black and white?

thanks a lot to anyone who will be keen to give any suggestions and share ideas.
cheers


I think it's a good thing that you are shootnig in a studio for such a scene, as there will be less restrictions. you will not be restricted by space as much as you prob would be if you were shooting on location. You have the use of grids for your lights too.

I think you did the right thing by chaging the white door to a darker colour. I would even change the white walls too. Generally i try and avoid white walls in almost everything i shoot, unless the scene calls for it. Maybe you can talk to your Art Director about other colour options.

As for the f stops... I think you can afford to shoot the sunlight coming through crack of the curtain 2-2.5 stops overexposed. for the ambient fill in the room, i would go about 1-2 stops under. So the exposure set is closer to the ambient fill rather than the sunlight. The sunlight will be quite hot but not enough to lose detail. It would be a good idea to throw in some prcticals in the room too, so the ambient fill wont be too flat.

Ken Minehan
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#10 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 09:22 PM

thank you very much guys for your advices i've seen the beta of the first 5 rolls we shot and they look exactly they way i was after. indeed it is a very contrasty look, with rich and dense blacks (in that respect i think that f-stop 4 was a good choice).

now i just have to see the rushes of some fish-eye shots we took to feel completely sure. basically i had no experience about that third party lense (a kenlock 0.75 x) but i just thought that i had to compensate that in terms of f-stops. so i shot those scenes at 8-1/2. hope it's gonna work. anyhow i'd like to knhow if any of you had any experience with this kind of special effect lense.
thanks a lot
cheers
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#11 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 09:47 AM

i had to compensate that in terms of f-stops. so i shot those scenes at 8-1/2.

wait, you had a lens that *increased* the light by two and a half stops? did your mind slip or am i missing something? if anything i would have assumed that adding glass would require you to *open* the lens a bit. never as far as two stops and a half in any directions though...

/matt
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#12 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 02:42 PM

wait, you had a lens that *increased* the light by two and a half stops? did your mind slip or am i missing something? if anything i would have assumed that adding glass would require you to *open* the lens a bit. never as far as two stops and a half in any directions though...

/matt


well i must admit i have no experience at all with macros and/or lenses of this kind and i could not test it before...i just trusted my ac for this, since he's been using them a lot in his country. this fisheye lense had a ring with all the different lenses lenght on it (from 85 mm down to 12.5) indicating the difference in f-stops based on the speed of each different lens (the widest aperture). on the lense i was using for that shot (35mm) the difference seemed 2 stops and 1/2 so what i did was bringing my key light up to f-11 and set the prime lense accordingly (actually 1 stop under...f-8...cause i wanted the lense to be 1 stop under the key). we'd been shooting 20 slates that day i wasnt that sharp, hope im not gonna blow it, but now im getting concerned about that...
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#13 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 06:53 PM

so what i did was bringing my key light up to f-11 and set the prime lense accordingly (actually 1 stop under...f-8...cause i wanted the lense to be 1 stop under the key).

oh, i didn't realize you changed the light level, that sounds better. ;-) anyway, better approaches would probably have been to either keep the aperture at 4 and bring the light up 2 1/2 stops, or keep the lights and open the aperture. no need to change both as far as i can tell...

/matt
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#14 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 08:26 PM

... anyway, better approaches would probably have been to either keep the aperture at 4 and bring the light up 2 1/2 stops, or keep the lights and open the aperture. no need to change both as far as i can tell...

/matt


you're totally right...i kinda freak out a bit :)..by the way the rushes so far look really good and if they do so in the telecine the film must be better...i'll check it out tomorrow...i think that the lesson learned is that when you light for black&white on such a stock (the double-x) you have to forget colour and exploit the natural charateristics of the medium...more specifically another lesson is that this stock, in my experience, keeps the lower spectrum of the curve better than the highlights, in this respect while having my lense at f-4 the background 3 stops under (1.4) was keeping a lot of details...i dont really know if it is as contrasty as i was generally told...
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#15 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 08:51 PM

i dont really know if it is as contrasty as i was generally told...

in my opinion/experience it has low latitude but still fairly low contrast. it's a gamma thing. it all depends on what you print it on.

/matt
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