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Lighting Fast


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#1 Vincent T Sharma

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 03:59 AM

Hi,

I recently read an article on Lighting setups and how to do them fast without keeping the actors wait for a long time. There were all these interviews of noted cinematographers who kept saying they light their sets fast and hate to keep actors wait. But after I read that, I was just wondering what "lighting fast" actually means. Could you please give tips or anecdotes from your experience as to how one can light fast and still get the best image using the basic key, back and fills? Does using a particular lighting equipment take more time than the others or is it just a personal lighting style of a DP? For low budget lighting, what do you recommend?

Thank you
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 07:28 AM

There are many techniques to lighting fast. Usually it means using fewer lights on the set. If you find yourself adding little detail lights and specials you are probably adding time to your lighting setups. Avoid placing lights that require complex rigging. Building a menace arm, for example, is usually a time consuming adventure. A lighting style that needs a lot of support grip work with nets and flags and cutters will slow also you down. See if you can light your scene so you don?t have to relight the coverage.
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#3 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:11 AM

I tend to light fast myself but I will admit that sometimes it just takes time.
Mario C. Jackson
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#4 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:25 AM

What does "good" mean?
What does "fast" mean?
There are some situations where fast can mean a three day pre-light on a big set.
Maybe on an exterior using available light there will be no time required for lighting but the sun will only be at the right angle for twenty minutes.
It really does depend on the situation and what the requirements for the film are all about.
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#5 Phil Connolly

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:50 AM

I think part of lighting fast is just being efficient, having your lighting planned out ahead of time and effectivly deligating the work between the crew.

I've definatly got faster at lighting, but thats mostly due to being better able to pre-plan lighting setups ahead of time. When I first started lighting, I had a real trial by error approach to lighting and would often have to keep swoping lights about, because I'd picked the wrong size fixture etc...

Learning as much about different types of lights and support gear will really help, using the right tool for a job will speed you up, espcially if you have the right stand - as oposed to having to jerry rig something.

But its important not to rush too much and sometimes you have to stand up to 1stAD and Director, if you need more time. If your up against it timewise - you need to be able to pick which shots are worth taking the extra time over vs the ones that can be done more quickly - Basically pick your battles.
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#6 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 01:07 PM

Definately good comments so far. In addition I'll add comunication and organization to the mix, the pros here will take these things as givens but when working with less experienced crews taking just another minute to be really clear about what needs to happen and then giving them a time limit to get it done seems to be effective.

I also find that one can have different goals for a set-up, for example do a set up in stages, if the basic lighting gets completed on time or early, then refine it and take it to the next level; If the set-up is too slow and leaves no extra time, well, the basics should be good enough. Doing this instead of starting with a singluar focus on the more complex plan helped me be more flexable and do a better job under time pressure.

Also, I think its good to work on a few sets with an AD who won't budge on his schedule. I don't like working that way, and these guys are not always reasonable but the first time I worked on a set with a clock Nazi, I was amazed at how much we could get done, in silly amounts of time he allowed.

Edited by Douglas Hunter, 25 October 2006 - 01:10 PM.

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#7 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 11:36 PM

Know the tools. Put your ego aside. Stay calm. Frame the shot before lighting the shot. Keep it simple. Don't put sources on the very edge of the frame. Don't try to reinvent lighting. Don't try to prove your genius by creating some inscrutable jungle of lights and flags. Prepare: Scout the location, decide on a look for the scene, and then figured out what you need to achieve that look in that location, and then STICK TO THE FREAKIN' PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry, years of frustration just burst to the surface.)

Try to find some DVD w/ behind the scenes of a movie that Micheal Ballhaus shot and see if there's anything about the way he works.

Edited by Jon Rosenbloom, 28 October 2006 - 11:37 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 11:47 PM

Light the master (wide) shot well-enough so that your tighter coverage will take a minimum of lighting readjustments, and plan for the turnaround (wide reverse angle) so that it does not become a major ordeal.

Have the locations / sets designed so that practical source lighting does a certain amount of the lighting work for you.

Keep it simple.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 12:00 AM

A million years ago I lit some avant garde dances in NYC that later got filmed in the old Screen Gems studio in midtown Manhattan. That studio had a full grid full of all varieties of lights and a goodly collection of lights on rolling stands, up to 10K's if I remember correctly. I was able to work with the film Director (Pierre Gaisseau) and the house gaffers to get pretty close to the look of my stage designs in very short order. Are there any studios left like that, with large collections of house equipment and where setups can be made by selecting what's already in place with only focus and aiming corrections needed?
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#10 Ram Shani

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 02:10 AM

hi

David way is my way too . i will also say that prerig is something that make it look like you light fast

i did a drama which was huge Set's 22 by number and we prerig for 30 days all lights were on dimmer board control by computer then when we got in to shooting i was ready for every angel day or night in 10 minutes
so we could shoot 60 set ups a day for 4 month.

so i was fast:)
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 12:08 AM

The key to lighting quickly is organization, pure and simple. You know what you want to do in advance, leave enough room for flexibiling and keep your people and equipment organized. Nothing wastes time like trying to find something you need or going back for something you forgot. B)
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#12 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 02:46 AM

Do any of you insist that the camera be physically placed before you begin lighting (not just a discussion about framing)? I always tell myself that is the way I'll precede lighting a scene, but I never do.
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#13 EricUlbrich

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 10:44 PM

I agree with David as well. When I light, I go for the master first and plan ahead for the punch in's. Perhaps though one of the most interesting things that one of my mentors said to me was; "dont worry about the master being the most brilliant lighting setup ever, wait for the closeup, then make your move." I agree with this to a certain degree.
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