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Lighting a church


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#1 Jimmy Browning

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 01:03 AM

Hey everyone. I'm a film student at a CSU working as D.P. on a 16mm sync sound group project. I'd like to get some input and advice from anyone who's willing to offer.

We have an interior church location that will be used for 3 separate scenes. The pastor is the protagonist, and he will be giving a sermon during one of those scenes. I want to light this scene fairly high key.

The church is moderate in size, it seats about 115 people. We can't afford a generator on our budget, so there will be a limit to the amount of wattage we will be able to use. There are a series of 4 hard cords running across the roof across the width of the interior approximately 20 feet off the ground. With all of the church's lighting fixtures on, I get a general ambience reading of about 20fc. I'm going to be using Kodak Vision2 500T stock, so I need to raise the ambience in the room if I?m going to get any kind of depth of field without a wide lens.

Because of our limits on power, we are going to shy away from any very wide shots showing the entire interior. We're going to try and keep our shots relatively tight. Here are our shots:

1. Dolly shot going down the center aisle along the rows of pews and the people sitting in the aisles.
2. Slow pan facing the pews, with 2 or 3 rows in the frame.
3. Over the shoulder of the pastor as he gives the sermon, showing about 7 rows of pews in the background (this is our widest shot, with 20mm lens.)
4. Dolly behind the pastors back, with pews in the background. (for another scene)

These are pretty much all of the wider shots that will need the most lighting. We have closer shots but these won't be a problem.

The availability of our location is limited, so we only had a few hours today to figure out some solutions ahead of time. My basic idea is to hang some china lanterns from the cords. I have about 6 of them, with 500W photofloods. If this is not enough light, I was also thinking of setting up a large bounce underneath the podium, facing the pews and bouncing some frontal light into the congregation, though I'm not sure how much. I'd like to get a small enough aperture to get relatively deep focus from the pastor to the pews in the over-the-shoulder.

I attached some interior photos. Thanks for any input.

Jimmy
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 08:23 AM

Is it Day or night? I?d give up on any attempt to get depth of field. As long as you have enough light to get an exposure and create a mood I?d shoot. If it is a night shot I think china balls would work well but might be too flat. You might want to look into shop lights that would point down and be more directional. If it is day bring hard reflectors through the windows to create shafts and add some smoke.
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 10:51 AM

If it's a daytime shoot, the purple reflections on the walls and ceilings from sunlight bouncing off the pew seat cushions and the center aisle carpet are going to look strange on film. If it is a daytime shoot, bring a batch of black duvateen with you to cover anything that is out of frame but in sunlight causing purple spill.
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#4 janusz sikora

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 11:02 AM

Just like Bob said... I wouldnt worry too much about Depth of Field with church budget. Looks like you have enough ligt to work average F2. Treat existing daylight as Key and Fill in with bounces. Lanterns, if you hung them on the shadow side should give you enough Fill. Of course your Daylight windows will Go, but that is fine... you can soften that harsh look with 1/4 Promist on the lens. On dolly shot you can have Bounceboard mounted on dolly behind and over the camera. Expose so you keep the fill side 1/2 under and you will be OK.
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#5 Nathan Milford

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 11:52 AM

Howdy,

I just saw the church I'm getting married in last weekend and I'm working out how I'm going to film my wedding.

I'll have one XTRprod with 800' mags (22 minutes) shooting either 500T 7218 or 7229 and an S8 camera shooting '18 with the odd DXV for backup. Then I'll grade everything to B&W, maybe leave some of the S8 in color.. we'll see.

I walked into the room and was underwhelmed... just a big off-white room with some windows and pews... So I did what I always do when underwhelmed, I turned off the overheads (might dim them low to create some highlights, but still leave the room dark) and saw what I ad to work with. I'll leave the alter overheads on and there are two small 100w lights modeling the undersides of the inside arches in the alter. I'll put some small lights in the two areas left and right of the cental alter and bring thier exposure up to create some symmetry and probably put something small behind the flags to warm up the wall behind them and sillhouette them.

It'll be Jan. 7th at around 2.. so the light should just skid right through the windows on the left side of the frame and wrap around a few people and fall off by the center aisle.

At 500 ASA I get a 2.8/4 in the alter, the windows will blow out with a bit of detail. I might throw something in behind one of the collums to give my future wife and I a bit of an edge...

Should be fun.

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#6 Jimmy Browning

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 04:15 AM

This is a day scene, basically a Sunday morning sermon. Bob are you talking about using the reflectors with the shoplights or with the window light? I haven't used smoke before so I'm not sure I want to mess with it on our tight schedule, but that does sound interesting. One thing I forgot to mention is that we are going to film most of our shots of the pews using the pews on the right hand side of those pics since they are closest to the podium and we aren't going for any very wide shots.

This is also a mixed lighting situation. We have the daylight coming in through the stained glass (of course, the glass itself is colored, though there are some clear spots), and we have the chandelier lights and flourescent units (which I will probably leave off since they aren't doing much anyway). I will also have some tungsten units for closeups, so it's quite a nice gumbo of colors. Ideally I'd like to run some tests to see what the colors will look like, but I don't have that luxury. I was thinking of gelling the windows with CTO, but then I will lose light and might as well use the 250D stock instead and gel my tungsten units since I don't need as much output from them. But then I have the problem of the chandelier lights. There are also a few stained glass windows nearer to the cieling letting in daylight that I will not be able to reach, so I'm not sure what the best solution is for this.

Thanks for the advice guys. I will post some info later about another scene I'm doing in this location that has a completely different look and feel to it, and what I'm planning on doing for it.
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Tai Audio

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