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Greatest LIGHTING Challenges


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#1 Ashim

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 09:43 AM

As cinematographers:

Share some of the most challenging lighting setups you have encountered or Any setup which was particularly difficult to Light. Any Shooting Day in which the Lighting just didnt work and also any day when you surmounted the greatest odds to achieve a spectacular image!

Do Light up your replies.

Lighting is never Finished, It is Abandoned...GOD
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#2 Nathan Milford

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 10:07 AM

moved from General Discussion to Lighting. - nate
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#3 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 10:11 AM

Have a look at this thread : http://www.cinematog...ost one of your
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#4 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 12:21 PM

For me, anytime there is a head to toe greenscreen shot I cringe. You spend so much of your time dealing with spill and reflections and you always end up having to compromise your scheme....not my favorite.
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#5 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 06:39 PM

and you always end up having to compromise your scheme....


And disapointed, most of the time, by the result, BTW !

I second Chad's statement !
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#6 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 08:13 PM

one challenge i had was lighting the inside of an elevator. because it was so small and i had a lack of equipment.and i had to power the light from outside the elevator and the door is supposed to shut and open, its a real elevator not a set.and there was 2 actors 1 wearing all black the other all white and grey, so the placement of the actors to the light was really important so the guy in white standing an inch away from mr black wasent overexposed.
but i got through it and i was real happy with the results
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 05:59 AM

one challenge i had was lighting the inside of an elevator. because it was so small and i had a lack of equipment.and i had to power the light from outside the elevator and the door is supposed to shut and open


So how did you light it and power it?

I ask because I'm also shooting an elevator scene in a practical location about a week from now. My plan is to rig a dedolight on a polecat for hot toplight and use bounceboard to fill faces. The elevator is large, has several outlets, and also has a lightswitch for the overhead flourscent practical, but if I didn't have the outlets I would rent a very small generator like the Honda 1000i EU or a 12v battery belt/block to power the dedo (the shots where the elevator is moving are MOS). The door of the elevator is glass, so I plan to have gelled fresnels beaming in from each floor, creating an intermittent key light on the actor's face. I really couldn't have picked an easier elevator to film in, but I wonder what I would do if I had to film in one of those modern steel jobbies.
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#8 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 08:23 AM

So how did you light it and power it?

I ask because I'm also shooting an elevator scene in a practical location about a week from now. My plan is to rig a dedolight on a polecat for hot toplight and use bounceboard to fill faces. The elevator is large, has several outlets, and also has a lightswitch for the overhead flourscent practical, but if I didn't have the outlets I would rent a very small generator like the Honda 1000i EU or a 12v battery belt/block to power the dedo (the shots where the elevator is moving are MOS). The door of the elevator is glass, so I plan to have gelled fresnels beaming in from each floor, creating an intermittent key light on the actor's face. I really couldn't have picked an easier elevator to film in, but I wonder what I would do if I had to film in one of those modern steel jobbies.

hey
well i had a lack of equipment on this shoot, no c-stands, no flags or nets or silks, only 4 500 watt worklights and a bounce board, the elavater was in a shape of a rectangle so i had a grip hold a bounce board in one hand and hold a light in the other and bounce the light into it reflecting back at the actors. i didnet go for a top light,which probly would have been more realistic, i went for a complete side light with no fill, i shot the scene from outside the elevator so the grip was inside just inches away out of frame. the scene is a dark moment in the movie so the lighting worked quite well, i had the guy in black closer to the light and the guy in white further away so his shirt wouldent blow out. and i kept the light ungelled. and had ac power running from outside down the hall into the elevator. so when the door shuts and opens i had another grip keeping the door from shutting complety so the cables wouldent break, it was a tight 2 shot so it worked.
good luck on your shoot
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 07:27 PM

My biggest challange is always the really wide interior shot that leaves you no place to hide your lights, let alone the rigging, flagging and cables. You can design the most beautiful lighting in the world, but if the director wants that ONE super wide shot (or wide dolly/pan/whatever), you're pretty much screwed for the whole scene. Whatever you end up with in the wide establishes the continuity, and then there's only so much cheating you can do in coverage...

In the right location you can make use of doorways, windows, furniture and such to hide lights, and live with the light being a little harder than you might like because the harder shadow edges will be smaller in frame. Then you go in and soften for the closer shots. But many locations don't offer any moldings to clamp onto, or the shot shows too much floor or ceiling or whatever...

Closely related is when the director wants cross-coverage with two cameras, where not only is there less space to hide lights and flagging, but the light has to look good from two angles. When well planned or tightly framed, it can be done but it's still a challenge.
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 03:16 AM

Thanks for the details, Daniel. Sounds like you made the best of a really difficult situation.

Michael, how do you calculate how much you can cheat in lighting the coverage from the master? Is it just experience?
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 05:23 PM

Michael, how do you calculate how much you can cheat in lighting the coverage from the master? Is it just experience?


Pretty much just experience, but there are some rules of thumb to go by. First is just trying to keep the overall contrast ratio and general direction of the light the same. Your eye goes to changes in contrast before anything else, so for example if you were to cheat the fill level up significantly between the wide shot and the coverage, the audience would notice it right away. Of course you do tweaks like soften the key light, maybe scrim down the edge light, and move the fill around to where it models the face better -- but these things changes are usually within a 1/2 stop or so, so as not to change the overall look dramatically.

Usually you need to preserve the direction of the key light, at least as far as left-right is concerned. But you can sometimes get away with having a light be a little higher in the wide shot (to keep it out of frame if it's a side- or edge-light), and then drop it down lower for the closeups for better modeling on faces when go in for coverage.

One saving grace is that you often can get away with harder lighting on wider shots, because the hard shadows are relatively smaller, and there is more detail in the frame for the eye to take in anyway. then when you go in tighter you've got the physical room to set up diffusion and flags and such to make the light softer.

As far as "calculating" how much I can cheat, I pretty much have a plan for lighting all the shots when I block out a sequence, so that I don't "paint myself into a corner" regarding framing and lighting the coverage. If the blocking doesn't lend itself to the coverage we want, I'll try to modify the blocking so that we can get good shots.
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 03:31 AM

Awesome, thanks for all the tips! So would you say that you always tweak the lighting for the coverage if you can? Have you ever watched the footage the next day and felt that you went too far?
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#13 Dino Giammattei

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 06:55 AM

To light a simple traveling sequence where the subject would be heard thinking to themselves, I needed to fill some time and the elevator gave us the opportunity to have the actor alone with their thoughts.
It was a short scene that I broke down into three parts. After removing part of the ceiling lights to open up a place to hide some small fixtures. I attached foam core to the walls with loops of gaffers tape. Outside the elevator, I baselit the area with a softlight and a bounced Totalight to approximate the soft ambient lighting that was there. I then added a small Fresnel which was highly diffused, pointing straight into the elevator. As the doors open, and the actor entered the elevator, we secured the doors so they wouldn't close. At that point one of the assistants who was manning the Fresnel, brought together a couple of pieces of foam core wrapped in black wrap in front of the light. When the shadow of the foam core crossed actors face, and it became dark, it appeared to the camera as though the doors had closed. The process was reversed for the actor to exit. The actors blocking was crucial to making this work of course. The actual shot would be a single unbroken view of the subject entering the elevator, turning to push the button, thinking to themselves, then exiting the elevator.
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#14 Stephen Williams

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 07:15 AM

For me, anytime there is a head to toe greenscreen shot I cringe. You spend so much of your time dealing with spill and reflections and you always end up having to compromise your scheme....not my favorite.


Hi,

If you are going for a bright high key look. then a huge soft key that lights the green + talent from 1 source works well. You need a fairly large studio, I have used a white reflector 9 x 12 feet lit with a mini brute. Obviously breaking up the key slightly, adding highlights and negative fill will help with the 'look'.

I have to shoot a person walking towards camera full body on white next week, shooting with a Viper in a studio thats too small! no gaffer and the lights that they have in the Studio! Hopefully I can achieve the same with a large Chimera.

Stephen
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#15 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 09:17 AM

Filming against large windows in room that leaves you nowhere to hide the lights is always a pain. The tighter shots are fine, but when the wide shot comes you spend ages trying to hide/flag reflections, or at very least have reflections you can live with.
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 09:33 AM

Hi,

Overcast exteriors. If you don't have a lot of gear, and I never do, there's absolutely nothing whatever you can do with it.

Phil
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#17 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 02:05 AM

I just wrapped a 30 day feature with a cast of primarily 14 and 15 year olds and a dog; we were shooting on the F900.

The director hated things blowing out, and had the nasty habit of picking locations where the only place to block our cast of 9-12 kids was in front of a giant window.

On day 2 we had a key scene to shoot in a coffee shop; the room was about 10 feet wide, 18 feet long, and had a window that was 10 feet wide and 8 feet high; 8 of our kids were seated in front of it for a 1 5/8 page dialogue scene.

The exterior was unusually sunny and read at a T45, so I had to light the interior to a T22/32 split before the director was happy..........

After pointing a 6K HMI, a 4K HMI, and a 2.5K HMI directly at talent (and squezzinng in just a wee bit of grippage to do SOMETHING with it), the director said "Looks great!"

I don't know what part of the lighting was a greater challenge; getting a T22/32 for a tiny interior or not shooting myself in the head and hoping to take out the director in the process. =)

In general, lighting for exposure rather than for creative reasons is always the biggest challenge for me - when I'm working to get a stop based on technical reasons and not because I have an artistic intent.
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