Background Lighting Tips?
Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:22 AM
As far as lighting actors I feel fairly confident, but background work is a bit confusing.
I have read that you should avoid using soft lights for lighting backgrounds because it flattens the image.
Some have suggested using some small 150 - 300 watt fresnel lights instead, but I don't have much experience on how to make the background look pretty.
Can anyone give me any general rules or tips on background lighting for interiors?
I am doing some test shooting at the end of the month and most of my locations are in more rundown buildings that have small rooms with little availble light. Some of the rooms have no windows. In a few tests so far, I mainly just lit the actors with a Kino and maybe a dedo as a edge light. The backgrounds were left with only the fall off from the actors lights.
What kind of bulbs should I replace the practicles with? Is there a standard type bulb that most people use?
Also should I use bounce light off of the ceiling to raise the ambient light of a room or does that just contribute to an overly flat image if the room is small?
I know this is fairly basic stuff but any advice would help.
Posted 17 November 2006 - 03:01 AM
By any chance do you have a spot meter? When lighting a background, or walls that is, it's good to get a reflective reading. Since walls can vary in color and glossiness of paint, it's good to know exactly how much light is coming off of them when you strike them. As far as using a soft or hard light for the backgrounds, it just depends on what kind of mood you're going for and what time of day you're trying to simulate. What matters a lot are your contrast ratios. Having dramatic shadows can add depth to your image, but you don't want to distract your viewers with a background, so it's a creative decision on your part.
Regarding the practicals, do you actually plan on using the practicals to light your actors, or are they basically set dressing. Eiko makes a great 115w bulb that burns at 3200 kelvin, and GE makes a 75w that I've used. The 115 is good for lighting an actor if they're real close to it, but the 75w is also good if the light is just in a shot and you want a white bulb. Otherwise, basic bulbs are fine if you're OK with them being yellow.
Again, regarding the bounced light, it's just a matter of your contrast ratios. How bright is your key in comparison with the darkness of your shadows. Just gotta figure out what you want and shoot for it
Posted 17 November 2006 - 04:47 AM
I do own a Sekonic light meter that I use when shooting super 8. Normally I just use it to figure out the proper exposure for the actors face, but not for measuring the differences between lights.
Since the actor is normally the focal point what metering formula is standard for background lights?
As for using practicals I want the film to be fairly depressing, and dark so I guess the lights can be used as they are for the most part. The main issue is that I will be using the HVX200 with the M2 adapter and I am discovering that you really need to light a scene as though you are lighting for low ASA film stock.
With that in mind is it normal to replace the bulbs with the highest watt bulbs you can run in the fixtures? or does that call to much attention to the background?
Are there 250 or 500w practical bulbs? Would they be overkill?
If I use high watt practicals for the wide shots, can I just subsitute the Kino for the close-ups even though the quality of the light will look somewhat different?
What usually motivates the kind of light a kino puts out beside maybe a window?
In the past I have used my fresnel spots to create that noir type look, but find it challenging to use them to get anything other than a theatrical look. Is bouncing or diffusing the only way around this?
o.k ..... I'll stop
Posted 17 November 2006 - 12:48 PM
Edited by Jake Zalutsky, 17 November 2006 - 12:51 PM.
Posted 17 November 2006 - 05:20 PM
Posted 18 November 2006 - 01:37 PM
I can't stand seeing flat lit backgrounds. (If you want flat, bounce the light off the ceiling or something to prevent hard shadows) One thing I did in a recent shoot was:
1. Shoot the light through a grid which separated the light giving a much more interesting look
2. Closed the horizontal barn doors leaving only a few centimeters. This gave a thin, powerfull line of light which over powered the backlight, looked really effective.
I have to get some stills developed, I could probably upload an example once I have.
Try playing around with some gels.
Could try buying some incense sticks and smoke the place up a bit if you want. (Looks really cool, unless it starts showing light beams coming from places that does not look natural for a light)
Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 18 November 2006 - 01:40 PM.