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#1 Eugene Lehnert

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 02:30 AM

What do you do when you are in a white room to shoot in? I agree to shoot short sketches for friends and I always end up in someone's apartment in a white room. What do people do?

Does a lot of good cinematography come down to working with an art department and locations manager? White walls never look good since they reflect so much light. It becomes hard to dull them down so as to not take away from the actors. But I notice I never see a lot of white walls in films. Backgrounds tend to be darker and mixed with duller colors that do not reflect a lot of light.

What are other people's experiences?
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 02:32 AM

You paint them.

It is one of the cheapest ways to help the look of the project. Do everything you can to get the walls a darker color so you are not always fighting the white (unless the white plays into a story point or something like that).
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 03:54 AM

Can't recall the film, but the late Adrian Biddle, BSC replaced a very experienced DP (that shall remain nameless), because the production was unhappy with the look. Adrian recommended that they shut the production down for a week to repaint all the sets from white to a darker colour. They said that's gonna cost a lot of money. He said it's the only way to get the look they want, it can't be achieved by lighting. So they bit the bullett and did it - and loved the dailies after that.
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#4 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 05:04 AM

i've shot a lot in white rooms. while it's not ideal it doesn't have to be disaster unless you've already designed a look and can't change the lighting to fit. the key (pun semi intended) is heavily draped/flagged overhead lighting and soft, near camera, fast drop off fill, in my opinion. keeping as much light as possible off the walls. i don't have a problem with white walls being boring as much as the problem they create by acting as bounce.

hanging wallpaper "dry" is also an idea if you can't paint the walls. unless you're very close to it people won't notice.

/matt
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 05:12 AM

This is when negative fill is so important, really keeps that light from bouncing around everywhere.
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#6 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 10:27 AM

What do you do when you are in a white room to shoot in? I agree to shoot short sketches for friends and I always end up in someone's apartment in a white room. What do people do?

Does a lot of good cinematography come down to working with an art department and locations manager? White walls never look good since they reflect so much light. It becomes hard to dull them down so as to not take away from the actors. But I notice I never see a lot of white walls in films. Backgrounds tend to be darker and mixed with duller colors that do not reflect a lot of light.

What are other people's experiences?


Check out the 80's movie "Manhunter" with William Peterson ,director Michael Mann. Can't
remember the D.P. but it shows Hannibal Lecter (This is the first movie based on "Red Dragon")
wearing all white in all white cell when F.B.I. agent goes to see him.
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#7 Dan Goulder

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 11:07 AM

Try adding some "production design" to offset the white walls. Hang some pictures, move some furniture...put something in the background. Take control of the set.
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#8 Marek Stricek

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 11:58 AM

I have a recent experience of shooting in white room. It was a hall in a former castle nowadays used as a museum. I was shooting material for a documentary about a blind sculptor.
So I used grey card to white balance and setup the exposure, then I shot all day long with the same setup. The scene was lit by wall lights - it was plenty of them in there.
white_hall04di.jpg
Then when I was looking at the result in computer I was shocked how much white is in there in compare to other footage. Nevertheless in this case it can be used in this movie as an illustration of bright spots in everydays life of a blind artist (even if, as she told me, sometimes this kind of sculpture modeling in public place could be quite tiring, when explaining how the sculpture is done for the 20th time).

And here is yet another picture. My try to fight the different color of light coming from outside, I hope that this way it will be less distractive then if the window was left in its original blue as can be seen on the right side of the previous picture.
white_hall01di.jpg
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#9 Brian Baker

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 01:38 PM

Marek

Just wanted to say that I really like what you did with the white room.

Very well disguised units and looks like great, natural light after removing the blue.
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#10 Ed Nyankori

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 11:57 AM

Id agree with the painting solution 100% but I wanted to offer some practical solutions. It sounds like you are doing some freebie shorts and you want them to look their best but painting them might be a problem.

If you cant paint them hide them. The first thing I do when I see a set with white walls is start looking for artwork to cover them; Ive even taken the rugs off the floor and nailed them to the wall or framing a scene around interesting window treatments.


Embrace your enviroment: light through the windows using the window frames as breakups to create something interesting in your background.

set dressing - palm plants and other plants can also save the day.
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#11 janusz sikora

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 12:38 PM

White Room Locations are the most challenging situations in particular when they are small.
Size is a detrimental factor in that it limits ones approach to few specific lighting setups. Broad Lighting Setup becomes very difficult unless the size of location is big enough to enable you to capitalize on light falloff as to prevent it from hitting the walls. Normally I use narrow lighting setup where my keys are Side and/or 3/4 in relation to camera position so the walls remain unlit.
Generally it is easier to deal with White Room working with hard lights since there is much more control over them as compared with soft lighting.

"its abought Light"
jansik
http://www.lightextreme.com
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#12 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 04:13 PM

I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying, but one thing you must remember; don't shoot the Vision 2 500T stock in a white room, when you want it to be dark. That stock will see forever into anything.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 06:02 PM

I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying, but one thing you must remember; don't shoot the Vision 2 500T stock in a white room, when you want it to be dark. That stock will see forever into anything.


Don't use white rooms period if you want a dark, moody scene. How many scary, dark scenes have taken place in all-white rooms in movies? It's possible, but it's not worth the work.

My trick with white rooms is to not fight it. A strong backlight raking a wall will bounce back and provide fill and/or key on the subject, so use it.
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#14 Eugene Lehnert

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 02:00 AM

Thanks everyone. I guess art of lighting is about controlling your environment. Just like politics.
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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 02:23 AM

Another strategy might be to light specific but limited areas where the talent will be to a high key and stop down the lens, reducing ambient spill on the walls. For day interiors, flag as many windows as you can, and light with fresnels and other hard sources.
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#16 Sol Train Saihati

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 07:12 AM

Some interesting stuff here from Tom Stern regarding small room situations, particularly about paints, glazing, incident angles etc... Hope it helps:

Tom Stern Q&A - Kodak On Film Interview

Is he ASC yet!?

Edited by Sol Train Saihati, 05 January 2007 - 07:16 AM.

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