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Lighting inside car


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#1 Mike Bove

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 09:06 PM

Hi all, I've just signed up to this site, this is my first post. My name's Mike Bove and I'm a junior at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in cinematography. I look forward to getting to know the lot of you here, these forums seem like a wealth of information that I can chew on for a long time.

Introductions aside, I have a small shoot coming up next month and have a lighting issue. We're shooting on the dvx100a and a few scenes take place in a car driving around at night. I'm unsure what methods are available to light inside the car. I looked into kino flo's mini and micro kits that plug into cigarette adapters, but they are way beyond the no budget of this project.

So does anyone have any suggestions of other methods of how to do this (cheaply)? Anything would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
-Mike
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#2 Mark Henderson

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 09:14 PM

Hi all, I've just signed up to this site, this is my first post. My name's Mike Bove and I'm a junior at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in cinematography. I look forward to getting to know the lot of you here, these forums seem like a wealth of information that I can chew on for a long time.

Introductions aside, I have a small shoot coming up next month and have a lighting issue. We're shooting on the dvx100a and a few scenes take place in a car driving around at night. I'm unsure what methods are available to light inside the car. I looked into kino flo's mini and micro kits that plug into cigarette adapters, but they are way beyond the no budget of this project.

So does anyone have any suggestions of other methods of how to do this (cheaply)? Anything would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
-Mike


Mike:
An inexpensive way is to buy an inverter that plugs into the cig lighter. You can buy the cheap 60/100 watt ones for about 15 bucks. Buy two HOME DEPOT lights (5 bucks each), those are the ones in a chrome bowl with screw ins for lights. That's about it. I've done it on big budget shoots. Even. Looks better than Kinos if you take your time. You can use the screw in flo type bulbs if you need a soft look. Bulbs can be bought or gelled to the right color.

Mark
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:25 PM

Be very wary of how you light the car. If this is low budget, then a proccess trailer is out, which means your actors will be driving as well. this can be very dangerous with too much light in their eyes. Try small white LED units (not the large banks, but 5 or 6 wired to a battery through diffusion might give you what you need.) the key is to get the light bright enough that it reads, but dim enough that your actors don't wreck.
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#4 Mike Bove

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 11:36 PM

Thank you Mark, I'll look into that.

And Causing an accident is definitely a concern. These LED lights...I've never heard of them. Where would I be able to find them?
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#5 Robert Aldrich

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 01:40 AM

Thank you Mark, I'll look into that.

And Causing an accident is definitely a concern. These LED lights...I've never heard of them. Where would I be able to find them?


Find a weekend swap meet where they sell tools. You can get a battery-powered (or maybe it's plug in to 12V, can't recall) bank of about 20 to 40 white LEDs for something like 20-30 bucks. It's called a "Work Light"!

I did a shoot in a graveyard with one LED flashlight that had something like 8 LEDs in it, and it was enough to fill-light an actor's face in a critical scene. (this was with a PD-150, so it's a lot more sensitive than a DVX-100 in low light)
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#6 Corey Bringas

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:14 AM

Hey,

Here in SD I can rent a kino flo car kit for about 35$ for the weekend. They are quite affordable. If you cannot find something like that in Chicago, the other options sound fantastic as well. One suggestion I have from personal experience is to have a follow car of some sort, perhaps even several. These cars following behind will add a white reference and add depth to the image and possibly even back light the actors. I personally do not prefer it for the WHOLE scene, as I also enjoy street lights and moments of black in the background, but having that reference and depth really does enhance the image. Also, do not be afraid of the dark! Often it's easy to overlight your actors in the car, but do what seems realistic. Little light from the dash and some from the cd player area. Whatever you can fake, but dont over do it. Have fun!
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#7 chris kempinski

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:24 AM

I would agree with Mark with the inverter idea and would just add perhaps a couple of 40W bulbs in small china balls on dimmers (ikea cheap).

Good Luck and have fun at school.
Chris
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#8 Walter Graff

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 08:32 AM

How about hte invertor idea with some small store bought flourescents. A small 8 watt on the dash creates a beautiful "car" look. It's safer than incandescent and easier ot mount. I've shot this way many a times.
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#9 Ed Nyankori

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 09:44 AM

I think we all need to use an inverter from time to time. If only to charge batteries run a laptop etc. So definitely a good investment.

As far as lighting your interior Ill offer my own low budget solution. I use(d) 12" fluorescent cabinet fixtures designed to go under kitchen cabinets. The ones I bought from homedepot gang together in as many as three fixtures. I used two covered in black paper tape to conceal the housing and tucked one into each sun visor. I believe I added some diffusion to knock down the level and hide the 'lighting effect'. We experimented with using a third to up light the subjects using some amber gel to match the dash lights but I thought it was abit much. We shot it both ways so ill be interested to see which one makes the cut.

In the past Ive shot parked in a garage with black or green backgrounds (id recomend black). You can use a light on a stand to simulate passing lights and pen lights behind the car to simulate headights in the distance.

I think the usual mistakes in lighting car interiors, especially mistakes directors force you into, lies with unrealistic expectations from the light level inside a car. I often feel if it doesnt look consistent with the exposures Ive been offering outside the car then directors want "more" and "even". Despite the fact we know its dark in a car. Oh well. Some of my favorite car shots rely on the audio track driving the dialog and montages of the car, the road and the driver. Instead of the mouth and faces.
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#10 chris kempinski

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 12:59 PM

One of my favorite car PMPs was in Million Dollar Baby. Very subtle, not predictable and worth a look. It's funny I just worked with Tom Stern on Things we Lost in the Fire and I didn't get a chance to ask him about it.

Edited by chris kempinski, 23 January 2007 - 01:02 PM.

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