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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 12:49 PM

Hi,

It's very early days (haven't even secured permission to use it yet) but I may soon - end of next week - have to do a scene in this location:

Posted Image

Looking back the other way (excuse terrible photography, but it helps lay the place out)

Posted Image

It's a single scene, as a demo, from a drama. The red carpet is a bit loud, given that the piece is supposed to be bleak and chilly, but I may even be able to vector that round to a grey-blue in grading or something. Format is 720p HD, a JVC GY-HD251 in 25p recorded uncompressed. Vague possibility of Pro-35. Subject is two people; one's standing by the window or possibly a door, the other enters from any convenient direction and engages the other in conversation. They talk, and the initially-static person leaves. Both people are white, dark-haired and wearing grey-blue military uniform.

The difficulty is the big windows on the right; there are four of them (the room is largely symmetrical) and the large doorway, just barely out of shot on the left of the first image. Due to cast non-availability, it's liable to be an afternoon-into-evening shoot (it'll go dark) and the windows are actually second-storey over a much used car park - there's no way of my trying to gradually replace the daylight with gigantic HMIs, even if there was the budget to do it. Even then it would not be my ideal choice because the windows are frosted and would just turn the light into a horrible flat fill.

I had thought of putting something largeish outside the doorway and possibly justifying it as sunlight with light visible through the exits at both ends of the room as well; it can't be night, but I can blackout the big windows and possibly stick kinos or something in there to give constant light - although that would require a lot of kinos. It occurs to me to shoot the wides first, then replace the window light with bounced fill as the day goes away towards the end of the shoot and do closeups.

But I'm mainly concerned about its white-walledness and I'd rather not have to deal with all that undirected, nasty, flat-making light from the windows at all. Any suggestions gratefully - desperately - received.

Phil
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 01:05 PM

Phil. need a bit of help from you , just how much budget can you spend on lighting and what power can you draw on ? John .

PS ,sorry is it set day or night or doesnt matter ? John.
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#3 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 01:53 PM

i've had my share of shooting in hellish "small white-walled room" conditions, so you have my sympathies. here are my humble suggestions, based on my limited experiences...

it's great that you're capturing uncompressed, because i think the added headroom in post will help a lot. if it was me, i would first decide to "cinematically" make one of those side doorways into a window recieving direct-ish sunlight-- so you can side light the actors and flag the light off those white walls. you'd also then be able to shoot from down the room both ways, giving the option of having a kiicker or frontal light on the actor's heads, which might work great for the drama/character dynamic. this faking of the doorway as a window would likley require an early wide shot to be a vfx shot... though a relatively easy one. you would place any sort of diffuser covering the whole visual area of the doorway (ideally on the other side) and add some simple tracking markers on the doorframe (if the camera is even moving). you can probably even have the actors walk in front of the "door window", as long as the window isn't too blown out there isn't significant lightspread over the actors. then later, shoot another window at the same distance, but zoomed in, with it lit like what you want the "door window" to look like. shoot bracketed 20-second shots of it from darky-dark to blown out. in post, you can take these window shots and easily track them to the doorway (it's technically a 2D key, so it can easily be handled in after effects), and use a luma key for the actors stepping in front of the "door window". a little roto and synthetic halation might also be needed. obviously, the fewer, quicker, and more simplistic these shots are, the better.

another benefit to having a side direct-ish light window is that you can deal with the changing light of the real windows (which would read as diffuse reflected sun onscreen) by increasing/decreasing the output of the "door window", though you'd have to sporadically check the ratio with an incident meter, and there is potentially significant changes in your stop/dof. also, if beneficial, you could have a subtle difference in color temperature from the "door window". and the potential of using cookies on the actors (to fake the curtain or window frame) might work for the drama/scene.

one more thing... something i've done in the past to deal with locations with too much red is to gel the sources varying degees of cyan and manually white balance accordingly. it'll essentially darken (and desaturate) the reds, and this has sometimes been beneficial when the actors are fair-skinned, since it will essentially decrease the luma of thier skin, which helps a little when shooting on video. of course, you will need to do some color correction in post to get the skintones right (adding red), but even then the more saturated reds of the location will have lost a lot more of its saturation (does that make sense?).

hope this somehow helps.

Edited by Jaan Shenberger, 24 January 2007 - 01:57 PM.

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#4 Ed Nyankori

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 01:54 PM

Id black out the windows and keep my back to them all day; shooting down the length of the room using the wooden doors and adjacent rooms to provide framing elements.
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:00 PM

Due to cast non-availability, it's liable to be an afternoon-into-evening shoot (it'll go dark) and the windows are actually second-storey over a much used car park - there's no way of my trying to gradually replace the daylight with gigantic HMIs, even if there was the budget to do it.


Would it be possible to shoot all your wide shots (ones with the windows in frame) first, then once it's dark, shoot your closeups by faking the daylight on them and the background behind them? That would be my solution anyway.
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#6 David Sweetman

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:02 PM

Id black out the windows and keep my back to them all day; shooting down the length of the room using the wooden doors and adjacent rooms to provide framing elements.

That may be the most plausible way, but those windows look really cool.
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#7 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:03 PM

I think the better idea is to shoot the wides first and then move in for your singles etc once the daylight is gone. Also why not shoot some reference stills of the close ups with (stand-ins if necessary) with the existing daylight from the windows - so when you come to light with your hmis\kinos/whatever, you know what you've got to re-create.

... Phil - I quite like the look of the natural light as you've shown it - I'd describe it more as diffused than flat as there are shadows cast... A little bit like the diffused daylight look of the hotel daylight interiors of 'The Shining'.

Perhaps for your close-ups you could use book-light methods to recreate the large\tall soft source light that the windows give.

I'd also play around with your presets and white balance to subdue that angry looking carpet!..

It's a good technical challenge you've got ahead. All the best buddy...

Rupe Whiteman Uk

Edited by rupe w, 24 January 2007 - 04:07 PM.

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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:07 PM

Phil,

Here's what I would try....

Shoot your wides first. Place your stationary character in the doorway opposite the windows, and frame your wide so that you only see half the length of the room (as in shot two). Then pretend that the two windows not in shot don't exist. Shutter them, or black them out. That will cut down on all the fill in the room, and give you a nice soft side light. If the far window has shutters, you could partially close them too, and let the window opposite the characters be the main source of light. If your second character enters via the stairs visible in the BG of the wide, and comes to talk with the other character, he or she will have windows in their BG. So, you could shoot MEDs on that character next after the wides, then cheat them around to lose the windows in the CUs after the light goes. Then turn around and shoot the coverage on the other character, lit with kinos or whatever to match, and light the hallway or whatever it is behind them in the doorway.

White balance to 4300k should tone down the red carpet a little, as well as giving you that 'bleak, chilly' look.

Hope this makes sense.
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#9 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:10 PM

... And perhaps when you shoot the wides you could keep most of the carpet out of frame giving you the cool white-walled effect. With colour de-saturation you'll get the look you're after...

Rupe

Edited by rupe w, 24 January 2007 - 04:14 PM.

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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 07:13 PM

Hi,

Thanks for all the replies. Budget is pocket money, but I don't mind spending something on a couple of really serious lights if that's what it takes. Power is not so much of an issue, as it's right next door to a facility where I have contacts and I can probably steal huge quantities from them! It does need to be daylight as the scene is intended to be before a funeral.

Having done some time-and-angle work, I'm beginning to feel like we won't get any daylight at all - said member of cast is expected to arrive around 3, and it gets dark before five in these parts at the moment. I'm going to assume a no-natural-light solution.

I was also wrong about those big windows (because they're frosted, and I don't know the building). Actually they look into a stairwell shaft - I might be able to get some light into them. The other possibility that occurs is to put light through the leaded windows by the doors - it could be done with windup stands on the landings of the staircase outside, but those four tall windows are nice. Either way need quite ludicrous amounts of light to duplicate what the daylight is doing, though. I'm thinking 4K HMI per window? That's not a very low-cost solution, but I guess I have to make the choice.

Thanks,

Phil
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#11 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 07:33 PM

Phil,

If you're assuming no natural light, why not wait until dark, then use a couple of 5k tungsten units instead of the 4k HMI? It would be a lot cheaper, and just as effective as long as you don't see out the windows.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 07:59 PM

Hi,

Okay, I'll look into doing that. My experience at speccing anything bigger than a 2.5K HMI is woeful. It might end up on the stairs opposite firing across the void...

Could hotspot a bit too, as the glass is a sort of pebbled frost effect that diffuses only slightly.

Phil
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#13 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:32 PM

Phil,

I first looked at this thread yesterday and was intrigued by the challenge, so it's had me thinking about it for the past 24 hours or so. Thanks a lot! :D

Anyhow, just out of the blue a few minutes ago, an idea hit me that may or may not work or be viable given your equipment/time/resources/etc.

As I understand it, the bigger issue is that you have a ton of daylight bouncing around that hallway that you need to control in order to get a decidely "moody" feel instead of that morning "brunch at the country club" thing that's going on there.

You don't have a big budget so waiting til night and putting big units on condors is out.

Here's what I might try...black out the windows completely with Duvateen. Then as far back as possible in the alcoves, hang some bounce material, like showcard or even plain white sheets. The trick there is to keep them tucked back out of your shot (some adjustment may be required as you move the camera around for coverage). Then, on the other side of the hallway on the floor, mount the biggest units you can afford (and can power) on beaverboards to shoot back toward the bounce.

At this point, you will have nothing but a blacked out room with "shards" of light (hopefully) seemingly coming from the windows. You can enhance that shard effect by having the FX guys bring in a fogger. Just enough "atmosphere" to bring out the shard look.

After that, it's a matter of bringing in any other units you might want to hit the background with plus your normal key/fill/rim lights.

Because the challenge in that room is the windows, whatever light level you manage to get from that bounce effect is going to drive your overall exposure so you'll have to set that first, then adjust your key to that. The HD should handle the contrast well. I typically shoot at -3db to crush the blacks a bit, but if you can't get enough level out of the window bounce, you might have to go to 0 or even +3. Slight grain might be introduced, but because this whole thing is a compromise, you might have to live with it just to get the shot.

If anyone sees any flaws in that, fire away. Let us know what you ultimately do. Love to hear about it!

Thanks for listening!
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:16 PM

Hi,

That's a very interesting idea. I'd probably have to put some pebble reflector in there or something. Could probably get away with smaller lights... yes. I'll look into it. I'd love to do a faint haze - several people have said that - but I think there may be irreconcilable issues with setting off the fire alarm system in a building housing 5000 workers! Also, mist would reveal the light incoming to the bounce in the windows, as well as that leaving.

Had a fiddle in Photoshop last night in which a bit of vignetting and turning the carpet a grey-blue worked quite nicely.

Phil
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#15 Hal Smith

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:17 PM

Department of thinking "out of the box".

Put sheers in the windows on the curtain'd side (or are they already there?). Place Kinos with 216 on them behind the sheers. Have a fake mullion pattern on the 216, probably done with black gaff (possibly better yet, a wood fake mullion frame immediately inside the sheers). Beg, borrow or steal large prints or paintings that can be placed in the window alcoves on the opposite side, transforming them into display alcoves, with Duvateen behind them. Now you have a large, long room with diffused sunlight through sheers on one side and no light coming in from the other and it's all "motivated".
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 02:03 AM

If I wanted more mood, I'd probably turn off the overheads, and close the curtains until there was a more narrow slit, then put a hard spot through each window, like 4K HMI's with narrow lenses.

Or maybe 9-lights with spot PAR bulbs if you wanted tungsten.

With such tall windows, you'd want the light to be coming from a high angle though, not straight in.
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#17 John Holland

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 12:21 PM

Phil ,when and where is this shoot ? if i am free might be able to give you a hand , no money required , up to you . John Holland.
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 01:57 PM

Hi,

Chelmsford, soon. Possibly as soon as next Saturday (so as to have something to show at videoforum), but possibly later. I'd be enormously grateful. In fact, I should probably just step back and produce...

Phil
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#19 John Holland

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 02:16 PM

Well keep me informed . John .
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