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Controlling exterior daylight


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#1 Peter Anderson

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:08 AM

What are peoples favoured methods for controlling light outside? Im interested in how people make the most of daylight when no powered lighting is available.
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#2 Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:49 AM

What are peoples favoured methods for controlling light outside? Im interested in how people make the most of daylight when no powered lighting is available.


Hi Prokopi

Negative fill (black cloth), take some light away from the scene. Reflectors add some more light, works for me!
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#3 Frank Barrera

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 03:44 PM

What are peoples favoured methods for controlling light outside? Im interested in how people make the most of daylight when no powered lighting is available.

This is a somewhat broad question so the broad answer is using 4'X4' mirrors, 12"X12" mirrors, hard and soft 4'X4' reflectors, white and silver sided bead board, and 8'X8' (and larger) frames with solids, silks, griflon, nets etc..

Do you perhaps have a more specific senario in mind?
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#4 Peter Anderson

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 04:56 PM

This is a somewhat broad question so the broad answer is using 4'X4' mirrors, 12"X12" mirrors, hard and soft 4'X4' reflectors, white and silver sided bead board, and 8'X8' (and larger) frames with solids, silks, griflon, nets etc..

Do you perhaps have a more specific senario in mind?


id like a compact setup that can be maintained by minimal crew - what would you use each of the items you suggested for? I will be using a skylite with diffusion cloth, reflectors and bounce boards but i was wondering what techniques experienced DPs call on for exterior shoots of this nature
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#5 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:21 AM

i was wondering what techniques experienced DPs call on for exterior shoots of this nature

i think the problem is that we don't know what nature that is. anyway, for me it's all about blocking. if you can have the actors face the right direction (sun as backlight is often especially good) in front of a background that's easy to work with, and limit moving in and out of shade, you're almost done. i prefer using hmi's to shiny reflectors even on a small budget and limited crew. much easier to control. of course if helps that daylight is so faint in sweden most of the year that a 4k often is more than necessary. ;-)

/matt
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#6 Peter Anderson

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 07:23 AM

i think the problem is that we don't know what nature that is. anyway, for me it's all about blocking. if you can have the actors face the right direction (sun as backlight is often especially good) in front of a background that's easy to work with, and limit moving in and out of shade, you're almost done. i prefer using hmi's to shiny reflectors even on a small budget and limited crew. much easier to control. of course if helps that daylight is so faint in sweden most of the year that a 4k often is more than necessary. ;-)

/matt


Sorry, i often forget to elaborate on what im planning - we have an exterior shoot over the course of a 9.00-3.30 day. Our only light source will be the sun and this will be constantly changing position in the sky. It is also important that there is continuity of character movement within the scene. Ive had a lot of people talk about taking out light rather than adding it but they often fail to mention why - maintainting exposure? softening harsher shadows? or whatever else.

Can anyone offer a dummies guide to shooting with dayligh?
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#7 Frank Barrera

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 09:44 AM

Sorry, i often forget to elaborate on what im planning - we have an exterior shoot over the course of a 9.00-3.30 day. Our only light source will be the sun and this will be constantly changing position in the sky. It is also important that there is continuity of character movement within the scene. Ive had a lot of people talk about taking out light rather than adding it but they often fail to mention why - maintainting exposure? softening harsher shadows? or whatever else.

Can anyone offer a dummies guide to shooting with dayligh?

Are you shooting film or video?

Edited by Frank Barrera, 05 February 2007 - 09:44 AM.

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#8 Peter Anderson

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 11:48 AM

Are you shooting film or video?


High definition video using a Sony Z1
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 10:26 PM

You've entered into the low-budger's hell. That big 'ole key light in the sky and nothing to compete with it except panels of this, that and the other. Like the previous fella said, blocking and framing can save you a fortune in time and money. If you stay out really wide for action scenes, you don't sweat filling the subjects as much. If you stay in tight for dialogue, an 8' x 4' single sided foam panel will do all you need. It's those mediumish shots with mixed values in-frame that make you drag out the big guns and heavy wire.
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#10 Frank Barrera

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 10:37 PM

the reason i asked about film or video is because (as you are probably aware) film is infinetly more forgiving with over exposure than video.

What type of resouces do you have? Can you rig large silks from above to diffuse the sunlight? Can you rig solid blacks to create total shade? If yes then this is a good way to keep continuity of lighting/action. Keeping the sun behind your actors is always a good practice so they are back lit. Then you could return sun light key using a large white bounce material like a 4' x 8' beadboard or a 8' x 8' frame or larger. In this case bigger is better.

If I were you I would try to suggest to the director fairly strict rules about blocking so as to mitigate the constant changing light. If you have a brief moment that you can let play out with direct back lit sun then go for it. But if you have a bunch of dialouge with a fair amount of coverage then block it in total shade and maybe use a 4'X4' mirror to sneak in some hot spots on the background for some contrast.
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#11 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:45 AM

Sorry, i often forget to elaborate on what im planning - we have an exterior shoot over the course of a 9.00-3.30 day. Our only light source will be the sun and this will be constantly changing position in the sky. It is also important that there is continuity of character movement within the scene.

if it's well rehearsed there's no reason you can't at least consider shooting one direction in the morning and the reverse in the afternoon, if you want to follow my advice of using the sun as a backlight. but it doesn't always work, that's for sure.

Ive had a lot of people talk about taking out light rather than adding it but they often fail to mention why - maintainting exposure?

yes.

softening harsher shadows?

yes.

it also looks more natural than a bounced fill. when i bounce the sun i like to use it as a directional key rather than an overall fill. that's less natural i guess but it looks more real than the fake glow you often get otherwise.

/matt
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#12 janusz sikora

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 04:20 AM

Check this site for available/exterior light control...
http://www.sunbounce...esome_home.html
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#13 Peter Anderson

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 08:23 AM

We dont really have the resources to set up large scrims. What i do have are small frames to attatch diffusion to, bounce boards to add any fill light and flags and scrims to cut out any unwanted light. At the moment im pretty nervous of the exterior shoot and expecting the dismal latitude of digital will be problematic. Has anyone got any advice that could prove usefull based on their own experience of exterior shoots with HD?

And thanks for all the help so far.
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#14 Kyle Geerkens

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 10:33 AM

We dont really have the resources to set up large scrims. What i do have are small frames to attatch diffusion to, bounce boards to add any fill light and flags and scrims to cut out any unwanted light. At the moment im pretty nervous of the exterior shoot and expecting the dismal latitude of digital will be problematic. Has anyone got any advice that could prove usefull based on their own experience of exterior shoots with HD?

And thanks for all the help so far.



I find that as much as you can plan for sunlight... watch out for the overcast day. It is well known that yes... overcast gives a nice flat light... it also tends to look dull and lacks emotion/dynamics.

Bring a strong source to at least be able to simulate some direction to the light. Even a 1K or 2K will do ona budget for your MS and Cu's (with bounce of course)

I recently shot Sony Z1U on a very murky day in Florida and was thoroughly unimpressd with my end result. so cross your fingers and do as everyone has said... block well and don't let the director get married to some blocking if it's going to ruin the shot.
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#15 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 11:05 AM

Has anyone got any advice that could prove usefull based on their own experience of exterior shoots with HD?

yes. see above. :-) i still think you should block it to your advantage, but if you can't keep the sun behind the actors, can't be under a tree, can't put up big silks or scrims, and so on, then there's really only one option: bounce in as much light as you can on the shadow side. the larger the bounce cards the better. it will work ok from a technical standpoint, but honestly you're gonna *have* to cheat it a bit or the shots simply won't cut together.

/matt
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#16 Peter Anderson

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 07:01 AM

Ok so my best approach is to...

a ) Keep the sun behind the actors
b ) block light that peaks out on screen
c ) diffuse harsh shadows
d ) bounce lots of light on the shadowy side of actors

Wish me luck! :)

Edited by Prokopi Constantinou, 16 February 2007 - 07:01 AM.

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