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#1 Gabriel Cortez

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 02:19 PM

Hello everyone,


Do you have a specific concept in mind for the treatment of walls? I mean in terms of flagging light off them, or overall brightness etc.

I.e. for a naturalistic lighting of a daytime interior, the light should gradually fade out to the ceiling, right? so do you actually set up some flags to keep it darker, taking out the spill light; and how would you think out how dark/bright that background wall should go?

How high do you happen to place your sources when lighting an interior? Back in the grand b/w studio films days they would have all the lighting suspended overhead, but still the walls look very natural.

Thank you.
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#2 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 04:36 PM

Hello everyone,
Do you have a specific concept in mind for the treatment of walls? I mean in terms of flagging light off them, or overall brightness etc.

I.e. for a naturalistic lighting of a daytime interior, the light should gradually fade out to the ceiling, right? so do you actually set up some flags to keep it darker, taking out the spill light;
How high do you happen to place your sources when lighting an interior? Back in the grand b/w studio films days they would have all the lighting suspended overhead, but still the walls look very natural.

Thank you.


I usually dont have an aproach to lighting walls or even actors,until i see the set and block the scene out.

Right now on the computer in my room Its an overcast day outside and I have the curtains closed. The light is very soft, almost shadowless. If I was on a set and I had to recreat that look I would set some 2ks out side the window going through a frame of gridcloth, or I would bounce light off a bounce board and back into window. Since the light is soft it falls off quickly, So there would be no need to flag the light,unless it was to hot and you set up some nets to take down the intensity on a specific part of the set.

In terms of how bright or dark i want the walls,it depends. I usually wouldent want the walls brighter than the actors,but maybe that would look really good?? Bright walls and underexposed actors?? Theres lots of ways it really depends on the story and the scene.
I find in black and white its easier to get away with more extream lighting, and have it still look real and natural.I guess cause black and white isnt natural?
I like to keep my lights high up, so I dont get any annoying shadows across the actors face,so there nose shawdow falls along there lip and cheek.
But I dont like backlighting. I try to keep the actors seperated form the background by the use of shadows and different intensitys of light. maybe I'll keep the wall a stop under exposed and the actors key light is a half stop overexposed. Although I dont mind back light aslong as its motivated.
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#3 David Bradley

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:10 PM

I would tend to use a single lighting source, like a 2k to 10k fresnel on spot beaming through the window making sure that its balanced to 5600k when using film at 3200k or a 3200k video white balance, then I might use a reflector board to bring the talent up to an acceptable level. Its just down to preference and you may find after blocking that a single source doesnt suite your scene, it may just not fit with the feel of the picture. It does however look natural and quite moody, the light off the reflecor is softened but not so diffused that it washes the room out by bringing the walls the same level as light as your talent. I tend to use a big black curtain behind the reflector board so it doesnt spill everywhere. Oh and a smoke machine or anything else that can make the room hazy means if you use a cookie like a venetian blind you can see the defined light busting through the window. All very specific I know but I like the effect.

unless there is evidence within the scene to suggest any practicals don't back light, it looks unnatural and can alienate the talent from an otherwise natural looking scene.
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#4 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:22 PM

I would tend to use a single lighting source, like a 2k to 10k fresnel on spot beaming through the window making sure that its balanced to 5600k when using film at 3200k or a 3200k video white balance, then I might use a reflector board to bring the talent up to an acceptable level. Its just down to preference and you may find after blocking that a single source doesnt suite your scene, it may just not fit with the feel of the picture. It does however look natural and quite moody, the light off the reflecor is softened but not so diffused that it washes the room out by bringing the walls the same level as light as your talent. I tend to use a big black curtain behind the reflector board so it doesnt spill everywhere. Oh and a smoke machine or anything else that can make the room hazy means if you use a cookie like a venetian blind you can see the defined light busting through the window. All very specific I know but I like the effect.

unless there is evidence within the scene to suggest any practicals don't back light, it looks unnatural and can alienate the talent from an otherwise natural looking scene.


Hey dave if your light is balanced to 5600k and your shooting tungsten stock, it will look unnaturally blue.
unless you add an 85filter,but theres no reason to do that if your shooting in a studio.
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#5 David Bradley

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:51 PM

Hey dave if your light is balanced to 5600k and your shooting tungsten stock, it will look unnaturally blue.
unless you add an 85filter,but theres no reason to do that if your shooting in a studio.


sorry mate, my bad thats totally true. I meant to suggest if there are any 3200k sources in the room to allude to the prescene of practicals then a 5600k exterior light would look more convincingly like daylight. I really should read what I write before I post since I was trying to provide an account of single source lighting. With tungsten stock I suppose you would just use a 3200k single source right?

Cheers

Dave
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:58 PM

It just depends on the look you're trying to create. Natural daylight often comes through windows from a slightly higher angle, casting a little shadow near the ceiling on the wall opposite the window (but not always). If you're trying to "fake" window light on a set, or in some other place where there's no real window to use, you can set your light (& diffusion) a little higher than where the center of the window would be, and set a flag as a "topper" for the light hitting the wall. You'll want to set left- and right-siders as well (casting shadows on either side of the pool of light, making it more square).

More often than not I use shadows on the wall to help create separation between foreground and background, and to help balance out the composition. Once I've established a general direction for the light coming through a window, I don't mind cheating it a little from shot to shot if it helps the composition and separation.
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#7 Sam Kim

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:19 AM

Sorry... I know this isn't the post I started but on the similar topic:

Hey Mr Michael Nash,

I was hoping I could get your suggestion.
This room (attached) is where most of the short I'm DP'ing will be shot. It has HUGE windows with venetian blinds. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for lighting actors in a room like this. The blinds will be drawn some times and closed others. I usually like light on walls and everything to help separate the actor from the room but I wanted some input. Anything you can give would be appreciated.

I think the tree annoys me but the director LOVES it. -_-


[attachment=1818:attachment][attachment=1817:attachment]

Edited by Sam Kim, 05 March 2007 - 12:22 AM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:21 AM

Do you need to light it? The natural light looks pretty nice!
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#9 Sam Kim

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:34 AM

Do you need to light it? The natural light looks pretty nice!


yes and no... i have yet to be able to describe it. i'm thinking it just might be the decor. can i get you guys to look at something?

a film clip... wait for it to load it's 30MB

the DP before me got fired because he was slacker. so they looked for someone new and got me. this is what he shot.
i look at it and i cringe. besides the editing being terrible i strongly dislike almost everything about this clip. it almost makes me laugh. argh. i'm struggling with this because i know that I shouldn't judge what i'm going to shoot based on this and watching this almost hurts me, but i keep looking at the room thinking, more light. it's a little too softly lit for my taste.
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#10 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 01:00 AM

the DP before me got fired because he was slacker. so they looked for someone new and got me. this is what he shot.
i look at it and i cringe. besides the editing being terrible i strongly dislike almost everything about this clip. it almost makes me laugh. argh. i'm struggling with this because i know that I shouldn't judge what i'm going to shoot based on this and watching this almost hurts me, but i keep looking at the room thinking, more light. it's a little too softly lit for my taste.


As David pointed out, the natural light in this space should work wonders for you. I personally wouldn't bring in any more light. I would use negative fill and bounce depending on where I was pointing and what the blocking required. In some situations, perhaps a couple of kinos (short 4s perhaps), but very little. Particularly on close ups, where I might want to bring out certain characteristics, I would bring in mid-sized neg fill (perhaps 2 4x4 floppies) not too close to the actor, but bringing it in just as it starts to effect. Sometimes in this situation it can be interesting to bring down the keying effect from the windows on the actor (in a closeup) and let the background stay brighter. Or vice-versa - there are many combinations of how to manipulate the natural light - but the main thing is to keep things interesting and not necessarily be tempted to fill everything in. In this type of location, it essential (in my opinion) to allow faces to have contrast in them and a nice way to achieve this in such a location is through negative fill. The director and actors need to work with you to come up with optimum blocking to allow for this (within reason).

Depending on the actual size of the location, giving the entire room a long cutter - skirting it across so that the ambient light is "forced" downwards rather than all over the place can be interesting as well.

It can also be nice on occasion to bring hard light through the windows and accent the bg. But this requires units.

I watched the clip. The only thing I'd like to say is that cinematography is only one of many elements that can make a film good or bad. I think that holds true with the clip you uploaded as well.

AJB
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#11 Sam Kim

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 02:02 AM

I watched the clip. The only thing I'd like to say is that cinematography is only one of many elements that can make a film good or bad. I think that holds true with the clip you uploaded as well.

AJB


agreed agreed. and i'm meeting more with the director later this week to discuss things.

negative fill huh? i'll try that see what we get. thanks for the feedback. i don't want to fill everything i just want to accent certain areas more and probably the faces. or do the reverse and have the bg slightly brighter i'll take my 5in1 flexfill and play around with it with i go there again. i will have some lights at my disposal. nothing bigger than a 1K though.

i'm thinking the lighting the room isn't my issue.. it's just how the other dp lit the actors.... okay... i can do this... i can do this... pep talk time.
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#12 Sebastian Andexer

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 02:57 AM

Whats the weather going to be like on the day? You might have a problem balancing your natural light with your own lighting. Really light drapes is a really easy way to diffuse natural light. You can pretty much set it and forgret it, of course depending on the movement of the sun
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 03:16 AM

the DP before me got fired because he was slacker...this is what he shot. i look at it and i cringe. besides the editing being terrible i strongly dislike almost everything about this clip. it almost makes me laugh. argh.


Wow...that was pretty bad. Nevermind the editing, the inconsistency between shots and cutaways is horrible, and that warm source that's counteracting against the daylight is pretty terrible and horribly flat.

I would have my actors play more to the natural lighting as their key, and perhaps lower the contrast by just adding some simple daylight balanced fill for closeups and such.

Avoid that terribly warm look that just doesn't work for the environment...ugh!
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 03:52 AM

Sorry... I know this isn't the post I started but on the similar topic:

Hey Mr Michael Nash,

I was hoping I could get your suggestion.
This room (attached) is where most of the short I'm DP'ing will be shot. It has HUGE windows with venetian blinds. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for lighting actors in a room like this. The blinds will be drawn some times and closed others. I usually like light on walls and everything to help separate the actor from the room but I wanted some input. Anything you can give would be appreciated.

I think the tree annoys me but the director LOVES it. -_-
[attachment=1818:attachment][attachment=1817:attachment]


Whenever someone asks, "how would you light this?" I always reply, "what do you want it to look like?" Think in broad strokes first, then narrow that down into specifics of modeling and lighting techniques that may give you that look and feel.

It seems you want more contrast ratio than the ambience (or previous attempt) would give you. It also seems you want more light "definition" on the walls, in the form of darker or sharper shadows. So where does that leave you?

First; don't use the soft ambient light from the windows if that's not the quality you want. Close or partially close the blinds and light with something sharper, if you can. If you do use soft window light, make sure you give yourself some dark as well, in the form of a logical shadow. Giving yourself both light and shadow to put in your frame gives you opportunities to compose shots with contrast and depth.

Pick the predominant light sources you want to use, whether it's the windows, practicals, or a combination of both. Then use those as a basis for modeling your lighting of subjects and casting of shadows.

Choose blocking and camera angles that make for good photography! That means staging to create depth, and avoiding angles that would logically put you into flat light. ACTION STAGED ON COUCHES AGAINST WALLS ARE DEADLY! This is like student film error #1: Having two actors sitting on a couch butted up against a white wall. There's little opportunity for depth, contrast, or 3-dimensional lighting. Instead float the couch in the middle of the room; shoot only in reverse angles that offer depth and modeling, or block the action to take place somewhere else.

Finally, when it comes time to frame and light each shot in the sequence use the logically-established light sources as a basis for lighting your subjects and background, but then fine tune the direction, level, and shadows of those light sources to create the modeling and separation you like.
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#15 Sam Kim

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 04:19 AM

Wow...that was pretty bad. Nevermind the editing, the inconsistency between shots and cutaways is horrible, and that warm source that's counteracting against the daylight is pretty terrible and horribly flat.

I would have my actors play more to the natural lighting as their key, and perhaps lower the contrast by just adding some simple daylight balanced fill for closeups and such.

Avoid that terribly warm look that just doesn't work for the environment...ugh!



finally... someone who's just as grossed out as me!

yah sf

ACTION STAGED ON COUCHES AGAINST WALLS ARE DEADLY!


thanks for all the professional insight.
i'm really trying to get the director to move the couch and consider an art director or production designer. from the things i've seen so far it'll only hurt him not to.

i'm waiting to discuss with the director what kind of look and feel he is going for. he has yet to really communicate anything with me. he knows the characters but being his first film he has no idea what he's really supposed to be doing. he wanted me to story board everything for him. no no no, i told him if he is the dp he needs a certain vision and that i would be there to help him achieve it. i think he still wants me to design everything. is that what real DPs do?
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#16 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 04:55 AM

i think he still wants me to design everything. is that what real DPs do?


In short: no. A director who can't communicate usually isn't very effective as a director. If he can't express, or worse, doesn't know what he wants, then there's only so much you can do. You can make suggestions and try to offer guidance, but if he doesn't eventually "bite" on an idea or direction then you're left guessing what might please him.

Sometimes you have to play psychologist to a certain extent, trying to draw out what's in the director's mind. It can be difficult and frustrating, but if you can't reach an understanding in some form with director, you can't be expected to provide what he wants.

Usually there are films or other works that you can use as a reference. Sometimes the common underlying themes or approaches are obvious; other times it takes more second-guessing.
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