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Lighting a Forest Scene


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#1 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:16 AM

Hi. I'd like to ask for some advice on how to light a forest scene within a short film I'm currently preparing for.

Technical Details: 16mm, Kodak Vision2 7218, Arri SRI, Prime Lenses (don't have the full details of the set), Zoom Lens.

Scene Description: Primal, Nightmare, Actors dressed in loin cloths or rags, Muddy faces and bodies (perhaps like Apocalypto).

Desired Effect: lots of shadows and contrast, very shallow focus, slightly bluish tinge (maybe).

I'm wondering how I should approach the lighting design on this. It is a student production and we do have access to a fairly decent but small lighting/grip kit, but power requirements will dictate what we can actually use.

I'm thinking of going for a 4K diffused through a silk (muslin?) top down for ambient and backlight and then trying to accentuate the actors with 4 500s placed in a semi-arc to one side so there is a hard edge on one side of their bodies. Finally, I'll try to have a 1K placed at the front to catch their faces/eyes at eye level.

This would require around 70 amps I think including headroom?

I'll be trying to have a smoke machine running to create some atmosphere.

If there are flaws in my plan please let me know!!!

Any suggestions and advice are welcome!

Thanks,

K.
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#2 James Brown

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:53 AM

This would require around 70 amps I think including headroom?

Hi. Not including the smoke machine this requires about 28 amps.
1k = 4amp
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#3 darrin p nim

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:10 AM

Hi. Not including the smoke machine this requires about 28 amps.
1k = 4amp


100 watts (in paperweight) is 1 amp. so 1000 watts or a 1K is going to be 10 amps but I believe the average amperage level is 8.6 amps for a 1K.
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#4 Daniel Christie

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:49 AM

Actually, it depends on the voltage of the power supply. In Australia, Europe and most of Asia the mains supply is 240 volts, so 1K will require about 4.2 amps. In the US and Japan the power supply is 120V (with the exception, I gather, of some dedicated outputs used in laundrys, kitchens, hot water where higher curcuit capacity is desirable) so 1K = 8.4A. The formula to work it out for yourself goes like this; WATTS/VOLTS = AMPS. You should always allow 10-20% overhead though and make sure you know what else is on the curcuit.

Daniel
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#5 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 06:16 AM

But more importantly is the lighting scheme. Muslin and silk may be a bit thick for a 4k tungsten fresnel, especially if you need to fill a large area. A bounce will provide a bit more light.

But quickly back to the technical.....do they make a 4k tungsten fresnel? They make a 2.5/4k HMI, in which case your current estimates are way off, as you need to take the inductive qualities of the ballast into account.

4 lights in a semi-arch sounds like a recipe for multiple shadows.

If your primal subjects are wearing mud to camouflage their faces, why not legitimize the mud’s purpose and make them difficult to see.....not that difficult but maybe a eye light rather than a strong key from the side.

Edited by Danielle Frankinshten, 16 March 2007 - 06:19 AM.

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#6 James Brown

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 07:44 AM

Hi,

Sorry i forgot about the 120V thing. It's good here being able to plug a 2.5 into a household circuit. Back to the important bit.

A few questions. How many actors do you need to light?, are there big wide shots or mainly MCU's and CU's?. Hows the budget? A 4k (par hopefully) is a pretty punchy light when night time but the problem is if it's a large area (like your forest) so your idea of having minimal DOF is a good idea because you cant light the whole area. So try and keep it fairly tight when in this sort of scenario to stop it looking lit in one area and dark in the distance.

Do you want a moonlight overall ambience? Maybe you can quarter correct the HMI and add a bit of quarter + Green. Therefor you still have a justified light source but with a bluish tinge. This shot through a 8x8 1/2 sale or bounced is a good idea for a nice even spread (if you are shooting WS's this will not work) but it will not give you 'contrasty and lots of shadows' comparing to going raw..

The next thing is are you going to put any correction on the 500's or do you just want it as 'white' light? These 500's wont do much to your talent comparing to the 4k. This all depends on style and how justified these sources should be? Do you really want a harsh backlight at night? How much fill? Should it be realistic?

With these sort of variables ie: Low Budget, Minimal Crew, Night EXT in a forest i would suggest: Letting the background go black, work at an overall lower level and then when you key them with a small source, you will have more contrast, it will be easier to work with/control and you will get a more convincing look.
A pup on a dimmer is a lot easier to cut and flag then a 4k through a silk. You could correct the tungsten with however much CTB you want for your 'bluish tint' (a DSLR) would work great in this situation. Let the characters go in and out of the light. If they are in Camo gear it could look a bit mysterious when they drop off and come back into a light.

If you want something to catch there eyes try using a small 2 foot Kino or a china ball rather then a hard source. You could hang this above camera on a c-stand arm and have it on a dimmer to control how much of the fill you want.
The 500T working at a wide aperture in low light will see more then you think or when your meter is saying "hey, your dreaming"

James " i love night EXT with a small crew when it rains" Brown
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#7 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:58 AM

Hi guys, thanks for the replies so far.

I like the idea of the eye light and having the shadows strong so the actors are hard to see. There will be 4 actors: 3 with fair skin and 1 with darker skin.

Also, the idea behind the silk was to diffuse the light and then work within a very small space - the actual location is very pretty and has a small stream running through it with a fair number of trees, and a not so dense canopy overhead.

I will definitely remove the silk and add the CTB and try for an eye light slightly above the camera for each shot/setup.

As for the 4 500s in a semi-arc, I'm not afraid of shadows; I'm more interested in creating some separation between the actors and I don't think there is any way I can motivate a strong backlight/edge so I thought a side light would work as in light coming through the trees at an angle which I can hide behind/on top of/or close to the trees.

Very Crude Diagram follows: the stream is to the right. Camera will be to the right. Bounce will be to the left. Smoke machine I think would be to the left (off screen) in line with the the middle of the actors positions.

T TT TTT (T=trees)

LL - 2 x 500 (1,2)
TT
TT L - 1 x 500 (3)

1 2 L - 1 x 500 (4)
3

4 (actor)

Eye light 4K (not sure if this IS the best position?)

Pools of light would be great, maybe some more advice on how to achieve that?

I've worked with 500T 7218 before, and yes I was totally amazed at how clear the image was when I thought the exposure was not enough or the grain would kill us at a 2.4/2.8 to 1.4 exposure. That stock is amazing. We did a night scene with 2 x 2K's and 2 x 1K's on a dim night (no moon) and no street lights with the light meter saying 1 for fill, 2.8 for edge, and maybe 2 for everything else. When we got the transfer back it was so "bright" we had to dirty the footage some to get the scene, a noirish scene, to work!!

I can switch the 500s for 3 1K's.

Thanks again,

K.

Edited by Krystian Ramlogan, 16 March 2007 - 10:02 AM.

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#8 James Brown

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 06:30 PM

Hi,

A few pointers: Are you using a 4k HMI? because you mentioned adding more CTB to this unit. If your already shooting tungsten and adding more blue to a 5600k lamp it will be ultra blue. I would suggest adding maybe 1/4 CTO or CTS so you still have the 'blue tinge' you wanted but a bit more realistic colour i would even add 1/4 + Green or WFG then adding a hint of CTB to your tungsten, but thats just me.

If you remove the silk and go direct you will not have a soft ambient night light. You will have quite a hard light and once this light starts hitting your actors your Tungsten units will be find it hard competing. If you want to go with a overall night light it needs to be soft and then go hard with your side key(s).

The way to get your pools of light and/or your actors walking in and out is to separate the the tungsten lamps from each other and not have them so close.

Also be careful with your eye light. This should be at a fairly low level so not to flatten out the faces and give a glint.

A mix of 1k's and 650's would be good. Be careful with the inconsistency of smoke. On EXT night's it blows away very quick and you could have the problem of it being dramatic in one shot and not there in another.

I nor anyone else can tell you exactly how to light this. The best is what looks good to your eyes. Have a play, drop the fill, add a backlight, whatever works for you at that time in that scenario for the that shot is the way to light it. Have fun.

James.
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#9 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:00 PM

Thanks. I will definitely bear that advice in mind. I'll try to post a still or two once we get the transfer back in a couple weeks or so.

K.
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