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lighting with MATCH - film stock?


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#1 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 02:15 AM

Hey guys,

a friend is shooting a short that is set in a dark basement WWII, with a man hiding from the army in the pitch black and lighting a match every now and then to reveal only his face and a face of another person (as he puts the match closer to them - need a radius of about 1 meter from the match to be lit) before it goes out again... the film is really structured strongly on its sound design and needs the suspense to work;

ok, so as we are now discussing the budget we are starting to wonder what to shoot on.
Obviously we are aiming at getting it down on 35mm, and being that it is short film (short short, as 40% of it is pitch black sound design) we might be able to afford it.

Any particular tips in how to light it? Use fast stock and a real match?
What if we shoot s16mm? would 500T would be enough for something like that?

We will do tests on this no matter which way we go, but I figure I ask you guys since someone out there must have done something along these lines.

For those in Australia, have you seen that KODAK 800T (I think it was 800T) advert, when the guy is on the toilet (an outside toilet) and lights a candle or match to expose stuff around him... the light goes out and he is pitch black... then it comes back, etc... it was a 30sec or so ad shown on ACS award night 2-3y ago... would love to get my hands on that or chat to someone that has seen it and can perhaps pass on their opinion on how they did it.

I think 800T is discontinued now tho? Not sure...
Thanks!

http://www.lavproduc....com/macho.html
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 03:02 AM

Well, how far away is the illuminated subject going to be from the camera (humor an American with English units too please, would you)? If the match is very close you might be able to get enough exposure without any push and the iris wide open, maybe a 1-2 stop push and 500 will do. If you're mixing formats, this'd probably be one of the shots you'd want to do with 35mm. I am, like Kubrick, a big fan of naturalistic lighting, so you could try using a burning fire in the backround as "motivated" lighting, or more candles in the backround, just don't overdo it and use 10,000, some gelled tungstens would probably do the trick too. The key, if the match doesn't prove to be enough, is to make your motivated lights allude to match-light, being warm and flickering slightly, and casting a bleak image with harsh shadows.

Regards,

~Karl
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#3 boy yniguez

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 06:41 PM

do some tests, strike a match a meter away from your exposure meter - you'd be surprised how bright the initial burst of flame is! if the illumination doesn't reach your intended t-stop, use two or maybe even more matches bundled together! the initial burst is what matters, once it settles into a flame it hardly gives anything but you could soak most of your matches (except the tip by which it will be held) in lighter fluid for bigger flame. obviously you need to be careful. also format has no relation to light-gathering ability, more a question of availability of lenses for them that would be carrying a wider t-stop.
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#4 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 09:16 PM

Hey Guys, thanks for the posts!
Sorry on my delayed reply, hard to find time to jump on the net these days :)

We will definitely do some tests with the matches and light meter and see what we can come up with. I will be very interested to see the reading we get from the match lighting up and then when it is just 'lit'. I do know that the initial blast is rather bright and will measure it up soon to see exactly how bright. The option of using some other 'natural' light, weather it be burning fire in the corner or the moonlight is not an option... the director is pretty set on the film being pitch black until that one match is struck by the lead actor. With the proper sound design i trust this will look rather amazing, just got to manage to keep that face of the actor, that is holding that match somewhat 45cm away from his face, lit. :)


The camera will obviously have super speed lenses on there, in case of 35mm set-up, we will go for Mk2 full super speed prime kit. In case we decide to shoot on super 16mm (we not going to mix formats, its one or the other) it will probably be another super speed prime kit;

Sorry Karl didn't understand what i needed to translate into US terms - the distance of the subject from the camera?

The shot of the actor lighting up the match is always a MCU or a CU, since nothing more would be lit, no point in trying for wider shots. So i figure, we can get him to hold the match closer to his face if necessary - it does sort of have to look realistic that he is finding his way around the location with the match, so can't really have him hold it 10cm away from his eye hehe

If you think of any other ways to do this (bundled matches is a great suggestion) let me know. I will post down some results from tests we do, that is measuring light of the match when struck and when merely lit;

PS. I am wondering weather the director will be cool to use larger matches (the big once used to light fire places) as apposed to normal/standard once. Will find out soon...

PS2. Hoping it will be 35mm, super speed primes, 500T - wide open. Would not really want to push a stop in development so hope this set-up passes the test;

Thanks again!
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#5 Kim Vickers

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 09:48 PM

Bundling the matches should work: On the "First Blood" DVD, there's a scene where Stallone strikes a match in a black cave. The director says that the DP (Andrew Laszlo) lit the scene with the match alone -- although it was actually two wooden matches glued together for more light. Worth checking out that scene for reference.

Edited by Kim Vickers, 22 March 2007 - 09:52 PM.

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#6 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 07:25 AM

Hey Kim,

thanks for that! Will definitely check it out!

Just did some tests with the light meter, basic stuff. Lit an incredibly large match (which wasn't any brighter then the normal stuff - the tip [not sure what it is called in English] is still the same as on normal matches) and got a reading of F2.8 somewhat 25cm away from the light, for the initial burst of light. Then the reading went down to underexposed and finally (as the flame built up) it was giving me F1;
(kind of difficult holding the match, the box, the meter all in pitch black :))

The meter was rated at 500 ISO, 25fps.

Would it be weird if the actor was walking around with the match 25cm (or less) away from his face? I guess that is up to a director to decide :blink:

Cheers guys,
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 06:23 PM

How often do you have to see the match in frame? You might have to only show it once or twice to establish it, then other times it can be out of frame (reinforced by sound effects). For those couple shots where you need to see it, you might be able to have the match close to the actor's face, and possibly supplement with a small bulb in or near his hand. Then for other angles, you can light with just the bulb. Maybe something like a 60W candella bulb on a dimmer, so you can subtly pulse and fade out the light like a match burning down.
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#8 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:22 AM

Hey Nash,

we are doing a TEST shoot tomorrow, with the exact set-up you just mentioned :)

Will post on how it all goes;
shooting SR2 s16mm 500T MK2 Super Speed prime kit.
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#9 Andy Barnett

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 10:53 AM

There is a gizmo that can sychronise artificial sources with a candle/match/lighter.

Have a look at the candle effect here:

http://www.movie-int...ndex.html#video

Regards

Andy Barnett
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#10 Nate Downes

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 06:03 AM

Good trick I've done is to undercrank the movie and have the actors move veeery slowly. Adds to the surrealistic effect as well.
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