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recent lighting set-ups


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 10:57 AM

See if can sneak some innocuous set photos... I blacked out the actors' faces in the second one.

The first one shows my operator Bob Edessa and 1st AC John Flinn in a backyard set lit for daytime with spacelights and a Dino backlight. The second shows a hotel restaurant lit with lighting balloons and a Chinese Lantern.

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#2 John Holland

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:18 AM

Hi David can just see the bottoms of the space lights in your pic look a touch blue ! did you do something there ie blue skirts ?
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#3 James Brown

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:23 AM

Hi David,

Two quick questions -

How many space lights did you have to light that set?

What wattage lighting balloons are they?

Thanks, James.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:40 PM

Every fourth space light is gelled with 1/2 CTB.

Space lights have 6 1K globes, but we only have 3 of them wired -- they may be over 150 space lights up there. Even with only 3 globes burning, I get about an f/5.6 at 400 ASA under just the space lights. I usually turn it to 2-globes on to get the level down to f/4 so the "sunlight" from the Dino or 20K's reads brighter in comparison. I get nearly an f/11 out of them and I usually aim for at least a 3-stop difference between the "sun" and the skylight.
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#5 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:54 PM

Hey David.
What were the actor's faces exposed at in the resurant scene? And what stock were you shooting?
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#6 James Brown

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:04 PM

>have 6 1K globes

A lot safer then the ones with Red head bubbles in them!

Would you ever use a 12K in a Studio situation like this? Where you gelling the 20K or leaving it warm?
Would seem weird to knock the heck out of a 20K with CTB when reproducing sunlight when a HMI is on hand. I haven't worked in a studio situations of this size and i guess it's cheaper to burn a 20K then a 12K Bubble.

In that second picture - What wattage is inside the lighting balloon and China ball? Just wondering how much you need for that sort of luminance.

Thanks in advance, James.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:38 PM

The Dinos and 20K were left at 3200K and shot on 3200K stock (Expression 500T) -- the skylight was slightly cooler than 3200K because of the 1/2 CTB gelling on 25% of them.

The backing was lit with cyc lights above and sky pans below. I usually let it be a little overexposed.

Occasionally I turned off the Dinos and gelled the 20K's with half-orange for a late afternoon effect (too much trouble to gel the Dinos.)

If I was shooting inside the houses, sometimes I'd gel the windows with 1/2 CTO to warm up the view for late afternoon. Once I gelled them 1/2 CTB for a blue dusk effect. Waste of gel but faster than gelling hundreds of lights.

The restaurant scene was shot at T/2.8 on Expression 500T (rated at 400 ASA) on Primo zooms. I dimmed the balloons down / turned off globes, to get a general T/2 level, so the restaurant was shot a stop underexposed, with the small table lamps providing a bright highlight in the frame. Seemed more realistic than exposing at key. Was able to shoot a lot of set-ups with two cameras under this lighting plan, since the whole restaurant was lit for 360 degrees and I just had to adjust the Chinese lantern for the principals.

I also had a dim backlight from a tweenie (you can see it protruding on a menace arm rig in the photo), and a dim, snooted eyelight. But I tried to keep it simple in order to shoot all the pages that day.
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#8 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:59 PM

Thanks David, I have a few more questions. Was the practical on the table not working as an eye light? Do you prefer the look of spectral eye lights oppose to diffused eye lights?
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 08:07 PM

Thanks David, I have a few more questions. Was the practical on the table not working as an eye light? Do you prefer the look of spectral eye lights oppose to diffused eye lights?


Let's just say that some of the actors need a little more help under their eyes than the table lamp provided, although it helped too. It was a bit low-ish though, so a dead-on eyelight cleaned things up a bit -- but I kept it pretty scrimmed down. On the tighter shots, the Chinese Lantern was lowered to be just above the frame line, which helped keep the eyes from getting deep shadow sockets, plus made the light softer. The boom person always objects though.
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#10 Rodrigo Llano

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 12:01 PM

Hey David

As always , thanks for sharing your knowledge and showing us how resolve your shoots..

all the best

Rodrigo
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#11 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:42 AM

The restaurant scene was shot at T/2.8 on Expression 500T (rated at 400 ASA) on Primo zooms. I dimmed the balloons down / turned off globes, to get a general T/2 level, so the restaurant was shot a stop underexposed, with the small table lamps providing a bright highlight in the frame. Seemed more realistic than exposing at key.


Thanks for the post. I have one small question about exposure. Does the fact that you rated the stock at 400ASA mean that the restaurant scenes were in fact 2/3 of a stop under, instead of one stop?
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:44 AM

Thanks for the post. I have one small question about exposure. Does the fact that you rated the stock at 400ASA mean that the restaurant scenes were in fact 2/3 of a stop under, instead of one stop?


Yes, in theory. In reality, 1/3 of a stop is within a margin of exposure error.
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 11:14 AM

Would you ever consider snapping off a polaroid to be certain of what the final product will look like?

Have you ever toyed with the idea of keeping one bank of lights on a dimmer so that you could instantly add warmth without additional gelling by simply dimming that one bank of lights.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 03:16 PM

I find that I simply don't have the time for exposure previz tricks, and besides, they aren't accurate enough to avoid a 1/3-stop mistake (that's like a 2-point printer light adjustment). They are more useful for showing balance and color differences than exposure.

But occasionally I snap off a digital still for reassurance.

The main trick to exposing color negative is to play it safe -- it's easier to make it darker in post than to make it brighter in post.

As for dimming lights to warm them up, I do it all the time, especially with Chinese Lanterns and tabletop practicals. Trouble is that without taking a color temp reading, I'm basically matching/setting by eye. There is something more precise about taking a bunch of lights that are 3200K and adding 1/4 CTO on them to warm them up.
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 03:31 PM

I find that I simply don't have the time for exposure previz tricks, and besides, they aren't accurate enough to avoid a 1/3-stop mistake (that's like a 2-point printer light adjustment). They are more useful for showing balance and color differences than exposure.

But occasionally I snap off a digital still for reassurance....


What is more accurate than the polaroid, the light meter and pre-knowing your contrast values, or your prior experience?

My recent use of polaroids (on a much smaller scale shoot) really helped me set lighting contrast correctly for a scene. I don't use color polaroids, just the black and white ones, which really seem to nail the contrast values very nicely. The polaroids are less forgiving so if it's in the ballpark with the polaroid then it's in the bag because of the higher contrast capability of negative film stock.

Might be a good thing for an assistant to have, the photo's make great, high quality, retro keepsakes as well as being useful, but they do waste time if one is ready to shoot and the assistant is busy rubbing the polaroid to "develop it".
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#16 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 05:55 PM

My friend (Elhanan Matos, who posts here also) has a nice digital SLR that he had brought on set just for fun on a film shoot. I played with it as a previz tool while shooting Vision 2 stock; it really did a good job of being a good representation of what I had on the neg.

Polaroid?s are nice, but they take way too long, are expensive, and honestly not the best representation of a modern color negative stock.

Kevin Zanit
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#17 Oliver Ojeil

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 06:52 PM

Hey Kev,
which DSLR was it?
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#18 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 07:22 PM

Hi,

I think it was the Nikon D80.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:20 PM

The trouble is that in most cases, the still photo just confirms what I can see with my own eyes. If I light a set for 400 ASA at f/2.8 using my light meter to set the key (and set the rest by eye) and take a digital snapshot of the set at 400 ASA at f/2.8, it tends to look more or less like I thought it would, maybe a little brighter than I intend (since I plan on bringing it down in post.)

The only times I've found it useful to take a still photo are really dark scenes, like moonlight in the woods, maybe with an actor with a dark complexion, etc. and I'm worried that I'm underexposing too much.
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#20 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 11:33 PM

In any case, you would have to be sure that your still camera has a similar contrast and range as the film stock & transfer you're doing, no? Unless you test your still camera for its characteristic curve, you can't be sure it's representative of your stock. Before Vision2 at least, the shadow response of different film stocks varied greatly from each other, let alone all of them matching a single digital still camera...
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