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Silver Moonlight for Horror Film


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#1 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 04:37 AM

Any suggestions on how to light a night exterior in the country?

I recently got talked into being the dp on a zombie film. This will be my first attempt at this genre, I am excited because we have a big budget effects and makeup company on board.

Since most of the scenes takes place outside the house which is in the country I figure the moonlight would be the most common light source. I have always used 1/2 ctb on tungsten sources for small scenes. The director wants to move fast and to keep tweaking to a minimum so I am thinking of renting a 2.5k HMI Fresnel put it on a high c-stand or scissor lift and gel it with a 1/2 cto and maybe a 1/8th plus green to light the 20x20 space next to the house. I will use a few Arri 650 fresnels to make a few pools of light coming from the garage and windows. I would like to use a hazer to fog the woods alittle bit but would probably have to light the fog from behind to get much effect. I was also thinking a china ball or small kinoflo would be nice for the shots needing fill.

Here is a video that is close to the look I am trying to capture>
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#2 David Eger

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:54 PM

I actually am shooting a Zombie Series right now.
For the lights I am using 1/2 CTB and Lee's White Flame Green or Rosco 87 (dependes on which brand you buy I have the rosco) on Tungsten lamps. It is a really nice silver light. I have been Bouncing it in on Beadboard for a ambiant fill and then Kicking with it using a harder source about 2 stops higher and exposing for that.

I found a thing on CML a while ago about it and they mentioned that spot. They were talking about putting chocolate gels on uncorrected HMI's (you need a lot of power because the chocolate will eat the light) I think maybe if you did that with the hmi and shot Tungsten film (or at 3200K if digital) it might make it pretty monochrome and then the HMI would shift it blue. You could also Knock it bluer in post...

I have never been a big fan of the blue moonlight because I don't think it is that natural but the 1/2ctb and 87 looks really nice.. I'd say test it and see what you think... (shoot with a DSLR at 3200k. ) it looks nicer through the lense then it does to the eye.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 12:00 AM

I gaffed a horror film this summer where we did a lot of 1/2 CTO and White Flame Green on the HMI's (1/2 CTB and WFG on the tungsten). Pluses and minuses about the technique:

Plus: the White Flame Green really does do a lot to suck the color saturation out of the image, more so than half or full blue alone. It does look a bit green on film, but can be color-timed more "neutral" if you like without significantly affecting tungsten sources in the frame. I don't care for full blue moonlight either, and go with 1/2 density for a "normal" look.

Minus: Once you go down the "green" road, you have to cut that gel pack for every... single... light... you might add to the scene. Quickly adding "just one more light" can become not-so-quick when you run short on gel, or have to cut more. In a pinch you can double up 1/4 density of CTO or CTB, or "checkerboard" tubes in a Kino to get to 4300K. But there's no faking white flame green...

Here's how it looked to my still camera, balanced for tungsten:
screenshot.jpeg

And here's how I would have preferred it to look after color timing:
screenshot_copy.jpeg
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#4 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 03:17 AM

Thanks a million! That is perfect, just the moonlight look I am going for. Is there another gel that is closer to your timed image? What HMI fixtures did you use? I am wondering if I should use two 1.2k fresnels now or just one 2.5 . If I had two HMIs I could light the background separate. I read some people use pars for more light too. I will have a 35 foot bucket truck to get the light up high.

What other lights did you add in to mix besides the HMI?

Edited by Jonathan Bryant, 29 August 2007 - 03:18 AM.

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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 04:11 AM

We used HMI fresnels. This setup was actually from a stunt scene I DP'd as 2nd unit, recreating something we did for the main unit. For the main unit the key light came from two 18K HMI's in a condor, lighting a much larger area. This setup was just a 6K HMI fresnel on parallels, about 40' away. After I took this picture I also added a 4K par bounced into a 12x12' muslin on griff from the right for fill, and a Kino Image 80 from below for tighter coverage (all daylight units with 1/2 CTO & WFG). This still is only an approximation of the final exposure on film.

You'll always want more light than you think, and a 2.5K HMI is the bare minimum I would even consider for a 20x20' area. Everything tends to eat up more light than you might think at first; gels, diffusion, and distance. The raw output of any light usually gets knocked down several stops by the time all is said and done. For a setup like this you'll usually use a fill unit of close or equal brightness to your key, since it will usually get diffused more. Don't forget additional units for the background, and for highlights and "specials." Two 1200 pars with gel packs isn't going to give you very much...

What are you shooting with (film stock/video camera setup)? The amount of light you'll need ultimately depends on the sensitivity of your imaging, the size of the area you're lighting, and how you want to shape that light. Don't forget that fewer lights means more time to move them between setups, since you said your director wants to move fast. More units means you can pre-rig lights for other shots, or at least break out a new light faster than you can tear down and re-rig one from another setup.

There's an old saying; "fast, cheap, or good. Pick two."

Offhand I don't know of any other gel packs that give the precise color rendition of my color-corrected image. Maybe 1/2 CTO on HMI's, plus some desaturation in post. If your image is going through any kind of digital color correction (which most things do these days), you can fine-tune hue and saturation in post.
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#6 Paul Nordin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 12:40 PM

Offhand I don't know of any other gel packs that give the precise color rendition of my color-corrected image. Maybe 1/2 CTO on HMI's, plus some desaturation in post. If your image is going through any kind of digital color correction (which most things do these days), you can fine-tune hue and saturation in post.


I've also been using this gel pack for moonlight (HMI= 1/2CTO+WFG). I really like the non-blue highlights, and when the images are desaturated a bit in post (20% or so), the light takes on a lovely silvery quality.

That said, for a music video I shot last year I used Steel Blue. That casts everything into the cyan realm which can have an otherworldly look (heavily used to excellent effect on "Pan's Labarynth").
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 12:42 PM

This is one place where a DI on the whole show would really help. You can desaturate to simulate the way human vision loses color sensitivity at low light levels.



-- J.S.
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