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Lightin a dark room


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#1 justin bender

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 07:17 AM

I am a film director still in high school and i don't have the best equipment. i am having trouble lighting a dark room and filming at night. i want to keep the darkness but i want to see the actors and what is going on. i do allot of filming in the woods and i have no power out there and it's hard the film at night. I really need help. this problem has ruined allot of my ideas and films. any help would be great.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 10:40 AM

You're not a magician -- if you have no power, how can you really light the woods at night, other than to have just a flashlight or something battery-powered like that?

Either you need to shoot day-for-night or dusk-for-night, or you need to find a location with power. At night, you generally can't see more than a few trees and bushes anyway, so you'd be surprised at how small the woods can be -- they can be in the backyard of a place with power outlets.

For interiors, there's "dark & shadowy" (high-contrast with small areas of highlight and black shadows) and "dim" (low-contrast, soft & even, but very underexposed.) "Dark" scenes often use both techniques.

Also, "dark" doesn't have to mean "low light" -- you can use strong lighting and make it look dark because of how you expose it (hence why you can make sunlight look like moonlight.)

But you need a minimum amount of lighting equipment, unless you plan on just having room practicals on.

Why not show us some frames from a movie of what style you are attempting to copy?
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#3 justin bender

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:46 PM

in lord of the rings when gandalf is siting trying to find which way to go there is a fire but i have never seen a fire give of that much light. and in one of my films i had a lanter the actor was using but it barly gave of light. in this shot im holding a florecent lantern behinde the camera and the actor (offscreen) is holding a lantern. but there is very little light.

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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 06:13 PM

There's just not enough light to shoot by. The camera simply needs more light to be able to capture an image!

The light given off by torches, etc. in movies is almost always supplemented by movie lights that are off-camera. Not only do torches and lanterns not give off much light to shoot by, but even if they did it's hard to expose for both the light they give off and the torch/lantern itself, without it blowing out to a glowing white.

Supplementing the light given off by hand-held light sources like lanterns can be tricky. Because the light source moves the supplemental light has to move also, and not create too many shadows or lit areas that would give away the placement of the artificial light. It's easier to "fake" the glow of light sources that don't move.

In a dark scene like that you can still give some edgelight or backlight to things in the room so that there's something to see, but still underexposed enough to look dark (this is the "dark and shadowy" look David describes).
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#5 Zamir Merali

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 08:52 AM

Another thing that might be pretty obvious is that most movie sets, when lit for a dark look are actually not that dark to the eye. Some people like to say that to shoot in the dark you need light. The scene is often lit to a brighter level with lots of contrast and then the camera is simply stopped down. Since you are using digital it would be easy to just stop down and see how it looks in the viewfinder until you like it. Sometimes, even when it's day outside your interior can look like night with enough underexposure and when windows aren't shown.
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#6 justin bender

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 10:24 AM

thx everyone that really helps.
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