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Lighting on and from boats


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#1 David Tilburey

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 03:10 AM

I have just landed landed a lighting gig on an indy feature, which will be shot on and from a couple of house boats. In very preliminary talks with the cinematographer he has suggested that he would like to use Wall'o s and other kino flos, along with china balls.

Could anyone offer any advice when lighting from a boat, working with a lot of water or offer any advice about previous experiences/problems when working in this situation?

It will be shot HD and a 5k-10k generator will be carried on one of the boats (fun!)


Thank you very much!
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#2 robert duke

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 11:04 AM

First dont even think about stopping the boat from moving. Boats move in water, no way without taking them out of water to stop the pitch and yaw.

Second Most houseboats have a 5-10k genie on board. They are loud but work.

Pickup some portable GFI units 20amp to help prevent accidental shock.

Dont try to light boat to boat. what you get is a flashlight effect. one boat moves at a different frequency than the other so the beam field of the light goes on and off the subject. Unless that is what you want. Tethering the boats together does not help and there is not a rig you can make to secure them together to stop this. My favorite quote from a DP on a Boat " umm... the boat is moving.. cant we stop it... the boat is moving."

Boats are small. I shot on a fifty foot houseboat a year ago and with only two actors and a 1st ac and operator it was too cramped for any other crew member. Prerigging is a must. Kino's are great but you might have to rely on practicals as well.

If you can Dry dock the boats near the water if behooves you to do so for shooting interiors. that way you can light from scaffolding or the ground around the boat. Dry dock fees really arent that bad esp. when comparing the cost of time lost.

China balls are beautiful lights, but I think space will limit them and their interior effectiveness. For exterior shots on the back deck you might find them useful on long booms or Menace arms for ambience.

If you can afford them Balloon lights are worth their weight is gold, or the elcheapo weather balloon bounce using a 5k-10k.

Make sure your Key has experience on boats and knows how to anchor. I spent the summer having to explain to a DP that the anchor had to be set and how to set it. If the key doesnt know get a boat master, or someone who can be incharge of the boats and their anchoring.

Be keenly aware of the weight limits on Boats. you would be surprised how little weight can tip a boat.
I had a camera crew overload a support boat and almost sink it. They packed all their cases on one end and when he pushed off the boat dipped into the water. wetting everything.

Be safe. there is tons of things to think about when shooting on boats, plan as much as you can out even lighting angles etc. model boats help communicate boat placement and equipment placement during prep and during shooting. "move the boat over there" just doesnt cut it.

Stay light and small.

duke.
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#3 David Tilburey

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 05:37 PM

That's some sound advice.

Thanks Robert
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 09:16 PM

Depending on where you are you might be able to dock the boat and shoot your night footage at a dock. I?ve gone so far as to rig 20? x 80? curtains on the dock and shot my night stuff tied up. Sometimes it?s just easier then going out.
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