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Natural Night Outdoors look


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#1 Joseph Nesbitt

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 07:22 PM

I saw No country for Old men recently and one scene struck me in particular, if anyone has seen it there is a part when he returns to this circle of cars at night where a heroin deal had recently gone wrong to bring a man some water. Anyways sorry for the spoiler a truck appears next to where he parked his truck so he runs, trys to hide and they attempt to stop him, he ends up getting away. So while this whole scene was going on it looked so natural like he was staying under the one source of light the whole time, like you were out there with this guy, only seeing him by the moonlight, but of coarse anyone who has taken a camera out into the night and tried to shoot a charachter with no lights , they will find it unsecessful. Does anyone know of a good time tested method to get good lighting at night?
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 07:51 PM

I'm not trying to sound glib, but you simply have to light it up to decent levels for exposure, by placing the lights where light would logically come from, and carefully gelling/diffusing/and flagging that light to the right shape and level. Same as any other scene...

I haven't seen the film yet, but a common technique for creating "moonlight" above a large exterior is to put big lights up in a condor. But that's just one method, and only part of the overall setup.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 08:14 PM

I haven't seen the film yet, but a common technique for creating "moonlight" above a large exterior is to put big lights up in a condor. But that's just one method, and only part of the overall setup.


In this case, a REALLY big light on a hilltop... three of them in fact. They started with a Musco (fifteen 6K HMI's) on a hilltop and when that wasn't enough, they added two more! That's a s---load of light, but very far away to create the effect of a single source. The scene was shot pretty wide-open even with that much light power.

Which is why it looks realistic, but for most productions, lighting that large an area from that far away with that much light... is not really an option, budget-wise.

But generally, if you're simulating moonlight, you want to use the biggest light you can, as far away and as high up as you can. Unless you are shooting in the woods, in which case you can get away with multiple units shining through gaps between different trees, because one single light might get blocked-up too much. Because you are in the woods, you can make multiple pools of light feel like they are coming from one source. But out in the open, you need a big single source.
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#4 Tom Banks

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 10:00 PM

There's a great Q&A with Roger Deakins in the October issue of the ASC Mag. There's one bit I specifically remember that touches on what Michael was talking about, having to do with placing lights as practicals and/or suplimenting them. On Jesse James theres a scene in which Jesse stands on the tracks waiting for an oncoming train. The only two sources in this scene were an 5k Par mounted on the front of the train and some lanterns using 300w bulbs. With some atmosphere added, it created a minimal, but very realistic take on the scene.

As far as No Country, I was fascinated in how Deakins created the morning glow on the horizon by shooting 8 18k's to light up the dust in the air behind the trucks parked on the hill. Despite the Muscos this scene struck me as being completely realistic and I think it really helps the viewer become part of the action when they can visually relate to a scene. I'm sure most of us know what it feels like to be in the middle of the outdoors at night with just a flash light.
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#5 Jonathon Narducci

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 04:47 PM

Deakins certianly has an amazing ability to get a natural night effect. I'm having this same challenge on a Music video coming up. The budget is not nearly that big, but I will have one condor and a lot of open space to add texture to. The scene takes place in the middle of the country so the only source of light would be the moon. Can't afford Musco's, but I'm having a hard time deciding between HMI and Incandecents. Does anyone have an opionion on this.

My options are not too many because we're shooting in the middle of no where and the closest rental house is six hours away. I found a few big lights at a local production company.

They have
12K HMI Fresnel
6K HMI Par
20K big mole
9 K Maxi brute
and a 24K dino (whice I've never used and don't know anything about it)


I guess my question would be what light would put off the most luminance off the condor? And other than a Musco, what light would be best for this purpose?

thanks,

Joanthon
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:26 PM

I'm having this same challenge on a Music video coming up. ...

My options are not too many because we're shooting in the middle of no where and the closest rental house is six hours away. I found a few big lights at a local production company.

They have
12K HMI Fresnel
6K HMI Par
20K big mole
9 K Maxi brute
and a 24K dino (whice I've never used and don't know anything about it)

I guess my question would be what light would put off the most luminance off the condor? And other than a Musco, what light would be best for this purpose?



It depends on how big an area you need to light, and what color "moonlight" you want. The 12K fresnel will give you a lot of stop, and is already 5600K should you want to gel it with 1/2 CTO for a 4300K moonlight look.

On the other hand, two maxi brutes in a condor can cover a larger spread of area, including one as a backlight and one to point the opposite direction to light the deep background.

Even though moonlight might be the only logical source, you'll still want another powerful unit for soft fill.

Consider your power run for these different units also.
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:46 PM

also consider that an HMI is about 5 times more effecient than a tungsten, moreso when you consider the stop loss of 1/2 CTB compared to 1/2 CTO.

You might do better with tungsten sources if you have access multiple maxi brutes, simply because I think renting multiple units would be cheaper than one HMI, and you won't need to rent a xstal sync genny, which can get somewhat expensive, compared to a construction grade generator. Since this is a music video I assume your just performing to playback, and not rolling sound, so the extra noise an industrial genny would not cause a problem. But run the numbers. Find light data on the various lights, find the exact light loss from the gell pack you want to use and figure out for equal levels of light which HMI you need compared to which tungsten you need. I would bet the tungsten is cheaper for most setups, unless your going for a VERY wide night scene.

I am in a similar situation, though the biggest lights I can find is 2 2.5 HMIs and 1 5K tungsten, so the choice was clear, even though it was more expensive.
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#8 Jonathon Narducci

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 12:24 AM

also consider that an HMI is about 5 times more effecient than a tungsten, moreso when you consider the stop loss of 1/2 CTB compared to 1/2 CTO.

You might do better with tungsten sources if you have access multiple maxi brutes, simply because I think renting multiple units would be cheaper than one HMI, and you won't need to rent a xstal sync genny, which can get somewhat expensive, compared to a construction grade generator. Since this is a music video I assume your just performing to playback, and not rolling sound, so the extra noise an industrial genny would not cause a problem. But run the numbers. Find light data on the various lights, find the exact light loss from the gell pack you want to use and figure out for equal levels of light which HMI you need compared to which tungsten you need. I would bet the tungsten is cheaper for most setups, unless your going for a VERY wide night scene.

I am in a similar situation, though the biggest lights I can find is 2 2.5 HMIs and 1 5K tungsten, so the choice was clear, even though it was more expensive.


Thanks, It's kind of a wash between the two. But I think tungsten will just be cheaper. I'm just not sure if maxi bruts are the same as the 24K dino, any idea? I assume they're both mole bank lights.


Also, I don't think the genny available around there will be anything other than construction generators. Makes the choice easier.

Will have many small available for fill.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 01:08 AM

There are 9-lights, 12-lights, etc. A MaxiBrute is often a 9-light and a Dino is often a 24-light, both using 1K PAR globes, hence why a Dino is physically bigger and usually (but not necessarily) brighter than a MaxiBrute. And you can order them with medium, spot, or narrow spot globes, or a mixture, or with FAY (dichroic) globes, or a mixture of FAY and normal.

So a MaxiBrute with narrow spot globes may be punchier than a Dino with medium globes.
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