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The Prestige


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#1 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:55 PM

Hi everyone,

We are going into production on a low budget short film soon. We have watched a lot of films looking for something similar to the feeling and mood we want to create. We really like the way The Prestige was filmed(very up-close and personal, not too many wide establishing shots, a lot blurred backgrounds), we feel this style is suited because we are filming with the hvx and the sgpro rev3.

What we are wondering is if it is possible to create a similar lighting to the scene I have included stills of. This is a self funded low budget film we want to submit to festivals in Australia. We are fairly limited in regards to lighting equipment. We have a couple of 1k fresnels, some 1k pars, 500w floodlights, reflectors, bounce boards, etc.

I see in the wide shot at the end of the scene they are siting next to a long glass divider with what looks like some large source lights coming through. Is this the same light you see in the close-ups? The lighting looks very soft. We don't need to light a wide shot like this. Just the close-ups.

If anyone could help us with their opinions or information we would be very grateful. My other question is do we have sufficient power with these lights or are we just kidding ourselves? I know we need a lot of light to reduce grain in the background as much as possible. We will be filming on location so pre-testing is difficult. Also, I notice the light in the background is forming in elongated circles. We have used nikkor primes before and seem to get octagonal shaped light from daylight and regular circles from night lights. What is causing the light to augment the way it is in the stills? Is it from anamorphic lens? Is this king of shape possible with nikkor/zeiss primes?


Thanks everyone in advance,

Chaz

The other two images are in separate post below.

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  • prestige6.jpg

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#2 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:58 PM

The other two images:

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  • prestige4.jpg
  • prestige7.jpg

Edited by Chaz Buhrmann, 01 January 2008 - 12:02 AM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:40 AM

The movie was often lit a large single soft source, often from the side or overhead -- with minimal fill to no to keep a certain contrast.

A large window in daytime naturally creates a soft source. Your problem is that with such a small lighting package, you'll be able to create that effect in close-ups, maybe a medium shot... but your wide shots are going to have to use available light to create that effect or be harder lit, unless you can get some bigger lights.

The stretchy background is an anamorphic lens artifact.
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#4 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 01:20 AM

The movie was often lit a large single soft source, often from the side or overhead -- with minimal fill to no to keep a certain contrast.

A large window in daytime naturally creates a soft source. Your problem is that with such a small lighting package, you'll be able to create that effect in close-ups, maybe a medium shot... but your wide shots are going to have to use available light to create that effect or be harder lit, unless you can get some bigger lights.

The stretchy background is an anamorphic lens artifact.



Thanks for the quick reply David. I really appreciate those who have the time to help others out.

By bigger lights what can you recommend? It is hard for us to get hold of HMI lights here. Is there other alternative? Can grouping smaller lights behind a frame of diffusion give the same look or do you really need that concentrated power of bigger lights?

We aren't hiring a dop for this, it is a more personal film for us, so we don't have a lot of experience in lighting other than basic principles and a few short films. Would it be possible to go into more detail with the setup and placement, diffusion, etc? You say they light with one large soft source - in the image above, is the only thing pulling them out from the background the focus or are they separately lit?

Thanks again.

Chaz
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 02:39 AM

Whether or not you use tungsten or HMI depends on the location and what color temp you have to match to. If there is already some natural daylight in a room with large windows, then you'll want your lights to be daylight-balanced too. Gelling tungsten 1K's with Full CTB and putting some through a diffusion frame would give you very little light output.

Sure, you can put multiple small lights through a large diffusion frame, or bounced off of a large bounce surface.

In some of those restaurant shots, the room is softly lit from one side, maybe a big soft source like a 12'x12' frame of diffusion with lights behind, or a 12'x12' bounce. Then for the close-ups, maybe there is a closer soft light coming from the same direction as the background, like a 6'x6' frame of diffusion or a bounce. For a tight close-up, a 4'x4' diffusion frame may be enough for a soft key light.

It's common to use diffusion like 216 in 4'x4' frames, or heavier or lighter material, and then on larger frames, either light grid cloth, full grid, muslin (bleached or unbleached). For bouncing, it may be UltraBounce material, or muslin again. Or even a large white bedsheet would work.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 02:46 AM

Don't discount shiny boards if your shooting conditions allow it. They are an easy way to have controllable daylight without power consumptions and for very little rental.
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#7 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 05:19 AM

Thanks David, I'm starting to get the fundamentals of it. Just one more question - the second image, the wide shot, is that lit just with a large source through the glass as you can see? The top of the table in the foreground looks well lit, I was curious as to whether there might be a second soft light overhead to pump up the ambiance? Or is that large source(if bright enough) enough to light the entire scene?

Chris, is there an easy way to make a shiny board? We live 16 hours drive from the nearest rental house so it's just not practical to rent this time.

Thanks.

Edited by Chaz Buhrmann, 01 January 2008 - 05:22 AM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:13 PM

Depends on how tall that window is. If it's only what you see in the shot, then there is a soft backlight above the window. If it is much taller than what you see in the shot, the soft backlight may be coming through the top half of the window above frame, or it may still be just above the window. If the window were only as big as what you see in the photo, and provided all the backlight on the tables, it would probably be hotter and flaring the lens. Judging from the backlight on the woman walking past the window, the light is coming through the glass, but the hot spot is above the frame line. The window may also be cross-lit, lights coming from each edge.

There is also a soft overhead light filling in the shadows, slightly to frame right.
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#9 robert duke

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:16 PM

Take a 4x4 frame, add bead board to it, cover it with rosco mirror, or one of rosco's reflector media. the frame keeps the bead board from losing its flat surface as bad as it would without it. you can also do this with gatorboard (a plastic faced foam core).

I had a best boy who recovered a crappy reflector with aluminum foil. It was convincing enough but had a harder look than soft side normally does. He did the whole surface using spray77 and 10" squares of aluminum. He even tried emulate the feathers of the silver leaf. The DP thought we had gotten new boards. this worked OK for about a week before the spray77 crapped out.
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#10 Chris Keth

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 03:45 PM

You can do pretty well with spraypaints. There are some normal silver spraypaints that will be a lot like the soft side of a shinyboard and other paints will dry more mirror-like and be more like the hard side. I haven't done it so I can't comment on how it would hold up.

You could perhaps spraymount some silver mylar to one side and some of rosco's silver scrimlike stuff for the softer side.
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#11 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:53 PM

Thanks everyone for the all the help.

I will try to make one or two shiny boards tomorrow. We did some tests at home with daylight coming through a large window, but the light seems to fall of quickly leaving a lot underexposed. We will definitely need a large soft source coming from above for the wide shot and from side in close ups.

We are going to try and make some frames to group our lights together to put behind a frame of diffusion. But as you said David, after gelling and diffusing the lights the output will be quite little. I think if we can just work out how to harness the available light coming in through the window the soft light from above should provide enough fill - I hope.

As the window is not full width of room I'm concerned also about the light on the background. I hope that the shiny boards will compensate enough light so we can get a semi-clean bokeh.

Hopefully we will have some test footage or images to share soon so that we can get some more help. We really appreciate the help and feel very privileged to get help from you David, whom we have a deep admiration for. We may not be good cinematographers, but we are trying very hard and are very excited to learn about cinematography. We simply love this forum and it has been invaluable to our filmmaking eduction.

Thanks.

Chaz and Kat
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#12 Travis Moody

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:38 PM

Another very cheap suggestion for shiny boards is to go to Home Depot and in the insulation section you will find 1" thick x 4'x8' foam sheets with 1 blue side and 1 silver. Cut them in half and wrap the edges with gaffers tape to protect them. The whole thing should run you less than $25.

Best of Luck with the project
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#13 Chaz Buhrmann

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 03:31 AM

Thanks for the advice Travis, we plan to get stuck into it this weekend. I'll go to our Home Depot equivalent and have a look. If they have the same stuff it would save a lot of time for us. Does the light come off soft or a little hard?
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