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lighting a very small interior


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#1 axela dardan

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:34 AM

Hello,
I am a newbie in lighting techniques. I have whatsoever no experience, except for what I witnessed on the set, while studying, and theoretical classes at my school.

At the end of this week, I will shoot a 35mm short, in color, it is actually a color exercise, both interior and exterior. My budget is only readable with a microscope.

Nevertheless, I will have to lit (and build) a department store dressing room, while my main character (a 18 year old girl) will look at herself in the mirror. I was thinking a a hanging curtain on a 3.3ft per 3.3ft frame, with a mirror on one side.

My other interior is a 65 square ft 1room-flat, that's supposed to be very dark (chiaroscuro),- although the sequence is during daytime-, smoky, gloomy, dirty, with only accents of light on different things, and several other areas of dark. Again, my main character will have to tidy up the room, and discover certain details of her father's promiscuous life.

You can find attached the plan of this room, with 2 windows on the lower side of the drawing, west oriented, at the 10th floor, but very poorly lit because of the shadowing blocks of flats nearby, and the snowing weather.

Could you help me get an idea of how should I light such a small environment, and what lamps should I use. The film stock is Vision, 250 ASA, Tungsten Balanced.

Thanks a lot for your help,
Diana

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#2 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 02:06 PM

Hello,
I am a newbie in lighting techniques. I have whatsoever no experience, except for what I witnessed on the set, while studying, and theoretical classes at my school.

At the end of this week, I will shoot a 35mm short, in color, it is actually a color exercise, both interior and exterior. My budget is only readable with a microscope.

Nevertheless, I will have to lit (and build) a department store dressing room, while my main character (a 18 year old girl) will look at herself in the
mirror. I was thinking a a hanging curtain on a 3.3ft per 3.3ft frame, with a mirror on one side.

My other interior is a 65 square ft 1room-flat, that's supposed to be very dark (chiaroscuro),- although the sequence is during daytime-, smoky, gloomy, dirty, with only accents of light on different things, and several other areas of dark. Again, my main character will have to tidy up the room, and discover certain details of her father's promiscuous life.

You can find attached the plan of this room, with 2 windows on the lower side of the drawing, west oriented, at the 10th floor, but very poorly lit because of the shadowing blocks of flats nearby, and the snowing weather.

Could you help me get an idea of how should I light such a small environment, and what lamps should I use. The film stock is Vision, 250 ASA, Tungsten Balanced.

Thanks a lot for your help,
Diana



Of course there are no right ways or wrong ways to light any given space. Only whatever works for you in terms of time, budget, number of fixtures and of course LOOK. I personally would light the small dressing room by putting a 2k fresnel or par can aiming it at the screen some 15-20 feet away and use that as a natural diffused key light. Just make sure to place it in a way that the camera would see the bright spot source. You could find that you may only need a tweeny or something like that on a menace arm over the walls for hair light to be done lighting it, since you have a mirror and the walls will bounce so much light.

For the other room I would put the biggest light you have outside the main window and shine it in simulating sunlight. The distance you place it at will depend on how big it is and how much light it outputs. A smoke machine would give you a good atmosphere but would bring contrast down so that is up to you. I would also use some strategically placed practical lights on nightstands to pump up the light a bit if you need that. It just depends how much fill light you want. Chiaroscuro usually is represented by hard light with no or very little fill. So you are going to decide how much light is enough. But I would probably keep the fill 3 stops under key since Vision stocks have a lot of latitude, if you want contrast. I am thinking Blade Runner, when Sean Young goes to Harrison Ford's apartment for the first time, although that is not supposed to play for daylight coming in, just some unidentified light coming in . . .

Again, there is no right or wrong, so just have fun and make the best of whatever equipment you have. But that's what I would do. Other people would light it differently though . . .

Good luck!
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#3 axela dardan

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 11:45 AM

Of course there are no right ways or wrong ways to light any given space. Only whatever works for you in terms of time, budget, number of fixtures and of course LOOK. I personally would light the small dressing room by putting a 2k fresnel or par can aiming it at the screen some 15-20 feet away and use that as a natural diffused key light. Just make sure to place it in a way that the camera would see the bright spot source. You could find that you may only need a tweeny or something like that on a menace arm over the walls for hair light to be done lighting it, since you have a mirror and the walls will bounce so much light.

For the other room I would put the biggest light you have outside the main window and shine it in simulating sunlight. The distance you place it at will depend on how big it is and how much light it outputs. A smoke machine would give you a good atmosphere but would bring contrast down so that is up to you. I would also use some strategically placed practical lights on nightstands to pump up the light a bit if you need that. It just depends how much fill light you want. Chiaroscuro usually is represented by hard light with no or very little fill. So you are going to decide how much light is enough. But I would probably keep the fill 3 stops under key since Vision stocks have a lot of latitude, if you want contrast. I am thinking Blade Runner, when Sean Young goes to Harrison Ford's apartment for the first time, although that is not supposed to play for daylight coming in, just some unidentified light coming in . . .

Again, there is no right or wrong, so just have fun and make the best of whatever equipment you have. But that's what I would do. Other people would light it differently though . . .

Good luck!



Hello and Thanks for your answer!
Thing is the room in which I will have to shoot is at the 10th floor, so it is impossible to fill it with light, from outside the window. That is my main issue.
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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 01:11 PM

Hello and Thanks for your answer!
Thing is the room in which I will have to shoot is at the 10th floor, so it is impossible to fill it with light, from outside the window. That is my main issue.


R-ight!
Sorry, overlooked that SMALL detail!
"2 windows on the lower side of the drawing, west oriented, at the 10th floor, but very poorly lit because of the shadowing blocks of flats nearby, and the snowing weather."

I guess you are a the mercy of what you can bring up the stairs or elevator and your practicals. I would put a 2k without diffusion in the hallway (as a back light) with the door open so that it streaks in, draw the curtains on the windows (but it would be nice to get a little to some blue daylight leaking in), fill the room with smoke and turn on some moody practicals. You may or may not want to underexpose and push your stock to give it more contrast, grain and mood (push process one stop but rate it 320 ASA instead of 500 ASA: therefore underexposing 2/3 of a stop). If your actress moves in and out of the back light light as she finds stuff and you frame her against practicals, the curtains with some daylight leaking in and the hallway light, it should look really good. If you keep 2 to 3 stops contrast between the back light and the ambient light in the room you will be fine. But it seems like you are going to have to go with what you have pretty much unless you move your location or rent a crane/condor and a big light . . . Which you said you can't afford. So make the best out of your limitations, is what I am trying to say.

Please post the results here when you are done and don't forget to give me credit as "consulting DP"! :lol:
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#5 axela dardan

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:01 PM

You may or may not want to underexpose and push your stock to give it more contrast, grain and mood (push process one stop but rate it 320 ASA instead of 500 ASA: therefore underexposing 2/3 of a stop).


I may be just plain dumb at this hour of the night, or dont understand push, but... If I have 250 ISO rated stock, and I rate it 320, that is only 1/3 of a stop underexposure, right? If i push this 1 full stop, that actually means 2/3 underexpsure?!? I dont get it... Sorry
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:47 PM

With no budget, the other question to raise is how much power is available. Without a generator and schlepping cable up ten stories, it could be quite limited. To use a 2K, you'd really have to know exactly what circuits you have, and what else is on them that you can't unplug. I'm thinking wall spreaders and inky's, with kino-flo's for fill. Bring a lot of flex arms, too. And 85 for the windows.....




-- J.S.
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#7 axela dardan

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 03:26 PM

Well, I talked to my teacher about the very little available light in my school, and it appears that there are 2 1.2kW HMIs, and some incandescent 300W, 500W, 1000W. With no generator. The flat where I will be shooting has really old electrical installation, with wires blowing up the walls and horror stuff as such. Nevertheless I have heard that 1.2kW will make it through.

Problem is that I have 200T stock, Vision 5274, and I have to create a daylight atmosphere. I will have the windows, lighting the place with only a small quantity, and my lighting gear is as follows:

1 200W HMI on battery
1 single working 1.2kw HMI in the room + I might use a cable extesion to bring another 1.2kW, but I don't know how to fit it inside a 65feet room, and IF I need it

2 300W incandesent fresnels
1 500W incandescent fresnel
1 1kW incadescent fresnel
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 06:04 PM

For the dressing room you might consider two vertical rows of practical bulbs on each side of the mirror like on a makeup table. That will provide a very nice "beauty" look to your actresses' face and be reasonably motivated.
One recent reference for that look is Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" where Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are in the show's dressing room.
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#9 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 06:07 PM

For your second location I would be looking at a more stripped down approach. Lots of black, lots of neg fill. Try to shape the available light rather than adding light. Maybe play some practicals, but get them on a dimmer so you can make fine adjustments. The idea is to keep ambient and fill light down and let only your key lights play.

Schedule your wide shots when you know you will have a fair bit of light coming into the room, and then shoot your close ups sneaking a couple lamps in to supplement the daylight.
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#10 robert duke

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 12:27 AM

what is the emotional objective of the scene for each?

what do you want to see in the image?

What other images do you want to emulate?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself. There are thousands of ways to do this, find the one that fits your needs, desires, and what you have. That is the Object of you going to school, to learn not how we would do it but how you would do it. go to library look at photography books, look at how they are lit, find the images that speak to you. try to emulate those images in a moving image. You can see where and what kind of light is there in the pictures.

Personally For the dressing room I would slam a 1200 straight down from over head with a 4x4 of 216 in front of it and a unbleached muslin on the floor for upwards bounce.

For the flat I would put silk across the windows and bounce a 1200 into a white board, and have a 650 as a backlight.

you might not even need to light it. you could use candles!

Edited by robert duke, 16 January 2008 - 12:29 AM.

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#11 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 05:34 AM

I may be just plain dumb at this hour of the night, or dont understand push, but... If I have 250 ISO rated stock, and I rate it 320, that is only 1/3 of a stop underexposure, right? If i push this 1 full stop, that actually means 2/3 underexpsure?!? I dont get it... Sorry


Not quite, it would be 1/3 stop OVERexposure, you are going the opposite direction. The sequence (in 1/3 of stop increments) looks like this:

. . . 50, 60, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, etc

If you underexpose 250 ASA 2/3 of a stop you go down to 160 ASA. If you overexpose it 2/3 of a stop you go to 400 ASA.

What I meant was to push your stock a full stop to 500 ASA to get more light out of it and then underexpose 2/3 of a stop to get more contrast and grit. So you would set your light meter to 320 ASA even though you are shooting it at 500 ASA. It is kind of confusing if you are not very familiar with the push-pulling processing. I wouldn't try it on 16mm unless you are going for that extreme look. 35mm holds up a lot better.
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#12 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 05:57 AM

For your second location I would be looking at a more stripped down approach. Lots of black, lots of neg fill. Try to shape the available light rather than adding light. Maybe play some practicals, but get them on a dimmer so you can make fine adjustments. The idea is to keep ambient and fill light down and let only your key lights play.

Schedule your wide shots when you know you will have a fair bit of light coming into the room, and then shoot your close ups sneaking a couple lamps in to supplement the daylight.


Umm, I don't think I understand . . . Please explain. Negative fill? You mean putting dubetyne on the windows? I don't think that is what you mean, but then how would the practicals show up? Keeping "ambient and fill light down and let only your key lights play" what key lights, pray tell?

I just shot these stills, along with 7217 pushed one stop uncorrected for daylight at T3.4 with bleach bypass in mind. This is what I got:Posted ImagePosted Image

Every 3 feet away from the end of the tunnel the light dropped one stop. I had no choice but to shoot it like that. No big lights and large crews to fire them up either . . .While I like the results, I had originally sugested Diana to draw the curtains to get a controlled envrion. Here we were loosing light constantly. On something like this you could use the HMI's to get you some more fill on the close ups. I didn't have even a reflector board unfortunately, but I was going for the stark chiaroscuro look. Unless you like something like this I would try to draw more curtains and get other lights on. Robert and Hal have some good points, though.
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