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White Walls, now what?


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#1 Camera

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 10:42 AM

You're given a great location, except for it has white walls. How do you deal with lighting it?
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:04 AM

You're given a great location, except for it has white walls. How do you deal with lighting it?


You've just described the life of a freelance Videographer. :lol:

But it depends on what it is supposed to look like and what you're shooting. If it's a talking head interview, you'll only be seeing a small portion of the wall behind the head, so it's possible to flag off much of the key light and effectively darken the wall because of the contrast ratio between the exposure on the face and the exposure on the wall (it helps to pull the subject as far away from the background too).

If you have to shoot the entire room (as in a narrative or walk & talk), then you're kind of stuck with white walls I guess.

It really depends on what you want it to look like then go from there.
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#3 JD Hartman

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:53 AM

You could hit the wall with a breakup pattern, foliage, blinds, etc., you could hit it with some colored light, you could move a piece of artwork into the background. This is the time to work with the set decorator/art department if there is one.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 01:08 PM

You're given a great location, except for it has white walls. How do you deal with lighting it?


You get the art dept. to paint it a darker shade. If that's not possible, it's skirts, flags and scrims with a bit more side lighting to keep the levels of the wall below your actor's EV.
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#5 Michael Collier

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 02:37 PM

I had that problem on a shoot last weekend. I lit the majority of the set with soft fill at -2stops and then lit the actors with their own keys, being careful to keep the keys off the walls. We did have to use a 2stop 1/2 scrim on one key to keep the walls from being too bright. when the walls are not lit to key it works best, the question is given the frame your going for, how do you prevent key light from hitting the wall, and flagging and careful lighting is the only solution.
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#6 Marc Levy

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 05:51 PM

The more I shoot, the more I learn that the color/tonal qualities of a space is one of the biggest factors in the outcome of the image. Yeah, lighting is huge, but it's really hard to light a space that looks bad from the get go. Unfortunately, location choice seems to be one of the most-neglected parts of the pre-production process. Now, I make sure to impress upon directors the importance of wall color.
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