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Lighting Hotel Interior @ Night


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#1 kuni ohi

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 04:29 PM

Hi, I am currently trying to light the interior lobby of a hotel for a steadicam shot at night. Unfortunately, its dim as hell.

The basic layout when you come into the hotel is a 40 x 40 main lobby with a registration room to the right and another 40 x 40 room to the left.

I am pretty sure I have the registration layout down but I am not exactly sure what I should do for the two large rooms. Both are topped off with a baige domed ceiling about 25 ft. (could be less) off the ground.

The camera we're using is a HVX with a Letus Extreme Adapter and a 35mm Nikkor f2. I know that with the HVX's crappy low-light capabilities, the letus' half stop light-loss, and the lens f-stop closer to 4 its going to be extremelly dark.

My initial idea was to use the dome ceilings as a giant bounce, but now I am even doubting the the validity of that. Anyways, if I were to go ahead with it, what light should I use to get a decent read? Would a 2k in each room suffice or would I need a couple for each?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciative.

Edited by kuni ohi, 07 March 2008 - 04:30 PM.

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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 04:59 PM

Have you rated the camera yet? I haven't worked with the HVX yet, but I suppose its similar HDV cameras I have used that seem to be in the 200-320 range, but mostly on the slower end, especially when the gama settings are applied.

If you add the letus you might find yourself in 120-200 range, and for a 40x40 space a couple of 2Ks may be woefully inadequate. I didn't quite understand the part about the iris. Is your lens really an f4 lens? I know nikkor has some faster lenses, or is an f4 the best looking stop for the letus' GG?

I think for a 40' room you will need a lot of light. 2 2k lights won't cut it, even if you go for a hard light look. I assume since you were talking about bouncing you're going for more of a soft toppy look? Are you needing to see all 40x40? is the steadycam well planned out, or is the director wanting more flexibility on set?

Do you have access to large HMI units? Would the budget support a generator to run larger tungsten units? Do you have the budget for balloon lights? All of this must be accounted for to decide how to light.

I would try and punch in as much HMI through the window to bounce off the floor(assuming is a specular complimentary color) and ballance with a balloon light or a book light if there is the room to do it, then add harder key light from off screen. If budget doesn't support that, then hopefully the budget supports a darker look. If so then you can add maybe a 5K bounced off the roof for fill and add spotty highlights here and there to justify the dark areas of frame. But tell us a little more about the shot and esp. what your rating the camera.
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#3 kuni ohi

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 05:27 PM

hi, thanks for replying. The camera is rated at 320 and I think I might stop it down to 2.8 (I am just worried that if I put it @ 2 I'm going to endure complex focus pulls).

The basic steadicam is that of a man walking (back to the camera) from the front entrance to the main lobby. Then the camera tracks to the right to see a second man at the registration desk. the camera then stays on the second man (track back, facing man) as he turns around and starts walking through both the main lobby and the room on the left.

What I wanted specifically was to use a strong enough light to bounce off the 20-25ft dome ceiling and soft light the actors (make it look like the center of the room has a decent sized soft light in the middle) . The walls are lined with side tables and lamps so a strong practical element is evident in the shot. Plus, I'll occasionally push a hard light through a window to make it look like a mercury / sodium vapor.

The main issue is that by nature the hotel is dimly lit so the director and I want to emulate it. We don't want it to look crappy but we also want it to look naturalistic as possible.

If I can't get the nessesary light to bounce it off the ceiling, I'll most likely use a decent light and bounce it at a lower height. to emulate a soft source.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 05:37 PM

Consider losing the 35mm adapter unless you just really NEED a shallow depth of field for the scene.

You can have an electrician wrangle a chinaball on a pole above the camera as a key light for your actors, so that they will always have decent exposure. But you'll still need to build up the base for the rest of the set.

Remember that Kubrick pushed 500 ASA stock (two stops, was it?) for this kind of low-key, natural ambience in Eyes Wide Shut.
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#5 kuni ohi

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 04:11 PM

Thanks you both for replying. I've decided to go a lot simpler and erect a couple of 24" Lanterns outfitted with 1000W and boomed throughout each of the lobbies. I am also going to try replacing the bulbs and upping the wattage on the practicals in the area. I'm hoping that'll raise the ambiance and create enough believable texture in the areas.
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