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3 (or 2) pointing lighting in a small space (6m x 10m)


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#1 Andrew Thorley

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 06:46 PM

Hello all,

In the coming weeks I shall be over seeing the lighting and camera operation for my final year project. Now ive been making short films for a few years- ten in total. Anyways, with the exception of one short film I had never utilized a lighting kit before. This particular film died during the second day of filming due to my inexperience with utilizing an artificial lighting kit and that the scene in question was filmed in a remarkably small kitchen. See link below for samples.



Due to the small space and using two lamps (one fill, one key) resulted in over exposure and thus added to my embarrassment and I decided to kill the production. (this was a personal project where I undertook roles of director,lighting ect ect)

Which brings me to today, in the coming weeks I will be shooting in another small location (living room approx 6 meters wide and 10 metres long). This particular room will lay host to 2/3's of the script entire length.

I will be conducting some tests (I.e camera placement/lighting placement) but to be honest i'm completely bricking it.

Ive been reading a few books on lighting (gerald millersons : lighting for television & film ). its within the pages of this book where I seen a passage stating that a fill light should be at least 3 metres away from the subject. Is there any truth in this., because I know for a fact that there is no way I can get those three metres out of the room. And to top it off my director (and fellow student) demands crisp looking images which, I dont think I can deliver unless I turn the gain way way up on the camcorder =(/

Any advice.?

A.Thorley
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#2 Walter Graff

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 12:03 AM

How about bounce? You can use smaller fixtures bounced into foam core or onto the walls in the smaller space and achive nice effects.
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 12:29 AM

A. Due to the small space and using two lamps (one fill, one key)...

B. (this was a personal project where I undertook roles of director,lighting ect ect)

C. ...a passage stating that a fill light should be at least 3 metres away from the subject. Is there any truth in this.

D. And to top it off my director (and fellow student) demands crisp looking images which, I dont think I can deliver unless I turn the gain way way up on the camcorder =(/


Hey Andrew, I can tell you're really reaching out for some helpful answers, so I'll just give you my 2 cents in regards to what your experiencing and hope they help you out.

A. It is very difficult to work in cramped spaces such as that. But look at the walls in that room...they're ALL white and very reflective, bouncing light everywhere. Try using that bounce. You could probably get away with just having one source with diffusion pointed at your subjects creating a nice side key light for both actresses. Since they're so close to one wall, you'll probably have enough fill to get the ratio you're going for. If you need a bit more fill, I'd go with simply rigging a bounce board to the wall & cieling behind camera and blasting one of your lamps at the board, thus bouncing a bit of delicate fill onto the scene. Some ND gel on the window would do nicely as well.

B. Some people can do it, some people can't. I've seen many films where the lighting might have been great, but the performances were horrible (and vice versa). In most cases it's best to stay focused on one aspect of production. It's easier to help your actors out with their performances if you're not spending most of the time worrying about rigging and lighting the set.

C. That's ridiculous. I don't understand why it would be written that way. A fill source is just to bring up the detail in the shadows to lower contrast. It can be a diffused 6K that's 150' away, it can be a 1k bounced off a wall or foam core about 20' away, or a white card placed at the feet of your actor...among many other variations.

D. What does he mean by crisp? High contrast, sharp shadows, or just a generally healthy exposure without noise?
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#4 Alex Hall

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 10:55 AM

When working in small spaces with white walls that bounce light everywhere i tend to use alot of negative fill in order to control the direction of the light.

Edited by Alex Hall, 12 March 2008 - 10:56 AM.

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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 03:27 PM

Ive been reading a few books on lighting (gerald millersons : lighting for television & film ). its within the pages of this book where I seen a passage stating that a fill light should be at least 3 metres away from the subject. Is there any truth in this., because I know for a fact that there is no way I can get those three metres out of the room. And to top it off my director (and fellow student) demands crisp looking images which, I dont think I can deliver unless I turn the gain way way up on the camcorder =(/

Any advice.?


Yes -- don't confuse theory with practice. The theory or concept of three point lighting is just a way of thinking about light in three dimensions as it relates to a subject and a camera position. You don't always have to use three lights, and they don't always have to be set up in any particular way.

In reality, more often than not the "key" light is simply the brightest light illuminating the front of your subject, and the fill is whatever's hitting the shadowed side (not being lit by the key). In your kitchen example the key light looks to be the overhead lights in the room, and the fill light is simply the natural "ambience" or reflected light in the room. You did two point lighting right there, and probably didn't even know it!

You can create something similar with artificial lights by simply bouncing a light into the ceiling. Try to get as much spread across the ceiling as possible without hard direct light hitting your actors or the walls. You'll end up with a soft, overhead key. If you need to add fill, sometimes all you need is a white bouncecard (a 2'x3' piece of foamcore works well), held somewhere to the side of camera.

It does take some practice with lighting to get to understand how light behaves, and how to control it. Try practicing with your lights, the camera, and a test subject (a friend) before you shoot the real production.
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#6 Andrew Thorley

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 05:20 PM

Aww thanks for the guidance guys, I really really do appreciate it. Hopefully i'll be able to conduct some tests within the particular location prior to the production (either Saturday or Monday) nothing fancy really just camera/light placement.

I'll pop my results onto this thread accompanied with my blueprint (hahaha no idea what you call it maybe a lighting treatment). And hopefully you guys could give me some pointers (thats if you don't mind).

Many thanks

A.Thorley.
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#7 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 03:24 PM

The guys above definitely covered the main points. Theory is just that.

I might add to trust your eyes. Start by making it look good to your eyes, and from there bring it within the range of exposure that you desire.
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Metropolis Post

The Slider

Visual Products

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Glidecam

Opal

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape