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Faking day exterior...at night


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#1 Ken Morris

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 10:06 AM

Hello everyone,
My name is Ken Morris and I am a student at SMU in Dallas, TX. I'm currently producing and directing a feature film as my last hurrah before graduation. Anyway, my exec has really latched on to the idea of faking daylight...at night. He says it adds a creepy feel that we wouldn't get during the day. My response is, it's an ultra-low budget film composed of other students, how would we do that. His response, get some lights.... <_< My exec is willing to pay for it the only problem is I have no idea how to do even approach such a scene. It's about a 6 min scene with five characters and a moderate amount of movement. We're shooting on the HVX200 with a Brevis35 adapter.
Thanks in advance,
- Ken
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#2 robert duke

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 10:12 AM

How much money does he have?

I think as a ultra low budget this is a bad Idea. it isnt easy for even big productions to do this. what he is talking about is a lot of money. generators cable 18ks etc...

appease him and do a 20x20 black overhead and shoot against a dark background.
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#3 Ken Morris

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 10:15 AM

How much money does he have?

I think as a ultra low budget this is a bad Idea. it isnt easy for even big productions to do this. what he is talking about is a lot of money. generators cable 18ks etc...

appease him and do a 20x20 black overhead and shoot against a dark background.


I'm assuming that's a 20x20 black flag?
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#4 Mike Berlucchi

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:02 PM

I'm not too sure thats a good idea either. Especially considering you're using the Brevis, that thing soaks up light. Lots of money..
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#5 Ken Morris

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:06 PM

I'm not too sure thats a good idea either. Especially considering you're using the Brevis, that thing soaks up light. Lots of money..


Believe it or not but the Brevis works great in low light conditions. I think the whole setup only loses about half a stop of light. That being said I don't think I have the logistical capability to recreate day at night. I can't even begin to imagine how many 20k's I'd need.
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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:15 PM

Since you say you have no budget, and since daylight is just about the only thing you don't have to pay for as a film-maker, I think you've answered your own question.
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#7 Ken Morris

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:19 PM

Since you say you have no budget, and since daylight is just about the only thing you don't have to pay for as a film-maker, I think you've answered your own question.

I've got a budget...an ultra-low micro one :P From the moment it was suggested I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to attempt something like that but occasionally there's a no budget alternative that works out pretty well. Thought I'd flatter my exec and at least look into it.
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:22 PM

Unless it's a very limited area, as everyone has pointed out you'll be into a big rig, especially with 5 characters. Not only do you have the characters to light, but also the background and unless you're filming up against a wall or hedge that require even more lights than the foreground.

It's not only the lights, but the generators etc.

I guess you'll have to learn one of the most important lessons or a would be filmmaker, talking the executives out of dumb ideas. Since it's not a studio film and you're the director and producer you can just politely give him a couple of reasons why you can't do it the way he suggests. If he wants to push it, you'll have to just firmly say you're the director.

Strange, it's usually works the other way round, when the director has to be talked out of wanting to do these things.
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#9 Dominic Case

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 06:19 PM

occasionally there's a no budget alternative that works out pretty well.

Yes there is. Shoot in daylight.

If your exec is really insisting, then you need to ask what he means by "creepy". If he can't articulate that, then you can't be expected to deliver. Is this a test to see how much backbone you have?

Otherwise, keep sky out of the shot, figure out how much area you need to light, ask your lighting supplier to quote on balloon lights, and take the quote to your exec. Bear in mind that light falls off with distance, so to light an area uniformly you'll need the light source to be quite high up (and therefore very bright).

I'm currently producing and directing a feature film as my last hurrah before graduation.

Do you really have to do a feature film for graduation? 90 minutes?
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#10 Ken Morris

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 08:28 PM

Yes there is. Shoot in daylight.

If your exec is really insisting, then you need to ask what he means by "creepy". If he can't articulate that, then you can't be expected to deliver. Is this a test to see how much backbone you have?

Otherwise, keep sky out of the shot, figure out how much area you need to light, ask your lighting supplier to quote on balloon lights, and take the quote to your exec. Bear in mind that light falls off with distance, so to light an area uniformly you'll need the light source to be quite high up (and therefore very bright).


Do you really have to do a feature film for graduation? 90 minutes?


Do I have to? No. Did I want to? Yes. Am I crazy? Does that need an answer? I felt like a lot of students just do shorts and not that there's anything wrong with shorts, but if you can pull off a feature while in school you've got major cajones. We've got about 95% of photography done. What's lacking is the aforementioned shot. It's about 6 pages left out of a 103 page script. The principal photography was done over 10 days (my spring break) and this final scene is 1/2 reshoot 1/2 finish shoot. I'll post a trailer once we've got an edit.
- Ken

PS I really appreciate the input! :D
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#11 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 11:59 PM

I'll post a trailer once we've got an edit.




yeah please post the trailer, i wanna see that... :blink:
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#12 Andrew Koch

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 12:50 AM

I would like to know more details about your production. You say it's ultra low budget, what exactly does that mean? Low budget (1-5 million range) micro budget (100-500K range) or no budget (30-100K range). If you're shooting on the HVX it sounds like it would be in the no to micro range which would make this lighting setup unrealistically expensive. Another question I have is where does the cinematographer come into this equation? This seams like something the DP should be concerned with, not the director, unless you are also shooting it. Why does the executive producer want this "look." How does it serve the story? It is so difficult and expensive to make fake day exteriors look convincing. But if you in fact are able to make it look convincing, then why go to all that trouble when you can do it in the day with no lights? If the executive producer wants a different look, does that mean they want something that does not look real and unconvincing?

Check out the rig Dean Semler used for the eclipse scene in Apocalyto if you can find it. He used huge solids (I believe 60x60) on cranes to block out direct sun and a HUGE light (I think a Musco 80) that he slowly covered with another giant solid. This was also shot during the day.

I am not trying to criticize your choices, I'm sure you are just trying to give the producer what he wants and I applaud your efforts in trying to do so. I just hope 90% of the budget isn't sunk on one scene. Better to spend the money on good catering and craft services, hahaha.

Best of luck and I look forward to hearing how it all turns out.
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