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What and how much light???


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#1 Malik Sajid

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 07:21 AM

Being a student video/film, i always think this whenever i come across a situation. So i have to ask this.


How you decide while you are shooting that you need this specific light? I mean you say lets bring a 5k HMI here. Why not some other. and does it often happen that you change your lighting setup?


I guess i m not been able to ask this properly. i hope you got what i m trying to say.
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#2 John Allen

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:39 AM

What you need to realize(and maybe you do) is that you light the set according to how the story feels. If you don't the film is just not going to feel right.

Also, there are lights with different color temps., for example the 5k HMI, I believe(and somebody correct me if I'm wrong) is used for daylight. I don't know if I explaining it very well, but I hope this helped you a little. :)
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 12:13 PM

A lot of lighting is a synthesis between feel/time to set up/overall budget/and look.
I personally first figure out how I think the shot/scene/story should feel, then I think of what look to create to generate that effect (and hammer that out with the director/other department heads), then I look to the overall budget to see how much money Is available and what lights I can get/use for that, and then I think of how long it will take the crew to set up/break down these lights.
Of course, other things enter into it; such as, say shooting in a house on location w/o a genny, in which case the biggest light I could bring in would be a 2K or a 1.2K HMI just because of power and the like.
So yes, choosing the light is somewhere between what you want for the story (primarily) and what is actually possible, and with experience you figure out how to use what light to create what effect.

And yes, sometimes you change your original plan if it's not working for some reason, or if you get lucky and everything just looks perfect without you touching it (or something breaks, like blowing a bulb w/o a spare or the like)

Edited by Adrian Sierkowski, 21 May 2008 - 12:14 PM.

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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 01:19 PM

Light selection is the very end of a reverse engeneering experiment. On your tech scout, you'll likely know what mood your going for (or you can chat with your director about that during the scout, though its best to scout with your keys, having previously discussed look and feel with the director; everyone has a lot to do.)

Once you know in general how your going to light it you need to break it down to peices. You need a key light and fill. Or if its a night shot maybe you just want soft fill and a hard backlight. Either way you break down into chunks where you need light, and what quality that light must be. Figure out how big that space is. Figure out how far away your lights need to be to cover the action in frame without it looking like the light is just off camera.

Only once you can visualize where you want your lights and what exposure you want them to be at can you decide what lamps to use. If you have a good gaffer that you have worked with for a while, final desision might rest with him as to which instrument to use, though you should always be prepared to know what your preferance is. As a student you might not have a gaffer/skilled gaffer to work with, so maybe at that point your guess is as good as his.

And thats just it. Its an educated guess. Once you know everything you need, your still guessing. Its based off experience though. Once you shoot a lot you'll get a really good idea what a 650 fresnel can do compared to a 1K open face, or a maxi-brute through 1/2 CTB etc. Build on that until you know what every light is capable of (never ending task, you'll always find a new ability of a light you thought you knew) You can read photometrics the manufacturers provide to get an idea of power throw, but in the end its really up to your experience with lights.

Also sometimes selection is a combination of how much raw wattage you need combined with the logistical limitations of the location, or the structural limitations of the grip its attached too. If you need a 5K fresnel, but only have nail on plates and questionable roof, you might call for 5 totas up there, or a bag light, since a full heavy fresnel might not be safe in the place it needs to be rigged. Here your key grip is the one to rely on if you have a concern of rigging. Most will tell you regardless of what you want to throw up there 'don't worry, we'll think of a way to do it safe.' (god bless a good key grip!)

So get out and shoot, build experience with the tools and soon you won't have to think too hard when it comes to light selection. Its all a matter of degrees, if you think of it in stops. You start with 300 watt backlight, and double the power (adding roughly a stop) and chart that out and you get 300-650-1K-2K-5K-10K-20K. Thats only 7 spaces from tiny units to the really big units. With experience you can narrow your needs to one of two lights, then typically you choose the higher rated one, since if your wrong you can simply add a single or double scrim to nock it down by either a half or full stop.

Any DP/Gaffer worth their salt trys their best to avoid hanging a light only to find it needs to be a bigger or smaller unit, though it does happen occasionally.

Now that you get that, have fun learning how the differnce in unit type affects the selection (why would you bring a fresnel in as apposed to an open face. Or a par compared to a frezzy. Why call for a 2k zip light (softlight) compared to a kino.)

....hey you got through this novel of a post. good job, I didn't even read it all.
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#5 Frank DiPaola

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 05:31 PM

For posterity's sake I'd like to add that you'd never call for a 5k HMI because one doesn't exist.
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#6 Malik Sajid

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 02:03 AM

Well Michael! that was great reading your reply.....really grateful ....


Well yeah i realized that its all about the feel that you'd want, and selection of light depends. And yes its all experience.....truly said


But as a student I'd really want to know when or in which situations you'd want a specific light?
As a student, we are given 4 or 5 open face 1000 watt tungsten lights , (with 500 watt lamp in my personal bag).

Other kit that i have seen here in local studios, they have 1K, 2K, 5K solars, that have built in dimmer,(which i'd say is not worth using, as it has only two stops, hard and soft). Once i went to a shoot of a friend, he used kinos on a closeup of the character. At that time i didn't know why he used this, but it created a good effect.

Anywayz.....thanks for the reply, its always very helpful.
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#7 Malik Sajid

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 02:06 AM

For posterity's sake I'd like to add that you'd never call for a 5k HMI because one doesn't exist.



Are you sure Frank?
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 02:13 AM

Are you sure Frank?


There are 4K and 6K HMI's, but never I've never seen 5K. I've seen 5K tungsten, but never 4 or 6K...

http://www.ltmlighti...ojectors-1.html

http://www.arri.de/p...i...=AS&lpfam=D

http://www.sunray-li...ixtures_05.html

http://extranet.mole...?...930&id=9969
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#9 Malik Sajid

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 05:23 AM

ok here i go a bit more specific and more technical regarding what and how much light one would want.


What light would you use in a situation where early morning light is coming in a room through a glass window?


How would you light a washroom, where a character is looking in the mirror. Quite small space with no opening or window.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 05:40 AM

Depends on how you want it to look. Do you want hard sunlight? If so then a hard source, like an HMI on D balanced film might be nice. If you want soft sunlight, take same HMI and blow it through some muslin.
For the bathroom, you can do it top-lit, as though there is a real fixture (perhaps even using the real fixture with a more powerful bulb in it) and let the eyes, perhaps raccoon if it's appropriate to the story. or you can just bang something, maybe a 2K, maybe more, or less, off of the ceiling to give an overall soft light.
You can, as I once did, hide a 150 in the sink for an eye-lite as well. . .
All depends on how it has to look. There are many answers for these set ups, up to you to decide which is best and suits your, and the shot/scenes/films intentions, as well as satisfies the director.
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#11 Malik Sajid

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 06:40 AM

hmmmmmm arrrrright

got it......

thanks a lot Adrian bro
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