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Office Lighting


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#1 Josef Heks

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 12:05 AM

Im about to shoot a short film which is set in an office and we are shooting in an abandoned office space. Currently there are just your typical office fluros on the roof.

I just wanted to ask your advice on what sort of setup and lights I should use to acheive that stereotypical office lighting. And do you think I should use the existing lights as well? Most of the shots will be mid-close two shots.

Any advice whatsoever is much appreciated!

cheers

-Josef
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#2 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 10:06 AM

If it's a large room, and you are doing some large shots as well, I would use the fluo's in the roof as a basis. This might look a bit flat, but you can use light coming from practicals on the desks, and/or light coming through windows to get some direction as well. You can also hide some lights to create points of interest, and maybe draw attention where you want it. Or you could decide that you want that flat "office-look", and not do so much with it. You might have to either gel the windows, or swap bulbs/gel your lights to match the color of light coming from outside. Light coming from outside can also help raise your overall ambience if you need it.

When moving in for closer shots on your talents, you can light them individually, motivated by the light sources you see in the large shots. To me, that stereotypical office lighting is often characterized by a lot of ambient light and overhead light, and not too many shadows (which is what happens when you fill an entire white room with fluorescents). If that's what you're aiming for, then I don't think you have to do too much with it. You might have to do some prepping though, checking the color on the fluo's, maybe swapping them all before the shoot. If there's a lot of sunlight coming through the windows, you might have to gel them all with ND. I also like to put diffusion on the windows, to make the light "fill" the room a bit more. If you have the means, it might be desireable to flag the sun away from the windows all together, if that turns out to be a problem.

Those are some ideas at least. I also like to do a somewhat less stereotypical office-lighting sometimes with more practicals on the desks, and a bit less overall ambience/overhead lighting. Maybe even a stronger motivation from the light coming through windows. But that's your choice to make.
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#3 Josef Heks

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 09:03 PM

Thanks for your reply John, very helpful and informative, cheers :)

Josef

BTW, which sort of practical lights do you think would best suit this situation? And what type of bulb would be required to match the fluros? thx

Edited by Josef Heks, 03 July 2008 - 09:05 PM.

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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 09:37 PM

My first approach would be to carefully block. When all the lights are spaced equally, then you can set ratios by moving them closer or farther away from a light, as one gets hotter to become a key, the other dims to become a fill. From there you can flag to increase ratio, you can bring in some lens-level fill (if you bring your actors to close to the light, it can become toppy). Use what you have and augment/cut/shape from there. careful blocking will minimize what work you have to do to the light thats there.
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#5 Hemant Tavathia

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 10:27 PM

Mostly on Corporate lighting jobs, we rig Kinos to the ceiling with scissor clamps. Another helpful light for wide shot office setups are Image 80's for a good punch to the foreground. Basically, Kinos work best in office spaces.
Since its a short 'film,' you can be a lot more flexible and creative with the look. I'd recommend breaking up the space by strategically positioning smaller units to highlight parts of the room. use a 1200 HMI with a breakup pattern on a open frame to further break it all up. Use practicals.
Good Luck
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#6 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 08:57 AM

Thanks for your reply John, very helpful and informative, cheers :)

Josef

BTW, which sort of practical lights do you think would best suit this situation? And what type of bulb would be required to match the fluros? thx


You can get fluorescents in different color temperatures, for instance something close to 3200k which would be the temperature of a "regular" light bulb. But if you also have a lot of daylight, you might want to get fluorescents that are closer to 5600k. This is what I mean with prepping, you might have to spend some time in advance swapping bulbs to the color of your choosing (and probably a bit of budget to acquire those bulbs). You could still use 3200k practicals on the desks, maybe with half CTB to keep them a bit warmer than the rest of the light (if you end up using daylight as a basis), but that's a creative decision. Seeing as you don't have a lot of wide shots, I would try to put a lot of practicals on the desks and round'n'about, just to create motivation for a bit of creative lighting in the closeups (rim-light, side-light, kickers and so on).

But as you probably understand, this is very much up to you and your creative vision. You can go for the very illuminated office, with a bit less contrast and a very omni-present light, or you can go for the more contrasty version, playing down the fluo's in the roof and base yourself more on the very directional daylight coming through windows, and practicals on the desk. Both things can work and look great, it just depends what you want (and what your location looks like, maybe also what means you have available to accomplish this). Hope this helps.


One tip though, I wouldn't be afraid to use different color temperatures, as long as they are motivated. Indoor lights are warmer than daylight, and you don't necessarily have to correct everything to the same color of white (unless you want to for creative reasons). But be careful using a too wide range of temperatures. For instance, if you're shooting video with daylight-balance, you might want to put a bit of blue on your tungsten-lights, or they may not turn out very pretty (especially on video). As I mentioned, maybe put half CTB on tungsten, still keeping it warmer than your daylight and daylight-balanced lights. You could also shoot some tests with your specific setup to see how well your camera (and videoformat) handles a range of temperatures, before you decide how you want to do your colors.
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#7 Serge Teulon

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 09:18 AM

It has got a period look but read the AC Mag March08 and have a look at how Mad Men was lit.....apart from the fluoros I don't think it differs much from the 'office' of today.

good Luck!
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