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Lighting for black and white film?


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#1 Bragi Schut

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:44 PM

Our lighting budget is pretty tight and the DP just added a bunch of HMI's to it, which caused our costs it to shoot through the roof. My question is this, if we're taking our footage to black and white (we're laving select areas colorized, as in PLEASANTVILLE, but in general it will be black and white) do we really need HMI's? Will you notice the difference between HMI's and the cheaper Fresnel lights somehow? My DP insists the difference will be apparent, but I fail to see how.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

--Bragi
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:56 PM

Our lighting budget is pretty tight and the DP just added a bunch of HMI's to it, which caused our costs it to shoot through the roof. My question is this, if we're taking our footage to black and white (we're laving select areas colorized, as in PLEASANTVILLE, but in general it will be black and white) do we really need HMI's? Will you notice the difference between HMI's and the cheaper Fresnel lights somehow? My DP insists the difference will be apparent, but I fail to see how.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

--Bragi

Well, are you shooting B&W filmstock? Because if so, it will be more sensitive to daylight balanced lights, meaning you can use less light to get the same exposure. If you're shooting either color filmstock or video, then this is not an issue.

But, keep in mind that HMIs are much more efficient light sources than their tungsten counterparts, so while you may save by renting tungsten, you'd need to rent a much bigger fixture to get the same effect (ie. 5K tungsten instead of a 1.2K HMI) with all the associated costs to power and man that light. There's no free lunch.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 05:05 PM

Satsuki nailed it. Now, I'm preferential to tungsten units, as they're smaller and cheaper. But you do need more of them to light than if you're using HMIs. Furthermore, HMIs are already daylight, and there is a less of a loss from full CTO as there is from full CTB, for those situations where you need to mix and match sources.
Of course, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it and your DP should understand and work with you on this. But, for the money, I'd say HMIs are worth it.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 05:48 PM

Daylight lamps expose slightly brighter (1/3 of a stop) on most b&w film but mainly the advantage is their output compared to wattage, so think of HMI's are your "big" guns and tungstens for smaller stuff.

But even a small HMI of the same wattage will be twice as bright as a tungsten. So there are a lot of reasons to use HMI's even on a b&w movie.

The advantage of the tungsten lamps is they make nicer fresnel sources for hard b&w lighting, whereas most HMI's are PAR's.
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