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Exterior night forest


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#1 Naim Sutherland

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 05:26 AM

Hi everyone,

I have a project coming up shooting on Red that will require quite a bit of exterior night work out in the forest. I need some advice on what kind of gear would work for me. I'll try to describe what I'm after....

Some of the stuff is dialogue, but there are several chases and fights that happen at night as well. I think it will be important to achieve a stop at which a focus puller will have a chance with if we are running around on a steadicam.

Because our world is always overcast and the action takes us away from firelight and flashlights and basically any other light source, I am aiming to create kind of a base layer of ambient light in the vicinity of our scenes. I think that if I can do this it will afford me the time to work with a soft sidey key and backlights and still shoot relatively quickly. Once I have an area lit I'm sure I'll be able to swing around to cheat things as a new area if we are say running and fighting and there aren't a lot of visual geographic references.

I am also concerned with keeping a background somewhat visible in any kind of wide-ish shot... not sure how to do that without it looking hard and sourcey, or falling off right away and not reaching very far.

I think the director/producers are aware that this is going to be a costly way to go and they want to see a preliminary gear list to see if this kind of look will even be possible.

Anyway, what I am looking for is advice on some kind of soft space light system that can cover a fair distance and be as cost effective as possible and give me the stop I need.

If this has been covered, please link me, since I couldn't find anything in my searches.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 06:42 AM

I would recommend using a Balloon to get your base 'Set' ambient softlight. Then carve out some background trees with harder sources to create a sense of contrast. Being that everything will be pretty much the same color temp (moonlight)... using softlight on your immediate Set and hard or (harder) light on your background trees may get you that contrast 'snap' you need.

Edited by David Rakoczy, 11 July 2008 - 06:47 AM.

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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:02 AM

Setting the "moonlight" will be your primary key source, normally a good source for that is a Wendy light. On CU's, depending on contrast ratios, I would use something like a blonde(2K) into some poly or white card for fill. On mid shots I would recommend maybe a blonde or a pup with chimera.
Last but not least have a couple of extra pups and tweenie's as for highlights and background carvings.

I'm giving you this advice on a no information basis so it might not work for you...but this is what I consider a standard kit for something in a forest.

Good luck!
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#4 Naim Sutherland

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:20 PM

Hi guys,

Regarding balloons - are these expensive to rent? It seems like any solution I get I will need many multiples of to cover the area that I need.

And please excuse my greenness once again, but what is a Wendy light? My searches find things from low wattage bulbs to light banks to people named Wendy Light.

I think if the ambient level can be around a 2.8 I can add a backlight and work with that for wides, and then when I move in I can get a proper stop with a key and the ambient can fill the area. Is that stop achievable with these solutions?

I am concerned that hard background fill will look sourcey and not mesh with what's happening in the foreground... anyway, I will play with it in testings and figure it out... it will be quite out of focus anyway. so it's important for me to remember that that specific element isn't the most important thing!

Thanks!
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#5 David Rakoczy

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:45 AM

I am concerned that hard background fill will look sourcey and not mesh with what's happening in the foreground... anyway, I will play with it in testings and figure it out... it will be quite out of focus anyway. so it's important for me to remember that that specific element isn't the most important thing!

Thanks!
[/quote]


Balloons aren't that expensive especially when you consider how fast you can move them.. they are real time savers! You only need one unless you are doing a HUGE set up... one should do and it gives of a very very nice soft quality of Light .. in a 360 degree spread.. which gives you a HUGE area to work in.. just move the camera and use the other (already lit) side.

Your quote above is right on.. test it and see.. but it really isn't background 'hard fill'.. but hard (harder) modeling on the background trees etc.. carving them out and giving you something different than more soft moonlight that can make your overall image mushy and undefined. I believe you will find my suggestion to work well to give you that 'snap' in contrast you'll need being that everything will be the same color temp. If not, hey.. beauty is in the eye of the creator.

Best of Luck! Enjoy the Show!
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 09:27 AM

Wendy light - http://www.panavisio...880ghhsh16eaa63

its all about budget ;)
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#7 Tom Lowe

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:15 AM

On a post like this, you should mention your budget so people know how much money you have to work with.

Balloons are expensive, but would be great for your shots, probably. Is this all being shot on private property, or will you have to be worried about neighbors, etc?
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#8 David Rakoczy

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 06:26 PM

The original poster stated "Because our world is always overcast and the action takes us away from firelight and flashlights and basically any other light source, I am aiming to create kind of a base layer of ambient light in the vicinity of our scenes. I think that if I can do this it will afford me the time to work with a soft sidey key and backlights and still shoot relatively quickly". One Balloon (in my opinion) is quicker (shot for shot) and would give Naim the biggest bang for his buck... provided he has the bucks to begin with as Tom has brought up. Even with a Wendy Light (and I love them they are great.. you still need to come in and 'Key' and 'Fill' your Talent.. it is great for back and 3/4 Lighting for wide areas but does little for your immediate talent. One balloon can Light a huge area and Key your Talent.. sure you may want to beef them up a bit but basically that 'base' layer can be set.. the and contrast with harder Lights carving the BG. The original p;oster also said " think the director/producers are aware that this is going to be a costly way to go and they want to see a preliminary gear list to see if this kind of look will even be possible." so that led me to the Balloon... my first choice. Again, Tom makes the best point.. we can all dream.. what is the reality?
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#9 Naim Sutherland

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:43 PM

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful insights! It's always difficult to make a step up in this field. Suddenly you're out of your comfort zone with gear, or your working in a new style or professional/political situation that you're not used to and it's like you have to figure everything out again. I've always been fortunate and able to rely on the kind generosity of those more experienced.

I think the night look and strategy are beginning to solidify in my mind. I have a meeting with the guy who usually gaffs for me this week... sadly he is not going to be available for the movie. Hopefully then we can talk it out further and draw up some schematics and a basic list to get a quote from.

It will definitely center around a balloon providing a general level, and then adding a soft key with bounced or heavily diffused light if needed and a hard back or edge, and splashing the background in some yet to be determined way. I definitely see what you mean in terms of contrasting quality of the light since I am unable to use a different temperature. I hope I will have enough stop to give a focus puller a chance on moving steadicam stuff. More than anything else its the night time moving, chasing, gun and knife fighting and killing stuff that concerns me!

I will think more about exactly how far a distance I will need to have lit, and what my frame sizes will ideally be like vs what I can get away with.

I should have been more clear regarding budget, though it's hard when I don't know what the budget will be! I expect it will be a limiting factor, so bang for buck is key as usual. Honestly, I wish the budget situation was more clear and definite, even this far out from going to picture. All I can go by is my sense that they sound serious and generally aware of the price of things. I can see it going a couple of different ways, but I am just going to continue to think positively and hand in a best case scenario gear list and see what we get. Indeed the director mentioned right in the first meeting that he thought balloons would be the way to go. The local rental houses have been very generous with discounts in the past, and there is a lot of goodwill around in terms of camera, lenses and personnel so I hope for the best... I don't know what else to do!

Thanks again for your suggestions! Please do not hesitate to post any thoughts or suggestions you might have. I will have more questions and ask for more advice as we go ahead... I still have to decide on approaches to the numerous fire side scenes, as well as the opening car sequence (never used a tow before!).
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