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Lighting For Student Project - White Void


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#1 Andrew Sisnett

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:33 AM

Hello,

I am currently working on a 16mm student short film where we need to light a 3-sided white room to make it look like a litmitless void (best reference I can suggest would be in the "matrix" film where neo and morpheus stand in the empty program before anything is loaded). We've come up with two ideas of how to do this and I'd like anyone's opinion on the options we have so far in terms of what would look the best. We are shooting the room with 2-3 studio walls and have access to 5k skypans, a 10k and 12k fresnel as well as lots of 1k's and 2k softs.

So far the idea we've come up with is to shoot the white studio walls 3 stops overexposed using the 10/12k with a 12'/12' diffusion combined with the skypans to hopefully blow it out entirely and correct small problems in post.

or

Shoot everything greenscreen and key the background to white. We are limited by no budget for chroma paint and only have a 12/12' greenscreen.

We're leaning on the first option but don't have enough experience with film to tell if overexposing the background would produce that desired effect and also worry about the overexposed white creating a backlit effect that would black out the front of our subject. Any thoughts/suggestions would be much appreciated, if possible an overview. I will update this post later today with an overview of what we planned.

Thank you.
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:51 AM

Two Points:

10ks are Tungsten - 3200kelvin
12ks are HMI - 5500kelvin

You will need to go well over 3 Stops as at 3 Stops you will still see some detail in the corners etc... Green Screen will give you the cleanest 'white' because you can control the white's grain in post. If you shoot white walls (esp. with 16 or S16) you will have a tremendous amount of Grain/ Noise unless you really BLOW THEM OUT... and by that time the white will seep into and over the edges of your Talent... which you may like (?). If you go the white wall route, I'd recommend 100t.

Test is Best!
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#3 Andrew Sisnett

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 08:23 PM

You mentioned the white seeping into and over the edges of the talent. That would happen even if I use a heavy diffusion on my lights to make it softer light? Perhaps you could direct me to a resource that would explain the "seeping" so I can better combat that. We do plan on lighting the talent and hopefully that would offset the seepage some.

Thanks for the tips so far, very much appreciated.
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#4 David Rakoczy

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 07:42 AM

It is a fine line between blowing out the BG and Blowing it our too much so that it is now contaminating the Talent you are shooting.. it is a ratio thing. 4 Stops max... It doesn't matter if you lit the walls with hard or soft Light, it has to do solely with how much over it is from your Talent. I am always afraid of Super Grain when shooting white walls in 16mm. 3 stops would work but you may still see details in the corners or a lot of Grain on the Walls etc... Use the 100t as you have plenty of Light for that. Unless you want the walls to be boiling with grain.
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#5 Nadav Hekselman

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 04:18 PM

Green Screen will give you the cleanest 'white' because you can control the white's grain in post. If you shoot white walls (esp. with 16 or S16) you will have a tremendous amount of Grain/ Noise unless you really BLOW THEM OUT... and by that time the white will seep into and over the edges of your Talent... which you may like (?). If you go the white wall route, I'd recommend 100t.

Test is Best!


Indeed, green screen will create the cleanest, finest white background with no effect over the talent, as long you get the green screen right.

In my opinion though , using green screen is too clean and I like the feeling of a real white void (or white limbo) better. You get a better feeling of the environment and a sensation that the characters are really in a white universe including slight shadows and stuff like that. also the white bleeding is really nice too, i think. of course you can get the same environment effect using green screen, only you'll have to add them in post to make the scene more real and less green-screen.

Do some tests, look more closely at some examples and understand what works for you. If you take Matrix for example, look at what creates the feeling that the characters are in real white space and not a green-screen cut out. for instance, you will notice they cast slight shadows on the floor , you'll see reflections and notice a slight gradation in whites.

Also don't forget you can always make the white a little whiter in post and mend any unevenness on the wall you light.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 04:27 PM

If you look at the black and white film, The Perfect Human, from '63, I think, they build a limitless white void. But, David is right to point out the problems of grain in the image. With no other contrast, as I learned, you eyes will go to that grain like a hungry shark to chum. You'd not notice it of course if there was more contrast in the scene (over larger areas).
And, while green screen can be wonderful, the trick is getting it right and avoiding green spill on your actors. You can do that by slightly under-exposing the green screen, maybe 1/2 a stop, which will keep spill off of it. A good keying program will also help you out swimmingly.

Now, were it me, I'd do it with just the white wall. But, that's me. I'd go over around 3 and 3/4 stops, 4 stops give or take and clean up later on in post. Or. . . it might be possible to shoot reversal film, which when over-exposed, just goes clear (in stills at least. Don't know what would happen with MP stocks. . .so that could be a nice test as well.) Roll some stock, make sure you get it right, and see if you can get it transfered at the same house sa the rest of your footage, before hand of course. The testing will save you a lot of heartburn later on when you're sitting in bed wondering if it's going to be "alright."
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:45 PM

Second the last opinion. There is such a fine line between blowing out to conceal unwanted detail, and blowing out that actually adversly affects what you want to photograph (i.e. fringing). It sounds like you ought to try some tests. What stock are you using? If it is not practical/possible to shoot some 16mm tests, perhaps you could find some equivalent speed in 35mm and take some snaps at various exposure levels (3, 3.5, 4),

Must it be in a room with walls? Is this on location or a studio? A couple notions I had was what if you could get a lot of muslin fabric you could hang up in a semi-circle, like a photo back drop. That would eliminate the corners, and perhaps you wouldn't have to overexpose so much? Were you planning on bouncing the light inside the space? With muslin or other white fabrics, perhaps you could shine the light through it, as though they were the source of the light?

Good luck, I hope it works out. Love to see some snaps/framegrabs when available!

Best,
BR
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#8 Andrew Sisnett

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 10:13 PM

First of all I'd like to thank everyone for all the great feedback I'm getting about this project so far, it's very much appreciated. The school is giving us 200t film to shoot with and we plan on using 3 walls inside a studio to create the space but essentially we only need 2 and can cheat shots if necessary.

Some details of the project:

Must be shot in studio.
- 80% of the project is 16mm
- 20% is video

- "void" scene will be the 16mm portion of the film

- A woman is trapped in "void" like room with no apparent windows or doors. Inside the room at one end is a monitor/desk and exactly opposite that against the other wall is a filing cabinet. The nature of the script tells me it's more of a psychological torment going on so I decided to keep a large portion of the shots tight on the female talent and let her go wild since she was so impressive during casting.


I like the idea of taking test stills with 35mm, I'll end up doing that to see what happens. Thanks thus far guys this is all great information!

I thought of using a shallow depth of field for my closeups and coverage, hoping this would also help mask the walls. Any thoughts on manipulating depth to help mask problems or would that just ruin the "void" effect altogether?

Edited by Andrew Sisnett, 02 August 2008 - 10:18 PM.

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#9 Andrew Sisnett

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 10:30 PM

As a side note, we have access to 1/4 and 1/8 black pro-mist filters. Would those help with the "seeping" or "fringing" effects that have been mentioned?

Edited by Andrew Sisnett, 02 August 2008 - 10:31 PM.

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#10 David Rakoczy

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 04:06 PM

As a side note, we have access to 1/4 and 1/8 black pro-mist filters. Would those help with the "seeping" or "fringing" effects that have been mentioned?



No.. only worsen it.. or if that is what you want.. help it.. it depends on what you want... if you are shooting S16mm, and you want a 'cleaner' image, I highly suggest shooting 'clean', esp. with white walls.

Though I have to admit, shooting a scene against one Green Screen Wall can be a real 'TEST' for your Director... tuurning people and objects.. constantly rebuilding a room / environment from a different perspective.. is challenging, even for a seasoned "Director"... and I agree with Nadav, without proper attention to detail in the Composite, shading or shadows or otherwise..for a student Film budget, it might feel sterile.. but that (may) be what you want (?) ..... if you want them to really 'feel' like they are actually 'there'.. Light the Room.

You have a good Package of Lights to work with! Sky Pans are fantastic for what you are doing! Take a Spot Meter! Read Film Lighting by Malkiewicz.

These two will be invaluable!

Edited by David Rakoczy, 03 August 2008 - 04:10 PM.

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#11 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 05:02 PM

10ks are Tungsten - 3200kelvin
12ks are HMI - 5500kelvin


There are T12s as well not all 12ks are HMIs
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#12 manoj paramahamsa

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 06:26 AM

There are T12s as well not all 12ks are HMIs


hi

i tried simmilar effects for smaller areas like say 5ft -20ft

i wished to backlit the subject use any white screens semi lucent screens and back lit either with your photgraphic lights or if u dont have much space use many nos of domestic cfl tubes if your not shooting highspeed.
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#13 David Rakoczy

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 07:37 AM

There are T12s as well not all 12ks are HMIs



25 years in 'Hollywood'... never seen or heard of a Tungsten 12k....
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 07:49 AM

Actually neither had I but,


http://extranet.mole...?...29&id=28660


they do exist.
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#15 David Rakoczy

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:21 AM

Son of a Gun!!! Go Hans!

Edited by David Rakoczy, 04 August 2008 - 09:22 AM.

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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:33 AM

My self personally, I'd not use a 12K bulb as I quite enjoy the ease of figuring amps with rounding and base-10 systems! Then again; i do have a calculator I could use, but that's hardly as cool.
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#17 David Rakoczy

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 10:29 AM

Seems a bit silly... I do like the larger lens... but I can only imagine how many Tungsten units are being delivered to HMI Jobs.. and visa versa :blink:

Edited by David Rakoczy, 04 August 2008 - 10:31 AM.

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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 10:59 AM

True, though hopefully people would notice when they throw the bulb in it. . .or get the bulb for it
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#19 David Rakoczy

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:03 AM

True, though hopefully people would notice when they throw the bulb in it. . .or get the bulb for it



...or notice the Ballast... or the Color of the Light!

I just see a bunch of runs back to the Rental House for the 'right' Lamp...
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#20 John Young

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 08:55 AM

Since I have been busy reading other parts of the forum (just found it), I have not had a chance to read this yet. I too want to film an endless white room/void. I can't believe no one as mentioned one of the gratest white room sequences I have ever seen.

THX 1138

Someone needs to call Mr. Lucas up and ask him how he did it. The question is tho; did the white room sequence change from the '76 non-CGI version to the new release with CGI?

Back to the topic at hand, would it help if you had more space? Like a large room, very large hanger or something? It would take more light most likely but would you still see the corners?


JRY
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