Jump to content


Photo

Gelling Windows for DFN


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Kirk Sade

Kirk Sade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:42 PM

Hi,
I'm gonna have to shoot a series of shots (some part of the same scene) in a room with huge windows facing north on the ground level. Due to actors' scheduling I'm going to have to shoot day for night, I prefer to heavily ND the windows (as oppose to black-out) to at least get some depth and definition outside, my question is where do I start with this? how heavy of ND and should I go with ND 85 instead, what if on the shooting day the sky is all fluffy clouds going in and out of the sun? any input would be appreciated.
  • 0

#2 Justin Marx

Justin Marx
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 40 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Hollywood, FL

Posted 09 September 2008 - 09:27 PM

Hi,
I'm gonna have to shoot a series of shots (some part of the same scene) in a room with huge windows facing north on the ground level. Due to actors' scheduling I'm going to have to shoot day for night, I prefer to heavily ND the windows (as oppose to black-out) to at least get some depth and definition outside, my question is where do I start with this? how heavy of ND and should I go with ND 85 instead, what if on the shooting day the sky is all fluffy clouds going in and out of the sun? any input would be appreciated.


Have your grips build a "BLACK BOX" around the area of the windows, and use your own lights to bring some moonlight in. Grab some tree branches or plants to put outside if you need to see something.. No ND, no waste.. a couple of 8x8's and some duvateen.. Just mind the HEAT!
Otherwise You would have to GEL the crap out of the windows and the look would be inconsistant with any sort of cloud cover..

My 2-cents..
  • 0

#3 Michael K Bergstrom

Michael K Bergstrom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • Grip
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Posted 09 September 2008 - 11:02 PM

Agreed, on the last feature I worked on, we gelled a second story small window day for night, and is was a hastle getting the gell to look right, in later scenes we were first story so we tented everything "blackbox" and put our light in, it worked much much better.

Attached Images

  • Tent.jpg

Edited by Michael K Bergstrom, 09 September 2008 - 11:03 PM.

  • 0

#4 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Oslo, Norway

Posted 10 September 2008 - 05:01 AM

You'd need heavy ND to get it that much down, probably starting at ND18 at least, and then working your way up until you're satisfied.
  • 0

#5 Michael Collier

Michael Collier
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1262 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 10 September 2008 - 09:37 PM

Agreed, on the last feature I worked on, we gelled a second story small window day for night, and is was a hastle getting the gell to look right, in later scenes we were first story so we tented everything "blackbox" and put our light in, it worked much much better.


Note the 2d AC on the apple box by soundy. Hmmmm, shouldn't chris be helping his dept? If I remember right they were in the middle of a lens change when that pick was taken. either way, whoever put together that tent must be GODS AMONG MEN! (my ego keeps me warm at night)


If your intent on NDing windows (and come on guys, if he's DP on this, you know as well as I he won't bend on the desire to see out the window. Tyrants know their own) I would start at ND 18 but the key is to balance the light inside. You might need quite a lot of light to get the light where you want it. If you don't want to ND and 85 the window, you can choose to shoot uncorrected tungsten and grade that halfway back into a moon look. That would be my preferance because multiple sheets of gel can catch all kinds of reflections and headaches. Nothing outside will be right with more than one sheet.

My approach would be to first ND the window with the heaviest single sheet of ND you can get. Then start to light with a double (or even a double and a single) scrim in every light (assuming the sun is out when lighting, if its behind clouds, light with the lights clean) I would also put a 12x12 or 20x20 black on top of the roof (assuming first story window) to cut any direct sun light that might hit the window sill or punch into the room. I would then shoot a grey card or mcbeth through 1/2 CTB (assuming light with 5600, no 85 on window with tungsten film) Keep in mind you will probably have to ND the lens to get to the stop you want and use a LOT of light to balance the scene to the outside, even with heavy window ND. It is possible, tents are for those who lack cahones (sp?)

oh, I forgot. The reason to light with a double or a single and double in light is so that if the light does pop behind a cloud you can take the scrims out, and stop your camera down and it should match exposure, though of course contrast outside will change. The top cutter over the window should keep the light punching through the window consistent regardelss of sun/overcast situation.

and looking at that pic again.....someone tell that 2d to get off his ass and do something.
  • 0

#6 Michael K Bergstrom

Michael K Bergstrom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • Grip
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Posted 11 September 2008 - 12:42 AM

I would really think twice about NDing and then doing a double and single. The second story window that we did this exact thing on was a disater. If I remember right we started with 1.2 then put a layer of 0.9 on then we ran out of ND, after finally getting the warps cleared out, it still wasn't dark enough, so up goes the 12x double, DOP still wanted to knock it down a bit so we tried putting a single up with the double, morein (I know I spelled that wrong) effect, was all over, and there was no hiding it, so down came the single.
I think that the picture was taken in the middle of a take, so give the kid a break, I'm judging that on the fact that the soundy is sitting with his hand on the mixer...an indication of work, otherwise, why would he be there when crafty was about 12 feet behind him? Not that I'm questioning the almighty Collier or anything...

Edited by Michael K Bergstrom, 11 September 2008 - 12:47 AM.

  • 0

#7 Michael Collier

Michael Collier
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1262 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 11 September 2008 - 02:06 PM

Ah good catch with the soundy on mixer. Didn't see that. I think I got a similar pic at a different time of day when there was a lens change going on, maybe thats what I am thinking of. If hes mixing then its probably the love scene when the set was locked off, so hes sitting waiting for a call from the first. I take it back, hes spot on in this pick. I am sure me and ryan are just out of frame waiting for Hardwick to call for something (waiting by crafty though, like a smart grip)

And yes, with the G&E list we had on that pic, it would be VERY difficult (or damn near impossible) to ND the windows and pull off a DFN look, or even a balanced DFD with the look out the window. But keep in mind all the daylight units we had on that pic was a single 800 joker and a couple of Kinos with daylight tubes. If you were to ND the windows for a DFN look, yes you would need A TON of light inside to outshine the inside. But it could be done as simply as a 6k (depending on room size, ceiling height, etc) into some ultrabounce or something like that to bring the ambient up enough to keep the dark out of the heel, and then just a few other units to add keys and highlights here and there. The important thing is to maintain a VERY high exposure level inside, and to be ready to change the exposure inside to compensate for what the outside is doing.


edit**

re-read your post bergstrom, I think you misunderstand me. Yes its a bad idea to use two nets in frame to cut light, because of the moire effect that can create. Even with the nets well outside the DOF moire patterns can still cause problems.

What I was saying was not to put a double and a single outside the window to cut light, my point was to put the scrims on the lights themselves on the inside, all of them. If the cloud is jumping in and out, you won't have time to add or remove any kind of window treatment outside, so the only solution is to have the lights increase or decrease output to adjust.

So I was saying when you light, start with the double & single scrim or even a double dub in the lights themselves, so that once its lit if the sun outside should peak out from a cloud and get brighter, you can quickly pull one or both scrims from the light and compensate the inside exposure to match the change outside. Thats what I was getting at, to build flexibility and speed on set into your light plan.
  • 0

#8 Joe Giambrone

Joe Giambrone
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • Director

Posted 16 September 2008 - 10:10 PM

I'm not a cinematographer, but I did hear about a new kind of ND gel that is polarized and is adjustable with a polarizing filter in the mattebox. The two polarizers work together to go from total black to total pass thru. And there's a demo video ... (I do not work for Rosco)...

http://www.rosco.com...o/roscoview.asp

But it looks perfect for this application.
  • 0

#9 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 17 September 2008 - 02:12 AM

Hi,
I'm gonna have to shoot a series of shots (some part of the same scene) in a room with huge windows facing north on the ground level. Due to actors' scheduling I'm going to have to shoot day for night, I prefer to heavily ND the windows (as oppose to black-out) to at least get some depth and definition outside, my question is where do I start with this? how heavy of ND and should I go with ND 85 instead, what if on the shooting day the sky is all fluffy clouds going in and out of the sun? any input would be appreciated.



Ive done this very successfully before with tinted perspex. I've found 5 stops was usually enough. If you leave it uncorrected, it takes on a great bluish tone that usually works for DFN as well. Check out Dante Spinotti's work in Heat and Banndits. He does this all the time.

jb
  • 0

#10 Kirk Sade

Kirk Sade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 17 September 2008 - 08:49 AM

Ive done this very successfully before with tinted perspex. I've found 5 stops was usually enough. If you leave it uncorrected, it takes on a great bluish tone that usually works for DFN as well. Check out Dante Spinotti's work in Heat and Banndits. He does this all the time.

jb


Thanks John,
Do you know the thickness of the sheets you used? also, how did you go about putting them behind windows without any light leak?
  • 0

#11 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 17 September 2008 - 04:35 PM

Thanks John,
Do you know the thickness of the sheets you used? also, how did you go about putting them behind windows without any light leak?



Gday Kirk.

You can get them in in 3mm, 5mm 7mm and 9mm. Im sure you'll have imperial equivalents. I went for the 5mm, as it seemed to be a good trade off in terms of prices Vs rigidity. I was worried that the 3mm might be a bit too *flexibile* and would not stay rigid in place once it was fitted. As I was fitting it to the outside of the windows, it was possible a brisk wind would cause it to move during a take. The thicker sizes are more expensive too.

The 5mm was still light enough to be easily carried and could be held in place with relatively minor rigging. In fact I think in one case it was held only by gaffer tape.

It's usually best to get it cut to fit the actual window itself. You'll have a small gap depending on the window frame, but I usually have it sit flush on the frame rather than the window itself. The gap hasn't ever caused me reflection issues, although I guess it is possible.

Just take a meter and colour temp meter along before you order to make sure you get something that's close to neutral. It's expensive, but not much more than using lighting gel, for a better outcome and faster to fit.

jb
  • 0

#12 Kirk Sade

Kirk Sade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 21 September 2008 - 07:06 PM

Gday Kirk.

You can get them in in 3mm, 5mm 7mm and 9mm. Im sure you'll have imperial equivalents. I went for the 5mm, as it seemed to be a good trade off in terms of prices Vs rigidity. I was worried that the 3mm might be a bit too *flexibile* and would not stay rigid in place once it was fitted. As I was fitting it to the outside of the windows, it was possible a brisk wind would cause it to move during a take. The thicker sizes are more expensive too.

The 5mm was still light enough to be easily carried and could be held in place with relatively minor rigging. In fact I think in one case it was held only by gaffer tape.

It's usually best to get it cut to fit the actual window itself. You'll have a small gap depending on the window frame, but I usually have it sit flush on the frame rather than the window itself. The gap hasn't ever caused me reflection issues, although I guess it is possible.

Just take a meter and colour temp meter along before you order to make sure you get something that's close to neutral. It's expensive, but not much more than using lighting gel, for a better outcome and faster to fit.

jb


Thanks John...
  • 0

#13 John Allen

John Allen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Iowa

Posted 21 September 2008 - 08:54 PM

Agreed, on the last feature I worked on, we gelled a second story small window day for night, and is was a hastle getting the gell to look right, in later scenes we were first story so we tented everything "blackbox" and put our light in, it worked much much better.


Oh dude that's sweet. I actually did something very similar to that in my latest short. That's awesome!
  • 0

#14 Robert Sawin

Robert Sawin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 52 posts
  • Student
  • Carlsbad, CA

Posted 22 September 2008 - 01:24 AM

Hi,
I'm gonna have to shoot a series of shots (some part of the same scene) in a room with huge windows facing north on the ground level. Due to actors' scheduling I'm going to have to shoot day for night, I prefer to heavily ND the windows (as oppose to black-out) to at least get some depth and definition outside, my question is where do I start with this? how heavy of ND and should I go with ND 85 instead, what if on the shooting day the sky is all fluffy clouds going in and out of the sun? any input would be appreciated.


This may sound like I'm joking but you can use black trashbags to do the job. I'm not sure it is necessary to show what's outside. You just have to consider can you have something in front of the window and does it affect continuity. For instance are you shooting other actors at different times or days. large black foamcore outside the window could help with something in front of it like a light curtain. Or maybe black trash bag's little light curtain. This way you can expose some elements that are outside.

trip...
  • 0

#15 John Allen

John Allen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Iowa

Posted 23 September 2008 - 01:39 PM

Yeah exactly. Trash bags work wonders. In a film I shot a month ago, we had a lot of interior night scenes. But our actors were stage actors that had either a preformance or a rehearsel every night. So we had to shoot at about noon. We used about 2-3 layers over the windows and it was completely dark inside. It was really cool, but sometimes I could've swore that I thought it was like 9 pm when it was only 2 pm. lol
  • 0

#16 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 23 September 2008 - 04:14 PM

This may sound like I'm joking but you can use black trashbags to do the job.


Of perhaps shadecloth ? 70% shadecloth from a gardening supplier also works, until you get very close to the window and start seeing the pattern....

jb
  • 0

#17 Kiarash Sadigh

Kiarash Sadigh
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Toronto

Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:19 PM

I faced a very similar situation and decided to experiment with tar paper a bit...first I asked the art department to dress the windows with dark curtains...in this case dark brown played nicely with the rest of the color palet....then we blacked out the windows with tar paper in a way that one side of the tar paper (the side closer to the camera) was left untaped...the bleed of light through that gap would kick the curtains with just enough day light that it appeared as if we had it all lit outside..you just have to make sure it's not super windy outside...
  • 0

#18 David Grantham

David Grantham
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts
  • Other

Posted 01 July 2011 - 01:24 PM

Thought I'd activate this dormant string. I'm rigging my south-, east-, and west- facing heavily-windowed condo for regular shoots. It's a small place and the view from the windows is a big part of the appeal of the space at any time.

A reusable material for darkening the windows makes sense. I've tested plexiglass, by using 4 layers of 60% (only stuff readily available) shadow cloth on all windows to bring down the ambience (as would plexiglass throughout) and shooting through netrually-tinted plexiglass layered at a 1'x1' hole in the cloth, on the sunniest day possible. (The cloth isn't feasible - looks like a big net to the camera from any spot in the condo.)

Tested this in a 12' x 12' room with HVX200, DVX100, Nikon D90. 0 gain.

Here's what worked best (HVX and D90):

Day for Day: 3 layers 13% transmittance plexi (that's .2 % in total !) on S and W facing windows + 1K onto 10' clg in NW corner for room ambience

Day for Night: another layer 13% plexi (.03 % in total !) on same windows + 1K same location for room ambience.

Can't find a commercial plexiglass darker or thinner. A 7.5% product has recently been discontinued.

These assemblies are quite costly (125$ for 4x8 sheet) so it'd be better to minimize number of layers. Minimum thickness of this plexi is 1/8" thus building the glass line out (3/8") to the frame for DFD and past it for the total thickness of 1/2" for DFN. Neither look right. Could apply some outside, but I can't think of a non-destructive way to reliably support layers of plexiglass on superheated window frames 5 stories above pedestrians. (And fewer layers would resolve this.)

Other Options:

Rosco's ND9 (about 10% trans.) is twice the cost of commercial plexi and would require just as many sheets.

RoscoeView:

Their RoscoView is super $$$$ ($1700 for 4x8) and if the camera rolls with respect to the window (as it can on a close oblique tilt) the polar filter has to twist or the window darkness changes. NOt as versatile as it seems, but the cost alone puts it in the stratosphere for my non-commercial short dramas.

So here's my current plan:

There's a darker Bronze plexiglass commercially available. I"m going to see if I can pull off DFD by sandwiching a complementary-coloured gel between it and the window (and hope to reuse that gel as much as possible) and add a layer of 13% plexi for DFN. Unless I can find a darker neutral grey plexi, this is the only other option I can see. The gel might sag, but the maximum pane size is only 32" x 26", so maybe not.

Sunlight is often consistent where I live (calgary, canada) but changing outdoor illumination and sun direction will have to be handled with scrims on lights and good shooting plans.

Testing on Panasonics may not have been the best choice as shadow noise meant I didn't want to use any gain. That would have allowed me to underlight or underexpose. But I figure worst case scenario was a good place to start. Doubling the light to 2K might help, but I don't think enough to remove another layer. And 1 is bright enough in that little space.

So: onward with my testing. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.
  • 0

#19 David Grantham

David Grantham
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts
  • Other

Posted 01 July 2011 - 03:41 PM

And... The bronze plexi isn't appreciably darker

So I'm thinking 1 layer of 13% plexi (-3 stops) over 2 layers of ND9 (2 x -3 stops) for DFD and another layer of ND9 (-3 stops) for DFN. (In all the above I'm talking 9 stops reduction for DFD, and 12 for DFN. Seems high, but that's what my tests show for optimal indoor exposure. Usually at 1/24 at about f5 (so I can use a portrait length standard lens)

But never having used window gels I don't know that they won't stick together or wrinkle. If I use a firm stop (I think I can) to keep the plexi firm against the glass I mght be able to solve the second problem.

onward..

Edited by David Grantham, 01 July 2011 - 03:42 PM.

  • 0

#20 Jon Rosenbloom

Jon Rosenbloom
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 713 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 01 July 2011 - 05:22 PM

We did this a few weeks ago ... end up with something like 10 stops of ND plus 1/2 ctb, plus the camera scenic "shmutzed" the windows. Not a small job anyway you try it, but it looked kind of believable in the end.

Edited by Jon Rosenbloom, 01 July 2011 - 05:22 PM.

  • 0


Opal

Abel Cine

The Slider

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

CineTape

CineLab

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

CineTape

Technodolly

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post