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Lighting inside a movie theater


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#1 Max M Fuhlendorf

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 03:49 AM

Hello.

I'm a student filmmaker in Brazil, and I'm doing the cinematography for a very short (one minute) film.

It's kind of a romantic comedy, and it calls for a style that is natural but somewhat cartoony at the same time.

It's gonna be shot on Vision2 500t, 16mm probably (not S16), or if I get lucky, 35mm 1.85.

My school has available the whole line of Arri HMI fresnels from 575w to 4k, and Arri Tungsten fresnels from 150w to 10k, and some banks of corrected fluorescents.

My idea was to light the front of the performers with a very big white reflector and a tungsten balanced as key, and use a HMI flickering from the projector booth to get that totally fake and stylized projector flicker as a rim light for the performers.

Most of the film will be shot from the screen position, framing two seats with a couple. There will be some inserts, also, but nothing out of the ordinary.

I'm an experienced videographer, and I shoot still 35mm film since I was a kid, but this will be my first movie shot with film cameras.

Any advice or tips would be immensely apreciated.
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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 03:22 AM

Hello, Max

I once shot in a cinema and from then I can recommend that you'd light the walls. Most cinema theatres have wall lights, be it some kind of lustres, be it tubes in cavetto. Add front and back light as coming from the booth, why not, and it will look cinema.
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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 07:28 AM

Hey Max,

Shooting 35mm stills doesn't differ from shooting 35mm motion.
The principle is the same...there are differences in stock but technically its all the same.

I think your idea sounds absolutely fine.
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#4 Mike Simpson

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 02:06 PM

if youre looking for a very generic way of shooting it, then the soft frontal fill, harder backlight thing is probably the standard formula. I dont know about making the HMI flicker though.

Theres a great movie called Goodbye Dragon Inn thats is all shot within a movie theater and there is a wealth of ideas there.
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#5 Vanessa Ward

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 09:28 PM

I recommend using a projector for the projector look. It doesn't have to be the in house one, just get a small digital projector and hook it up to a DVD player. It will provide the amount of light you need, and you won't have to worry about flickering any light.
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 04:59 AM

If you do go for the with the hmi you can you a fan as a flicker device. You will have to first figure out a believable pattern.
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#7 Eric Clark

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 12:55 PM

Placing that fan on a dimmer might be the trick.
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#8 Max M Fuhlendorf

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for all the comments.

I liked the digital projector idea. I'd thought about it, but dismissed the idea thinking I'd get very low exposure.

I have a 1000lumens HT DLP projector. I'll try to get a few feet of 5218 500T and shoot some stills, and depending on the results, it could solve my problem.

Thanks again for all the tips!

Max
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#9 Sander van de kerkhof

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 04:02 PM

I have done the dimmer thing once and it worked good... i used a 575 with 2 fans, one having some different gels attachted to the blades just to get some color in the beams.
Both of the fans one dimmers and someone was operating then on different speeds.

However the fans do not like being on a dimmer so get some spare fans in case one breaks.
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#10 Steven Wyatt

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 07:35 PM

I've always found cinemas really hard to light for, i've made a couple of mistakes in the past with them, however the short film I did recently, I got an opportunity to correct the problem. It was a dialogue scene I was covering mainly, so most of it was in mid shots to close ups. I used a 4 bank Kino, with daylight tubes as my keylight and got one of my sparks to flag the kino creating a flickering effect, it seemed to work quite well. I used a 650w as a backlight, with some 216 diffusion, and used a dimmer to bring down the intensity making the light warmer, which was 1 stop down from the key. For the backgrounds I didn't have access to any HMI's at the time so I utilised a 2k blonde, and used a full CTB and a light frost just to bring out the walls in the cinema as there was nothing registering. I can't remember the light level on the 2k, but it was really low, just enough to see something rather than darkness.

I'll see about if I can get screen captures of the work!

Steven
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#11 Chris Pritzlaff

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 10:58 PM

A low budget solution that has always worked for me is to take a bright source (HMI, Xenon arc,) basically anything with a sharp beam and put that in the back to act as a projector and then have one of the grips hold up flags or even hands in front of the source (at a safe distance) and wave it to make it look like the beam pattern is changing. My key light is something soft, either a large fixture with a chimera or a bounce. I was really pleased when I was able to use the same xenon arc that I had in the background as a key when it bounced into an 8x8 right over the camera. It looked really good because it had the natural effect that a theater would.

Once you've established that, all you need to do is add whatever accents you want to bring the level of detail in the background up to an acceptable level. Sometimes ill backlight the chairs just to the point where you can read the edges of them and then throw some small, very low intensity splashes of light onto the back walls to prevent them from falling into complete darkness.
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