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Lighting EXT. Desert at Night


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#1 Jonathan Bruno

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 07:29 PM

Hey all. Here's the deal. My director wants to shoot the climax of the film we are working on on the side of a desert road in the dead of night.

I'm not against this, but it's a student project and I don't see the possibility of making it look like the desert at night, or even to be able to seen anything at all unless we have a large budget with enormous lights and a relatively small space to light. I would love to have a few 12K HMIs at my disposal, but that simply won't happen.

Right now I'm suggesting that we film the majority of it as it gets increasingly darker and do some colour timing to bring it down later.

Any suggestions?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 07:41 PM

You can't light large open areas at night with no budget.

You could try mixing day-for-night, dusk-for-night, and night-for-night depending on if other light sources are in the frame (like the car headlamps.)

You could set the scene under a lone streetlamp surrounded by darkness and rig a toplight to a pole.
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#3 Jonathan Bruno

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 08:40 PM

THANK YOU DAVID.

I will show this to my producers so they will believe me. I have been saying it is not important to shoot 3 hrs away if all we are seeing is the side of a road and a sea of black.

Thanks for the other tips as well. Perhaps I'll have them splurge for a musco light. ha.
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#4 Chris Pritzlaff

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 06:04 AM

Ive seen that before on student projects where they go to a location that looks great but then they shoot it at night with the small units they have available and are then surprised when they can't see any of the location.

I think you have the right idea by shooting day for night or (dusk for night). If you are out in the desert without any practical light sources in frame that should be relatively easy to do.

Other methods get expensive to do on a student budget
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 11:49 AM

The desert magic hour fades pretty quick, but the "afterglow" lasts longer.

Be prepared to battle lighting/sky continuity in post. I think david's idea would work.

Maybe even shooting your characters in silhouette against some light source in the distance might look cool.
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#6 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 11:57 AM

I'd shoot at dusk, and use car lamps and batteries to bring out the actor more.
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#7 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 12:26 PM

I don't know your script but i like a lot in BABEL de desert sequence. I like how Rodrigo Prieto solved the problem of the desert... I think you don't have to show all the desert...


Xavier Plaza
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Aerial Filmworks

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Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

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Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

The Slider

Visual Products

Wooden Camera