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Park EXT Day Dialogue


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#1 Steve McBride

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 02:46 PM

For a short I'm doing soon, I'll be shooting in a park during the day (preferably early to mid afternoon) and I've never really done an exterior set like this before so I'm wondering what I'll need to bring.

The scene is two characters having a dialogue back and forth at a picnic table, one sitting on the table, the other on the bench.

I'm thinking that just use reflectors and diffusers, but I've never used them before so any tips would be greatly appreciated. I stopped by JoAnne Fabrics the other day and they had muslin on sale pretty cheap so I can get a good amount of that. I would also like to know what kind of equipment I would need for the setup, such as frames for the reflectors/ diffusers, as well as if I need any c-stands.

I'll hopefully be shooting this HD, but if I can't get what I need I'll have to end up shooting SD with no 35mm lenses, so if that helps at all with what you need to know.

Lastly, if there are any filters or anything that would be good to use for something like this, I'd love it if you could let me know. We'll be shooting in a park outside of Rochester, NY where it is very wooded and great empty landscapes. It's also coming up fall here now so trees won't only be green, yellows, orangs, browns, and reds will also be thrown into it.

Thanks in advance!


- Steve
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#2 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 01:10 PM

Steve, shooting ext day is all about putting a leash on the planet sun, take over its spill and use it the way you want....
In a sunny day situation you're dealing with three major brightness ranges: Highlights, midtones and shadows... you should be mainly concerned about your highlights and shodows...and here is what I recommend to do....

Wide shots: bolck so that you're actors are mainly backlit by the sun...then look and see what you're getting on the shadow side...for instance if they're standing on a concrete floor then they're getting a good amount of bounce into their faces already...grass will bounce back green, so see if you can cover the grass with muslin in your wide shot...if not...an 8by8 Muslin will do a great job....

Medium/Close-Ups: When you move in...then you can fill the shadows with your muslin (styro foam is good too) and bring your direct sun light down by quarter silk (not a full silk, very important) or high-light diffusion (highlight is like a vinyl version of Opal)...I always knock the direct mid-day sun a nudge down using very very thin diffusion...this is specially great for when you're shooting a close-up of a talent facing the sun....
you gotta be carefull with not filling too much and loosing your ratios....

For filters...your best friend is a polarizer...it'll cut down the reflection on the faces caused by sweat, make-up and heavy handed bounce...
you also want to have a couple of ND soft grads for your sky...
good luck!
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 07:07 PM

Thanks for all the input, and with what you said I think I'm going to run by the fabrics store and buy a bunch of muslin :) .

Thanks again!
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 02:37 AM

One oversight I see in a lot of exterior scenes, is the lack of eyelight to bring those eyes out. For CU's, just a bounce card behind the camera can be enough sometimes. You also want to bounce in some light if the sun's toppiness is causing the eyes to appear like deep dark wells.

I'm shooting a similar scene in a week or so, and I plan to do some similar things. I have a 1/4 Silk for diffusing the sunlight itself on CU's, but I also plan on using that 1/4 Silk as diffusion for the wide by blasting a reflector through it and hopefully getting some dynamic yet somewhat natural looking fill in there while the camera has to be so far away.
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#5 Steve McBride

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 11:49 AM

I've never used diffusers or reflectors before so I'm really wondering what sizes to go for when I buy the fabrics, any suggestions? Or do I just go with as big I can get and custom size on location?
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#6 Mike Simpson

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 12:33 PM

muslin is pretty thick. It takes some serious light to really get through; even if you pop it overhead and have direct sunlight pounding through it will probably feel like shade. Youre better off using it for bounce. Hi-lite's nice, but sometimes looks a bit artificial. Try it out first if you can, and any other diffusions you might be thinking of. Ive seen visqueen, bubbblewrap, and even nearly transparent trashbags taped up and stretched out into 12x and 20x frames.

One of the most irritating problems when shooting day exteriors is dealing with clouds. In general when you start shooting you need to decide if it will be cloudy or sunny in the scene, and by the end of the day its usually more of whatever you didnt choose. Have a plan if clouds suddenly roll in, since you will go from high contrast to fairly flat (although in general the plan is usually wait or bring in lights, which I'm not sure you will have time/money for).

I also never go outside without a few ND grads. They are amazing. Polarizer is great too.
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