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Ambulance light recreation


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#1 Ashley Barron

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 07:24 AM

Hi there,

I am going to be shooting a scene inside an ambulance (with inspiration from Martin Scorcese's 'Bringing out the Dead') while it's driving, and need to recreate not only the moving light of the street/cars but also the ambulance (red, blue and orange) lights. What is the best method to recreate this light hitting the characters' faces?

Also, the vision outside the car, the reflection of the streets on to the windows and the moving vehicle itself - is that done via green screen in addition to simply shaking the car to simulate movement?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
Ashley.
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 08:09 AM

............... but also the ambulance (red, blue and orange) lights. What is the best method to recreate this light hitting the characters' faces?
Ashley.

I've used Cyberlights stood up on their back handles (with lengths of 2X2's hose clamped to the handles for additional support) to recreate emergency vehicles lights. I wrote a program for my automated light board that swept the lights back and forth. The best look is to sweep them from right to left, black them out with the strobe shutter, quickly return to the initial position (you might have to use mspeed to suppress the "whirr"), pop the shutter open, sweep again, etc.

Cyberlights are 5500K, they mix well with HMI's and other daylight colorations but you need to use their built-in CTO filter with tungsten. Truth is I don't really like HIgh End's version of CTO but for something like emergency light colors it would be okay.
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#3 Walter Graff

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 08:22 AM

You're a month too early. I'll be releasing a new educational DVD on lighting car interiors for day and night and cover this subject. Sample snip-its here:

http://www.bluesky-w.../dvd3sample.htm

For flashing lights, it's pretty easy, get a rotating light. How it hits them is up to you but a few ways are:

Direct: have it out the window and hitting their face.
Reflection: using silver side of reflector, aim the light into it and have that reflection hit them, it creates a softer version
Soft: use a red colored gel on a fixture that you slowly bring up and down, the color is all you get and it represents the motivation
Strobe: Get a strobe and a red gel, same effect as rotating but you can vary the speed of the
strobe if you want or set it at one speed.
None: they are in an ambulance and the lights are on the roof so have none.

As for car lights, you can use the reflector method I show in the snip-it above.
Another option: Have someone with a light who passes it across the faces at random points. Or they even have multiple colored fixtures at their disposable and they pass these lights one at a time at the talent representing various light sources. Take a 2x4 and mount a few sockets with switches. Add a different colored spot light to each. One person can flip on a bulb and pass it or multiple bulbs and pas it in front of talent.

Use same effect as I show with reflector in the video above with multiple light sources that you turn on and off randomly as the reflection passes.

As for window reflections, it can get complicated if you use them. One way is to use black side of foam core and add various colored shapes to it. Aim light at it and pass it by the light so it reflects in the window. The reflections are abstract and will look like store fronts, etc.

You can also use a store bought flouro tube fixture and pass it by windows every now and then which makes a nice reflection light a street light. Pass it from the side or above.


I'd say the best way to start is to decide how to light your folks in the ambulance. There are three motivations for car light. Below as in instrument cluster/radio as a primary source.
Middle as in car lights/storefronts, and above as in interior light motivation. Decide which works best for your script and light from that source. When using green screen you are using the screens inevitable exposure as your reference to all exposures. Screen should be back from car. Make sure you look though lens with a fine tooth comb for improper screen reflections. Make sure your heads are either above upper horizontal rail/ceiling of car or below it but not crossing in and out of it as it will make keying difficult.

Or just wait a month and every thing you need to know about car interiors will be in my video :)
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#4 Ashley Barron

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 07:54 PM

Thank you for that Walter, that was really helpful!

Let me know when the DVD comes out I would love to learn more.

Cheers,
Ashley.
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#5 Ashley Barron

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 08:47 PM

Mr. Graff - I just had 2 questions regarding your reply:

Take a 2x4 and mount a few sockets with switches.

When using green screen you are using the screens inevitable exposure as your reference to all exposures.


1. What is a 2x4?

2. What do you mean by this? Is it a matter of stops - if so, what stop should the screen generally be at and how many stops difference should there be between the key and the screen?

Thanks so much,
Ashley.
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#6 Walter Graff

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 11:15 PM

Mr. Graff - I just had 2 questions regarding your reply:
1. What is a 2x4?
2. What do you mean by this? Is it a matter of stops - if so, what stop should the screen generally be at and how many stops difference should there be between the key and the screen?

Ashley.


First off it's Walter. My dad is Mr. Graff.

A 2x4 is a piece of wood. The idea is to economically and ergonomically allow one person to handle a few lights at once. More than a few times we got 75watt spots from a store. Say you took 6 sockets and attached them to a two foot long piece of 2x4 and put the bulbs in, coloring them with five individual colors. The sixed being bare. Now you can screw them in and loosen them so they are on and off by themselves or in combination. Stand in front or just off to the side and pass them across your talent. You have colored lights in abstract forms. Great for that Las Vegas Strip feeling.


Normally in a green screen/blue screen scenario I tell folks to light the screen for proper exposure, then turn it off and light the talent for the back plate. This holds true for a car scene at night but I do find due to the generally limited illumination of the talent in such scenarios, I find it easier to find my mark for exposure with the screen and then know that my talent will usually be under that exposure. No big deal other than it's tough to separate the two as you look at shot while shooting. Green can be pretty annoying when your talent is lit subtlety for night time. In this case you'd definitely want to light your screen and then turn it off as you light your talent, then turn both on while shooting. But with such, I find that since I am most always going for exposures below the screen in terms of the visual illumination of talent, I try to light my screen as soft and with as little light as is allowed, then using that iris setting, many times still have to bring my overall levels of talent higher, while still keeping my talents look. And I can later make subtle changes and adjustments if necessary to my talent light later in post. So in this scenario the screen really sets the tone since I must expose to it first. And that is my iris that I must light my talent to. And my talent light at night usually doesn't want to be incredibly bright. Sometimes I have to light my talent with a bit more stop than I like so that levels are there. Don't know if that makes sense.

As for stops, I am not a believer in any stop difference. Rather what works. If you do it right, your talent is usually in the same stop range as the screen plus or minus a half stop. I believe in lighting my screen for proper illumination. In video that means that your luminance level puts green or blue in the box on a vectorscope. That's usually means about 35-55 units on a waveform for green and 10-30 units for blue. I normally avoid blue screen in night shots as blue is the noisiest channel in video and can cause problems in post since night shots are about darks and the noise might become a factor. But you could use blue as it takes so much less light to illuminate to a workable level and hence you can get wider stop with blue than green if you want subtle effects for your talent. But it can also be harder to cut on the diagonal surface of car door frames. I use blue as long as I know I get my talent where I want it in camera and know I will not have to do much later in post to fix what I didn't get, or simply cause I want to shoot so that I can appreciate my talent more in the shot as I shoot, and blue is more subtle. And then sometimes I shoot white and make a high con in post from that which is determined based on my talent, etc. And sometimes if it's film, I ask for a high con of the screen be laid off in transfer and use that for cutting my key cause my transfer person can do wonders to get my screen cut and make a hi con out of it. Any of this make sense?
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#7 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 12:28 AM

A 2 x 4 is 2" thick and 4" wide, hence the name. It's a common size of board in the US. Metrically, this would be 5cm x 10 cm with the length a variable.
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#8 Walter Graff

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:45 AM

Actually a 2x4 is really 1.5x 3.5 inches.
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#9 Walter Graff

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 07:55 AM

I forgot to add that if this is a day shoot, then you are in for an easier time. Use blue as daylight likes blue. Usually you will be picking up your talent a bit from the front with anything from a 1k to HMI, depending on your need in terms of intensity. I'd stay away form natural light reflectors for key as they change as the day changes. But as a fill a little foam core works with a hot light. A 575w up to a 1.2 k HMI and a 4x4 frame with opal is real nice for day. You could even go cheep and use a flouro in the car or on the windshield facing in.
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#10 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 06:18 PM

Actually a 2x4 is really 1.5x 3.5 inches.



True enough, but then we get into the history of milling wood :)
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