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Problems during shooting scene for Reality show


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#1 Alex Katsaros

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 01:24 PM

I'm currently directing a reality show. During the last part of the show, there is a set up where the "contestant" meets with his family (10 - 12 people) after three months. At that point, my main focus is on the reactions of the family members. A few moments later, everyone is hugging each other and the shoulder cams give me all the close ups i need to edit a very moving piece.

My problem has to do with lighting. We usually shoot the scene in clubs, ballrooms etc and although those places look great, my DP hasn't been able to light it properly since he can't hang the lights from the ceiling. So, the electricians set up the lights on tripods, facing the family members from the front and the sides. When we begin shooting, everything looks good. When the contestant goes to the family members and they start hugging him etc, everything is messed up ! I have all the lights in the background of my frames and, a lot of times, family and contestant look really dark since they turn their backs to the lights (let me remind you here that during shooting these moments i choose not to direct the "subjects" since i don't want to spoil the reality of the scene).

I know that since the movement of the "subjects" is uncontrollable what i really need is 360 degrees lighting. Is this something that can be achieved without hanging the lights from the ceiling ? And if the only solution is to put the lights on tripods, sort of around the "subjects", how will i be able to have all the shots i need from the shoulder cams without seeing the lights in the back of the frame ?

Sorry for the long description, but it would be really helpful if you had any ideas.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 01:42 PM

See if you can rig bunch of china balls. They're light weight and look "normal" in shot.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 05:35 PM

Problem: Need to create "natural" yet "Hollywood" style lighting without the luxury of lighting or blocking that a "Hollywood" style production enjoys.

Solution: Four choices that I can think of off-hand.

1) Don't light anything. This is as natural and "reality" as you can get. But clearly, we don't really capture reality no matter the label on the genre. The purpose is entertainment, so everyone and the location has to look better than they would in reality. So....

2) Lights on the cameras OR handheld lights. Traditional sunguns are ugly and intrusive in so many ways. The relatively recent "LightPanels" (LED lights) are a very nice soft source that doesn't blast the talent with a spotty source or irritate the talent with a bright light. On the negative side, there is quick fall-off and you won't light your background that way.

3) Handhold lights. Have Electricians hold soft sources (KINOS or tungsten sources with softboxes) that "travel" with each camera or are relatively stationary but can shift when in danger of being in a shot. The disadvantage to this approach is cabling that could be a hazard and having extra bodies in the thick of the "natural" action.

The disadvantage to any movable light (handheld or on-camera) is that the shadows will change. The good news is that given the genre, the editing style would likely cover any "continuity" changes that would otherwise be jarring to the viewer.

4) Practical lighting sources: Use sources that are "practical" (not movie lighting) or movie lights that are disguised as practical. If they look like they should belong in the shot AND provide adequate illumination and artistic lighting that is needed, then you could "hide" your lighting out in the open. This involves a bit more planning with the DP, Gaffer, and Production Designer, but if the situation is flexible enough, it is within the realm of possibility. I once had to shoot an eight person discussion with no way to hang lights. My backlights hung from a backdrop stand (a long pole supported by two light stands) so I was able to disguise the stands, which were in shot, with fabric as that solution fit the rest of the location.
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#4 Michael K Bergstrom

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 08:16 PM

Lit for a reality show where we went and bought a bunch of $10 ceiling fixtures from Walmart, and with some zipline rigged the lights to the ceiling. Lit the rooms very bright and naturally, and if they DID show up in the shot the looked like a normal ceiling light. Granted we needed premission to drill holes in the ceiling for the mounting screws, but we patched them up afterwards. This also allowed the camera operators to roam about and get the best shot without the fear of hitting or knocking over a stand.
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