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Lighting Small Bathroom


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#1 Cory Smith

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:32 PM

I am shooting a few shots in a small bathroom next week for a short film I am doing for school. I am using a Bolex (rx 4 w/ 10mm, 25mm (prime), 16 mm (prime) lenses) and Tri-x reversal 16mm film (200 ASA). For lighting I have a Lowell omni kit that comes with 3 Omni heads, 3 barn doors, 3 power cords, 3 omni stands, 1 spare bulb, 3 scrims.
In terms of the shots I need, I am planning on getting a shot of the subject undressing before getting into the shower, a shot of the subject from waist up in the shower (perhaps silhouette against the curtain...), and a shot of the subject (in the mirror) brushing teeth, combing hair, etc.

I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions on how to light the scene in a very classic way for black and white given the lights/camera I am using.

Below is a simple diagram of the cramped space.

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Edited by Cory Smith, 21 October 2008 - 08:33 PM.

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#2 Ira Ratner

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:48 PM

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WORRYING ABOUT FILMMAKING WHEN YOUIR TEAM IS IN THE WORLD SERIES?

But for two of the shots you mentioned, you probably don't even have to shoot in the actual bathroom at all.

And can you find another bathroom? One where you can shoot from outside the door with a POV to the shower? Or at least to the vanity?

The layout you posted looks like a total bitch, with no room for error at all.

But be that as it may--who the heck's getting naked? That's the INTERESTING part.

I know--I'll never grow up, But if that stuff wasn't exciting and interesting, no one would film those scenes in the first place.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 09:28 PM

Cory, I'll betcha you're @ Temple...
The film is NOT 200ASA, though.... check the canister for it's T speed!

You'll be mostly on the wide lens, I'd figure...

What kind of light is in the bathroom? I would use something over top of the sink in the mirror. I don't think the Silhouette in the shower would work so much so... where is that light going to come from? Maybe a slash of light across them in the shower as though from the part of the curtain that's open?
Don't forget to backlight it'll help sell the separation.

If you are @ Temple, make sure you tape up and clean out those Bolxes....
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#4 Cory Smith

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 09:33 PM

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WORRYING ABOUT FILMMAKING WHEN YOUIR TEAM IS IN THE WORLD SERIES?

But for two of the shots you mentioned, you probably don't even have to shoot in the actual bathroom at all.

And can you find another bathroom? One where you can shoot from outside the door with a POV to the shower? Or at least to the vanity?

The layout you posted looks like a total bitch, with no room for error at all.

But be that as it may--who the heck's getting naked? That's the INTERESTING part.

I know--I'll never grow up, But if that stuff wasn't exciting and interesting, no one would film those scenes in the first place.


Ha, sorry, I didn't write that clear enough. Our actor will just be taking off his shirt in the undressing shot and in the shower shot it will just be from his chest up, not waist. So nothing risque.

Unfortunately we do not have another bathroom we can use...so we're stuck with this space.
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#5 Cory Smith

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 09:55 PM

Cory, I'll betcha you're @ Temple...
The film is NOT 200ASA, though.... check the canister for it's T speed!

You'll be mostly on the wide lens, I'd figure...

What kind of light is in the bathroom? I would use something over top of the sink in the mirror. I don't think the Silhouette in the shower would work so much so... where is that light going to come from? Maybe a slash of light across them in the shower as though from the part of the curtain that's open?
Don't forget to backlight it'll help sell the separation.

If you are @ Temple, make sure you tape up and clean out those Bolxes....


Yeah, I am at temple! I take it you are as well...?
Anyways, my partner said that they are general purpose 15 Watt bulbs (the eco-friendly type) and that they are located above the mirror in front of the sink. You are probably right about the silhouette idea being a bit too difficult to pull off. After all, we would probably need to have the subject backlit from inside the shower, which does not seem feasible at all.

I've always taped up the Bolex cameras, but I have not cleaned them out. Would I just use a standard lens cleaner for the inside?

Any other advice would be great as well!
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 09:58 PM

I was. I finished my FMA there, and now am rounding out the last capstone of Anthropology... don't double major. I work/run the post lab in their TECH for a day-job. In fact, I'm there right now, if you're on campus, stop by.
Anyway, no no lens cleaner.
flip the camera so that all the dust/grit can come out and use a can of compressed air to spray out any hair/grit/film in there. Those bolex cameras often times will get hair/grit all over the frames. This won't solve that, but it'll help.
Maybe pull those eco bulbs and re-bulb them with some 75 or 100w bulbs for added punch. W/o being there with my meter (or you there with the one from temple (I recommend the Sekonic)) you can't really know how much more light you'll need..
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#7 Cory Smith

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 10:12 PM

I was. I finished my FMA there, and now am rounding out the last capstone of Anthropology... don't double major. I work/run the post lab in their TECH for a day-job. In fact, I'm there right now, if you're on campus, stop by.
Anyway, no no lens cleaner.
flip the camera so that all the dust/grit can come out and use a can of compressed air to spray out any hair/grit/film in there. Those bolex cameras often times will get hair/grit all over the frames. This won't solve that, but it'll help.
Maybe pull those eco bulbs and re-bulb them with some 75 or 100w bulbs for added punch. W/o being there with my meter (or you there with the one from temple (I recommend the Sekonic)) you can't really know how much more light you'll need..


I think I've seen you around, actually. I used to go to the TECH a lot last year to edit, but have not had to so far this year. I'll be sure to stop by next time I come around.
I'll look into getting some new bulbs and see how that works out.

I was not able to get the digital light meter, so I will be using the Sekonic for the first time. I've heard it is more confusing to use but also more accurate. Do you have any tips, or is it actually easy to use?
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 10:16 PM

It's certainly more trustworth, in my opinion than the gossen. I like it, and I use it as my backup for my new digital sekonic.
Basically all you do is spin the wheels below and that makes everything convert to F stop for you. It's much easier for me to show than explain online, trust me. If you get your hands on it, let me know and I'll be able to meet up with you and go over things, and Ill even bring up my digital sekonic to make sure yours is close to calibration.
And yea; apparently everyone knows I work here in Philadelphia, as I still get stopped on the streets...
And I promise, one of these days all the computers in there will work....
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#9 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:47 PM

I just finished an all-day shoot set in a bathroom and found it very challenging. I can share some experience for what it is worth. We didn't need much light. With mirrors reflecting everywhere and the walls being tile/white, one light source totally filled the room. I used 170w of cool light and it was bright enough to shoot at f.8. The main problem was that it got hot as hell in there, even with cool lights. With your lowell it probably will get really hot in there. If you turn on the shower it's going to get super humid as well. i would recommend bringing a fan to cool the room between takes.

I found it difficult to make the light look interesting and i think i wound up with adequate, but fairly boring light. In hind-sight i might try a candle or something if it's appropriate for the scene. Maybe use a gobo or something to get some light patterns. Maybe bring a lot of black material to cover mirrors and things so you can get a little more control? It was also tricky to get any variety of shots due to the cramped space. The mirrors made wide-angle difficult without getting the camera in the shot, and there wasn't enough distance to use a longer lens unless i was shooting extreme closeups. I removed the door and shot a lot of it from the hall through the doorway just to get some variety.

Another suggestion if you are shooting sync sound, is to bring a lot of blankets. We stuffed the tub with blankets, put them all on the floor, etc.

hope that helps - good luck!
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#10 Cory Smith

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:30 PM

yeah, thanks for the advice!

do you think it makes more sense to switch out the practicals in the room with better lights and just use them, or turn off the practicals in the bathroom and just use the omnis, or a combo of the two???
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:32 PM

Why not use both as is best for the shot/space?
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#12 Cory Smith

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:11 PM

yeah, i guess i am just going to have to see what works best for each individual shot. i shoot in a few days so hopefully everything runs smoothly
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:18 PM

It's only film-school. The worst that can happen is no image on the negative, and so long as you learn something in the process then it was a fruitful experience.
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#14 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 01:56 PM

do you think it makes more sense to switch out the practicals in the room with better lights and just use them, or turn off the practicals in the bathroom and just use the omnis, or a combo of the two???


i'd use practicals with color-balanced bulbs and reflectors as much as i could. but i wouldn't leave the light kit at home either, just in case!
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#15 David Rakoczy

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:24 PM

Couldn't they find a smaller Location? I have an even smaller Closet we could mock up as a Bathroom :blink:

Grind through it... Load the Practicals with the highest wattage Globes possible. and be ready to Supplement. I know it seems weird but I suggest you use 'pounding light' so you can Stop down enough to get shadows.. using lots of Blackwrap and small Flags to control your Light and Spill. Go BIG in a small Space.

Edited by David Rakoczy, 24 October 2008 - 03:26 PM.

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#16 Nathan Martin

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 07:01 AM

shoot an omni or two into the ceiling somewhere behind the actor and shoot him half a stop to a stop under (no more tho or it will be black) b&w reversal looks great with faces underexposed (well in my opinion anyway)
Of course it wouldnt be as simple as i suggested, thats just a general idea.

the few times ive shot bathrooms i always found that rigging lights high worked well with getting rid of reflections in tiles.

oh and it is a 200ASA film stock, i think you might be mixed up with something else adrian.
200 under tungsten and 320 under daylight
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 07:42 AM

KODAK TRI-X Reversal Film 7266 (16 mm)

Exposure Indexes

(For development to a gamma of 0.65)
Tungsten (3200K) - 160
Daylight - 200

from kodak.
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#18 Nathan Martin

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 07:55 AM

stung!
my apologies,
a dp i was working with a week ago was rating it at 320/200
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:14 AM

No need to worry it happens. If anything putting her @ 200 under T would give the slight under-exposed faces. ironically though; my personal preference on B/w is slight over exposed faces lol. Two sides of the same coin I suppose.
Man, all this B/w talk makes me really want to but out the nikon....
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