Jump to content


Photo

Hypothetical question: What is the the best way to 'fill' a large moonlit exterior?


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Morgan Peline

Morgan Peline
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 417 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 05 December 2008 - 01:47 AM

Hi,

I've just been going through some 'hypothetical' situations in my mind as I will hopefully be shooting a period drama in the Syrian desert soon.

I was just imagining what I would do if I had to light a large expanse of dessert as a 'moonlit night exterior'. For keying I would probably use a 12K or 18k HMI on a cherry picker as a backlight 'moon', corrected with 1/2 CTO or even 3/4 CTO.

But then I started to wonder how I would fill such a large area. So far I imagine I would either bounce a 6K or 12K HMI (with the same amount of CTO) on a 12 by 12 foot silk. (If I could afford it I could also get an air balloon but most likely I will not be able to get one.) So how can you fill in the 'old fashioned way'?

I've always seen photos of people lighting moonlit exteriors with lights on cherry pickers but I've never
seen how they 'fill'...

Any ideas?

Thanks!!
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 05 December 2008 - 01:51 AM

Usually they use some big bounces, like you said.

If you have the budget, you can have another condor for the fill, maybe some big HMI's through a 12'x12' diffusion, if you need the fill up high.

Otherwise, you could raise a large bounce surface up high and have the HMI's on stands pointing up into the frame.
  • 0

#3 Jayson Crothers

Jayson Crothers
  • Sustaining Members
  • 351 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 06 December 2008 - 06:56 PM

David pretty much summed it up - I'm shooting in Peru right now and we just did a large night exterior with 2 maxi-brutes in an 80 foot lift as back-lights/side-lights(depending on where A and B camera were looking) with another maxi-brute through a 12x12 near the action for fill (I would have preferred a bounce source but they didn't rent one!). Also keep in mind that you want to look out for where your lights starts in wide shots - what I mean is, if you've got a condor or some lift with large lights, keep an eye out for where the light hits the ground so that you don't have a wide shot and you see the line where the desert is lit versus where it's pitch black. I also threw up a 6K HMI with correction pointed away from the lift to get more depth for our wider shots.
  • 0

#4 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:11 AM

I've done it on a smallish scale with a 4k hmi bounced into a 12x griff that was just top floor on a couple of high rollers. It didn't do a huge area but the idea should scale to larger areas well.
  • 0

#5 Morgan Peline

Morgan Peline
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 417 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:09 PM

Thanks for your replies - very helpful!

I also threw up a 6K HMI with correction pointed away from the lift to get more depth for our wider shots.


Do you mean so that you could see right in into the 'background' as if the the moon was also lighting the ground far into the distance?
  • 0

#6 Jayson Crothers

Jayson Crothers
  • Sustaining Members
  • 351 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:38 PM

Morgan~

Since there's a lift with lights in it, the area that's lit ends at some point - in my particular case, the director wanted to pan into our wide shot, which meant the shot started looking out into an area of desert that wasn't lit, so it looked very artificial because the "moon light" wasn't lighting everything. The 6K HMI I put up was to give just a bit of light to some of the hills in distance, thereby extending the idea of moonlight.
  • 0

#7 mariano monti

mariano monti
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • ARGENTINA

Posted 22 December 2008 - 12:06 PM

you can use 2 or 3 ballom tungsten, like fill , and in the cherrypiker use two 10 k fresnel like back ligth , a base of fog help you for see the haze of the backlight, whit a couple ok 5 k and 2 k in stands , you can paint the frame even more, bye


www.marianomont.comi
  • 0

#8 Alex Wuijts

Alex Wuijts
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 181 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 24 December 2008 - 03:43 AM

I've seen a cherry picker with three 6k spacelights gelled half blue being used to fill a pretty large area, 100 sq ft, like a low-budget balloon substitute. Not to be recommended in all weather situations ofcourse. I think we even had to ND them.
  • 0

#9 Alex Wuijts

Alex Wuijts
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 181 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 24 December 2008 - 08:04 AM

I've seen a cherry picker with three 6k spacelights gelled half blue being used to fill a pretty large area, 100 sq ft, like a low-budget balloon substitute. Not to be recommended in all weather situations ofcourse. I think we even had to ND them.


come to think of it, I'm pretty sure we didn't nd them :)
  • 0

#10 David Rakoczy

David Rakoczy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1579 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • USA

Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:32 PM

For Night Exterior 'Fill'... Balloon(s) deliver the least 'directional' source of ambient Fill... in my opinion. Beautiful!
  • 0

#11 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:42 PM

If I had my way I'd use a 12K HMI with some 1/4 CTB about 100 or so yards away behind the actors for a nice rimlight, and some sort of big HMI china ball for the fill in front of the actors, or to the side. I'd then balance the camera for a slight blue hue on the fill light, which would hopefully give the rimlight some nice ghostly blue quality.

Edited by Matthew Buick, 07 January 2009 - 05:43 PM.

  • 0

#12 David Rakoczy

David Rakoczy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1579 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • USA

Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:59 PM

Matthew,

Here are a couple concerns with your post:

1. If you are using Tungsten Stock your Moonlight you will be way too blue with your proposed lighting set up.

2. Most pros would use a 12k with 1/4 or 1/2 CTO.

3. At 100 yards you won't get zip. Nada... even at 500iso.

4. ...and some sort of big China Ball Fill would be a Balloon.

5. Balancing your camera for further Blue in the Fill would render everything even Blue-er than you have already taken it...

6. If you are talking Video.. why use an HMI when you can counter-correct a Tungsten 20k?

7. Not to mention that you really don't want to Key with a backlight (generally) as most producers want to see into the eyes of the Actors they are paying so much to have on Set... so some Fill probably won't be enough. You'll want to have that 12k brought in about 50 yards and turn that Balloon Fill into your key that is just under exposure... or even run some special Lamps in on your Talent...

Mathew.. you need to get out on some Sets and hump sand bags and iron around and see what is really done.

I mean this in the most sincerest interest in your learning...

Edited by David Rakoczy, 07 January 2009 - 06:04 PM.

  • 0

#13 Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 397 posts
  • Other

Posted 07 January 2009 - 08:25 PM

If I had my way I'd use a 12K HMI with some 1/4 CTB about 100 or so yards away behind the actors for a nice rimlight, and some sort of big HMI china ball for the fill in front of the actors, or to the side. I'd then balance the camera for a slight blue hue on the fill light, which would hopefully give the rimlight some nice ghostly blue quality.



People are going to ask and say, "They're in the desert, right? I know there isn't a nearby factory or shopping center nearby, so where is that annoying light behind them coming from? And why is everything so very, very blue. Is this 'Melrose Place' in the desert... no? This sucks."


Nothing is more difficult than trying to light a desert with several HMI's and a China ball. Instead, I'd recommend a more natural source. The sun might work well. Look at the way they did it for "The Proposition." Good old day-for-night in the desert with realistic hard-edges and shadows, just like natural moonight, with some digital trickery tossed in for the sky... if you can afford it. If not, check out "Walk About." More fantastic desert day-for-night that is 35 years old and holds up very well.

You don't want your film looking like you ripped off the lighting diagram from some lousy soup opera.
  • 0

#14 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:33 AM

Matthew,

Here are a couple concerns with your post:

1. If you are using Tungsten Stock your Moonlight you will be way too blue with your proposed lighting set up.

2. Most pros would use a 12k with 1/4 or 1/2 CTO.

3. At 100 yards you won't get zip. Nada... even at 500iso.

4. ...and some sort of big China Ball Fill would be a Balloon.

5. Balancing your camera for further Blue in the Fill would render everything even Blue-er than you have already taken it...

6. If you are talking Video.. why use an HMI when you can counter-correct a Tungsten 20k?

7. Not to mention that you really don't want to Key with a backlight (generally) as most producers want to see into the eyes of the Actors they are paying so much to have on Set... so some Fill probably won't be enough. You'll want to have that 12k brought in about 50 yards and turn that Balloon Fill into your key that is just under exposure... or even run some special Lamps in on your Talent...

Mathew.. you need to get out on some Sets and hump sand bags and iron around and see what is really done.

I mean this in the most sincerest interest in your learning...


Right! It seems I started a bit of a debate, first I'd like to apologise, I'm sorry.

First things first, I did mean using a video camera daylight balanced. Probably around F5.6 for the depth of field I'd like, sensitivity around 400 - 500 ASA.

100 yards does seems a tad eccessive looking back on things, I'd would have just about halved that distance, so 50 yards, you're right.

When I say balancing the camera colder I mean giving the fill that is now my key, the china ball/balloon a cool white tinge to it, which would give the HMI that is now my fill/back/rim light only a gentle blue and underexpose it slightly, perhaps it that wasn't enough to give the character's eyes enough sparkle a small Kino Flo on the ground.

Any way I seem to have made a couple of mistakes here. I am fairly new to ths so I'm bound to.

Also, I'd love to be able to assist on a set, but chronic illness pretty much completely prevents me from doing so.

Thanks anyway Mr. Racozcky!


Thanks Joe for those films, day for night honestly seems like the best option for someone of my limited experience, and I'm rather good at it too! I'll also look at both those films, thanks!



*Back to the original topic!*

Edited by Matthew Buick, 08 January 2009 - 07:34 AM.

  • 0

#15 David Rakoczy

David Rakoczy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1579 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • USA

Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:48 AM

I am very sorry to hear about your illness Matthew. I pray you find health and physical strength!
  • 0

#16 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:19 AM

Thanks a lot David! But I guess you learn to cope with these thing don't you.
  • 0

#17 michael a brierley

michael a brierley
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Dubai

Posted 08 January 2009 - 02:23 PM

I am shooting some big ext nite scenes in Dubai soon. One in the desert and a couple in some vacant land with the city skyline in the background. I am going to get my grips to rig the 100kW Soft Sun onto a large crane and gel the lamp with Chrome Orange, this I will use as a 3/4 backlight. For fill, I am using a 'clean' tungsten 20kW Helium Balloon. Lucky we have a budget. No way to do this day for night as we have the night skyline in the shot and also some small fires in the desert. This will be the first feature entirely shot in the UAE.
  • 0


Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

CineTape

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Opal

Visual Products

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks