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Base exposure & toplight with spacelight?


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#1 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 11:53 AM

I´m DP'ing a short chidlren's movie, with child actor. Because of the limited working hours per day, I want to light the whole set so we can shoot pretty much everywhere we want with minimum light adjusting, so we can move as fast as possible.

My question concerns our living room set. I want it to be pretty high key, so I´m planning to use a space light (2000w) for base exposure and work it from there with other fixtures. The room is about 5m x 5m, with 2,40m wall height, and the warehouse acting as studio (we don´t record sound when shooting, it´s a stop motion style "animation" with human actors) is 6m in height. I´m planning to hang it to the center of the room set.

I've not worked with spacelight before, and I thought this would be a good chance to experiment eith it. Being overall ambience and all, I want it to be soft. I think I´ll get a little toplight to whole living room as well, which would be ideal. I will augment this with additional hairlights and kickers, the look is going to be little stylized. It comes with a skirt which will be useful if I want less light spilling to the walls, yes?

Will a single spacelight in such a small set work? Will it be soft with the 6m height? Would bouncing units from the floor to little frame over the set, say 8x8 with some white in it, give better results? I figure controlling the spill would be tricky with this method.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 12:11 PM

The softness of a light depends on its size relative to the distance to the subject. A spacelight is not that large of a source, it's sort of like a super Chinese Lantern. Especially with a black skirt around it -- then your soft light is the size of the base, which is -- I don't know -- only 2' across? Not very soft anymore.

You're better off with a homemade soft box (or two Coops side-by-side) or frame of diffusion (which could have a space light above it, filling it), and then skirting the larger frame or soft box.

Look at your room and decide what the ideal size and shape of the soft unit above it would be and work from there. Maybe it would be 6'x4', for example. You could build a frame that is 6'x4', cover it with 1000H paper, and punch whatever you want through it from above... a bunch of lightbulbs on a frame, a couple of 2K's, whatever. Then you could add showcard to box in the frame and a black skirt as well.
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#3 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 04:31 AM

The softness of a light depends on its size relative to the distance to the subject. A spacelight is not that large of a source, it's sort of like a super Chinese Lantern. Especially with a black skirt around it -- then your soft light is the size of the base, which is -- I don't know -- only 2' across? Not very soft anymore.

You're better off with a homemade soft box (or two Coops side-by-side) or frame of diffusion (which could have a space light above it, filling it), and then skirting the larger frame or soft box.

Look at your room and decide what the ideal size and shape of the soft unit above it would be and work from there. Maybe it would be 6'x4', for example. You could build a frame that is 6'x4', cover it with 1000H paper, and punch whatever you want through it from above... a bunch of lightbulbs on a frame, a couple of 2K's, whatever. Then you could add showcard to box in the frame and a black skirt as well.


I think I´m going with a 8x8 frame (the room is almost perfect square) with 1/2 sail grid, skirting it with some black fabric, and putting it underneath the space light. How heavy diffusion do people commonly use in these soft box -type of units? I´m thinking 1/2 sail because the space light in itself is diffused. But on the other hand, would something like China Silk give me more softer, overall ambience type results, without too much light loss? I´m shooting Sony EX3 almost wide open, which is a pretty sensitive camera.

Because our location is not a real studio and it has no grid or strusses in the ceiling, but it has this construction type lift-thing in the ceiling that can take a point load of 1250kg (image below). We'll build our set so that the largest room has this thing straight in the middle. Gripping something to this that hangs straight down (like a spacelight and a frame) to it will be, at least in my opinion, easier than rigging other lights.

room.jpg
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:45 PM

The beam will be a handy thing to rig off of, but make sure you have enough height for a hanging spacelight plus diffusion frame plus skirting. You may have to go with a less-tall unit than a spacelight.

Luckily there are 8'x8' frames with diffusion material available for rental.
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#5 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 02:17 AM

The beam will be a handy thing to rig off of, but make sure you have enough height for a hanging spacelight plus diffusion frame plus skirting. You may have to go with a less-tall unit than a spacelight.

Luckily there are 8'x8' frames with diffusion material available for rental.


Very good point with the unit height. The more I think of it, the spacelight just might not be the best choice for the job at hand.

My next idea would be using four 500w par cans (the shorter ones) ang rigging them in the ceiling in square shape, with the skirted 8x8 underneath. I like using PARs for their weight and sheer simplicity! I figure I should use thicker diffusion, like 1/1 sail grid, so light spreads more evenly.

Not having built a softbox with bars, should I go heavier? Naturally, I don´t want to see hot spots from the individual PARs.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 02:23 AM

You could try 1K PAR's (not Parcans) and use Full Grid... or four 2K Zips pointed down, but maybe through Lt. Grid... ...I might even consider a Mini-9-lite in the center instead... Or a Coop. Or two Coops.
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#7 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:46 AM

You could try 1K PAR's (not Parcans) and use Full Grid... or four 2K Zips pointed down, but maybe through Lt. Grid... ...I might even consider a Mini-9-lite in the center instead... Or a Coop. Or two Coops.



Not parcans because the more narrow spread compared to a PAR, I presume? I´m liking the PAR approach and I think I´m going with it, have to consult my gaffer about the rigging. Thanks for the insight, David! I´ll post the results later this spring.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 12:29 PM

Just that Parcans may be too long and you want the light to spread and fill the 8'x8' diffusion, not create little perfectly round circles of light on the material.
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Visual Products

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