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LIGHTING OUTSIDE


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#1 Joseph Campanella

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 02:38 AM

Hello all-

I've been reading on this forum for quite a while now and finally decided to ask a question....

I'm completing work right now on a 40 min. short in the spirit of Fellini and Truffaut, and I'm in the process of writing my first feature script that is of a completely different spirit.

In trying to keep the budget to a minimum for a feature, and leaving the most options open for me in terms of distribution, I decided to write a horror film that takes place in only one location. Hopefully it will be in the spirit of movies like EVIL DEAD, CREEPSHOW, SUSPIRIA and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with the style of a Edgar G. Ulmer picture....

Seeing that I'm going to be the one who shoots this movie I was just wondering how one would go about lighting a large dark forest. Obviously, I don't intend to do Leone-like landscapes, but would I would like to actually see the action taking place in a good sized frame, rather than shaking the camera at close range and burying the actors in thick shadows.

The camera I'm using is a Canon HV30 with a Letus Extreme DOF adapter. This, once again, is frustrating because the adapter eats a lot of light and the HV30 is essentially a consumer camera. I'd love to be able to shoot the outside night scenes with the adapter, so I can use my lenses in order to change perspectives, but if need be I'll take the adapter off.

Any suggestion as to what kind of lights I would need and what methods to use?

Thanks in advance to whoever can help me!
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#2 Salil Sundresh

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 08:09 AM

Hello all-

I've been reading on this forum for quite a while now and finally decided to ask a question....

I'm completing work right now on a 40 min. short in the spirit of Fellini and Truffaut, and I'm in the process of writing my first feature script that is of a completely different spirit.

In trying to keep the budget to a minimum for a feature, and leaving the most options open for me in terms of distribution, I decided to write a horror film that takes place in only one location. Hopefully it will be in the spirit of movies like EVIL DEAD, CREEPSHOW, SUSPIRIA and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with the style of a Edgar G. Ulmer picture....

Seeing that I'm going to be the one who shoots this movie I was just wondering how one would go about lighting a large dark forest. Obviously, I don't intend to do Leone-like landscapes, but would I would like to actually see the action taking place in a good sized frame, rather than shaking the camera at close range and burying the actors in thick shadows.

The camera I'm using is a Canon HV30 with a Letus Extreme DOF adapter. This, once again, is frustrating because the adapter eats a lot of light and the HV30 is essentially a consumer camera. I'd love to be able to shoot the outside night scenes with the adapter, so I can use my lenses in order to change perspectives, but if need be I'll take the adapter off.

Any suggestion as to what kind of lights I would need and what methods to use?

Thanks in advance to whoever can help me!

It depends on the look you're going for and the production design/sets. All that can really be said is, make sure you have a ton of light (a ton for a low budget dv indie production) for that camera because I've heard people say that camera's sensitivity is as low as 80 ASA. You'll probably need atleast 70-80 footcandles (for areas you want to expose at as middle gray) if you're shooting wide open with fast lenses.
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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 11:16 AM

I think maybe you should rethink the script. Large dark forest=expensive.

Night of the living dead is mostly daylight exteriors and lit interiors. I'ts been years since I've seen evil dead but I seem to remember it takes place mostly in a shack type thing and the area immediately surrounding.

The big problem you are going to run into in the middle of a dark forest is where is the light coming from? Motivated lighting is going to be a nightmare on the kind of tiny budget you are talking about. The best low budget approach in that instance might be blair witch project where they make some clever use of hand torches. The docu style of that film enables a lot tho.

The other alternative would be to completely ditch motivated lighting but even then I think you will run into issues depending on how far you are prepared to go. For myself I'm usually prepared to go all the way but my experience is that most other people get too frightened long before they reach that point unless they have been taking acid. Either way you are unlikely to create something that fits into the category of "commercial" that you appear to be aiming for.

If you had a bit more money then you could re-create some bits of the forest on a soundstage or similar where you would actually have proper electricity. You then might be able to use various tricks like torches and car headlights etc to provide some light in the real forest and the combination could get you closer to a film that works. You could even use a proper camera better suited to what you are shooting.

Theres a reason that most horror films in the forest are set around a shack in the forest, it's so much a stereotype that I think someone even called a recent film "the shack"

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 22 February 2009 - 11:19 AM.

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#4 Jose Figueroa Baez

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 12:15 PM

In trying to keep the budget to a minimum for a feature, and leaving the most options open for me in terms of distribution, I decided to write a horror film that takes place in only one location. Hopefully it will be in the spirit of movies like EVIL DEAD, CREEPSHOW, SUSPIRIA and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with the style of a Edgar G. Ulmer picture....

Seeing that I'm going to be the one who shoots this movie I was just wondering how one would go about lighting a large dark forest. Obviously, I don't intend to do Leone-like landscapes, but would I would like to actually see the action taking place in a good sized frame, rather than shaking the camera at close range and burying the actors in thick shadows.


In terms of the light design, I would suggest doing pockets of light and shadow throughout your shots, adding to the mystery of your location, let it work for you by using the trees to cut ur light. Plan all your shots all to a T, know exactly whats on each of your compositions, that way you can reuse the same lights you used on a previous shot to light another. Economy is everything on strapped budget.

In terms of equipment, work lights work pretty good on a low budget. You can get a couple of 1k work lights at your local hardware store. Another really good little pieace of equipment are these small clip on cone lights. I understand they can handle bulbs up to 220 watts. You can buy prefrosted bulbs and there you have your fill light for your characters. Another good thing you can use for fill is buyng small fluorescent desk lights or shop lights from the hardware store and hold them up to your tallent. Most of these come with the cable endings to be installed in a house but you can buy a piece of extension cord and an Edison plug and make your own. Make sure you get tungsten balanced fluorescents, the major hardare stores like Home Depot and Lowes have them. If you want some moonlight in your shots or merely mix up some color, you can buy CTB or Party Gels from places like filmtools.com or maybe even get them from a local rental house that sells expendables.

Good luck with your shoot.
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 12:49 PM

Some other ideas:

Shoot what you can around dusk (You'll only have a short time to shoot but it will be intresting looking and atmospheric and loosing the light can be a useful plot device in horror movies).

Only use the DOF adaptor for closeups where you can have more light, use the standard zoom for wides.

See if anybody you know locally has a generator you can borrow.

Buy one of those super powerful halogen flashlights with the built in lead acid battery.

love

Freya
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#6 Joseph Campanella

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 10:49 AM

Thanks for all the great ideas guys. I guess I should have been more specific....

Most of the movie will take place during the day, in a cabin, and around a campfire.

There are parts though, that must lead into the forest. This is reason I sought out some advice. And I got a lot of good suggestions!

Thanks again!
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Metropolis Post

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Rig Wheels Passport

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