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lighting a small bathroom


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#1 mike geranios

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 05:42 AM

How to light a very small bathroom with a child in it? no windows...ending scene with tha little boy in the bath crying...
2m tall/1.50m/1m bathroom sizes
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 07:53 AM

What format are you shooting? What do you want the scene to look like... feel like?
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#3 mike geranios

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:06 AM

How to light a very small bathroom with a child in it? no windows...ending scene with tha little boy in the bath crying...
2m tall/1.50m/1m bathroom sizes



sony xdcam (H.D) and a child is sitting down slowly and start crying after his parents fight
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 08:14 AM

I'd go single source, something simple, china ball perhaps, falling off into darkness around the child. That's just me though.
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#5 Vedran Rapo

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 08:42 AM

agree, i would also go on a soft light. see if you have any practicals in the bathroom (e.g. small light over the mirror or something like that), be sure to use it.
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#6 David Rakoczy

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:37 PM

Mike ...what do you want it to look (feel) like?

No answer will matter until you figure that out.
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#7 Eric H

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 06:26 AM

How to light a very small bathroom with a child in it? no windows...ending scene with tha little boy in the bath crying...
2m tall/1.50m/1m bathroom sizes


is the bathroom well furnished...is it a tenement style bathroom with peeling paint, etc? if the feeling is stark.....keep it simple...

a single practical bulb on a dimmer..set it, forget it...(well, your gaffer will keep an eye on it)

Eric Halberstadt
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#8 Albert Smith

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 12:08 AM

I just shot something in a bathroom about the same size. what i did was install to 300w bulbs in the overhead fixture and i went to a hardware store got a circular peice of sheet metal to flag the light around the side and then gaff tapped some diffusion on it.


worked great
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#9 John Allen

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 03:42 PM

Do ya have any pictures or diagrams of the bathroom? And I also agree with David in that you need to know the feel of the shot first. We can't help you if we don't know the feel of the scene. Sure you can put a light here or there, but if it doesn't fit the script then you might as well burn the footage. It's all about the story, and without that, there's no way we can give our ideas.

So you say a little boy is crying because his parents are fighting? Hmmm, well what you might want to do is look at different colors for the mood. Now I'd probably go with more of a white tone. I would try and give the impression that he is very cold and isolated. The feeling of isolation could be caused by the darkness around him in the frame. The cold feeling is usually accomplished by a bluish tone, though I wouldn't go with a bluish color, because you said that there are no windows, and bathrooms look more realistic with tungsten or florescent lighting.

So what I think I would do is create the essence of darkness by turning off all the lights within the bathroom. As though the only light(5600k or 3200k, depending on the time of the day) is coming from the crack of the door. But again, I'm just punching at the dark, cause I haven't read the script and thus I have no idea what it calls for.
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#10 JD Hartman

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:19 PM

How to light a very small bathroom with a child in it? no windows...ending scene with tha little boy in the bath crying...
2m tall/1.50m/1m bathroom sizes


Wow, that's a tiny bathroom!! 6.6 feet x 4.8 feet x 3' 3"?? How do you fit a bathtub, a toilet and a sink in there?
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#11 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 12:35 AM

Bounch dedo's at some corners of the room, Experiment where is best for you. Hang the dedo's in the roof.
Dim
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#12 Oscar D Rivera

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 08:08 PM

Remember just because the location doesn't have a window, it doesn't mean you can't have window light. You can easily recreate window light. And if you do it right the audience will assume that there's a window in the room without you even showing it.

The key is layers of light.

1) First you can have very soft light as key coming from the direction of the window. I would suggest you use a bounce board.

2) The next layer would be a hard beam of light (the actual beam of light coming through the window). I suggest you have this second source 1 or 2 stops hotter that the first layer of light. This beam of light doesn't have to hit the subject directly. It can be in the background, foreground, the beam could be hitting the bathtub, it could also be your subjects back light or kicker. Or it could definitely also be your key if that's what you want. It all depends on the look that you want and the space you have to work with.
Also, you could use a "cookie" cut out to look like a window frame to give the light a more natural feel (like its really coming from a window) And you could also use a tree branch to cast a nice shadow to give it an extra touch ;)

3) The third layer would be the room's ambient light. Which is the light coming from the window and bouncing around everywhere in the room (bouncing off walls, water, your subject, mirrors, ceiling, etc.) But since you're working in a small room you shouldn't need to add more lights for this. You'll probably get enough light bouncing around the room from the first two sources.
But if you want less ambient light, you could just flag the two first sources to control the spill.

On regards to the light units, you can use whatever you feel will get the job done.

Watch "Matchstick Men" with Nick Cage and Sam Rockwell, directed by Ridley Scott. (I'm giving you names so it's easier to look it up in case you haven't seen it already).
ANYWAY the DP does a very good job on giving a scene "layers of light". Check it out! I learned a lot from it.

Good luck!
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#13 John Allen

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 08:46 PM

Alright, I hope you don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, because I'm not disagreeing with you. But, I have to point out that light is not always the best. What I mean to say is, you don't always have to see everything. Maybe a window light would be good, but maybe it wouldn't. Maybe it would be best to have only one light. Maybe you should only see the glimmer of his eyes. I just want to evoke the thought that adding lights isn't always a good thing. Darkness is your friend. I am a strong believer in the idea of having a room smothered in darkness with one single lamp silhouetting the character against the background. I like that image much better than having more lights than you really need.

As most great DPs say, "it's not about what lights you can add, it's about what lights you can take away...that usually gets you a better image." As Gordon Willis said, "No is a very good word. Yes is a very bad word." What I think he's trying to say here is that keeping it to minimal is the best. The more you add light, the worse it's gonna look(most of the time that's the case).

Again, I want to clarify that I am not disagreeing with you Oscar, I very much agree with having layers of light. I was merely afraid that he might get the impression that you need lots of light...when you really don't.
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#14 Oscar D Rivera

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 01:19 AM

John has a very good point. I think the reason why we notice light in the first place is because of shadows. Shadows are just as beautiful as beams of light. In the end it all comes down to what the story calls for. Good luck dude!
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#15 Karel Bata

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 04:58 AM

How on Earth do you light an individual scene without knowing how the rest is lit...? :huh:

I've experienced this in the real world - being asked by a producer to shoot something without knowing how it's meant to fit in. Reminds me too of when I applied for entrance to our National Film School and was called in for a 'camera test' and asked to light an abandoned set. "Where's the script? What's meant to be going on?" They thought I was a smart ass. And boy, were they right. :D

In limited spaces I've sometimes found that using a big mirror out of shot can help with rigging a light source from an angle that would otherwise be physically impossible.
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#16 David Rakoczy

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 06:07 AM

I asked this question twice earlier in this thread... never got a reply.

All answers are meaningless without knowing the look & feel that is trying to be achieved.

It is like a doctor prescribing meds when all the patient has conveyed is that they don't feel well.... that would be called malpractice.

Here, let me give an example.. Attach a Mafer Clamp to the top of your camera. Attach a 1k Nook Lite to that. Be sure it is aiming forward. Turn it on.. there, you are lit!
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#17 John Allen

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 09:16 AM

It is like a doctor prescribing meds when all the patient has conveyed is that they don't feel well.... that would be called malpractice.


Great metaphor David! I can't think of any better way of putting it.

But yes. It is all about the story folks! Story, story, story, story! Without it, you're lost. You gotta ask yourself, "why am I a cinematographer? Why do I want to make films?" If the answer is that you want to change a persons emotion through light and shadows, then you know that you HAVE to read the script. Memorize the script(I'm exaggerating a bit here). You've got to dive into that story and live it for yourself. That's the only way you're going to take that story and put it up there on the screen and tell it visually the way the writer told it through written word. It's our art. Our art is not just recording any old pretty image onto the camera; we are the story tellers. We're the ones that will create the emotion. And so I stress again(as do many of the others), story, story, story! Read the story, and pull out the hidden qualities it holds for you. Have fun! :)
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#18 JD Hartman

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 12:27 PM

Great metaphor David! I can't think of any better way of putting it.

But yes. It is all about the story folks! Story, story, story, story! Without it, you're lost. You gotta ask yourself, "why am I a cinematographer? Why do I want to make films?" If the answer is that you want to change a persons emotion through light and shadows, then you know that you HAVE to read the script. Memorize the script(I'm exaggerating a bit here). You've got to dive into that story and live it for yourself. That's the only way you're going to take that story and put it up there on the screen and tell it visually the way the writer told it through written word. It's our art. Our art is not just recording any old pretty image onto the camera; we are the story tellers. We're the ones that will create the emotion. And so I stress again(as do many of the others), story, story, story! Read the story, and pull out the hidden qualities it holds for you. Have fun! :)


Bingo! David and John. What feeling or emotions does the script convey? This seems to be something that is missed in so many film school classes. Maybe that is why I see so student films that are just lit with softlight in every scene. If there are any shadows present in a shot, it's purely by accident.
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#19 Michael Collier

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 02:09 PM

I asked this question twice earlier in this thread... never got a reply.

All answers are meaningless without knowing the look & feel that is trying to be achieved.


I have seen David in recent days harping on this point. I think its an excellent point. Usually I just avoid posts that don't have enough detail to sink teeth into. I have shot a bathroom like this many times and never the same way twice. Sometimes I go soft overhead, sometimes sidelit, sometimes using practicles, sometimes a hard overhead with little up fill.

You don't light by figuring out where your lights can physically fit, and then try and make that dramatic. You have to visualize in your head what you want. Whats the feeling? What is the actor going to be doing? Your light must support the mood, story and character all at the same time. Distant second to that is actually getting your lights bright enough. Maybe you don't need a key. Maybe a hard slash on the wall behind him defines his sillouette with just a soft, lowkey sidelight for closeups. I could throw out blind guesses all day long.

Sometimes I think these sparse posts are from people who are new to lighting and don't really know what they want. Maybe they are stuck with lighters block and are trolling for suggestions so they can find their direction. I don't really know.

Seems like you will never get a good answer to your question if you don't have at lease some kind of vision for how it will look, and articulate that, the question posed being not what, but how. Then small tips from us can help, but when asked for advice with a blank slate? Its hard to fill in when we don't know anything about the mood.

btw, I think I coined a new phrase. 'lighters block'. I like it.
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#20 David Rakoczy

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 04:59 PM

'Lighters Block'... Love it! :wub: (the term that is).
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