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#1 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:42 PM

Hello guys and gals, I need your help. I am shooting a feature this summer in the woods in Canada. The story is about teenagers on a campingtrip/drugdeal that goes wrong. The film is told first person by one of the characters, and she is supposed to be filming it in the story. This means one shot scenes, looking 360 degrees and 60% of the story is at night. If lucky I will have 1 Gaffer, 1 Best Boy, 1 Key Grip. I have been dreaming about a helium balloon with 8 x 1k tungsten, but with the branches and the wind at night that might become labour intensive and time consuming on an 18 day schedule. My back-up plan would be to string some metal wires between trees and dangle some kick-ass battery powered china balls. I am looking for other suggestions for this night ambiance light. I also need a keylight that needs to be mobile. I know that I could rig a 4x2' kino of a car battery and inverter, but this is bulky and I think that we can do better with today's technology, especially with led panels. I love working with led lights, but the ones that I have used, 1'x1', and the bricks as I call them, are expensive to rent, and I do not think that the 1'x1' comes with batteries. A pocketpar might do it for the mobile key light, but again expensive. I also need some lights that I can hide in the woods, again battery powered since we will be travelling out of range of a generator. Lights that would give me just enough to give some information in the dark woods. Can anybody help me out. Much obliged.

Maarten
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 07:49 PM

I think relying on batteries to power lights all through a night of shooting is a bad idea. At night, you can't see more than hundred yards in any direction unless you light the far background, so what's the point in being out in the woods away from a power supply when you could be ten feet from a building next to some trees and get the same look at night, but with convenient power?

Batteries are OK for an eyelight or other small light, but for a wide 360 master shot of the woods? And you think are car battery is too much to deal with, so you're talking about, what, a bucket-load of AA's? If you brought several car batteries, let's say, to light a string of Chinese Lanterns, or several 1x1 LitePanels, you may have a chance of pulling this off for a night shoot.

What about shooting your one-shot scene at dusk with an on-camera light? I mean, if the point is to be realistic, then what sort of light would a camcorder be able to shoot in? Either it would be an onboard light, ala "Blair Witch Project" or it would involve night vision. A scene lit with moonlight that a camcorder is able to shoot in is a bit of a cheat if you're sticking to the restriction that this can only be the footage that a consumer camera can record.

My worst experiences on low-budget films has been when I had to rely on battery-powered lights for a major sequence. Except for the tiny ones, they are too unreliable and the batteries drain a lot faster than you think.
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#3 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:21 PM

I think relying on batteries to power lights all through a night of shooting is a bad idea. At night, you can't see more than hundred yards in any direction unless you light the far background, so what's the point in being out in the woods away from a power supply when you could be ten feet from a building next to some trees and get the same look at night, but with convenient power?

Batteries are OK for an eyelight or other small light, but for a wide 360 master shot of the woods? And you think are car battery is too much to deal with, so you're talking about, what, a bucket-load of AA's? If you brought several car batteries, let's say, to light a string of Chinese Lanterns, or several 1x1 LitePanels, you may have a chance of pulling this off for a night shoot.

What about shooting your one-shot scene at dusk with an on-camera light? I mean, if the point is to be realistic, then what sort of light would a camcorder be able to shoot in? Either it would be an onboard light, ala "Blair Witch Project" or it would involve night vision. A scene lit with moonlight that a camcorder is able to shoot in is a bit of a cheat if you're sticking to the restriction that this can only be the footage that a consumer camera can record.

My worst experiences on low-budget films has been when I had to rely on battery-powered lights for a major sequence. Except for the tiny ones, they are too unreliable and the batteries drain a lot faster than you think.


First of all, thank you David for your sharing your experiences with me. I am not too concerned with the 'reality' and logic off night lighting in this case. If the story is good, and the acting is good, you can get away with alot. That being said, it take your point about the batteries running out quickly. I also think you are right about questioning the wisdom of being far away from electricity, if you cannot see very far anyway.

I am faced with 2 situations, on the first night of the camping trip the kids play spin the bottle around a campfire, this scene takes 35 pages in the script, and should be around 5 nights in our 18 day schedule. This location should be lit with the Helium balloon, although I am worried that the thick foliage might block my precious lights. So this location needs a genny, or to be near a tie-in. The second night is more problematic, for the kids are travelling. They are carrying flashlights, but I do not want to see just pitch blackness with the occasional beam penetrating the screen. This is where I would have liked to hide something in the woods that would give me a little something in the blacks. Chinese lanterns and car batteries are starting to sound good to me. Thank you again David, talk to you soon I hope. Going to this site to help me brainstorm was the best idea I have had in a while.
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

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Willys Widgets

Glidecam

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