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Shooting out doors, in changing light


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#1 Nico Engelbrecht

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 05:57 PM

Hello everyone, I have been reading posts and learning on here for the past year and this is my first post.

Over the next couple of weeks I have to shoot 19 interviews all on a golf course (yes including the 19th hole). Most of the time (its winter in the UK) it will be gloomy and overcast. The interviews will be static interviews of someone standing or sitting on a stool on one of the Tees with a view of the course behind them. As I said the interviews will be over multiple days so there is a chance that we may have one sunny day. How oh how would you even attempt at making all the shoot days look remotely the same, the location is the same (as in its on a golf course) but the surrounding location will differ in every shoot and the weather will be different from day to day. The idea is to show off the person and some of the landscape and backdrop to hero the golf course.

Its a one/two camera shoot with one interviewer, myself as the DP and director, a sound man plus one runner. I am shooting on a Sony EX3 and also a Canon 5DMKII for pickups.

Would you take some portable lights with you for the dark days? If so what would they be? Will you take a scrim and stands with you for the odd sunny day? Reflectors? Anything else?

I have some budget for the shoot but not feature type budgets so I need to produce a good quality consistent image across all the days to produce a 30 minute piece at the end that should not feel like its been shot over almost 3 weeks.

Any help would be fantastic and much appreciated.

Thanks

Nico
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#2 Alex Zustra

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 12:28 AM

Honestly, I don't think having a sunny day would matter. You could/probably should soften up the light just to be consistent stylistically. You'd be amazed at what people don't notice.

If that's still not an option for you, you might be satisfied with a large silk, although that would still leave your background contrasty.
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#3 Nico Engelbrecht

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 04:46 AM

Honestly, I don't think having a sunny day would matter. You could/probably should soften up the light just to be consistent stylistically. You'd be amazed at what people don't notice.

If that's still not an option for you, you might be satisfied with a large silk, although that would still leave your background contrasty.



Thank you Alex for your reply. How would you soften the light? Just on the subject? I have some bounce boards to add some light to the subjects. But on gloomy days would you take some lighting as well?

Thanks again.

N
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#4 Alex Zustra

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 04:36 PM

Thank you Alex for your reply. How would you soften the light? Just on the subject? I have some bounce boards to add some light to the subjects. But on gloomy days would you take some lighting as well?

Thanks again.

N


Bounce boards, or a large silk net to filter or bounce light, whatever is available. And I was just referring to the subject, but if you had a powerful light, you could fill in the background some. It sounds like you're shooting deep BGs though. I would bring a light or two on gloomy days for kick if you want it, as long as you can match the natural light. Color temperature on overcast days is higher than clear days if I remember correctly.
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#5 Eileen Ryan

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 09:56 PM

Over the next couple of weeks I have to shoot 19 interviews all on a golf course (yes including the 19th hole). … oh how would you even attempt at making all the shoot days look remotely the same, … the weather will be different from day to day.


As a gaffer in New England (about which Mark Twain famously quipped “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”) I don’t go outside without a lighting package – especially if the shoot will take all day. If you pre-plan your shots you can get away with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2 Par which you can run on one of the new modified Honda EU6500is gen-sets that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit.

If possible wait to shoot your wide establishing shot when the sun is out and in a position that offers the best modeling of the course landscape. This is usually at just after dawn or just before dusk – commonly referred to as “magic hour”. Once you have figured out where the sun would be for the wide shot, then shoot the coverage under a full silk and/or when the sun has moved into a backlight position. Shooting under a silk offers a number of advantages. It takes the directionality out of the sun and knocks down the ambient level by two and half stops, which enables you to use smaller lights to model your talent to mimic the establishing wide shot. The ideal situation is to wait to shoot the coverage until the sun has moved around to a back light position. When in this position, you are shooting into the shadowed side of the talent so small lights will have even more of a modeling effect. Finally, with the sun in a backlight position all the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wider before picking up the shadow of the hardware.

Shooting into talents down side under a silk, I find that a 4k Par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a two shot. And, if the sun does goes behind a cloud for a time, it is no big deal because your key source is constant. If the sun goes away all together a 1.2 kw is usually sufficient to bring back the edge that was lost. On overcast days, the 4k will be more than enough to create a sunny look under the silk, and the discrepancy in levels under the silk and outside the silk will be such that the background will be slightly over exposed and appear brighter.

An example of this approach is a scene I lit for a low budget feature that took place around a grill in a backyard surrounded by woods. We knew the scene was going to take all day to shoot because of its’ extensive dialogue, so we figured out where the sun was going to be throughout the day and where it would look best for our establishing wide shot. Where it was a two shot, mostly over the shoulder of one character talking to the second character who was standing with his back to the grill with the woods behind him, we decided to wait until the sun had moved into a near back light position. Surrounded on three sides by woods, we knew that we would lose the sun altogether at some point and would need lights. So we shot our close coverage first with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2k Par under a 20x silk. The 4k was heavily diffused and positioned so that it gave the talent the most attractive modeling. The 1.2kw was positioned where the sun would be when we would shoot the wide so that there was always an edge.

When the time came to shoot the establishing shot, the shadow of the overhead silk frame and stands were thrown forward and did not interfere with the wider framing. Since we were still shooting under the silk, we were wider open on the iris and so our exposure dug into the dark woods and brought out more detail. As an added bonus the smoke from the grill drifted into the woods, creating shafts of light where the sun broke through the tree canopy. What could easily have been a plainly lit scene, turned into a beautifully lit scene, and was accomplished without a lot of amps. The whole scene was lit with nothing more than a 4k and 1.2k Par and powered by nothing more than a 60A/120 circuit from a modified Honda EU6500is. If you can’t wait for the optimum sun position, the same modified generator will run a 6kw par that you can use to fill direct sun.

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Night exterior scene lit with nothing more than a Honda EU6500is

In fact, we shot a whole film on the Red with nothing more than a modified Honda EU6500is. A dual wattage 2.5/4k Par was our one big light. Not only did the Par configuration give us more output but it was also more versatile. When we needed a lot of light for day exteriors we lamped it with a 4k globe. When we didn’t need the punch of a 4k Par, like on a night exteriors, we swapped the 4kw globe for a 2.5kw globe giving us more power to run additional lights on the generator. When you consider that a Kino Flo Parabeam 400 uses only 2 Amps , the 15 Amps we saved by burning the smaller 2500W globe enabled us to power quite a few more Parabeam lights on the small generator.

Posted Image
A Honda EU6500is & 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro powering PFC 2.5 & 1.2 HMI Pars, PFC 800w Joker HMI, Kino Flo Flat Head 80, 2 ParaBeam 400s, and a ParaBeam 200

For example, on night exteriors we ran a package consisting of a lighting package that consisted of a 2.5kw HMI Par, 1200, & 800 HMI Pars, a couple of Kino Flo ParaBeam 400s, a couple of ParaBeam 200s, and a Flat Head 80. Given the light sensitivity of the Red Camera, this was all the light we needed to light even large night exteriors. Use can this link to ScreenLight & Grip’s website - to see the final results, and get more detailed information on the lighting package we used along with more production stills from the movie.

Eileen Ryan, Boston Gaffer
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