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Lighting a Match


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#1 Simon Olney

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 06:16 PM

Today whilst focus pulling on a student short the DP bottled and handed the light meter to me to continue shooting the rest of the film, which has left me somewhat floundering as I have to light locations on the fly after seeing them for the first time.

My biggest problem is recreating the image that a girl has lit a match and it is the only light source in the room. She actually lights the match but I need to give it some kind of boost.

I'm shooting on Fuji Eterna 250 and 250D on an Arriflex SR2. Relevant equipment I have includes 2X300W Fresnels, 2X650W Fresnels, a soft bounce board, a polyboard and some fire effect gel. The DP didn't have a very clear idea on how he wanted to do the shot so I was wondering if anybody had any experience creating the effect, it would be nice to have a bit of flicker but beggars can't be choosers. I could fairly easily create the effect of matchlight but I'm having difficulty working out how to strike the light to make it look like the match has been lit mid shot, simply sparking the light mid shot would give an unconvincing effect.

If anybody has any suggestions before I shoot the scene on Friday morning (currently Wednesday night in the UK) it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks
Simon
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 06:29 PM

Strike 3 matches at once for the striking shot in her hand, and as they're striking, bring up your lights on a dimmer then begin flickering them.
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#3 Simon Olney

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 07:05 PM

Strike 3 matches at once for the striking shot in her hand, and as they're striking, bring up your lights on a dimmer then begin flickering them.


I don't have any dimmers unfortunately, and we don't have any in the equipment store so no chance of a last minute blag either.

I like what you're thinking with the multiple matches, I'm lucky enough to have some fairly fast lenses (T1.3), however playing around with a lighter (due to lack of matches in the house) in my darkened room with my light meter, the stock is not sensitive enough (as I had imagined) and I'm going to need some more light to expose it correctly. If we were shooting in a less sensitive location I'd get a fire going and play about with a flag but we're shooting in a thatched cottage which we got by knocking on doors so it looks like creative lighting might be my only choice.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 08:18 PM

It might not be bright far away, but the source will be bright when it strikes (the matches that is). You'd have to test with it and a spot meter should tell you where it'll be at.

Without a dimmer, though they sell them at the hardware store (you'd have to wire it of course) you could try it by slowly moving a flag out of the way of the light during the strike so the light comes up slowly as the flash of the burn goes down. They also sell longer duration striking matches at camping stores, which might serve you better if you can get out to 'em. Also might as well put out a quick call to peoples (craiglist perhaps?) and see if anyone has an inline dimmer, it's pretty common in most people's "bag-o-tricks".
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#5 Rob Vogt

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 08:53 PM

What is the match supposed to illuminate? If it's something like the side of somebody's face, and they are static, you can add to the intensity of the match by making the opposite side of the subjects face darker. Try putting duvetyne or a solid on the opposite side of person's face to keep that side as black as possible and intensify the effect of the match. If you have an SLR test this stuff out before friday
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#6 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 04:28 PM

It might not be bright far away, but the source will be bright when it strikes (the matches that is). You'd have to test with it and a spot meter should tell you where it'll be at.



At 00:15 - shot at T2, 7219 500T.

Adrian is absolutely right - the match is much, much brighter when it strikes.
Shot tests for other short on 7219 - with a lighter next to the face (at about 1 foot) - and it gave enough exposure for the face.
It's all about ambient light in the room, of course.

Edited by Edgar Dubrovskiy, 19 November 2009 - 04:32 PM.

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#7 Simon Olney

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 06:14 PM

The main worry in my mind is how it will cut, I shot the following shot today (production still: http://photos-b.ak.f..._5944635_n.jpg) which comes immediately after the match striking shot, which as you can see I was throwing some fairly serious light at, a 2K and 2K fresnel to be precise which was mainly to give me extra depth of field to play with as there was a track back to consider (and no specific focus puller after I was promoted to DP), but as the director wanted a constant light emitted by the fire I'm not sure with hindsight I should to too flickery for the match shot. You could justify it by saying the fire is more established in the second shot as enough time has passed for her to be watching the fire from the window outside (tracks back from a shot of her outside to reveal the curtains on fire).

As for the tests you shot Edgar, I would feel fairly confident shooting a match on something like 500T, but my lack of experience with stocks is causing me to question whether it would expose at all on Eterna 250. A big part of me wants to rely on the brightness caused by the initial striking, even if it illuminates the actress' face for a split second as it will be quite obvious what is happening, but my concience is warning me of a 'fall through the floor' moment when watching the rushes to find the penultimate shot under by 2 stops.

I realised after wrapping today that I have frames to burn with the tungsten stock as I have half a roll left and only two shots to shoot with it, so fingers crossed I should have enough stock to play about with.

Many thanks for your helpful responses
Simon
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