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Lighting tight hallways?


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#1 Nick Centera

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 03:09 PM

Hey, I was just on a shoot and I had to light a very small and tight hallway. This was on an actual location and not on a set where the roof or walls could be moved. How would you go about lighting a hallway and framing the camera? I had trouble with the camera throwing shadows too. Thanks

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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:49 AM

Hey, I was just on a shoot and I had to light a very small and tight hallway. This was on an actual location and not on a set where the roof or walls could be moved. How would you go about lighting a hallway and framing the camera? I had trouble with the camera throwing shadows too. Thanks

Nick

Is it supposed to be day or night? Are there any windows or doors? Are there any practical lamps in the hallway? What is the mood supposed to be?
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#3 Nick Centera

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:52 AM

The scene was a detective in a house searching for the "bad guy". There are no praticals, only moonlight and a flashlight. No windows, but a few doors and a room at either end.
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:11 AM

The scene was a detective in a house searching for the "bad guy". There are no praticals, only moonlight and a flashlight. No windows, but a few doors and a room at either end.

How about a slug of black leader. I give up. How does moonlight get through a wall?

OK, don't play him in the hall. Play him in front of the open doors with moonlight coming into the room. That can light him in the doorway at least. What else can you do. Maybe the glow from smoke detector can light him. Don't tie your hands. Play it so you can light it interesting. If you have no light, you have no picture.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:19 AM

The scene was a detective in a house searching for the "bad guy". There are no praticals, only moonlight and a flashlight. No windows, but a few doors and a room at either end.

Ok, so light the room at the end of the hall with "moonlight" and silhouette the detective. When you do the reverse, do the same thing. Use bounce light from the flashlight to key the face. Also, you might want to bring in "moonlight" or some other source through the doors crossing the hallway so the detective goes in and out of shadow.

*Another thought - are either the floor or the walls reflective? You could create a sheen on them with moonlight from the room at the end of the hall.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 13 January 2010 - 02:22 AM.

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#6 Nick Centera

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:30 AM

Hey thanks for the thoughts.

Tom- What is black leader? And I agree, I think I should have moved somewhere else where we could fit things in.

Satsuki- I think i will do that next time. For the backlight, do you think the placement of the light should be low or high? The only reason we did not bring moonlight in from the doors was because they were closed and would be opened for a later part of the scene. This was my first time setting up for a night interior, and I will go into it with more experience next time.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:41 AM

For the backlight, do you think the placement of the light should be low or high?

I didn't say anything about backlight. I was saying, light the room at the end of the hall and don't light the actor. When he moves in front of the lit part of the frame, you'll see the shape of his body, black on midtone (hence, "silhouette"). Not saying you can't use a backlight, but it won't be motivated by any of the sources you previously mentioned were available.

P.S. Black leader is just pure black film, having been processed without being exposed to any light. It is (or was) used in editing as a placeholder when you just wanted a black image.
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#8 Serge Teulon

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:24 PM

Hey Nick,

You could've also put a light or lights on the ceiling to suggest fixtures up on the ceiling. With, if needed, a bit of fill from behind the camera etc...
Plus it would've helped with your shadows problem
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#9 Vivek Marimuthu

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:25 PM

Let me take a guess. the hall way is probably about 3 to 4 feet wide and atleast 10 feet long leading into a room into which the next shot is to be played. The hall way is about 8 feet high. So you need to show the detective entering and passing through the hall way to the next room.
This is the scenario where you might have had the camera causing shadow....
Assuming these, I would have lit the hall way from one end - creating a shiloutte effect on the detective.
other option is to place the camera and lights next to each other and face the lights away from the camera and partially bouncing off the ceiling or roof depending on the effect needed. I would have used 2 800W Freshnels in flood mode to light and depending on how reflective the wall and floor were, could ahve been a 650 or 1K...
Well, many assumptions made but hope it gave an idea ...
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#10 TJ Williams

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:55 PM

great spot for LED lighting from the ceiling, a little black wrap and even if it gets in the top of the frame as you approach the room looking back and it will look like a fixture. i had good luck in a cave with a reflector on the sound boom which was playing low, so when the flashlight hit it we got momentary splash back onto the characters face. Carrying as sillou fm front door moon into light spilling out of room, might be nice too. Tight spots are fun.... I just finished a commercial about closets.......
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 05:59 PM

If it's a really small windowless hallway with the doors closed, then one option is to only have the flashlight expose the shot as it sweeps through the space, perhaps augmented with some off-camera bounce. But if you want some sort of dim, blue-ish base when the flashlight isn't hitting anything, you could try taping a Kino tube in the ceiling, perhaps gelled down to some dim level, perhaps with a blackwrap skirt or something. Then to hide it from camera, get the art department to put a fake header beam across the hallway. In a really dark scene, it could practically just be some carefully cut and folded foamcore painted to match the walls.
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#12 Nick Centera

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:20 PM

Thanks for all the responses. My main problem once a lit the scene also was that the light looked more like a fixture was lighting it then "moonlight". Is this a common occurrence because I can see the whole set, or is it actually how I am lighting it? I tried messing around with the angle of it, but it still gave a more unrealistic look to me. I am going to the telecine tomorrow and will have frame grabs up hopefully by tomorrow night.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:32 PM

If you have a windowless space with the doors shut, how is moonlight ever going to be "realistic" anyway? It's such a major cheat. At least if the light you add is dim and soft enough, people will think less about where it is coming from, but in that case, it helps to have some highlights created by the flashlight so it's not all just a dim and murky image.
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#14 dan brockett

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:41 PM

If I were lighting it, two or three cheap wall sconces would have been placed on a side of the hallway walls. Just something lightweight and cheap from Home Depot/Lowes, or even just fabricated from prop or art department, if you have one. Art department figures out a quickie way to temporarily mount them ala double sided or Velcro and they are lit with small battery powered LEDs. At least then you have some motivation for some soft, low ambient to get a picture. If ceiling was not visible, I would probably supplement from overhead off of a boom pole or Pole Cat with a Chimera pancake lantern and something on a dimmer.

This sounds like as much as an art department challenge as it is a lighting challenge. I suggest it because I have a circular stairway in my home and have some really modern, sort of abstract wall sconces and they look cool, throw some ambient and or a nice "cone" of light up or down the wall. Gives motivation to get the picture out of the mud or silhouette area if you'd like to?

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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 03:06 AM

If it's a really small windowless hallway with the doors closed, then one option is to only have the flashlight expose the shot as it sweeps through the space, perhaps augmented with some off-camera bounce. But if you want some sort of dim, blue-ish base when the flashlight isn't hitting anything, you could try taping a Kino tube in the ceiling, perhaps gelled down to some dim level, perhaps with a blackwrap skirt or something. Then to hide it from camera, get the art department to put a fake header beam across the hallway. In a really dark scene, it could practically just be some carefully cut and folded foamcore painted to match the walls.

I would love to see that, it sounds great! This kinda sounds like the Conrad W. Hall/Darius Kondji approach to lighting "Panic Room", a low-ambient moonlight effect with very dimmed down toppy kinos and bounce lights. That's one of favorite reference films for "unlit" night interiors...

*Don't know if you guys have looked into using the Rosco Litepads, they're great for this kind of thing. I just bought a small kit and they're fantastic to use in tight cramped locations.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 14 January 2010 - 03:09 AM.

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#16 Serge Teulon

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:32 AM

Nick - Out of interest, were you shooting film or digital?
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#17 Nick Centera

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:58 PM

Nick - Out of interest, were you shooting film or digital?


Hey, we shot all of it on 16mm except for a small scene.
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