Jump to content


Photo

considerations for open daylight exteriors


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 jack king

jack king
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • Director

Posted 10 February 2010 - 07:56 PM

hi there,

have a video shoot coming up in about a month. I'm going to look for a DOP to hire but I want to get some ideas about stuff first from various people - just so I get an idea of whether or not they know what they're talking about!

First off - were shooting this on the red. It's either that or super 16, but i'm assuming it doesn't matter all too much at this stage.

90% of the video is going to be set in exterior locations - on a miserable day, overcast, grey and drizzly. I don't want any sunlight, as i'm assuming this will give me more freedom to darken the image uniformly in post if needs? And i don't have to worry about where it is so much?

I imagine i'm going to save big bucks on doing this exterior daylight - mostly in open spaces - either on a street or on a large patch of wasteland overlooked by towering council flats. I want it to have the feel of a british kitchen sink drama - albeit it wont entirely be like that content wise.

what would be my starting point? If the weather is right - and we simply capture everything raw (exposed to perfection) - am i just bouncing natural light around and/or grading the look in post? or is this going to involve all sorts of expenses I haven't forseen? My last project involved lighting a wilderness at night - so this seems like heaven in comparison. Am i right to be more relaxed about it? i'm hoping it means we can afford to shoot film.

cheers guys - much appreciate you taking the time to share :)

Jack
  • 0

#2 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 10 February 2010 - 11:01 PM

Film will be easier to work with as it'll handle highlights better and you can choose a slower stock for the camera as opposed to being "stuck" so to speak, with the red's inherent ASA (between 160-320, depending on whom you ask).

Now, when you're working an overcast ext you'll probably need to bounce some things, of course, but you'll still probably be using HMIs to get some definition in the lighting, for eye lights etc, else it'll all just be your typical flat, nearly even, lighting.

As for grading -v- in camera ,getting it in camera saves money inasmuch as you're not paying later on for a colorist to create a look, it's already on the neg/file and you just transfer/trans code and edit.

And yes, you can darken in post, or darken on set, up to you. Just depends. I'd probably err towards on set, again, just so long as the DoP understands how far to go.
  • 0

#3 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 11 February 2010 - 02:42 AM

I want it to have the feel of a british kitchen sink drama - albeit it wont entirely be like that content wise.

This is where you start - decide what you want the film to look like before you choose a camera, format, lenses, or any other equipment. You and your DP need to sit down and figure out exactly what the 'British kitchen sink drama' look entails, then let your DP decide what equipment he or she needs to get that look. Then you decide if you can afford to rent that gear or not and go back and forth until you have a list that works.

I think a standard package for this type of shoot would be a small grip truck with at least a few large frames with ultrabounce, black/white grifflon, full and half silk, a few reflectors, and possibly a few hmi's and the power to run them.
  • 0

#4 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 11 February 2010 - 06:28 PM

90% of the video is going to be set in exterior locations - on a miserable day, overcast, grey and drizzly. I don't want any sunlight,

am i just bouncing natural light around and/or grading the look in post?

Jack


Trying to "find" light to bounce on an overcast day is sometime like finding a needle in a haystack. If your shooting out in the open and can't budget for some sun-guns or small HMIs, you might be stuck with a very flat look.
  • 0

#5 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 12 February 2010 - 02:22 AM

Trying to "find" light to bounce on an overcast day is sometime like finding a needle in a haystack. If your shooting out in the open and can't budget for some sun-guns or small HMIs, you might be stuck with a very flat look.

True, though you can always use negative fill for close ups.

*Also Jack, there's a huge difference in look between 16mm and the Red so I think it is an important choice.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 12 February 2010 - 02:27 AM.

  • 0

#6 jack king

jack king
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • Director

Posted 12 February 2010 - 10:38 AM

Hi guys, cheers for your helpful advise :)

to all: The HMI's make total sense, I'm glad you've all said it now as i'll raise this with my DP when I find him. Although, if say - i were to make some allowances for sunlight - would you still recommend using the HMI's? Is this generally recommended regardless as otherwise there's nothing to say there'll be anything to bounce at a particular time/location?

satsuki - your right. I want to shoot super 16, i don't know what it's like for low budget film makers over in the states, but over here people are always saying 'why on earth would you want to do that when you can use digital such and such?'. What do you prefer???

I've just found a link to a video with opening scenes that have the same color and feel to what i want the video to look like.

- does this make things any clearer?

I think its a gives a clear idea of what i'm after weather wise, even down to the council flats in the background.

Thanks again folks. Much helpful. :)
  • 0

#7 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 14 February 2010 - 04:29 AM

Well the video you posted does not seem to have any lighting or bounce in it at all, just using natural light. So if that's the look you want then the HMI's will be wasted. The frames of bounce and diffusion will be useful to you if the sun decides to come out and you want to still have an overcast look in medium and close shots.

Most DPs will want to cover all bases for a day exterior as you never know what you're going to be working with, hence the recommendations for extra equipment. But it's going to come down to your budget.

I personally would not recommend shooting 16mm unless you also have the budget to do a top notch HD transfer on a Spirit (or something similar) with a good colorist. Those usually cost around $800/hr for direct to hard drive in my neck of the woods. Also budget for dust busting. Otherwise it's just not worth it in my opinion.
  • 0

#8 Eileen Ryan

Eileen Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Gaffer

Posted 14 February 2010 - 03:53 PM

if say - i were to make some allowances for sunlight - would you still recommend using the HMI's? Is this generally recommended regardless as otherwise there's nothing to say there'll be anything to bounce at a particular time/location?


No one look is going to be appreciably cheaper than the other. Either way you will need, as Satsuki suggests, both a sizable grip package with overheads as well as an HMI package and the power to run it. 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 both a grip and lighting package – especially if we are shooting a dramatic scene that will take a while to shoot. The reason is that no matter what look you are going for, you will need a basic grip and lighting package to match your shots when nature deals you the opposite of what you want.

For example, if you are going for the feel of “overcast, grey and drizzly” and nature gives you a sunny day, you will need at least 12x overheads and a 4k to accomplish your look. If possible try to arrange to shoot your establishing master shot when the sun is backlighting your talent or set. When the sun is in this position, you are shooting into the shadowed side of the talent and background and they will look flatter and there will not be the feel of a directional sun source. Where it is not possible to shoot this way all day, I would plan to shoot the closer coverage under a full silk. 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 shot. 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 you can run it on one of the new modified Honda EU6500is gen-sets that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit through a separate Transformer/Distro. 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.

An example of this approach is a scene I lit for a low budget feature that was shot during the summer on top of Mt. Washington in NH. Since the top of Mt. Washington is covered by clouds 90 percent of the year, all the footage was under overcast gray skies. A problem arose however when we had to go back and shoot pick up shots in November and the mountain was closed because of bad weather. Even though the mountain top was under heavy cloud cover, it was a clear sunny day at the base of the mountain. We found a roadside scenic observation point that allowed us to match the angle of the previous shots looking up at the talent sitting in a jeep, but the clear blue sky did not match the overcast skies of the footage shot on top of the mountain. So that the shot would match we filmed the scene under a 12x solid. By the time we opened up the camera iris for the reduced light levels under the solid the blue sky blew out. To bring back some contrast under the solid, we heavily diffused the 4k and used it to model the talent in the jeep. After printing down the footage it matched perfectly with what we shot on the mountain.

To record dialogue without picking up the sound of the generator, we ran it out of the back of the grip truck. The Honda EU6500is is so quiet that running it out of the back of the grip truck was all the further attenuation we needed. To avoid line loss over the long cable run to the truck we used ScreenLight & Grip’s Transformer/Distro on set to power the 4k as well as our production gear. Their Transformer/Distro is designed to boost the voltage slightly in order to compensate for the drop of voltage you get over a long cable run. And since the 4k ballast was power factor corrected and the generator provides clean stable power, we had no problem with the production gear running on the same power.

An example of the opposite problem - matching a sunny look - is a scene for the same feature that took place around a grill in a backyard surrounded by woods. Since it was a sunny day and we knew the scene was going to take all day to shoot, 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 under a 20x silk using nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2k Par. 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 a consistent 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. So you see, no one look is going to be appreciably cheaper than the other. Either way you will need both a sizable grip package with overheads as well as an HMI package and the power to run it in order to keep a consistent look.

Posted Image
Wide Shot of Night exterior scene lit with a pkg. consisting of PFC 2.5 & 1.2 HMI Pars, PFC 800w Joker HMI, Kino Flo Flat Head 80, 2 ParaBeam 400s, and a ParaBeam 200 powered by a modified Honda EU6500is.


In fact, we shot the 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
PFC 2.5 & 1.2 HMI Pars, PFC 800w Joker HMI, Kino Flo Flat Head 80, 2 ParaBeam 400s, and a ParaBeam 200 powered by a modified Honda EU6500is through a 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro


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 - www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/hdfilmstrip4lg.html - to see the final results which are showcased on ScreenLight & Grip’s website, and to get more detailed information on the lighting package we used.

Eileen Ryan, Boston, Gaffer
  • 0

#9 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 14 February 2010 - 09:23 PM

did that guy in boston change his name? same lengthy posts and even the same pictures to boot.

http://www.cinematog...amp;hl=guy holt

Edited by timHealy, 14 February 2010 - 09:27 PM.

  • 0

#10 Eileen Ryan

Eileen Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Gaffer

Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:04 PM

did that guy in boston change his name? same lengthy posts and even the same pictures to boot.


If you are suggesting that I am the same person as “that guy in Boston,” I would have had to change more than my name – I would have had to change my sex. And, as far as I recall, I have not undergone a sex change operation. I also work in Boston and quite often rent equipment from Guy’s company ScreenLight and Grip. You see the same production stills in my post because they are from a production I worked on that used their HD Plug & Play Pkg. They are featuring that production on their website.

After experiencing the benefits of their low noise lighting package on several productions, I highly recommend that anyone using HMI or Fluorescent fixtures on a set read the article Guy wrote on the use of portable generators in motion picture lighting. While the HMI lighting package he has developed as a result of his tests is new (introduced Jan 09), the set power issues caused by HMI and Fluorescent ballasts have been vexing electricians for years. His article explains the electrical engineering principles behind these issues in a very understandable way I have not seen elsewhere.

What’s different about his article is that he undertakes a comprehensive survey of the prevalent lighting and portable power generation equipment and describes how he systematically tested how well they work together. One startling result of his tests, was that if you don’t have access to the newest power factor corrected electronic ballasts, you are better served by using the older magnetic ballasts on an inverter generator like their modified Honda EU6500is generator over non-PFC electronic ballasts.

The 240v-to-120v step down transformer/distro that they manufacture for their modified Honda EU6500is is the only sure way I know of to power a 120V 2.5kw and 4kw HMI magnetic ballasts on a portable gas generator. It steps down the 240V output of the generator to a single 60A 120V circuit that is capable of accommodating the high front end striking load, and even the voltage spikes, of either a 2.5kw or 4kw magnetic ballast at 120V. And since, magnetic HMI ballasts will operate flicker free at all standard frame rates on an inverter generator (without the need for a crystal governor), their new gen set gives new production life to the older 2.5kw & 4kw HMIs with 120V magnetic ballasts that can be picked up very cheaply on ebay. An affordable way of powering more affordable HMIs, their gen set has greatly improved the production values of a lot of independent films shot in Boston. For example, see my post on a poor man’s helium balloon at www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=44493.

I highly recommend that anyone using HMIs read Guy’s article. The article is available at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html. As for the length of our posts, let me paraphrase the words of a former business manager of the NYC local of IATSE (Local 52) to a former business manager of the New England local (Local 481): “The problem with Local 481 electrics is that they are over educated.”

Eileen Ryan, Gaffer, Boston
  • 0

#11 jack king

jack king
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • Director

Posted 17 February 2010 - 07:30 AM

HI eilleen, satsuki and co...thanks loads for your responses. I'm going to take all this to my DP, i should be okay from here for now.

really appreciate your long and detailed response Eileen. Just wondering, do you work for guy/honda?! A clever yet elaborate way to advertise perhaps?! Regardless, your post really gave me some nice ideas, and just taught me a lot about some things in general. And perhaps we will consider using the generator you mentioned, but I'm not that far along yet, and I doubt i'd be able to hire it from the place you linked, i'm in the UK!

Cheers again :)

Jack
  • 0

#12 Guy Holt

Guy Holt
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 535 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Boston

Posted 17 February 2010 - 10:02 AM

Just wondering, do you work for guy/honda?! A clever yet elaborate way to advertise perhaps?


I resent the implication of this post. Eileen Ryan is not one of my employees. She is an area freelancer, occasional spark on my crews, and a rental customer. If she has experienced the benefit of working with low line noise on my jobs and benefited from my article, the worst that I am guilty of is not discouraging her from sharing her enthusiasm. This post impugns my motives for posting by suggesting they amount to advertizing. I would like to make clear that I post as a professional gaffer and can offer the following credentials:

IATSE Local 481 Certified Generator Operator

Certificate Holder of the MQ Power "MQP Special Generator (Crawford) Technical Service Seminar"

Gaffer, Set Electrician, and Generator Operator on numerous features and television productions (for a partial list of credits see my imdb listing at http://www.pro.imdb.com/name/nm1471247)

Owner of ScreenLight & Grip, a lighting and grip rental company renting Honda, MQ, and Crawford generators for motion picture production for 18 years.

Yes, I have posted extensively on the harmonic noise generated by HMIs, and lately I am posting on the harmonic noise generated by fluorescent fixtures because it is a problem that is becoming more prevalent. This post seems to imply that I am trying to sell an ignorant public a product they don’t need by scaremongering, when in fact I am only trying to raise an awareness of the adverse effect that an increase in harmonic noise as a result of a change in lighting technology, the introduction of Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPS), is having on set power. But, don't just take my word for it: apparently, harmonics generated by SMPSs when using a generator for lighting is enough of a problem to warrant several sections in the third edition of the "Set Lighting Technicianís Handbook." To quote Harry Box (Page 337 under "Power Problems from Electronic Loads"):

"Much of today's lighting technology relies on electronics such as DC rectifiers (electronic HMI ballasts), silicone-controlled rectifiers (SCRs), capacitors (magnetic & electronic HMI ballasts), and high-frequency switching power supplies (the IGBTs of electronic ballasts). These kinds of load can have undesirable effects on the current waveform, revealing themselves in the form of overheating or failing equipment , efficiency losses, circuit breaker trips, excessive current on the neutral wire, interference and instability with generators, noisy or overheating transformers and service equipment, and even loosened electrical connections. In the following sections, we discuss the power factor and current harmonics and look at their effects. Your awareness of these effects will help you to build systems that avoid or mitigate problems and show how to test for problems.(the parenthesis are mine)"

Now does this sound like harmonics is not an increasing problem when using a generator for lighting and I am just "scaremongering"? If at times it sounds like I am hyping the Honda Inverter generators ("guy/honda") and power factor corrected lights, it is not because we sell and rent the technology. Rather, it is because, as a professional gaffer of numerous low budget historical documentaries for PBS, Discovery, TLC, and the History Channel, I feel other low budget productions can benefit as well from the low line noise they offer.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip , Boston
  • 0

#13 jack king

jack king
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • Director

Posted 17 February 2010 - 06:09 PM

Oops! Had no intentions of causing offense! It was a joke! i didn't even know who you were! I do intend to come back to this article and reap the benefits of knowing about which generators make more or less noise, i just thought perhaps detail was a little over the top for a post that didn't ask of generators - I never implied anything about scaremongering! I did say i found it useful though, i wasn't being flippant - i really do appreciate the time eileen took to write it (maybe it just seems a little too generous, i'm a bit of cynic when it comes to forums as half the time (not on this site) my posts get left ignored! My cyber popularity leaves something to be desired).


Sorry guy. I really don't want to piss anyone off. I respect your profession completely and I hope that perhaps I could use some of your advise in the near future.

Apologies again.

Jack :)
  • 0


Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Tai Audio

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Opal

Willys Widgets