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Naturalistic Restaurant Scene


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#1 David McLeavy

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 04:47 PM

Hello everyone,

I am going to be lighting a booth area beside a large window. The shoot will be taking place over several hours so I'm thinking to fake the ambient light coming in through the window for consistency.

A couple of questions. First, I have no large lights to work with. Would bouncing three 1k's off of a 12x with ultra bounce outside the window seem to be a decent way to replicate indirect sunlight? If not, any the suggestions? I also have a couple of flathead 80's but I was thinking of using those to fill out the room a bit.

For a scene with actors inside and outside (looking out the window) at once, any suggestions for getting everything in exposure with a fairly small light kit? Nd on the window maybe (it's a large area)?

Thanks in advance!
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#2 J. Lamar King

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 07:08 PM

These scenarios are so hard without knowing how big of a window area we're talking about and which way the building faces. You could theoretically use the Ultra bounce in these ways...

1. Get it close in to the windows blocking all sun/skylight and bounce your 1K's into it. You might as well tent the front of the restaurant though. Of course you couldn't see outside while shooting the inside actors.

2. If the building is facing the right direction and not too tall a 12x Ultra-bounce would bounce a lot of light in. You would have to shake it up throughout the day. This is probably what I would do.

Also, again if you have constant sunlight on the front of the building and not too deep of an overhang a 12x silk leaned up against the front of the building scan "spread" light in. But not far.

See the attached pic for an idea of an OTS setup, but again I could be way off not knowing the specifics.

ubwidowsforum2.jpg

Edited by J. Lamar King, 14 June 2010 - 07:08 PM.

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#3 Guy Holt

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 07:21 PM

Hello everyone,

I am going to be lighting a booth area beside a large window. The shoot will be taking place over several hours so I'm thinking to fake the ambient light coming in through the window for consistency.

A couple of questions. First, I have no large lights to work with. Would bouncing three 1k's off of a 12x with ultra bounce outside the window seem to be a decent way to replicate indirect sunlight? If not, any the suggestions? I also have a couple of flathead 80's but I was thinking of using those to fill out the room a bit.

For a scene with actors inside and outside (looking out the window) at once, any suggestions for getting everything in exposure with a fairly small light kit? Nd on the window maybe (it's a large area)?


The problem with using the Ultrabounce to bounce the sun is 1) you need a sunny day, 2) it won't be consistent throughout the day, and 3) it will be hard to keep out of the shot. Three 1k lights and two Kino Flo Flat Head 80s won’t be enough to light talent against the windows and get the kind of detail outside the windows you want even if you gel the windows with ND gel. When shooting interiors with windows you have two basic problems: color temperature and contrast. In my experience you have to both gel the windows and substantially boost the light levels inside. Otherwise, when you expose for your talent, your exterior will blow out. If you expose for the exterior to hold detail, your talent will be underexposed and become a near silhouette.

If the windows are not too large you should definitely cover them with a ND9 gel. The gel will knock down the level outside by three stops, so that the Kino Flos with 5500K tubes will be more effective as fill lights inside. Because you have put ND9 on the windows to balance the interior to the exterior, you are going to need a lot more than 3 - 1ks to light your talent through the windows. The 1ks when gelled blue won’t be very effective because the gel will only transmit 30% of the output making the 1KW a 300W Daylight source – so very little of it will make it through the ND9. You will need a good size HMI to punch through the ND9 from the outside. I would recommend you use a 4k HMI Par because it is the largest HMI that you can plug into a wall outlet.

If you have any doubt that you will need a 4k, take a look at these production stills from an episode of “Electronic Field Trip,” an educational program that is broadcast on PBS and streamed over the internet to schools that I lit. Co-produced by Ball State University and the National Park Service, each episode of “Electronic Field Trip” features a different National Park. In addition to live satellite casting from the Carlsbad Caverns, this episode of “Electronic Field Trip” included then First Lady Laura Bush leading a 4th grade class garrisoned in the Mess Hall of the Navy Barracks overlooking the USS Constitution in science experiments related to cave geology. 



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Then First Lady Laura Bush leading a 4th grade class in a science experiment.


Given the importance of their special guest and the scenic setting outside the windows, the show's producers wanted the USS Constitution to be seen clearly through the windows. Under the circumstances it was a difficult task to create flattering light on the First Lady, while balancing the interior lighting to the exterior, so that the USS Constitution would be seen clearly through the windows.

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Navy Mess Hall overlooking the USS Constitution and Boston Skyline seen clearly out the windows.


What I did was rig Kino Flo Flat Head 80 fixtures (4’- 8 tube fluorescent lights) flush against the ceiling over each table as high frontal key lights for the participants around the tables. The lights were then dressed with black show card so that they looked as if they were permanent fixtures.

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Opposite wall of Mess Hall with Flathead 80s and book lights.


To securely rig the Kino Flat Head 80 fixtures to the drop ceiling we used Porta-Grid Clamps (pictured below). A new style of drop ceiling clamp that I developed several years ago, which has been used on major network television shows like NBC’s ED, the Porta-Grid Clamp turns an ordinary drop-ceiling into a full-blown studio grid.

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We used our patented Porta-Grid Clamps to securely rig heavy Flat Head 80 fixtures into the drop ceiling of the Navy Mess Hall.


To fill in this soft high frontal key light, we then rigged 6’x6’ book lights with 4k HMI Pars. A light source that large creates a wonderful soft light that doesn’t throw shadows, which was important because cameramen moved constantly back and forth in front of the book lights. Not only were the book lights very clean looking, with the light and hardware hidden from view, but if seen reflected in the large plate glass windows, they looked like a window on the opposite side of the room. The final ingredient was a layer of ND 9 gel on the plate glass windows overlooking the USS Constitution to bring the exterior levels down three stops and in line with the pumped up interior.

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A 4k HMI par bounced into ultrabounce and then through silk makes up a super soft booklight.


Where we had the Flat Head 80 fixtures rigged right over the tables (not more than 8’ from talent), and 4k Pars bounced for fill, in addition to ND9 on the windows, these production stills clearly demonstrate that you are going to need more lights if you are going to hold detail outside the windows.

The first thing I would do is fly a large silk over the outside of the window. This will take the direction out of the sun, so that you will have a consistent soft ambience through the window. I would then use a 4k HMI Par to light your talent through the window. I recommend a 4k because it is the largest HMI that you can use without needing a generator or tie-in. You should be able to get one with a magnetic ballast fairly cheaply, and you can use a a transformer/ distro to power it from a 240V wall outlet in the kitchen (use this link for how to operate 4ks off wall outlets: http://www.screenlig...ransformer.html.) I would then use your 3 – 1k pars with partial correction to add some sunny highlights to the set and the Flat Head 80s with 5500K tubes to fill.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip , Boston
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Visual Products