Jump to content


Photo

how to light white walls


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Daniel Delarusa

Daniel Delarusa
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Zurich, Switzerland

Posted 20 October 2010 - 02:02 AM

I'm shooting a short in a white apartment in a couple of weeks. The director told me he wants to use the white walls. I just learned(the hard way) that white walls do not really work well on screen.
Do u guys have any suggestions on how to light an apartment with white walls?

thx Dan
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 20 October 2010 - 03:14 AM

Basically, you don't light them if at all possible -- you pull the actors and furniture as far away as you can from the wall so that the wall is only lit by the dim fall-off of the lighting on the actors, so that means flagging and skirting. If the wall goes too dark (unlikely) then some small spots like from Dedolights can create some accents, that or a strategically placed table lamp or wall sconce.

The other trick (works better for day scenes) is to use the wall itself as the source of light by having a strong backlight or edge light (like from a window) bounce back up into the actors' faces. In this case, it's good when the bright wall is edge-on to the camera lens, side-lighting the actor with the bounce-back.

There is a chance that some ND grad filters may also help take down one area of the frame.

Furniture and wall dressings can also break-up a white wall.

The entirely other option is to embrace the whiteness, make the scene as blank and bright as possible. Works in small doses if symbolically appropriate. Either dress actors in black (to create contrast) or white (to enhance the effect of whiteness.)
  • 0

#3 Albert Smith

Albert Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 151 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Chicago

Posted 23 October 2010 - 12:35 PM

production design is a good portion of cinematography.. Unless there is a motivated reason for white walls it'll be boring, but it seems if the director is asking for that there probably is? What David said is what I was going to say....I think when trying to liven up a boring set playing with patterns of light and bringing some stuff up and down in the scene is the way to go....give it some depth...This kinda just assumes that your working with bad production design and the boring white walls are unmotivated but a dark wall with a couple streaks of light wether they be accent lights or street lights at night or the sun coming through a window a little to hot in the day.


something else to consider might be having the walls painted light grey, depending on what your shooting on this white help with your exposure.

Edited by Jake Zalutsky, 23 October 2010 - 12:36 PM.

  • 0

#4 Gabe Spangler

Gabe Spangler
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 34 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:02 PM

I just ran into this problem when shooting a feature. I walked into the house where the entire film was to be shot, and almost every wall and cabinet in the place was white! I cringed and died a little inside. Get your actors out from the wall. Put as much decoration on the walls as possible, to break them up. Pictures, nick knacks, etc.... Accent light in flat areas and strategically placed practicals will also help. Think about using a little more color in your light, too. Pure, white light on white walls will make it worse. Control your spill, too. Flag your key light so it doesn't hit a bare wall and draw attention to it. You can also white balance a little warmer or cooler, in effect making the walls a little orange or blue, instead of boring white. But this is also dependent on the story. Don't do anything that doesn't fit the narrative. But the main thing is no blank walls. Blank, white walls are the worst.
  • 0

#5 Joseph Nunez

Joseph Nunez
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Other

Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:56 AM

I have a horror short to shoot in an all white walled room with nothing on the walls. I'm playing with the theory that the walls don't need to be darker than the talent- they need to be a different tone. In other words- silhouette. Light the background, with perhaps some colored light (practicals allowed to fall a bit yellow?), let the actors fall into shadow, then pick them up with a soft fill light, perhaps coming from the side for some modelling.

That's what I'm trying anyway...using blue phony moonlight (I'm also breaking up the walls a bit with some props too).

I'm no experienced pro so take that with a grain of salt, but you can watch the Girlfriend Experience trailer if you want to see what I mean. Is it possible those walls on the couch scene were white?



Someone chime in tell me if I'm misguided...
  • 0


Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Visual Products

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Opal

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

CineTape

Glidecam

Technodolly

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Opal

CineLab

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

The Slider

CineTape