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wally pfister lighting


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#1 Deji Joseph

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 06:36 AM

I'm preparing to shoot my first fictional low budget short film and I like the look of wally pfister's work, particularly in The Prestige. I was wondering if i could get any tips

my equipment

3 arri red heads
2 sets of Deado lights
Scrim
Gels
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#2 David McDonald

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 08:05 PM

I'm preparing to shoot my first fictional low budget short film and I like the look of wally pfister's work, particularly in The Prestige. I was wondering if i could get any tips

my equipment

3 arri red heads
2 sets of Deado lights
Scrim
Gels



That's kind of a broad request...What is it that you like about Pfister's work in the Prestige? Or particular scenes you'd like to emulate and then maybe it'll be easier to give you advice.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 12:33 PM

A lot will also depend on how big or small of an area you're trying to light, and on what cameras, with what art direction etc. A lot of the DoPs work is really the provence of the Production Designer who can really make or break you. As for lighting, I rarely find it possible to give a broad usage of lights, but rather for specific shots/scene based on what one has. Obviously, a few Red Heads and Dedos can't quite lite up Tesla's lab in a wide shot....
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#4 Ben Brahem Ziryab

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:13 PM

Let me add: one thing you should know about Wally is that he likes to keep some things very brightly and others very dark (use of very deep and rich black tones). Still though, he lights to maintain detail in even the darkest shadows.
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#5 Deji Joseph

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 06:52 AM

That's kind of a broad request...What is it that you like about Pfister's work in the Prestige? Or particular scenes you'd like to emulate and then maybe it'll be easier to give you advice.


Im interested in how he creates such natural looking light on the talent. their faces look so evenly lit especially, i like the naturalistic look to it.
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#6 David McDonald

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:12 AM

Im interested in how he creates such natural looking light on the talent. their faces look so evenly lit especially, i like the naturalistic look to it.


Well, again, that's pretty vague and doesn't really give anyone much to tell you. You want them to look natural like they haven't been lit? I'm not even sure that Pfister's style is like that. And I'm not sure if what you're going for is "evenly lit." By 'evenly lit' do you mean high key? It may be difficult to achieve evenly lit, naturalistic lighting with the lights you've got...it sounds like you've got hard lights with no diffusion which could get ugly and look very 'lit'...But again, I'm not sure if that's really what Pfister does very often so maybe if you can post a clip from youtube that you like then we can begin to give you advice.
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#7 Deji Joseph

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 08:40 AM

Well, again, that's pretty vague and doesn't really give anyone much to tell you. You want them to look natural like they haven't been lit? I'm not even sure that Pfister's style is like that. And I'm not sure if what you're going for is "evenly lit." By 'evenly lit' do you mean high key? It may be difficult to achieve evenly lit, naturalistic lighting with the lights you've got...it sounds like you've got hard lights with no diffusion which could get ugly and look very 'lit'...But again, I'm not sure if that's really what Pfister does very often so maybe if you can post a clip from youtube that you like then we can begin to give you advice.


I think my jargon is lacking, so my explanation us a bit vague, are there any sites i can use to improve it? Your right the light i have give a very lit look, apart from scrim and a light box, are there any other-ways to soften it? a friend of mne suggested lighting nets. the look I am going for is

http://0.tqn.com/d/m...restigepic3.jpg

I think wally uses soft high key light to make his characters stand out, do you agree?
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#8 Steve McBride

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 03:58 PM

Scrims and nets won't soften your light, they will just cut down the amount of light you're getting from a unit.

To soften the light you need to put some sort of diffusion in front of the light like a silk or some diff gel (250, 260, Hampshire, etc.). Also putting a Chimera on a Redhead would help.
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#9 David McDonald

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:48 PM

Scrims and nets won't soften your light, they will just cut down the amount of light you're getting from a unit.

To soften the light you need to put some sort of diffusion in front of the light like a silk or some diff gel (250, 260, Hampshire, etc.). Also putting a Chimera on a Redhead would help.


Yeah diffusion gel is pretty much a must at the very least. If I were you I'd look into getting either 4x4 frames with diffusion gel on them, or even larger frames like 8x8 or 12x12 to put big silks on, so that you can cover entire windows or soften the hell out of your light.
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#10 Deji Joseph

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 07:37 AM

Scrims and nets won't soften your light, they will just cut down the amount of light you're getting from a unit.

To soften the light you need to put some sort of diffusion in front of the light like a silk or some diff gel (250, 260, Hampshire, etc.). Also putting a Chimera on a Redhead would help.


What is a chimera? From google, it looks like an adapter for soft boxes?

Edited by Deejay Joseph, 02 December 2010 - 07:37 AM.

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#11 Deji Joseph

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 07:48 AM

Scrims and nets won't soften your light, they will just cut down the amount of light you're getting from a unit.

To soften the light you need to put some sort of diffusion in front of the light like a silk or some diff gel (250, 260, Hampshire, etc.). Also putting a Chimera on a Redhead would help.


I found one i like, looking for it on ebay

http://www.bhphotovi...o_Pro_Bank.html

Can i just attach it to the red head or do i need to purchase an adaptor as well?
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#12 Ben Brahem Ziryab

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 01:56 PM

No, you'll need the speed ring to attach your lights on the chimera. Look for the right ring: http://www.bhphotovi...itialSearch=yes
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#13 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 11:35 AM

Hi,

I find that when you are working with very limited resources and crew, I like to use coves, you take a piece of show card and bend it into a cove, holding it togehter with paper tape, it makes for a nice, semi-controled source that gives you a very nice, soft light. You can also tape some bleached or unbleached muslin to the card and it is even nicer.

Hope that helps,

Francisco
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#14 Kirk Love

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:17 PM

guys, I had same kind of question in lighting category of the forum but no one replied... I understand what the OP is going for.. In Dark Knight/Inception if you look at the actors in most scenes it seems like they're naturally lit without any external lights cos there' always shadows on their faces so the look is extremely natural and gives you that feel.. to give you an idea what the OP is going for here are more examples:

http://imgur.com/REdLc Dicaprio's face doesn't seem like it's lit

http://imgur.com/K4Rjz Looks half lit

http://imgur.com/E4J2F right part of the face is completely shadowed (natural light?)


http://imgur.com/E11hd here left part of the face is completely shadowed...


I'm biggest fan of Wally and also would like to know how all of this is done..
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:49 PM

All those shots are LIT, they are just lit in a natural style -- mostly a single large soft light from a side-ish angle, very little or no fill, sometimes a strong backlight.
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#16 Mathew Rudenberg

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 08:23 PM

http://imgur.com/REdLc Dicaprio's face doesn't seem like it's lit

http://imgur.com/K4Rjz Looks half lit


Here are some higher res versions of the images you posted - it helps you see the eyelights and interpret the lighting a little better:

Posted Image

sorry, couldn't resist...
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#17 Kirk Love

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 08:38 PM

thanks a lot, thats what I thought cos I saw behind the scenes of Inception.. Does it mean that Wally always uses mostly a single large soft light from a side? I found his interview here




he talks how he likes playing on the darker sides of the lighting at the same time overexposes it in the camera... what you guys think?

All those shots are LIT, they are just lit in a natural style -- mostly a single large soft light from a side-ish angle, very little or no fill, sometimes a strong backlight.


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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 09:44 PM

No, it's not always from the side - look at some of the long handheld dialogue scenes in "The Prestige", some of those have a large soft toplight so the camera is free to move nearly 360 degrees. The underground garage for Batman in "The Dark Knight" is lit with that huge ceiling of soft light that you see in-camera, just augment sometimes with an eyelight or something. The top floor dinner party scene in "The Dark Knight" where the Joker threatens Rachel and drops her out the window is also soft top-lit.

Pfister likes contrast, mood, and elegant simplicity. Sometimes that's easy, sometimes that's hard, sometimes you can use available light, sometimes you have to create it all from scratch but make it look like available light. That means studying real light in nature and deconstructing it in your head so you can recreate it as necessary -- in direction, contrast, hardness or softness, etc.

Simplicity is generally elegant-looking, uncluttered and dramatic -- and sometimes in a real room you have too many sources of light, so one of your jobs as a DP is to reduce the number of sources and simplify. Pfister will sometimes create a strong source of light for a room, to which any additional light he adds is subservient so it doesn't compete for attention or dilute the dramatic effect of a single source, but when someone steps out of that source or is backlit by it, then he might add an underexposed soft light that catches the eyes so you can still see the expressions of the actor. Since he's dealing with a lot of moody situations where the light on the face is falling off into darkness, he is careful to use eyelights when necessary to keep the performance alive.
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#19 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:59 AM

American Cinematographer had a great in depth article about the shooting of "The Prestige". Worth checking out.
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#20 Kirk Love

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 12:20 PM

American Cinematographer had a great in depth article about the shooting of "The Prestige". Worth checking out.



give us a link
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Aerial Filmworks

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