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#1 Elliott Balsley

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:34 PM

Hi everyone. I'm a cinematography student, shooting on 16mm for my first time next weekend. I've been trying to come up with a lighting plan, and I could use some advice. I'll be shooting on Kodak 7217, 200T. It's all night interiors, and I'm going to for a moody, lonely look.
I have measurements of the room, as you can see in the attached picture. (I apologize for the lousy scan quality.)

I want to shoot at an f/2, which means key light should be 25 footcandles, according to my Set Lighting Technician's Handbook. I'm looking at all the tables in the back of that book, listing brightness of various fixtures at various distances. So I've come up with this:
  • a 300w fresnel 20 feet away (in another room which diegetically doesn't exist) for a little ambience
  • a practical floor lamp in the frame to provide some motivation. (The room is dark because the protagonist is watching a movie.)
  • a chinaball (maybe 150w?) just out of frame, mimicking the floor lamp. I want this to be close so its light will fall off the background.
  • possibly a very small source (150w pepper) with a cucoloris in the background for texture.
From my experience working on sets, those fixtures just seem really small to me, and I'm worried I won't have nearly enough light. So there's a conflict between the charts/math and my experience. Can anyone offer advice here?
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#2 Elliott Balsley

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:56 PM

For some reason the image didn't upload last time. Here it is.

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Edited by Elliott Balsley, 06 March 2011 - 09:58 PM.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 11:08 PM

Eliot;
I'll tell you this. It's always better to have lights which are too bright (which can be brought down with ND) than to not have enough. I'd bump up to a 650 instead of a 300 personally, or a something like a baby.
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#4 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:51 AM

It would help to know the color of the set because a dark walled set will eat up that 150 and 300w so fast.

Edited by Ronald Gerald Smith, 07 March 2011 - 11:51 AM.

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#5 Pete Wallington

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 01:17 PM

Yeah I agree with Adrian, you can always scrim/diffuse/ND/move-further-back a light that is too bright, but it's very difficult to work with a light that's not bright enough. Of course size then becomes more of a concern - have you chosen small lamps because you need to fit them in very snug places? It doesn't look that way from the sizes on your floorplan.

Is it just one guy sitting on the seat watching the TV? If so a 150 china ball should be enough to key him, using the practical to motivate it. Providing you can get it close enough. If you have any really wide shots you may need to rely on the practical alone, or use a soft source with a longer through from further away.
Do you want to simulate any light coming from the TV? A softly flickering blue/white light projecting onto his face? If so there are a variety of means to do that, waving your hands in front of a 350 through a frame is probably the simplest. Or get a couple of dedos on dimmers with different coloured gels and ramp the dimmers up and down in shot.
It's not always a good look though, so it may not work for your scene.

The 300 is shooting through a window of some description? Is it supposed to be simulating moonlight? or streetlight? Don't forget that once you gel it you're gonna start losing more light quite quickly.
It's also coming from the same direction as your china ball. One will probably over-power the other, unless you are maybe aiming the 300 just at the back wall to create some seperation?

Some ugly flourescent green light spilling from the kitchen seems like a good idea.

Edited by Pete Wallington, 07 March 2011 - 01:18 PM.

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#6 Elliott Balsley

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:48 PM

Thanks everyone, for the responses.
Ronald, you make a good point about the set color. The walls are pale green, probably around 50% reflectance I'd guess. But the furniture and floor is dark wood, so that might require an extra stop or so.

I have a 1K and a 2K fresnel availalble, as well as a 575w HMI, but I was just picking small sources based on the footcandles, like I said.
I realized the drawing is a little confusing; the wall on the bottom doesn't exist, that's just the
The 300w far away is in another room. No gel, but I realized I want to diffuse it with muslin, which probably means it needs to be a 1K instead. It's job is to provide dim ambience everywhere (hence the distance.. inverse square law). The china ball is supposed to bring the actor up to key. Do you think it's a problem they're on the same side? I might add a bounce card on the dark side if I need to.
I plan to use a real TV to provide a little flickering light, but if that doesn't work, I have a salt'n'pepper kino ready instead.

I have another question now. Another location I have is a hotel hallway. The hall has ugly fluorescent tubes along the ceiling, which I'll be replacing with Kino KF32's. I'm trying to figure out how much light that will provide, since I can't get in to test it until the shoot day. According to Kino's website, a 4' T12 KF32 tube produces 3350 lumens, but I don't know how to calculate the candelas from that. A Kino Double Select produces 26 footcandles at 8 feet, which I think is the distance to the actor's shoulder from the fixture. I'll have the same 2 bulbs, but without a reflector, so I'm figuring half that will hit the actor. Is that right?

That would give me light to shoot at a f/1.4, but I'd like to get f/4. So my main question is what do you recommend in this hallway? I've thought of putting a 1K or 2K on the Fisher dolly, bounced into the ceiling, but I worry it will look too unnatural as we move. We don't have access to put lights in rooms, and there are no windows.

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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 09:57 PM

I'd replace those tungsten cieling fixtures with higher wattage, let that be a "pool" of brighter light, and maybe expose for a 2.8 (if i wanted a 4 but was only getting a 1.4 from my "fill" fixtures. You needn't, always, get everything up to "key," that can be boring a flat. But, not knowing the film/shot/camera/lens/motion ect it's hard to be sure,
As for the comparison to the kino, no, you haven't got the reflector, so it won't be the same, the reflector helps "push," the light out, and you ain't got that. Also, from the looks of things, there's plastic covering the fixtures, which'll also eat up some stop. So again, what's the shot?
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#8 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 09:59 PM

The walls are pale green, probably around 50% reflectance I'd guess. But the furniture and floor is dark wood, so that might require an extra stop or so.


I understand that you need to light the walls (for the background patterned texture) but I don't think that the furniture or floor would require an extra stop because you are not lighting the floor or furniture are you? Unless it has something to do with the story? From what I can assume it can be more of a secondary thing. I wouldn't spot meter the furniture or the floor but that is just my opinion. Unless you were doing like a closeup of an object on the floor or an object on the table, then that would make furniture/floor exposure more important.

As for using the 1k through muslin for dim ambience, maybe you shouldn't be so dead set on having the lamp further away. Having a lamp further away makes the light harder thus making harder shadows and making it more stylistic in that sense - maybe that is what you want but it is something that I might avoid if I was looking for dim ambient light. That might just complicate things and cause unnecessary distracting shadows everywhere. Maybe you can bounce muslin on the ceiling using smaller light to get a nice ambient light level? And use a hazer to spread the light around? And this light I would think should be like 2 stops under max - like around 20 IRE (in video language)

I would make sure that the TV light doesn't conflict with the china ball light. Also I wouldn't be so concerned with bringing "the actor up to key". Maybe you can do a soft rimlight with the ball and have the tv light up the actors face? Or maybe if the actor isn't facing the tv maybe the tv could be a soft rim light and the china ball light up the face. Or maybe you don't even need a key and you can just silhouette. I think that trying to make everything look perfect (perfect key, perfect backlight, background light, special effects light from the TV, etc.) make a film look really bland and uninteresting - I think taking out some elements make the shots look better.

For TV effect: On the last shoot I used a daylight balanced softbox with a dimmer and I had a grip (who was also an editor by the way) and I just told him to dim the light up and down like he would as if he was cutting a film. There would be some periods of really bright light, some areas where it would pulsate a little bit from light to dark, and there would be sharp periods of really bright light and then a sharp change to just darkness coming from the TV on so on and so forth (sort of like really high-key shots on the tv being intercut with really dark shots - it really helped that he was an editor because it looked really good and I was happy with it. And I have to admit that when the tv set (softbox) was completely dark - during those periods of darkness I thougth they were the prettiest because the actress was silhouetted and mysterious.

As for the hallways scene - that is going to be really tough getting an f/4 using 200T stock. I would say that it would be hard getting f/4 even if you were shooting 500T. On the RED it's hard for me to get that high even at 800ISO.

As for the 1k or 2k on the fisher dolly, bounced into the ceiling - yes that will look very unnatural. Might pass in a music video, but will be too distracting in the narrative context. If it was a really small light then it would be ok but something like a 1k or 2k would way overpower the kf tubes.

I can't really comment on the hallway setup too much because I don't know what you need to see. Do you need to see details in the actors faces? Or will it be enough to just see his general form/outline. Also, what I need to know what kind of shots you are going for... are you doing a dolly lead? Dolly follow? Track alongside? Static lockoff as actor moves from background into foreground? Static lockoff as actor moves from foreground to background?
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#9 Elliott Balsley

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 04:20 AM

Thanks for all the ideas, I like having more to think about :)

In the hallway, the director and I decided it might actually be nice if the background is a little dark, because the character is somewhat lost mentally in these scenes, is looking for someone but doesn't know which room he's in or how to find him. So I will try something on the dolly, not sure how much.
There are many shots in this hallway. Some following the actor running, some leading her from the front. Three times, at different doorways, she stops and has a brief encounter with the people in each room. For those shots, we'll be getting coverage over her shoulder, and from the other person's POV looking out the doorway.
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#10 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:27 AM

Thanks for all the ideas, I like having more to think about :)

In the hallway, the director and I decided it might actually be nice if the background is a little dark, because the character is somewhat lost mentally in these scenes, is looking for someone but doesn't know which room he's in or how to find him. So I will try something on the dolly, not sure how much.
There are many shots in this hallway. Some following the actor running, some leading her from the front. Three times, at different doorways, she stops and has a brief encounter with the people in each room. For those shots, we'll be getting coverage over her shoulder, and from the other person's POV looking out the doorway.


Cool, I like your shot sequencing - and I'm sure you already thought of having the transition from dolly follow to OTS in one smooth shot. Judging from the hallway, you will have nice periods of silhouetting and some dramatic toplight as the character moves through the hallway and I don't think too much additional light is necessary.

The light on the dolly should work to fill in parts naturally, but I think that using bounce on the ceiling will look quite odd and will only serve to add more toplight while still keeping the face shadowed.

Perhaps a 150w scrimmed down, positioned close to the camera (slightly above) and pointed at a 45 degree downward angle at the actress face should provide good fill, but it will produce a harsher light, but that is quite common in 16mm films - with 16mm (that is a lot softer than sharp HD or 4k or 35mm) it it sometimes nice I think to have harsher lights because the shadows tend to define the image and make it sharper .

Also if you wanted to go more softer and more naturalistic what would work great is a china ball that you can rig up using grip arms. Like the lanterlock ones that they sell at filmtools: http://www.filmtools...all-system.html
Just rig this above the camera (or as close to the camera as possible to provide a nice fill light as the camera moves. Plus it's a lot less cumbersome than a 1k or 2k bounce.

Edited by Ronald Gerald Smith, 08 March 2011 - 11:30 AM.

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#11 Richard Hicks

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 09:54 AM

I’m no expert that’s for sure, but it sounds to me like this is an emotional area of turmoil for your character. I’m guessing also that you’re going to be pulling in close to her face for all the emotion and responses from the people that she is getting “no’s” from. Perhaps a little crying and frustration?
If that’s the case then why not just make everything tight except the action establishing shots and leave the lighting just the way that it is or even take out a bulb or two to make the place look even more distressed and in turmoil. You said something about being a dark and brooding film? Make the hallway dark and crappy and only have her run through the lights enough to show extreme distress perhaps? Sometimes it helps to leave the scene lighting as bad as it is just to help add to that effect of mood.

But like I said, I am no expert. These are just the thoughts that I had about what I read.
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