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Suggestion for 7D Night Shoot - natural lighting only.


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#1 James Malamatinas

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 06:21 PM

I'm working on an upcoming student project where they will be shooting on a 7D, at night, using only street lights and natural lighting. We have done a very brief test just to see how it might look, this was spare of the moment when we scouting a location so quality is poor!




Can anyone make recommendations on how to best approach this kind of shoot, including any cheap (it is student!) equipment that you think may really benefit the shoot if we were possible to get hold of a select few items. Although there was the expected grain in the footage from shooting at ISO 800 and higher the image also seemed softer, is their a relationship between a softer image and low-light shooting?

I know this is kind of vague but I'm really looking for tips that would make our lives easier!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

James
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 11:00 PM

It's generally softer because you're shooting wide open and lenses don't perform as well wide open. I'd get a few PAR 64s with VNSP, SP, And MF bulbs for the shoot. They're pretty powerful 1K units which you can use to bring up exposure if need be, shoot at a lower ASA, and pick out details in far background. Cheap to buy ($150 ish for a head, stand adapter, and bulb) and also cheap to rent.
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#3 Steve Munro

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:05 AM

I'm working on an upcoming student project where they will be shooting on a 7D, at night, using only street lights and natural lighting.


If we're discussing light then it can be assumed that there is no natural lighting at night-time. You therefore have to go with locations that have greater sources of light if you're not intending to use any that you're bringing in yourself.

Can anyone make recommendations on how to best approach this kind of shoot, including any cheap (it is student!) equipment that you think may really benefit the shoot if we were possible to get hold of a select few items. Although there was the expected grain in the footage from shooting at ISO 800 and higher the image also seemed softer, is their a relationship between a softer image and low-light shooting?


The 7D is based on ISO 160 and anything that is not a multiple of that (Such as 320, 640 etc) is not a true ISO setting - it's gain (something to consider). So, I'd agree with Adrian and suggest you go for a lower ISO (ASA) and then add light to get the look you need. The danger of using only ambient light (or a single source) is that your images can look very flat and, as shown in your test footage, you can have those deep-shadows that you might not want. Go with what Adrian says and start building a simple light kit as essential to your needs (as essential as your camera). But, in the meantime, if all you've got is a couple of LED torches and some tracing paper (hint), then the difference is only in how creative you can be with it.
Steve
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#4 Matt Pacini

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 04:26 PM

At the very least, if you really just aren't going to be able to light anything, get a nice sized piece of foamcore or styrofoam, and have someone stand beside the camera & bounce some light back onto your subjects.
That will help some with the shadows.

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#5 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:46 AM

I'm working on an upcoming student project where they will be shooting on a 7D, at night, using only street lights and natural lighting. We have done a very brief test just to see how it might look, this was spare of the moment when we scouting a location so quality is poor!




Can anyone make recommendations on how to best approach this kind of shoot, including any cheap (it is student!) equipment that you think may really benefit the shoot if we were possible to get hold of a select few items. Although there was the expected grain in the footage from shooting at ISO 800 and higher the image also seemed softer, is their a relationship between a softer image and low-light shooting?

I know this is kind of vague but I'm really looking for tips that would make our lives easier!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

James


What sort of shoot is this night shoot going to be? Are you running and gunning or are you shooting in one or two places where you have access to mains power?

Looking at your tests the problems I see are, his eyes are dark and cavernous, his dark hair and clothes blend into the dark background and sometimes some of the wider dark backgrounds are a very dark there is nothing there (not that is always a bad thing).

How do you feel about grain/noise, in the context of the story are you happy with shooting at a high ISO or not? though interestingly enough from your tests a high ISO is perhaps not needed in those locations - we did a night-shoot workshop here last week where we shot relatively easily on 160T so its not always a problem!

If running and gunning, try and get some battery lights, if thats a problem see what your DIY shop has in torches and LED fittings. An LED light gelled appropriately just above the lens could just fill out those eyes a little, create a subtle glint. Maybe use something a bit more powerful for some back-light, edge light on his hair. Careful selection of clothes, and what background you places the actor in front of will help also, avoid dark on dark. A wet down is always rather useful at night.

If you have more control, then the most efficient lights you can use will be your best, like Par's or HMIs. I always see night-lighting as a good opportunity to experiment with hard-light and contrast, preferably mostly from the back or side. Though bringing up an ambience with a bounced blonde or larger fluorescents, particularly if you can get them up high can be useful and appealing in its own way.

Best of luck, Andy
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#6 James Malamatinas

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 03:47 PM

Thanks everyone for all of your advice, I maybe made things slightly confusing with the 'natural' light term, I just mean't available light, I guess!

We will definitely try and get some lights, at the very least to try and lift the shadows from the actors eyes; I think the suggested kino-flo mini or battery powered LED lights might be the best option since we will be running and gunning at times. We can also use our cars for some power.

As for noise/grain, we were expecting some so that is not a huge problem as its part of the 'look' of the short. From our tests however above 800 ISO becomes very noticable so we will try to avoid going this high where possible.

Thanks for the advice about careful clothing choices and wetting down where possible, these are things I would probably have learned the hard way!

Although long takes are not planned, is it correct that once the Canon's warm up after constant use more noise can be found in the image, is it noticeable enough that we should be thinking of trying to cool the camera down in some way?

If all goes well I'll post a clip of the results late next week.
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#7 Michael Dunn

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 10:14 PM

You might consider getting some chinaballs and hanging them on a boom just outside of frame. I think they're like 10 bucks at filmtools. Might be a good way to add some light and eliminate those shadows.
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Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Visual Products

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera