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Shooting a 35mm dream sequence in a forrest on saturday


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#1 Phil Thompson

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 08:07 AM

Hello everyone,

Need your help. Im shooting a 35mm dream sequence in a forrest in England. Weather should hopefully be sunny. Shooting Fuji 65 35mm stock.

Im contemplating hiring a generator and taking a long a 1K arri. Do you think I should? Would you? Please help, i want this to be as slick as possible and i only have a 35mm operator and not so good with light

:(
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#2 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 10:36 AM

On a sunny day you'll be pushed to get much out of a 1k in a forest! Forests soak up a lot of light even on a bright day.
Also light plays and bounces as the sun moves which you have no real control over except using mirrors or some large bounce material and to get control
you need some big HMI sources 2.5K+. If your inexperienced with light I would hire an experienced gaffer or at least consult one.

plus side is I'm presuming you meant Fuji 64D stock, which is a beautiful stock for a forest.
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#3 Phil Thompson

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 06:04 AM

On a sunny day you'll be pushed to get much out of a 1k in a forest! Forests soak up a lot of light even on a bright day.
Also light plays and bounces as the sun moves which you have no real control over except using mirrors or some large bounce material and to get control
you need some big HMI sources 2.5K+. If your inexperienced with light I would hire an experienced gaffer or at least consult one.

plus side is I'm presuming you meant Fuji 64D stock, which is a beautiful stock for a forest.



Hi - it wasn't to light up the forrest,I just thought it would be useful for closeup shots. to get rid of shadows on the face. What do you reckon?
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 07:49 AM

A 1K still isn't enough for most bright day exteriors, particularly if your background is lit up. Unless you have access to large units (plus the genny and the people) and permits to use them, your better option will probably be to use shiny boards and try to redirect any natural light you can.
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#5 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 10:58 AM

Hi - it wasn't to light up the forrest,I just thought it would be useful for closeup shots. to get rid of shadows on the face. What do you reckon?


Yes I got that it was for fill, it's just not going to be very effective. I wouldn't go to the bother of hiring a generator for 1 1k light! That's just silly!
And shadow's on faces are not necessarily bad especially at a location that's rich with shadows. You really need to know how you want it to look
Phil and then kit up appropriately. If you have no other possibilities I would forget the genny and invest in some reflection.
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:18 AM

Make sure you shoot so subject is back lit dont worry about over going over on exposure and if you do have sun {hope so] just use white cards, poly to add some fill .
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#7 Michael Kosciesza

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:49 AM

You defiantly need a much brighter light source but if budget does not permit, you're better off using reflectors. Lighting in a forest may look beautiful naturally with branches and leaves shaping the light falling on a subject. If you're getting too much light falling on the talent try diffusing it with a "branchaloris" (DIY cookaloris made of leaves and sticks). It acts like a screen but looks more natural in a forest set environment. My best advice for you is to go and location scout a area with a big clearing for sunlight. You'd be surprised how fast the sun moves across the sky especially when shooting. A rehearsal with actors and DP would be a good idea so you don't waste time blocking shots and letting the day go by. From my experience, I think filming in a forest is a very tricky task especially if you have no control over lighting, weather conditions, even ambient noise (planes, cars, people, etc.)

Good Luck on the shoot. Let us know how it went.


MK
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#8 Guy Holt

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 03:02 PM

A 1K still isn't enough for most bright day exteriors, particularly if your background is lit up. Unless you have access to large units (plus the genny and the people) and permits to use them, your better option will probably be to use shiny boards and try to redirect any natural light you can.


I have always found reflector boards to be useless under the dense foliage of woods because, except for an occasional shaft of light breaking through the leaf canopy, there is usually little direct sun to bounce. Even when you work on the edge of a clearing, the window of direct light is usually very short because of the surrounding trees quickly block the sun as it moves across the sky. Shooting in woods you definitely need lights and, I agree with the others, you will definitely need more than just a 1k. If you plan your shots properly, you can get away with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2 Par which you can run on one of our modified Honda EU6500is/Transformer gen-set that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit.

The approach that I find works best is to shoot the establishing master shot when the sun is in a backlight position. Up to that point I shoot the close coverage under a full silk. Shooting the coverage under a silk offers a number of advantages. If the sun breaks through the canopy, the silk takes the directionality out of the sun and knocks down its’ level by two and half stops. Now a smaller HMI light will have more of a modeling effect. Shooting into talents' down side under a silk, I find that a 4k Par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a two shot.

If you wait to shoot the wide coverage until the sun has moved around to a back light position, your background is also back-lit so the discrepancy in exposure between the background and your talent to camera is not that great and so you can open up to gain exposure of your talent in the foreground without burning out the background. Also, when your background is back-lit, it does not over expose because of the discrepancy in levels under the silk and outside the silk – it helps to strike a good balance. Also, your background looks better because it is not flatly lit, but has some contrast. Finally, with the sun in a backlight position, if it comes through the canopy, the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wider before picking up the shadow of the hardware.

A good example of this approach is a scene I lit for a low budget feature that took place around a campfire in a small clearing surrounded by woods. Surrounded on all sides by woods, we knew that we would lose direct sunlight in the clearing early in the day and would need lights. We also knew that the scene was going to take all day to shoot because of its’ extensive dialogue, so we figured out where the sun was going to be throughout the day and where it would look best for our establishing wide shot. Where it was a two shot, mostly over the shoulder of one character talking to the second character who was standing with his back to the campfire with the woods behind him, we decided to wait until the sun had moved into a near back light position to shoot the establishing shot. So we shot our close coverage first with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2k Par under a 20x light soft frost on top of which we threw leaves. The 4k was heavily diffused and positioned so that it gave the talent the most attractive modeling. The 1.2kw was positioned as a backlight where the sun would be when we would eventually shoot the wide - this way there was always an edge in every shot for continuity.

When the time came to shoot the establishing shot, the shadow of the overhead frame and stands were thrown forward and did not interfere with the wider framing. Since we were still shooting under the Frost, we were wider open on the iris and so our exposure dug into the dark woods and brought out more detail. As an unexpected added bonus, the smoke from the campfire drifted into the woods, creating shafts of light where the sun broke through the tree canopy. What would have been a high contrast scene without lights, turned into a beautifully lit scene, and was accomplished without a lot of amps. The whole scene was lit with nothing more than a 4k and 1.2k Par and powered by nothing more than a 60A/120 circuit from a modified Honda EU6500is/Transformer Gen-set.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, Screenlight and Grip, Lighting rental and sales in Boston.
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