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INCEPTION: The Lighting Styles


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#1 Benjamin Davis

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 04:31 PM

INCEPTION's lighting is something that is memorable to me. Of course, having used a Panavision film camera for most of the movie, the quality of the image is going to be increased, but there is still something to say about the quality of the lighting. Wally Pfister was able to light particular scenes in a way that were so warm and even that it made the unrealistic aspect of the film seem realistic. Watching particular scenes over and over again and taking notes, I see key aspects of the production design that took a major role in creating the feel of the film. Look at figure 1 for example.


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The brown and beige palette for this shot really played into the color of the walls and wood, as well as the upholstery of the carpet. Joseph Gordon Levitt's outfit also blends in rather well.
My question is: How do they diffuse the lights in such a way that they are not completely blowing out the picture and making everything over exposed?
I seem to have this problem with my lights. Also, are the lights used to light this shot very specific, or are they just traditional 40 watt - 60 watt bulbs? Also, is it entirely color correction, or is the light really that yellow/orange warm?
If anyone can answer these newbie questions I'd be super appreciative!


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#2 Phil Jackson

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:52 PM

ASC Inception Article

The ASC article on Inception will answer most of what you want to know but here is a quote from the article:

"Our dimmer pack was actually onboard, which was a streamlined way to do it. We had to balance our cables and dimmers around the entire rig so it wouldn’t make the load uneven.” Because of the high-speed work, a lot of light was required, and the lighting was designed to be extra sturdy because the actors would have to fall on it. Practical fixtures designed by the art department each held six 150-watt Photofloods. There were also sconces and a soffit built around the existing practicals and fitted with nook lights with 1,000-watt globes behind milk glass. The stop was usually T2.81⁄2. "

As far as the color temperature there is no DI on this film so it was all done in camera or during the timing stage. Much of it as you point out is art direction and costume design.

Edited by Phil Jackson, 27 April 2011 - 08:53 PM.

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Glidecam

Opal

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport