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Lighting large classroom scene


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#1 Paul H Jackson

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 05:29 AM

Hi guys,

I am shooting a short film set in a school in the next couple of weeks. The director likes to maintain the flow on his shoots and so doesn't want to be moving lights around all the time.

The main scene takes place in a large classroom, with the teacher at the front and a classroom of kids sitting from the front to the back. There is a large window on one side of the room.

I would like to keep it as natural as possible and ideally have a set up that will not have to be moved around. Shots will be mainly close-ups but we will also have a couple of wides thrown in the mix. For close-ups I don't mind adding additional light to improve the shot?

Any suggestions on the way to go, will I need to add to the daylight already flooding in from the window? Ultimately I want the daylight to be the source for the scene and no classroom lights.

Any good starting points? I will be renting lights and so any suggestions will be welcome. Shooting on 5D

Many thanks,

Paul
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 05:46 AM

Which way is the classroom window facing . Have you thought of just using the natural light ?
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#3 timHealy

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:22 AM

Hey,

it is not really practical to say you never can have any lights to be moved around. That will be inevitable especially for your close ups. But you could either light for you widest shots or just go natural if the class is facing south and you want the sun or facing north and get a nice soft light coming in. Moving your close up lights around. But you may want some outdoor lights to rake across your walls depending on which way you'll be seeing.

If you want to light it and this depends on the shots your director has in mind, a worst case scenario would be to under hang lights on lifts or a truss to pump light in and keep them out of frame. Something like this could be needed if you have a lot of moving shots or panning across the window. If you are shooting mostly towards the teacher from the students perspective and then mostly towards the kids from the teachers position, then you could have lights on stands just outside the window and you wouldn't really need a lift or truss. If you are looking out the window and you have lights rigged and you wind up shooting on a grey overcast day your set might look light a set in a stage with a flat background.

Then depending on the architecture of the window, it may be possible to hide lamps on stands between window frames. But you said that it is one large window so maybe that is not the case here.

If you are on a shoestring budget, the going the way of Johns recommendation is probably preferable. Just keep one or two lights outside to rake the walls or backlight the characters if needed and something inside for close ups and fill that just get pushed around all day.

Good luck and have fun

Best

Tim
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#4 Paul H Jackson

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 12:09 PM

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for the feedback.

The director has given Entre les Murs as an example, and to be honest the classroom we have is very similar.

The window will not be the main feature in any of the shots, you may see clips of it when we shoot character profiles. I am hoping to use as much of the natural light as possible, but I am just worried that we will be shooting the whole day and therefore the lighting is likely to change throughout? What is the best way to keep that as consistent as possible? ND? a net tent? Have some perm HMI sources blasting through the window? As you can probably tell I am a little new to shooting larger scenes.

Thanks for the tip regarding closeups - I am happy to move a couple of lights around throughout the day. So I suppose the main issue is trying to maintain a constant light from the window and what equipment would be best to do that? Also, could I use Poly boards to bounce my window light back into the room to act as a fill?

Your advice is really appreciated.

Thank you,

Paul
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#5 Dustan Lewis McBain

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 02:01 PM

Depending on the color temp of the practical lights, id recomend econo-watt kinos mixed with day light kinos, and ltm 200/400 hmi's for kickers and rims. I you have room for a window get a 1.2 hmi also. You should do fine
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#6 timHealy

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 06:35 PM

I am hoping to use as much of the natural light as possible, but I am just worried that we will be shooting the whole day and therefore the lighting is likely to change throughout? What is the best way to keep that as consistent as possible? ND? a net tent? Have some perm HMI sources blasting through the window? As you can probably tell I am a little new to shooting larger scenes.


You may be new but you are asking the right questions. HMI's coming through the window will help keep you shooting through weather changes. Natural daylight, bounces, poly and the rest will be weather dependent. So based on your budget and your wide shots, will help point you which way to go. Unfortunately, the budget may dictate which way you go even if it is not preferable. But even if you have a budget to get bigger lights then you need more crew to work it and even maybe a bigger power source like a generator. And that's how some things grow and get more expensive. Some things to think about.

Sometimes less is more if you cant get bigger units. If you know what I mean.

Best

Tim
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#7 joseph labisi

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 02:25 PM

Since your shooting with 5D, and have the high sensitivity ASA to adjust as you go, I would say use the Harris Savides approach and use Kinos with Daylight tubes over the windows to continue the push and create a soft more wrapping light. Then maybe get some Joker/Leikos with 50 and 36degree beams to create edges. If you have an 18k or two in your budgets it wouldnt be terrible idea to push them through the windows from far away so you get sharper/harder shadows. Hopefully your classroom faces a direction that the high summer sun doesnt set into or rise into -creating a flagging situation.
Have a great shoot- joe
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