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How Are Scenes Shot Separately in the Same Location Kept Consistent


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#1 Peter Ellner

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:58 PM

I am very curious how scenes that are shot in a specific location over the course of days or even weeks are made to look consistent so that in the final film they can come together to look like they were all shot at the same time (because obviously if the light kept changing than it would take audiences out of the experience).

Consider a film that's being shot in the downtown area of a city, the scenes shot in this location are meant to take place over a few hours on one afternoon, but in reality they were filmed on different days over the course of a week or more. Beyond just filming at the same time each day, many other environmental/ambiance things change from day to day, so how are all those shots kept looking consistent on feature films?

Thank you so much!

Edited by Peter Ellner, 05 July 2011 - 08:59 PM.

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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:25 PM

Most people don't notice changes in lighting direction and quality. It's not unusual to see occasional overcast shots in sequences that are otherwise sunny. A lot of it comes down to scheduling, and being clever with your locations and angles, but it is amazing what you can get away with. In the film 3.10 to Yuma (the remake) the climactic gun battle takes place mid afternoon, yet some of the shots, particularly later in the sequence, were obviously filmed almost at sunset - the shadows are much longer and the light is almost orange. To me, it was quite obvious, but I don't know anyone else that noticed, or cared.

Modern grading tools are also extremely useful for smoothing out the more obvious differences in contrast and color.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:39 PM

I am very curious how scenes that are shot in a specific location over the course of days or even weeks are made to look consistent so that in the final film they can come together to look like they were all shot at the same time (because obviously if the light kept changing than it would take audiences out of the experience).

Consider a film that's being shot in the downtown area of a city, the scenes shot in this location are meant to take place over a few hours on one afternoon, but in reality they were filmed on different days over the course of a week or more. Beyond just filming at the same time each day, many other environmental/ambiance things change from day to day, so how are all those shots kept looking consistent on feature films?

Thank you so much!


Generally you are matching the lighting in the wide master shot in the coverage, and often day interiors are a mix of natural and artificial light -- for example, maybe a lot of the soft ambience is natural but the slash of hard sunlight is artificial, so it doesn't change throughout the day, and if the soft ambience changes later in the day, it is augmented with more artificial soft light so that the look stays the same. It's mostly about deciding what you are matching to and when you don't have to worry as much about matching -- for example, maybe you have a bunch of shots looking towards the windows that all have to match even as the light changes, but you also have a couple of reverse angles with no windows where you can decide what the look should be, as long as it feels like the reverse view of the same location.
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#4 Zander Kroon

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 06:30 PM

Diligent note taking and drawing overheads are also very helpful.
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:56 AM

In the original Willy Wonka movie, you can see the progression of the day by watching the way the shadows move on the ground on successive shots. The scene is supposed to take about two minutes or so, but it's obvious that it took several hours to get.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 05:51 PM

If it matters, often they'll block out the real sun with a big butterfly, etc, and make their own constant sun with a big HMI.

Sometimes it doesn't matter so much, if you can choose what's in your BG. If you have a row of high rise buildings and you're looking square at them, the sun can move quite a bit, and it's always just lighting big flat surfaces. Even better if they're always on the shade side. The big pain is a North-South street, where the sun is going to cross the street in the middle of the day.

A lot of cinematography is keeping give-aways out of the shot....




-- J.S.
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#7 Karl Eklund

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 01:03 PM

I tend to start with the master shot, so I know what lights sources I need and how to justify the lights. On my budget, it is also good to know at a master shot level what lights are strong enough to light the scene, would be crap to start with a CU that then won't match at all with a master. Getting master first then helps for CU's because then I know if there is a "natural kicker", etc. on them. The last short film I worked on I had some scenes in which I had to work against clouds and sunshine coming back and forth, in one scene the master was cloudy, so then in the other shots I would frame objects/people so that I could block the sun out. The shots where blocking wasn't feesible I would add ND-filters to get a shallow depth of field, and make the background less noticble, also then I would frame things and cheat characters to hide the sun. For example we were shooting out thru a shop's window, across the street. The ground was way to bright to match, but the other side of the street had parts that was in the shade. So I could frame and cheat so that really all the objects in the frame are all in the shade...

The thing is that there are lots of tricks to work around problems, but the thing is that you might lose certain things doing so. For, example, lets say everything is framed in a certain way, and then the only way to work around a sunshine/cloudy problem is to use a different style of framing might be more of a problem for the audience than having bad lighting continuity. Just as going between deep focus wideangles to shallow telephotos might look weird. To me it is just about trying to find the lesser of two evils.


Personally I don't really notices in film shadows moving around, but I do dislike films that constantly go from a high contrast shot in the master and then in the CU everything is super soft and "beautiful".
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Metropolis Post

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