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Need Help Lighting a Warehouse for an Interview


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#1 Samuel Joseph Renton

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 07:03 AM

Hello all,

just wondering if you could help me out. Im shooting a video interview in a warehouse and have limited equipment, so was just wondering if anyone had any ideas.

Im shooting a static Mid, Wide and Close shot with the subject in the middle of the warehouse like so:

Posted Image

Im shooting on a 5d and have, 3 x 600W lillyputs and three small 100W halogen lamps. Various boards to bounce and diffuse as well as a few gels.

I wanted something like below. Subtle background light and a softbox on the subject.

Posted Image

Please throw any ideas my way.

thanks
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#2 Jaron Berman

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 08:50 PM

generally the hardest/most expensive/most time consuming part of lighting a large space is just that - lighting the background. If it is strictly a background, and you don't need to change what it looks like - i.e. it's a warehouse and you're ok with it looking like a warehouse - then it's generally easiest to start there and see what you get for free. Snap a few stills of the space or frame it up on your 5d and expose it the way you'd like it to look in the final shot. If you find that it looks the way you'd like - note the exposure and move on to the easy part - the key light. For something like this, you may find that its a lot easier than you'd expect if you start with the background and then bring in the key to match the exposure or perhaps be slightly above the bg - 1/2 - 1 stop over. The biggest challenge will be matching the color of your key to the ambient lighting in that space. Warehouses tend to use powerful, dirty, cheap lighting - usually of the fluorescent or mercury vapor type. That means a heavy green cast. BUT - you're shooting digital, and one cool aspect of digital is that the camera itself is essentially a color meter. Take a few still frames in RAW, do a custom white balance and hopefully you have time to bring the still frames of a white/gray card into photoshop. Adobe Camera Raw has a little "white balance" eye dropper which you can use to great effect - sample the white/gray card and it will actually read out the kelvin temp of the ambient lighting, as well as any green/magenta shift. That +- green will be tough to perfectly replicate because it doesn't read out in gel strength but you can eyeball it and get pretty darn close. Now all you have to do is use a combo of gels (CTB probably and Plus Green) to get your key to about the same color as the ambient. The point here is that you want your key to be as close to the color temp of the ambient lighting as possible so your background doesn't look crazy colored because you're gonna re-whitebalance to your newly gelled key light so the skintone looks correct. But the closer you get to matching the warehouse color the better so it looks more seamless when that lighting bleeds onto your talent.

When I do things like this I "cheat." A vectorscope is an AMAZING tool for video/digital in that you can EXACTLY match colors in realtime, especially when using a fixture like Arri's Locaster LED (or any other 6-7 color LED). If you have access to a vectorscope it'll save all the photoshop/still frames...

But the overall message - start with your background - thats the tough part, and then at the very end work on your key and shaping the light so it looks correct for your intentions. You may actually find that a piece of foamcore or a flag over your talent helps IMMENSELY - so you can block any frontal warehouse light from hitting your talent's face, allowing you to put your pretty lighting on them instead. And you'll probably find that the nasty warehouse lighting looks just fine if its backlighting your subject.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 08:00 AM

When confronted with a situation like this one with too big a space and not enough units to light it, I don't even try. One option is to turn on the overhead "practicals" and then work to balance my own key and backlight to the existing light. But more often than not, I set up a shot where I see just part of the background to get the feeling of a warehouse (or wherever I am) and make that shot look "excellent" as opposed to doing the wider shot that usually looks just mediocre. The rationale being that the B-roll will tell the story about the warehouse as my interview shot is merely hinting at the bigger story.

So with the situation above, I'd sit the talent down in a chair and shoot on a slightly longer lens so that a portion of those shelves went slightly soft. Kill the overheads as much as possible and then rake the background that is seen on camera from behind (so the light is pointing back toward the direction of camera) to "rim" the shelves for a more interesting "dramatic" look. This sets it apart from the b-roll which is likely going to be much more "industrial" and mundane, lighting-wise.

I think that my "style" and approach can be described by saying that if I had only a thousand dollars, instead of making a mediocre/poor $2,000 movie (with only $1,000), I'd prefer to make an excellent $800 movie and not try to overreach the parameters of what I have to work with.
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#4 Tom Guiney

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 01:36 PM

Does the warehouse have any windows or doorways down at the end of one of the aisles of shelves? You don't have the money to turn the lights off and light the background to taste, but if there are any windows/doors/bay doors stategically located, you could switch off the overheads, and let the window light play as a natural back edge on the shelving, or perhaps even keep a little bit of the window/doorway in shot deep in the background as a little hot spot. Find the spot in the warehouse, expose to how much natural backlight you get on the shelving, then color correct your key light. the ambient glow from a background doorway is likely to be a pretty dim source though, you'll need to pump your iso up pretty high. It might work with what equipment you've got to get what you want though, the cost being a bit of grain.

You've got enough gear to light a small area, but that's it. Key your subject + two very limited background places with your 600w lights. So if the window/bay door idea is a no go, and you're not going to leave the overheads on because it'll look cheap, perhaps key your subject with one unit, then rig your other two up high above the top of frame in two spots down the row away from you so they looked reasonable convicingly like overhead downlights, leaving large shadow areas between them. This is likely to be very high-contrast though, possibly too "creepy" or "scary" for your subject matter. your 100w units could serve well enough as a backlight, should you choose to use one. Is this a scary warehouse or a happy friendly warehouse? What feel do you want?

hope this helps
Tom Guiney
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#5 Samuel Joseph Renton

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 06:34 AM

Thanks guys, I fiddled around with lights and i think the grade was the biggy at the end. I decided to let the natural light fill the back of the warehouse, softbox as the key and a fill in at the side. I seperate the front two lights, i felt it gave his face some definition as oppose to it looking flat.

In terms of grading i shot very flat on the camera and used an old olympus lens.

Posted Image

Let us know what you think,

many thanks sam
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