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First time shooting a western, ideas?


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#1 James Mulholland

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 05:09 AM

Hi everyone,

I am DOP on a short western film being shot in Ireland late next month, the film has a limited budget so I am trying to make the right purchases.

Basically 80 percent of the short is night, I am shooting one camp scene with just orange light as if coming from the fire, then I'm shooting a forest scene just in blue moonlight, then the other camp scene with both moonlight and orange.

We are shooting on RED Scarlet with cp2 zeiss lenses. I can get hold of 1.2 HMI lights (4 of them) and then a lot of 2k's and a few 800's, 500's and 300's.

For the fire light I was thinking of a 300w light on dimmer to create the flicker effect but to not dim up and down to much and try to keep a steady exposure. The director wants the man mostly in shade but we can still kind of see him and have some slits of light shining on his face? So I was thinking of putting the other 300's on the sides and flag them a lot to create little patches of light?

Also we want the hat the man wears to shadow his eyes, but the practical light source would be coming from underneath him, so any ideas on how to achieve this?

Finally I have listed the lights we can get, I believe they will be enough to light the backgrounds and frames once we don't shoot too wide, was wondering do you's agree??

Thanks for your time and I really appreciate any ideas or opinions people have.

James
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 06:38 AM

What would be creating slits of light coming from higher than the man? Is he standing in a barn or shack with gaps in it and there is moonlight coming through it from above? Otherwise it makes no sense, a campfire wouldn't create that effect.
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#3 James Mulholland

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:20 AM

What would be creating slits of light coming from higher than the man? Is he standing in a barn or shack with gaps in it and there is moonlight coming through it from above? Otherwise it makes no sense, a campfire wouldn't create that effect.


The Director wants the Fire to do it, Me personally I would prefer to just do a natural fire effect but put the actor further away from the fire but without slits of lights on his face, but the director wants it that way.
I wanted to light the characters face as if being lit from the fire but to do that I have to put the light low on the ground which means i could not get shadow under the hat over the characters eyes, so I'm asking does anyone know any other way? I was thinking of putting a flag in front of the 'fire' light to cut the light at about the top of the noise, but i'm worried it would look weird, Unless I miss the moonlight and fire light on his face to just make it easy. HMI from above to cast the shadow under the hat on the eyes, then a 300w Arri to fill in the rest of the face? I'm meeting the director this week again so I'll discuss it with him again.
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#4 Nadav Hekselman

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 04:04 PM

Maybe he is holding a lantern just above his head, or maybe there is one hanging from a tree. It is a camp after all. I advise you to watch the robbery night scene in " The assignation of Jessie James " for reference .

It sounds like you don't have enough light for moonlight effect in a Forest. Usually it requires big face lights and strong. I would go tight and use the hmi as backlight for the trees only. Put them as high as you can and flag the ground. Also try using some smokes, helps alot sometimes.

Sounds like a challenge , which is great!! Post some grabs once your done .

Good luck
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#5 James Mulholland

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 04:15 PM

Maybe he is holding a lantern just above his head, or maybe there is one hanging from a tree. It is a camp after all. I advise you to watch the robbery night scene in " The assignation of Jessie James " for reference .

It sounds like you don't have enough light for moonlight effect in a Forest. Usually it requires big face lights and strong. I would go tight and use the hmi as backlight for the trees only. Put them as high as you can and flag the ground. Also try using some smokes, helps alot sometimes.

Sounds like a challenge , which is great!! Post some grabs once your done .

Good luck


From the script there is no lantern, but that is a good idea that I might be able to talk to the director about, Thanks for the idea.

Your right, I am worried that we will not have enough light to go for wide shots, but possibly go for tighter shots should be ok if I stop to about 1.8 or 2. I was thinking of trying smoke, especially for the forest as I think it could add something to it.

It will be a challenge, I have mostly shot no budget shorts / music video's on DSLR and had to work around it, so can't wait to use the CP2 lenses and RED with a decent budget for lighting equipment, Plus can't remember any western features / shorts ever been shot in Ireland.
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