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Night Car Scene - what to choose?


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#1 Jakub Burakiewicz

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 06:38 PM

Hey!

I'm preparing for a short movie.
It's a little bit of a "cinematographer's nightmare" so I need a little bit o support :)

The most of the action is set in a driving car at night. The exterior is not a city so I cannot rely on city lights etc.
The question is what method of filming would bring the best results... in the aspect of "look" and "shooting".

I suppose that putting a car on the platform doesn't really make sense...everything behind the windows will be dark anyways (fields, forests etc)
I was considering a day for night effect but there are some complicated scenes in which characters drive the car, than stop it and get outside...

Now, I'm hesitating between 3 "studio" options:

1.Greenscreen
2.Blackscreen
3.Rear projection.

Which one would you recommend?!
Does anyone could share his expercience and knowledge? I've already done some night scenes in the car but this gonna be may hardest task :)

Thanks a lot!

Jakub Burakiewicz

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Edited by Jakub Burakiewicz, 01 August 2012 - 06:39 PM.

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#2 Lucas Griego

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 01:14 AM

Hey!

I'm preparing for a short movie.
It's a little bit of a "cinematographer's nightmare" so I need a little bit o support :)

The most of the action is set in a driving car at night. The exterior is not a city so I cannot rely on city lights etc.
The question is what method of filming would bring the best results... in the aspect of "look" and "shooting".

I suppose that putting a car on the platform doesn't really make sense...everything behind the windows will be dark anyways (fields, forests etc)
I was considering a day for night effect but there are some complicated scenes in which characters drive the car, than stop it and get outside...

Now, I'm hesitating between 3 "studio" options:

1.Greenscreen
2.Blackscreen
3.Rear projection.

Which one would you recommend?!
Does anyone could share his expercience and knowledge? I've already done some night scenes in the car but this gonna be may hardest task :)

Thanks a lot!

Jakub Burakiewicz

vimeo
My link

my site
My link


Have you actually been on location with the car and rehearsed the scene? It might not be possible... but if it is... then that might give you a better idea of just what the light levels are going to be. Take a light meter with you and take some readings from the dome to see what sort of light levels you've got... just standing on the rode. Is it pitch black or is there enough ambient light to give an interesting feel or to convey the location... just inky blackness may not work for what you're trying to convey in your film... The ambient light can vary drastically given your location and the time of year. Also you may find that you can get a bit of interesting light on your background with sodium vapor street lights.. er... if there are any. Again it's all going to depend on your location. So if I was in your shoes I'd try to get out there with the car and do some rehearsals with your light meter in hand or your DP to take a look at it (if you aren't actually the DP).

I'm assuming you're lighting your actors from inside the car with some sort of Light Pads or something similar and that you're either using a hood/trunk mounted camera or one position is the car is a camera man. Last night we wrapped on a shoot where we have several scenes shot with an Epic cam mounted on the hood shooting through the front windshield at the driver and passengers - and then several scenes were the DP is shooting into the rear of the car by leaning out the front passenger seat. In some areas where we drove down shady lanes the background was pretty black and uninteresting. The areas where I could get the scene illuminated enough by street lights (more urban areas) then the background behind the actors as they were driving became much more interesting.

As for the three options - seems all three require your post to be pretty switched on and you'll probably want your post guys to work closely with you DP so that the coverage you get is going to work for them to do their magic once they sit down at the screen and start doing the magic. Hope that helps and I didn't just ramble. :)
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 02:17 AM

On a film I made, which had a combination of night city and country car scenes, any country scenes facing towards the rear were shot static against a black background. In the country side you can't see much out the back unless there's a car behind with its headlight's on. At most you tend to only see the horizon, rather than fields etc, to see more you need to be away from light and allow your night vision settle. Shots facing forward were shot in the car with oncoming traffic.

In another we did it in studio, just moving a light to create the impression of headlights.
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#4 Jakub Burakiewicz

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 01:37 PM

Hi Lucas!

Thank you for responding :)


The problem is that the most of the scenes take part in a countryside... There is not much light I could use as an ambient.
Another complication for the shooting on real location is that most of the time the car is going really fast.
Have you ever been trying to use rear projection? Maybe that's a good solution? I could control the speed than and I suppose that when it's in a background, out of focus, it can be convincing... so far I've just done it once, not for a movie, just for "practicing my skills" but it was set in a "city mood" so I could use neon and sodium lamps to imitate.


If you have any good examples of night car scenes from some movies, share them with me...I'll very glad :)

Thank you!
Jakub.
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#5 Cameron Schmucker

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:53 AM

I'm about to have a similar setup. Dialog in the driving car at night going through the desert. (No streetlight motivation)

My question to you would be, what would you project? It should be a black hole past the window, but I agree it doesn't make it interesting.

If we shoot at night and driving (hostess tray ect) I would attempt this setup - I saw in fargo was some headlight spill past the driver side and passenger side window illuminating some of the roads passing by. This would be for angles looking out those windows.

If we shoot in a studio I would experiment with a hazer and a fan for those shots. A soft backlight on the moving haze might look more interesting.

This is great lighting for frontal shots that I will reference.

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 9.11.13 PM 1 copy.jpg
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#6 Jakub Burakiewicz

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:09 PM

Thank you Cameron for responding.

I'm tending to the "real location" solution. During the work on storyboards it occurred that some scenes can be static, some can take place on streets with lamps.
The "green screen" solution would probably be the best, but it would also be the most expensive and complicated.

Good luck on the desert :)

Jakub.
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