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Filming by Natural Candelight


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#1 Bill Cookson

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 02:45 PM

Candlelight

I've got a bit of a thinkpiece going on at the moment and I need to film scenes indoors and outdoors using only natural candlelight and no artificial light. However I do plan on using reflectors.

I'm aware that Kubrick pulled it off in Barry Lyndon with special 50mm f/0.7 mounted on a Mitchell BNC but obviously I don't have a Hollywood studio backing me or millions of $$$$ so I'm looking for a more achievable solution, I'm open to all avenues, hopefully someone here can help me out with some expertise. I've heard that there are low light digital cameras out there but I've got no experience using them and I don't know if they would be able to pick up the natural glow/resonance well enough for it to be worth it.


Daylight

As for the daylight scenes I'm looking to recreate the instensity of colour that you might see on the come-up of an LSD/2c-b trip (as the characters in the film take LSD and its going to be from POV so I want the intensity of colour to increase with their experience). As the effects become more pscyhedelic and abstract that of course will be overlayed afterwards but I'm looking to create a certain baseline quality of picture that will be maintained throughout a good portion of scenes in the film (particularly those in more natural surroundings).

I remember seeing some colour photos taken in Russia over a century ago that would be a great effect to recreate for the baseline film of the natural scenes. They can be seen here

http://www.boston.co...entury_ago.html

I particularly like this style but am completely lost when it comes to how I would translate this to film. Especially the smooth almost moving appearance of the stream in the 2nd photo. I plan on filming some scenes in natural fog along a stream and this is the sort of vibe I am looking to create.

If anyone has any advice as to what equipment would be best/whether this could be done with use of later effects I would greatly appreciate any help. Cheers
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#2 Ari Davidson

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 03:25 PM

Candlelight

I've got a bit of a thinkpiece going on at the moment and I need to film scenes indoors and outdoors using only natural candlelight and no artificial light. However I do plan on using reflectors.

I'm aware that Kubrick pulled it off in Barry Lyndon with special 50mm f/0.7 mounted on a Mitchell BNC but obviously I don't have a Hollywood studio backing me or millions of $$ so I'm looking for a more achievable solution, I'm open to all avenues, hopefully someone here can help me out with some expertise. I've heard that there are low light digital cameras out there but I've got no experience using them and I don't know if they would be able to pick up the natural glow/resonance well enough for it to be worth it.


Daylight

As for the daylight scenes I'm looking to recreate the instensity of colour that you might see on the come-up of an LSD/2c-b trip (as the characters in the film take LSD and its going to be from POV so I want the intensity of colour to increase with their experience). As the effects become more pscyhedelic and abstract that of course will be overlayed afterwards but I'm looking to create a certain baseline quality of picture that will be maintained throughout a good portion of scenes in the film (particularly those in more natural surroundings).

I remember seeing some colour photos taken in Russia over a century ago that would be a great effect to recreate for the baseline film of the natural scenes. They can be seen here

http://www.boston.co...entury_ago.html

I particularly like this style but am completely lost when it comes to how I would translate this to film. Especially the smooth almost moving appearance of the stream in the 2nd photo. I plan on filming some scenes in natural fog along a stream and this is the sort of vibe I am looking to create.

If anyone has any advice as to what equipment would be best/whether this could be done with use of later effects I would greatly appreciate any help. Cheers


The short answer:
  • Shoot on a Canon T3i with a 50mm 1.8
  • Don't use candles, there's no real reason to do that. Observe candle light, study it, recreate it with practical incandecents
  • Use Davinici lite in post. There's a technicolor preset in there that will get the images looking that way.
  • Dial up the saturation throughout the timeline.

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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 09:00 AM

Any of the modern 800 ASA digital camera can shoot candlelight as in Barry Lyndon with a modern fast prime lens. Tt really comes down to how wide your shots are going to be, how close the subjects are to the candles and the number of candles you're going to use. The downside is that not all digital cameras are wonderful at handling the highlights from the candle flames. AS suggested you can use lighting to simulate a candle light effect or even a combination of the two.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 09:10 AM

"Barry Lyndon" used an f/0.7 lens on 100 ASA stock pushed to 200 ASA, so the equivalent exposure would be f/1.4 at 800 ASA. However, Kubrick used triple-wicked candles for larger flames, not ordinary candles -- so you'd need either to do something similar, like use double-wicked candles, or an even higher ASA setting. Or use some lighting.
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 09:49 AM

Price's had their biggest ever order from Kubrick. Hundreds of candles were used for a scene, not just practicals.
The company still exists so they might be please to hear from you.
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#6 Bill Cookson

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:11 PM

Thanks everyone for the advice.

Ari, that technicolor preset is ON! Thanks a lot for that tip.

In terms of the lens though would it make more sense to get the EF 1.2 50mm for the low light scenes? I know I can push the ISO high but preferably I don't want to give off too much of a modern slick vibe.. And although I know I can equal the exposure with a 1.4/1.8 but there's something about low light high ISO DSLR images that seems a bit too 2012 and less 1975. You're probably right about doing that in post though.

Also I plan on doing some scenes from about 50m+ away of two people walking, focused on them yet with the surroundings blurred. I know that the T3I can zoom but have read that it's not too clean, do you guys think I'd need to get a zoom lens to do that properly?

I knew something was up with those candles.. Triple wicked it is then.

Does anyone know just how good steadicam 2 is btw? I've never used one, I know they're smooth as hell for almost everything but can you sprint full speed on rough terrain and it calibrate that quickly whilst staying smooth?

Cheers again for all the help
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:47 PM

How smooth a Steadicam is depends on the skill of the operator, with increased speed a Steadicam tends to have more inertia, however, fine control while running can be an issue.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 03 September 2012 - 02:48 PM.

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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 05:39 PM

Check out "The libertine".
Night interiors were lit with candles. The orange cast was timed out in the print, resulting in odd blues and ivory flesh tones & making it look like some 1930 two color system.

The extras show and discuss the candle lit scenes. There the colors are normal.
Also shown is a fill unit called a birthday cake which is a bank of candles with a white reflector behind them.

THE TRAILER:



The colors seem normal here.

Here is the half hour 'the filming of...' :


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