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Lighting this small restaurant for a music video


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#1 Lee Tamer

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:53 AM

I have an upcoming project that i am DP on that half of it is set in this very small restaurant.

The first part of the music video is going to be set during the day and having the performer working at the restaurant. The idea is he is working a job he hates and has to take crap from the boss to pay the bills. The video then transitions to night and he preforms at a club. We have not done any blocking or storyboarding yet but i am just trying to get an idea in advance of what to do.

The director has told me he does not want to use Kino Flos. He also does not want to use the florescent ceiling lights. So beyond using ND. Filters on the windows, I'm not really sure what to do. From our pre-production meeting it seems like he wants to keep it as natural as possible. The owner has said we will be able to shoot between 8am and 11am. My biggest concern is that the performer is African American and that might become problematic with just natural lighting.

Any advice on where to go from here?

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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 01:29 PM

I have an upcoming project that i am DP on that half of it is set in this very small restaurant.

The first part of the music video is going to be set during the day and having the performer working at the restaurant. The idea is he is working a job he hates and has to take crap from the boss to pay the bills. The video then transitions to night and he preforms at a club. We have not done any blocking or storyboarding yet but i am just trying to get an idea in advance of what to do.

The director has told me he does not want to use Kino Flos. He also does not want to use the florescent ceiling lights. So beyond using ND. Filters on the windows, I'm not really sure what to do. From our pre-production meeting it seems like he wants to keep it as natural as possible. The owner has said we will be able to shoot between 8am and 11am. My biggest concern is that the performer is African American and that might become problematic with just natural lighting.

Any advice on where to go from here?


A three-hour time frame is pretty tight, no matter how much prep you do in advance. How many days do you have the location for? Also, is this film or digital?
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#3 Lee Tamer

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 06:33 PM

We are shooting on DSLRs, and only a portion is being shot on this location. Im sure I'll have a better idea of how long we'll need once it's storyboarded. The owner seemed pretty willing to give us as much time as we needed as long as it wasn't during business hours.
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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:30 PM

We are shooting on DSLRs, and only a portion is being shot on this location. Im sure I'll have a better idea of how long we'll need once it's storyboarded. The owner seemed pretty willing to give us as much time as we needed as long as it wasn't during business hours.


Did the director give you an idea of what kind of look he wanted or just what he didn't want? Also, is this location supposed to transform into the club or is that a separate location?
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#5 Lee Tamer

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 09:24 PM

last night was the first night we had been to the location so he told me what he didn't want. The club will be a second location which is still being locked down.
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 03:21 AM

3 hours is pretty tight. Assuming the director doesn't want a soft look, you might possibly be able to use the ceiling as a means of quickly rigging small lights.
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#7 Lee Tamer

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:32 PM

Im also worried about having enough time. Even if we shoot over a period of several days, its still not enough time to set up, break down, and get enough takes.

This is also why I would like to keep the lighting simple so it doesn't take a whole lot of time to set up.
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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:40 PM

Im also worried about having enough time. Even if we shoot over a period of several days, its still not enough time to set up, break down, and get enough takes.

This is also why I would like to keep the lighting simple so it doesn't take a whole lot of time to set up.


Which is another reason the director should be opposed to using Kino-Flos, which would probably serve you best in this situation. I would try to make the director realize that he/she is not leaving you with many options considering the time constraints.

Sounds like "first-time-director" syndrome.

Edited by Bill DiPietra, 11 October 2012 - 12:41 PM.

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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 03:58 AM

You're in a siltation where you've got a relatively confided space, limited time and possibly an ambitious shot list, simple is the way to go. Kino flos don't need to be flat, a quickie might be to add accents of colour to enhance the "natural lighting" and give it a more "theatrical" look. It really depends on the style the director is going for. On your schedule you don't want to be doing a number of major lighting rigs , because the available time slot will run out.
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#10 Lee Tamer

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 09:18 AM

I have a feeling this shoot is going to be hectic either way. Its a small crew, a small budget, and not much time.
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#11 Lee Tamer

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 10:26 AM

Any advice on where to start lighting wise?
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 11:40 AM

3 hours is way too tight to shoot in, honestly.
If it were me and I had all the time in the world. I'd kill all the floros overhead and then put points of light down onto the center of the tables and have the bounce light up the actors faces seated at the tables.
I would then do the same over the counter where I can assume he'll be working, though god knows where.
Have him move around but never really get into the light @ all (leave that for the club where he is in the lime-light) and keep a small little obie light on his face so you don't loose his eyes as he moves 'round and keep him from going totally dark.
I would also probably want to rig up a big soft back-light in the rear of the place shooting into the front of.
Of course, for any of this you'd need more than 3 hours and chances are more than the power/lighting you would have.

The other option would be maybe going really theatrical with it all. Killing all the lights in there and just using a single light source to illuminate as he moves 'round-- akin to the Fiona Apple Video from Criminal or some of the sequenced from Eternal Sunshine.

Another option would be a strong back-lighting-- soft and then using reflectors to just bounce it back from the camera side. I'm not sure how well this would work as it's kind of a small location.

But honestly, when you have so little time you're really kinda shooting yourself in the foot. Natural lighting doesn't mean "unlit." I actually find that when you go for a natural look you often need a lot more lighting, especially when you're shooting on a DSLR as you really have limited dynamic range.
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#13 Lee Tamer

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 02:37 PM

The other option would be shooting it all at night. It would give us a lot more time, from 11pm on. We would have more time to set up and break down. Then the direction of the video would have to change, but not that drastically.
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#14 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 04:05 PM

The other option would be shooting it all at night. It would give us a lot more time, from 11pm on. We would have more time to set up and break down. Then the direction of the video would have to change, but not that drastically.


If that's an option, it's a no-brainer.
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#15 Lee Tamer

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 05:08 PM

now here's a question, how do u simulate the over head fluorescents without using them?
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#16 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 03:24 AM

The other option would be shooting it all at night. It would give us a lot more time, from 11pm on. We would have more time to set up and break down. Then the direction of the video would have to change, but not that drastically.


The only real limitation being if you need to see an interior of someone walking in off the street. However, a night shoot is more a realistic proposition than trying to squeeze everything into 3 hours.
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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:31 PM

now here's a question, how do u simulate the over head fluorescents without using them?


Don't take this the wrong way, but that's a pretty basic question that you yourself have answered throughout this thread. Should be rather obvious.

I would spend more time bringing these issues to the director rather than posting here. This forum is a great resource, but if people don't come up with their own solutions they won't learn anything.
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#18 Lee Tamer

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 10:46 AM

totally understand. It will probably be a lot easier on my part once the story is planned out
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#19 Lee Tamer

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 08:22 PM

ok so here's a problem I'm having

The singer notices an attractive girl coming into the restaurant. As the singer tries to impress the girl I want the lighting to change to a spot light to focus on the two of them, almost as if they were dancing on a stage. The problem is the space is so small I don't know if I would be able to pull this off.

I was thinking of using Leko lights to emulate stage lighting, but would they be too much in such a small space?
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#20 Mathew Rudenberg

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 09:56 PM

I was thinking of using Leko lights to emulate stage lighting, but would they be too much in such a small space?



Lekos would probably be good - if you go with a much brighter source as the spotlight then the ambient light you can stop down as you bring up the leko to let the restaurent fade into the background - otherwise you'll need to be able to control and lower the ambient light. Of course a leko is tungsten so you may need to gel it if you're shooting during the day,or use a joleko (which cannot dim).

of course if you're using electronic lenses you'll see the steps as you stop the lens down - a manual iris may give you a smoother transition.
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