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Advice on a couple of big sci-fi interiors


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 05:51 AM

Hi folks;

At the end of the month, I have a job coming up for which I need to produce a high-contrast sci-fi action movie look two interior locations, which are the largest I've ever lit, especially on a budget that means I'll be rigging most of it myself. I'm not worried about trying to be new or innovative here - the popular teal-and-orange thing is entirely appropriate and accessible to fans of the genre, so I guess what I'm really looking at doing is lighting the location in steel blue and then picking out the action in warmer tones on a per-setup basis so that we get some colour contrast in the foreground. I also wouldn't mind a bit of mixed-colour-temperature stuff in terms of fluorescent tubes, although I find that tends to need exaggerating with gels these days as video is not as sensitive to it as film. Inevitably, Blade Runner gets mentioned a lot in connection with this. These are night interiors and action sequences with gunfire and pyrotechnics.

I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on approaches for this sort of thing, although specific recommendations of big movie lights are likely to be unaffordable - this will probably be done with the sort of stuff I can get from a theatrical or live-events supplier. This may mean a lot of LEDs and fluorescents, with a minimum of tungsten as the mains supply is limited to what's there. Particularly in the case of the corridor, that may be as little as 32A of 240V.

Location one is a rather generic corridor-style concrete box which I think will need quite a bit of help from light as it isn't likely to get any help from anywhere else! There are vertical fluorescents on the walls which I may use, depending on the flicker situation with high speed shots. I apologise for the cellphone photography.

Looking south:
tunnel_looking_south.jpg

Looking north from the same location:
tunnel_looking_north.jpg

Looking east at the location from which the previous shots were taken:
tunnel_parking_area.jpg

Location two is a corporate lobby which is fairly decent-looking already from a sci fi point of view, although there is the additional concern that it needs to look derelict and abandoned, and it isn't. There is the opportunity to light it from the upper level walkways.

Looking east:
atrium_looking_east.jpg

Looking west:
atrium_looking_west.jpg

From the walkways:
atrium_from_above.jpg

Apologies for the essay post. Of course, I have a few ideas about how to go about this, but I'd be very grateful for anyone else's ideas too.

All the best,

Phil
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:46 AM

The Lobby is a huge area ! Do you know how much of it you will need to light ? Lots of wide shots or tighter stuff?
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:35 AM

The Lobby is a huge area!



I'm uncomfortably aware.

We never go upstairs, although we need to see that it exists, possibly by scattering around something to suggest work or emergency lights. We probably need half the floor at any one time, at least enough to see someone run across it; I'd considered doing half of it then flipping it all around. The day (well, night) is not atrociously rushed and this is probably not an unreasonable approach. We would love to have a big wide establisher showing it all looking awesome, but if we can't have it, such are the breaks of indie movies.

My principal concern is achieving any sort of exposure over any significant part of the floor, and some sort of moon-simulating backlight. I appreciate that the real answer to this is some enormous HMI on a cherry picker outside the big window at the end, and a generator truck, so presumably I'll have to find some other sort of approach. It's supposed to be down in the bowels of the city, anyway, so perhaps that off the peg approach isn't right anyhow.

P
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:49 AM

If you can get hold of Par Cans as many as you can and a dimmer to run them off you should be able to light large areas ,and not draw to much power .
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 08:08 AM

That was one of the thoughts we'd had. A sort of beamy toplight with a bit of mist, suggesting the "moon" coming down through "holes in the roof", would be entirely appropriate. We have an entire office block's worth of power, although I may be able to do something similar with LEDs. I may be able to get LED moving heads which, at 300W each, probably have similar output to a 1K parcan.
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#6 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:05 AM

Phil - whats your lighting budget? and how many days shoot?
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:28 PM

A day in each place, and the minimum possible amount of money I can get away with! I have a couple of contacts in the world of live events and rock concert lighting on whom I'm leaning heavily, but I can't imagine it'll be more than a few hundred quid's worth.
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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:25 PM

In the corridor, I'd be tempted to underexpose to get some color saturation out of the fluorescents and then add some contrasting color washes from the bays on the side wall. Maybe put some hard sources at either end pointing directly at the lens to get some flare.

The lobby is big but manageable. Perhaps a couple of 2.5kw HMIs, one at each end, up on a walkway to give you a backlight depending which way you're looking, then maybe 6 or 8 source 4s giving random beams and accents. If you can, get some atmosphere in there to help flatten out the inevitable huge contrast and hide things you don't want to see.
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#9 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:27 PM

Ive sent you a DM with contact details for someone i think you should get in touch with.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:45 AM

Stephen - thanks, I've responded.

Stuart - Thanks, noted. It's long occurred that I may have to splurge on at least a couple of proper movie lights for this.
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#11 Freya Black

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

There are vertical fluorescents on the walls which I may use, depending on the flicker situation with high speed shots.


er, may use? As in maybe? I may be misunderstanding here but those strike me as the only cool thing about that location!!!

You MUST use those.

If they flicker at high speed either use it as an effect or don't shoot high speed! I expect there will be some kind of high speed at which they will not flicker so maybe you need to find out what speed at which they don't! I guess the big problem will be if you are mixing high speed and normal speed because any flickering will have to match, but come on, there must be some kind of speeds at which they don't flicker. If you can scout in advance about this, that would obviously help!

That huge steel gate also looks interesting. Do you think you could make it look automated, perhaps with the help of sound effects? The big steel gate is cool.

Can you redecorate at all?

Freya
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

Not sure if I like the caution sign or not. It's kind of cool. You could maybe add your own future signs or advertising posters or electronic billboards or something. Weren't you saying you could get access to video panels?

Kind of like the ball lights in picture 3. Will all the cars in the pictures be around. Might be a pain to shoot around, as you probably don't want them in shot, but what canya do. Lots of roto maybe.

The thing I most like about the future lobby is the chinese writing sign! Looks very cool but it might be good to find out what the sign says before including it. Definitely looks future tho! ;)

Freya
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:05 PM

I may be able to get LED moving heads which, at 300W each, probably have similar output to a 1K parcan.


Don't they use something like this in Blade Runner. I seem to remember Ridley talking about using some kind of moving light that was just invented back then for the shots in the Bradbury building.

Freya
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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:14 PM

Okay, I only just spotted it but that video screen under the Chinese signpost is also kind of cool! Can you output into it?

Union Jacks have to go tho! ;)

Think you need to go and get shots of this location at night if you can. It's great to have some shots with all the light so you know what and where everything is but you really need to get a good idea of what it looks like at night before you can really plan.

Freya
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#15 timHealy

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:30 PM

If I recall correctly the Xenon light was made available to filmmakers at that time.

Best

Tim

Don't they use something like this in Blade Runner. I seem to remember Ridley talking about using some kind of moving light that was just invented back then for the shots in the Bradbury building.

Freya


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#16 timHealy

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:43 PM

I was thinking par cans too, along with lekos. pars give you a great bang for your buck in terms of amperage and meat of the light having a long throw. they don't cut very well. Lekos at least have leaves you can cut the bean and focus or defocus as much or as little as you want. Dimmer board and pack would be a great idea if manpower is low. even though some of the lobby is accessible by stairs, you may want to have a man lift as well to get the lights in the right spots.

I think a lot will depend on the camera/asa you are using, and big and how tight your shots are. The director needs to get specific. I'm sure you have already mentioned that.

Best

Tim

If you can get hold of Par Cans as many as you can and a dimmer to run them off you should be able to light large areas ,and not draw to much power .


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:56 AM

Hi folks,

Thanks for all the replies. I'm pretty sure that Scott mentions, by name, that the Bradbury Building light beams were Super Trouper followspots, manually operated, although I guess he (or his crew) might have been using the term as a genericised trademark. They certainly look very much like big, scary xenon followspot beams. I could probably get MSR or HMI followspots, or moving-head or -mirror lights that would do much the same thing, although they are all likely to have basic, non-flicker-free iron ballasts. I pointed an Epic at a Studio Due Citycolor (an 1800W MSR device with CMY colour mixing designed for architectural work) recently to discover with chagrin but no surprise that it can just about be shot at clean multiples of 25fps, but otherwise you're pretty screwed.

One of the cameras I'm considering is Viper, as I've found a supplier who'll give me a reasonable rate, but they're only about 300-400ASA. I have a more or less complete shotlist and it has people roaming around all over the place.

P
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:59 AM

Hi folks,

Thanks for all the replies. I'm pretty sure that Scott mentions, by name, that the Bradbury Building light beams were Super Trouper followspots, manually operated, although I guess he (or his crew) might have been using the term as a genericised


He definitely does. I couldn't remember the name but did remember it being very odd sounding!

iron ballasts. I pointed an Epic at a Studio Due Citycolor (an 1800W MSR device with CMY colour mixing designed for architectural work) recently to discover with chagrin but no surprise that it can just about be shot at clean multiples of 25fps, but otherwise you're pretty screwed.


So that still leaves 50, 75 and 100. Doesn't sound too bad to me but I'm not used to luxury.

One of the cameras I'm considering is Viper, as I've found a supplier who'll give me a reasonable rate, but they're only about 300-400ASA. I have a more or less complete shotlist and it has people roaming around all over the place.

P


Fincher's Zodiac is the best looking movie shot on video I have ever seen by quite a ways.
The Viper seems like it could be a find if you can make it work for you.

Freya
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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:29 AM

Even at 25, since the mains frequency is not precisely maintained, you still tend to get a very slow drift. It's quite insidious because you set up a shot and set an exposure, then go off to tweak something for a couple of minutes, then come back and find the entire thing's underexposed.

This does create some balancing issues.
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