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Bad Lighting Technique


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#1 Jack Simm

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 06:41 PM

Hi Guys,

 

I've just wrapped as DP on a super low budget shoot, the kind where you end up beg, steal and borrowing all of your gear, hence I ended up with a vast array of mismatched lighting gear including everything from DIY lights to household bulb rigs. I was pretty pleased with the lighting in the end although one thing I've noticed is I have a tendency to mess about with lights on set. That is I'll set up a couple of lights fine and then I'll change my mind and swap one fixture for another, change the positions etc (this is before we start doing takes, in what some may consider 'blocking').

 

So I was wondering, is that bad technique? Using some common sense here and assuming that it is, does anyone have any tips on how to improve on this?

 

Any advice is much appreciated :)

 

~ Jack


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 08:07 PM

Well, tweaking between set-ups isn't uncommon, but at some point your first guesses as to the lighting have to be 80-90% correct, you don't have the time on a set to be changing your mind.  You have to watch the blocking rehearsal (which happens before any lighting other than roughed-in pre-lighting) and visualize in your head the direction and quality of the lights and what the camera lens is likely to see or not see during the move.

 

Now occasionally one can make a mistake of course and discover that the lighting doesn't work for some reason or the other (like using a toppy key light and then finding out when the actor returns to set that he will be wearing a cowboy hat... and then scrambling to compensate in some way.)  Hopefully your Plan B will be quick to implement.  But generally it's considered the sign of a professional to know what you want and not change one's mind all the time.  However, minor tweaks happen all the time, sometimes you adjust the fill level or add a weak eyelight after you see Take 1, assuming that the take had enough flaws in it anyway that it is likely not to be used in the cut.

 

Now in extreme lighting situations sometimes you need to see the lighting effect before you know for sure (other than an educated guess) whether it needs to be augmented. An example is a character walking through a dark house with a flashlight -- I need to see how bright the actual flashlight is that the prop department is supplying because that may determine how bright other lights that I add will have to be.


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