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Trying to get the Terminator 2 night look.


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#1 Ryan Elder

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 07:59 PM

I have a script which I want to direct into a microbudget feature.  I think the T2 night look would serve nicely for it, but I will be shooting on real streets, using a lot of the natural light, especially for the wide shots.

 

Every street where I live is lit with low pressure sodium lights.  In order to get that T2 look I will have to dial the kelvin down to 1500 to 2000, making the orange, white.  This will also add a lot of blue in the shot.  I have done several tests, and it looks not bad, but a lot advise against it cause it is desaturated, which is true.

 

Is it okay to have this desaturated look at night, where as all the rest of my scenes in the day and indoors will not be desaturated at all?

 

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 08:29 PM

Sure it's OK for night scenes to be a bit desaturated -- Terminator 2 had a steel blue-grey look at night because of all the uncorrected HMI lighting -- but just pulling the orange out of sodium vapor street lamps really isn't the way that the night scenes in T2 were approached.  Cameron wanted them to be very lit-up with HMI's, well-exposed, and printed down for what he called a "liquid night" look, sort of silvery with a lot of contrast and yet detail (he also had streets wetted down too for that.)

 

I would at least consider lighting your night scenes with white tungsten lamps, then once you pull some orange out of the background sodiums, the 3200K lamps will look cooler.  But you'll need those lights to get that crisp edge-lit look, available light will look too murky and indistinct unless you are next to some dramatic sources.


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#3 Ryan Elder

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 09:44 PM

Okay thanks.  I plan on picking street locations that will not be as murky.  If you watch T2, when the helicopter explodes on the freeway chase, the fire is white completely.  So maybe it's okay to be desaturated.  It seems that people are half and half on this one when I ask their opinions.  It's hard to light with tungsten lights on the street, without the cops making a fuss about it, but I have shot without and got away with it.  I will want some sort of lights though, maybe smaller ones.

 

The sequence I plan to do though, has a lot of far away view shots though, cause gansgters are stalking their target, and it's told from their point of view which is seeing the target from far away.  So it's hard to light in far away shots, cause I cannot afford lights to light up the whole street.  I thought about getting a big arc light maybe, and blasting it from a friend's apartment window, pointing down, but perhaps the city would have a problem with that, as it may distract traffic at night, but not sure.  Never tried it yet, and it's the kind of light you only want to pay for if you know it will work.


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#4 Ryan Elder

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 10:29 PM

I had a DP but he quit saying that the look is undo-able cause the color and skin tones are all screwed up and he will not do something that is unprofessional cinematography.  He also says that at that Kelvin temperature the noise is too high, which is true, it is higher and thinking about what to do about that.  My friends say at that Kelvin, that the skin tones are screwed up as well, so it seems their is a large consensus that the look sucks on a microbudget.  Was the DP right or is it really okay, and they just maybe didn't like it?


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