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Manhattan

gordon willis black and white

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#1 Daniel Roudiani

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 03:52 PM

Hi everyone, 

 

I have always loved the 1979 movie Manhattan by Woody Allen for it's cinematic look and amazingly beautiful black and white and underexposed scenes (thanks to Gordon Willis) and of course for the compelling story and acting. 

 

I'm trying to learn more about lighting at the moment and It would be great to get some input on how they lit this particular scene. The scene I'm thinking of is the one where's he is on his sofa talking into the tape recorder.

 


Edited by Daniel Roudiani, 28 November 2013 - 03:53 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 04:49 PM

Keep in mind that today you probably wouldn't have to light for the level needed for Double-X b&w negative, which is what Willis used for "Manhattan" (he switched to Plus-X to shoot "Stardust Memories" on.)

 

Roughly there is a large soft box over the dining room area that somewhat backlights him on the couch (judging by the diagonal shadow on the couch coming from the dining room table direction).  There is a second soft light over the couch that is less bright, judging from the straight down angle on the shadows under the picture on the wall.  You can also see three reflections of lights in the phone on the coffee table that suggest that there is also a soft fill light by camera as the third source.

 

Now whether he built soft boxes and hung them or managed a ceiling bounce and somehow skirted it to feather the light down along the dining room walls, I don't know, this may have been a location, not a set.  It's also possible that the soft light over the dining room table wasn't enough to slightly backlight him on the couch and that is coming from another light hung near the dining room table but pointed at the couch (the diagonal shadow is only semi-soft so it could have been something like from a 2K Zip light.)  But the intent of the lighting is to look natural, that there is a soft overhead unit over the dining room table area and over the living room area and that when he stands, he is softly back/top lit by the dining room light.


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#3 John Holland

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 05:47 PM

I find it sad that people who post asking how was this was lit without looking where the shadows fall or the main light source comes from . As a young man i watched so many films to work out just how that was done
, so i could teach myself to become a cameraman nothing has changed and i still watch and learn.
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#4 Daniel Roudiani

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 06:18 AM

I did go through it first before posting here but as I'm not a pro I thought I'd ask.  But thanks for reply. My first thought was that the ceiling was lit by a light which then acted a sort of diffuser so I wasn't that far off. 


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#5 Stephen Selby

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 07:21 AM

I get he impression that David Mullen is an extremely nice person - I think most people would be quite condescending and say "Look at the highlights and shadows". To be at the top of the game and still give advice shows that David Mullen is a very nice person. A second opinion is always worth while, just in case one misread the highlights. I wish I could get personal lessons from someone like David Mullen or Roger Deakins - wouldn't we all!


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