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Lighting grunge bathroom with flickering fluorescents


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#1 Ari Virem

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 10:14 AM

Hi, I'm asking for advice and tips for lighting this scene in large public bathroom.

 

Scene:

 

Large public bathroom with gritty and grunge look. Posters and tags on the walls. Two flickering fluorescents hanging on the wall. Colorful moving disco and club lights shining trough the large window in the bathroom.

 

How I thought I could do it:

 

  • Put two daylight balanced KinoFlo bulbs (from 4banks) to be hanging on the wall. Also put them through flickerbox.

 

  • Use some theater lights with color filters through the window. Maybe one HMI also? (Overall blue ambient lighting to the bathroom)

 

  • There is three actors in the bathroom. I thought I could use tungsten lights to light the actors and put the white balance from camera to tungsten. This way I can make the fluorescents and lights through window seem much more blue.

 

I'm just a student so I may be completely ridiculous with these plans. Advice would be much appriciated.

 

 

 

 


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#2 Christopher M Schmidt

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

Hi Ari, I think your approach is rational, but in practice involves a bit too much light. 

 

 

for starters lets talk about the grungy bathroom look. 

 

typically the best way to achieve this is to actually not use proper kino flo bulbs but rather normal household flourscent "cool white" bulbs with a lower CRI (color rendition index). What this does is gives you a more monochromatic blue look which will help with the grungy look. If these bulbs are in frame you will probably want some additional light to combat the brightness that looks like it is coming from those in frame sources but is actually out of frame so the bulbs arn't super blown out...however if there arn't any bulbs in frame for a large bathroom space even in a huge wide you probably wouldn't need much more then 6-8 bulbs to achieve a 4/5.6 at around 400 ASA 

 

 

If there are standard overhead fluro fixtures in the ceiling a very popular thing to do is to take newspaper and hang it down around the fixtures to keep the light from hitting the walls. This way you have a nice grungy soft top light but your walls stay dark. "grungy" I think is generally a mood achieved by low key lighting which means that you will want most of your frame a bit underexposed....maybe even your talent a bit underexposed too or just a portion of them lit to exposure. 

 

 

Your next thing to think about is how powerful you want that disco light effect to be. If you want it to be pronounced your in a situation where you probably want the bathroom to be really underexposed else how is that disco light going to show up? you will be in danger of over lighting. However if you want a more subtle effect I think you could get away with having your bathroom a little more near proper exposure....if you want that disco light to show up strong I would think you won't want much more then 2-4 tubes lighting the whole space. 

 

as for the flicker....you can try to put the fluorescent's on dimmers but I'm not exactly sure how it will react sometimes that works.....it is also bad for the ballasts so maybe use some household fluorescent casings which you can get a home depot or other store like that. 

 

 

For the disco light assuming you want a real disco ball look with the spinning reflections I would recommend using a real disco ball. A disco ball is just a spinning set of little mirrors on a ball with a light blasted at it. so I would do just that but you can use your own film lights to put on it. Im sure others will have more experience with this...I have never had to do a disco ball effect.  But maybe even have a couple tungsten heads on dimmers with different colors on them and fluctuate them if you want changing colors....I would probably just pick a single color myself. 

 

 

 

 

I think if you want to have a more beauty/stylized approach you could light your talent on top of all of this. possibly motivating rim lights or something from the grungy bathroom fluorescent or disco ball. But honestly you have enough light already. I would suggest maybe just having a couple more cool white bulbs in a kino or two (or your own diy) housings with some Diffusion on them that you could move around on stands that you could use to supplement what you have already put up.

 

Generally disco balls are white light. So if you use a non gelled tungsten light for the disco ball (an white balance at 3200 for that) and then light the bathroom with cool blue tubes you will certainly achieve your grungy blue look. 

 

 

Best of luck 


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#3 Ari Virem

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:55 AM

Thank you Christopher for this valuable information!

 

I looked up those cheap household fluorescent bulbs (daylight balanced). But I couldn't find any really low CRI bulbs. I also thought about the flickering thing. Why it wouldn't work to put the fluorescent bulbs through dimmers? If I buy fluorescent bulb that says "dimmable", shouldn't that work with flickerbox or dimmers? What would be the best way to get the fluorescent to flicker?

 

To specify the scene more: There are 2-4 flickering fluorescent bulbs hanging on the wall. They will be seen in the frame. So in this case, should I light the interior with fluorescents (kinoflo fixture or separate bulbs?) rigged to ceiling or use c-stand with extension arm. And then use barn doors to block the light from falling to walls? This would give the overall lighting to the scene and combat against the flickering "practical" fluorescents on walls.

 

For lighting the actors. Should I use daylight balanced (like fluorescents) to light the faces or tungsten lights to bring up the blue from other fluorescents in the room or would it go too blue? (If I white balance my camera to tungsten)

 

- Ari


Edited by Ari Virtanen, 17 December 2013 - 09:58 AM.

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#4 Christopher M Schmidt

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 02:15 PM

Hi again Ari,

 

Your not looking for daylight balanced but instead "cool white" bulbs which are more like 4100K or so. Generally people shoot with a tungsten white balance and the effect you get is a nice cyanish color. I would recommend using the least amount of bulbs in frame as possible as it will be less to have to balance exposure with with your out of frame bulbs. I think the CRI depending on the wattage and bulb type will range from 60-80 or so  (there are at least 2 general widths of household flurouscent tubes in 4ft and 2ft lengths and you need to match the housing you get to the right size bulb) 

 

fluorescent lights are different then tungsten bulbs. I don't know too much about the technical stuff here but they are gas filled tubes so unlike a tungsten bulb which has a direct correlation with how much power you give it and how much light comes out it needs a ballast to stablize the electricity which basically is a middle man between the light and your power source....adding a dimmer to that system is added confusion. What I find usually happens with a dimmer and fluorescent tubes is that just by setting the dimmer to like 3/4 power or so you will just start to see the fluorescent freak out and flicker a lot ...I have used a dimmer with kinos before and it pop'd the fuse on the kino ballast after about an hour or so of flickering (a cheap fix, but none the less probably not good for the equipment). It can also be hard to dial in the right amount of flickr as the equipment is not made to do it.  fluorescent tubes are never "dimmable" btw atleast to my knowledege....there might be compact fluorescent's that are or maybe some of those ring style lights but dont think the tubes ever are.

 

 

 

Your idea for adding light in addition to your practicals in frame is exactly right. I would probably hide bulbs right above the practicals if I could so the light has the same direction as the practical and doesn't look fake. I would then use w/e material works best duvatene...newspaper or with a kino fixture maybe the barndoors will be enough to keep the light off the walls and keep your grungy look. 

 

Keep in mind you don't necessarily need a color contrast....maybe just the monochromatic blue is enough....even at 60cri it wont be totally mono chromatic there will be a lot of colors in there so keep in mind what the PD is like and the colors of the set. Regardless if you are looking for color contrast I would just make sure the other color is motivated wether it be a disco ball or flashing lights coming through from the party or some other source in the bathroom. 

 

I think just using tungsten sources to light the faces with no motivation might look kinda false and theatrical.....but  that is not to say it wont be ok lots of tv shows do this....Law and order for example always has cool white tubes lighting sets and in frame and then will light talent in a pretty typical way with a nice soft frontal tungsten source. It really depends how grungy and how "real" your trying to go with it.

 

I personally would probably do all the practicals and ceiling lighting with household fixtures and cool white bulbs then I would prob put some more coolwhites in kino housings and use those along with lighting controls to light my talent. I'd rely on things like the disco light or other lights in the background like coming through a window or something to give me any color contrast to the blue 


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