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Lighting A Basement Dice Game

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#1 Tony S.

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 05:06 PM

I'm a documentary director who is trying to improve my cinematography. I have taken on a few narrative projects that I will be shooting to start to make that move more into story driven content. I am kinda green to lighting . Much of my work has been natural light. One of the scenes I'm shooting is a basement dice game. My issues of concern are the low ceilings " 9 feet" and the limited supply of equipment. I don't have much of a budget . I want the mood to be very underground and illegal. So I dont mind characters to have little of the racoon eyes from overhead lighting. But I do want them to fade into a dark almost black background. A friend mentioned I should use a 4ft 2 bank kino and tape it to ceiling for that scene. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to the best way to light this?The layout is below.

 

 

 

 

 

basement layout.jpeg


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#2 Stuart Allman

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 05:28 PM

Tony,

 

I have to admit that your description is kinda vague, so I'm not sure where to start...and maybe that's your issue too!  There are lots of ways to light this, depending on what you want and your budget.  If this is a daylight basement you could use some HMI lights and have daylight streaking in from ground level with a little smoke added.  You could rig an overhead light with a grid and supplement it with a chinese lantern as required.  You could string a circle of tungsten bulbs overhead as Roger Deakins often does to like a space...etc.  You could have a series of practical lamps in the shot that get supplemented by video lights just off camera.  It often depends on what you want lit and what you want in shadow.  Then there's the question of color(s).  Perhaps you can find a reference off a favorite film or find some inspiration from 500px.com and come back with how you envision the scene.  Directors often have something in mind when I start a project with them and I'm able to bring them a better visual reference as the DP, then I can determine how to do it under their budget.

 

S.

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#3 Tony S.

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 05:46 PM

Thx Stuart,

 

I found this still from Bronx Tale scene. I personally like how the light falls on characters but I would like a darker background, The background highlights in this pic I feel are too bright. The scene takes place in a dark grungy nyc basement much like this one below. No windows. I also think the ceilings are too low to hang a china ball. I hope this clears it up a little.

 

 

Tony

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#4 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 07:04 PM

Is it just that one camera angle? Or is the camera at least coming primarily from that angle? I'd probably rig a softlight, like a kino up high and behind the actors for a back light, then bounce a small source into bounce board or lame on the ground in front of the camera to provide a little fill (then light the set/background as needed).


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#5 Tony S.

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 07:41 PM

Thx Mark, yes primarily a wide shot a few feet away. I may use a longer lens for close ups. I appreciate your feedback , I will look into some kino rentals. 


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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 01:36 AM

You need to use your full real name, it's one of the forum rules. To change this you need to contact Tim Tyler who owns the web site.


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#7 Guy Holt

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 05:14 PM

 A friend mentioned I should use a 4ft 2 bank kino and tape it to ceiling for that scene. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to the best way to light this?

 

 

A Kino is a good idea because they are very low profile, but one of the biggest challenges using them in situations like this is getting light into the eyes of your talent. Remember "eyes are the window to the soul" so you don't want them going too dark. You may want to consider the approach we took in the production stills below where we hung 4'-4 Bank Kinos with Opal coved below the fixture to make a "Bay Light."

 

samplethief8lg.jpeg

 

samplethief6lg.jpeg

 

samplethief4lg.jpeg

 

samplethief3lg.jpeg

 

Coving the Opal under the light, redirects it horizontally so that it will dig into the talents eyes. You may also want to consider using a combination of hard and soft light as we did here to create contrast in a situation where the practical lighting is usually very flat. As you can see here, with the right rigging equipment, you can rig a Kino anywhere. Use this link for more pictures of productions that used drop ceilings on location as if they were a studio grid.
 

- Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Sales & Rentals in Boston 


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#8 Stuart Allman

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 05:29 PM

If what you're after is mostly top light, then you can also staple white paper or muslin to the ceiling and bounce a fresnel or source-4 off of it.  It's less efficient than placing the light up there, but if you have the power available and can flag unwanted light off then that might work for you as well.  There's also the china ball solution.  You don't have to hang it directly overhead.  You can hang it closer to the camera and flag off the unwanted light with a partial skirt over the lantern, which would give you more eye lighting as Guy suggests.  I do this when I want to supplement a practical lamp in the shot.


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#9 Tony S.

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 11:21 PM

Thx Guy and Stuart , I noticed Guy in the top photo the background pilar an wall are lit . Was this done by using one of the hard lights mounted to the ceiling, or was that light coming from somewhere else?
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