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Lighting a feature with only Practicals

Pratical lighting gas lamps candles china balls

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#1 Chaz Olivier

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 10:04 AM

Hey guys! I'm new here, so hello!

I am DPing my first feature(horror genre) and due to the fast pace schedule we have, we will only have time and budget for minimal lightning - so I want to rely heavily on natural,practical and modified practical lighting, working with the PD to light the scene- a lot like what Dallas Buyer club did.

I know that a lot of the work will be in finding the right locations, but setting that aside, what are some tips you guys have, or innovative ways you guys have lit practically!

Currently, I have thought of the possibility of using
oil/Gas lambs, multi wick candles, china balls, replacing bulbs in household lambs with higher wattage ones, replacing standard fluorescent tubes with kino tubes

Any other ideas or great ways to use these?

We are shooting Alexa with cooke s4(f2.8) lenses btw

Thanks guys!
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:05 PM

You'll probably want a lot of china balls and bulbs on sticks and the like which you can place off of screen and then dim your practicals down in the shades of the lamps in frame or whatever, so they don't burn out. This way it looks motivated practically; but it doesn't become distracting.


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#3 Chaz Olivier

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 07:48 PM

You'll probably want a lot of china balls and bulbs on sticks and the like which you can place off of screen and then dim your practicals down in the shades of the lamps in frame or whatever, so they don't burn out. This way it looks motivated practically; but it doesn't become distracting.

thanks Adrian! Great idea - really appreciate it!(as well as a lot of your other posts, I have learned a lot from you!)

Have you ever tried(or heard of) people glass painting incandescent practical bulbs, and after tests, finding a color that could better match daylight, so that I can have relatively consistent color temp when the key is natural light? Could that work?
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 07:57 PM

If you want daylight, KinoFlo makes a line of CFL bubs (pigtail bulbs, curly qs) which are very nice, if a bit expensive, and cannot be dimmed. Another option would be to get Photflod bulbs, which are 4300K, so a little warmer, but you can dim them. They are cheaper, but don't last as long and burnout quickly.

You can also get some normal daylight CFL bulbs from say home depot, which may not be the best looking in terms of color accuracy (a little green) but is a cheaper option. I did this myself, and got, Utilitech YK515 23W 5000K 120v 60hz. They're alright. Not super bright; but work pretty well and aren't too green and are close to daylight, and cheap. This would be another option; but again no dimming.

 

if you want to dim bulbs, Streaks and Tips, or a form of temporary hair dye (black or brown) can be used and then wiped off later on.

 

And my pleasure to help.

 

Another option would get CTO-ing the windows, but this is time consuming and can get costly since CTO asin't really cheap.

 

Of those options, I'd go with Kino  CFLs if you don't need dimming, or Photofloods if you do; then the home depot models if you're not super worried about a green spike and no dimming (i got them just to try out, and they're ok; but I'd like something better, ya know?)


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#5 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 08:12 PM

I'd honestly suggest dropping the Alexa for a cheaper camera option and putting the money you save towards some lights and a person to set them. Horror as a genre is so utterly reliant on mood lighting that it's an area you really need control of IMO.
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#6 Chaz Olivier

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:10 PM

I'd honestly suggest dropping the Alexa for a cheaper camera option and putting the money you save towards some lights and a person to set them. Horror as a genre is so utterly reliant on mood lighting that it's an area you really need control of IMO.


Thanks Mark! I thought about that, but we are shooting the film(90pages) in 12 days, and I wasn't sure if At my current skill, if I would be able to spend the time lighting the set and still get the shot and performance. And we are getting an insane deal on the camera package from our rental agent Ric Halpern at Radiant Images. Also, the way the script is written, it's mostly day exterior, some day interior, one night car interior and three night interiors for the crazy scare scene at the end. So I thought it would be best to get a great camera, rather than top notch lighting due to the set up time and a minority of the shots require lighting.

Although, I do have a gaffer as well as access to a 1.2k HMI, 2, 2'4bank, 2, 4'4bank kinos, and arri fresnel lighting 150w lights up to 2k from a friend of mine, so if I'm in a pinch, and I forsee that I cannot do something practically, I can use those and hopefully get by
But due to time, I'd prefer practical lighting.

But then again, this is only my first feature, and have only done shorts up to this point - looking at my circumstances, do you still feel it would be wiser to shoot on a lesser camera in favor of better lighting?
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#7 Chaz Olivier

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:20 PM

If you want daylight, KinoFlo makes a line of CFL bubs (pigtail bulbs, curly qs) which are very nice, if a bit expensive, and cannot be dimmed. Another option would be to get Photflod bulbs, which are 4300K, so a little warmer, but you can dim them. They are cheaper, but don't last as long and burnout quickly.
You can also get some normal daylight CFL bulbs from say home depot, which may not be the best looking in terms of color accuracy (a little green) but is a cheaper option. I did this myself, and got, Utilitech YK515 23W 5000K 120v 60hz. They're alright. Not super bright; but work pretty well and aren't too green and are close to daylight, and cheap. This would be another option; but again no dimming.
 
if you want to dim bulbs, Streaks and Tips, or a form of temporary hair dye (black or brown) can be used and then wiped off later on.
 
And my pleasure to help.
 
Another option would get CTO-ing the windows, but this is time consuming and can get costly since CTO asin't really cheap.
 
Of those options, I'd go with Kino  CFLs if you don't need dimming, or Photofloods if you do; then the home depot models if you're not super worried about a green spike and no dimming (i got them just to try out, and they're ok; but I'd like something better, ya know?)


Yeah, I've seen those kino flo cfl! Are they small enough for standard household lamps(and not too tall as to stick out the top?) That hair dye tip is great, can they be sprayed with the dye? I'll use that for sure! How long to the photofloods last?

Any tips on candlelit scenes? Or other combustion based/enhancing lighting
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:39 PM

I got some heads too, and if i'm not using them, let me know I'll see if we can figure something. First features are fun.

 

Yes they should fit into a standard lamp-- depending on the lamp.

Photofloods are rated for "8 hours" but I've had some last much longer than that, some much shorter. It all depends on how hot they get it eems.

Yes, they can be sprayed with die, though when you spray a cfl it's slightly harder to clean off (wipe down) due to the way the bulbs actually look, ya know?

 

Candle light scenes will depend on a lot of things-- but you can try to do them with tri wick candles, if you can find them. the Alexa is pretty insane in low light-- but what lenses you are on and what stop you want to work at will really help you figure out how to do it. See if you can find Magic Gadets flicker boxes, which have a flame effect and then you can build up a batten strip with a few edison sockets on it; each one with a differing wire, each to it's own bulb, and put that into the flicker box and get a pulsating type light effect. Perhaps even using some colored bulbs (have to be incadescent, though) if you want a kind of color effect-- especially if you want a warmer effect. All depends on how crazy you want to get with things, ya know? And how dark you want to go, what kind of compromises you're willing to make.

 

Youre DAY exts will kind of kill you. Make sure you get NDIRs and try to get your hands on some good grip stuff and a good grip team to tame the sun. Also get SunPath or something similar so you can plan your days to maximize good sun angles early or later in the day- then work on close ups around mid day where you stand a fighting chance of dealing with shadows and fill etc.


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#9 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 12:48 AM

Hmm... well if it's mostly day exteriors, the highlight latitude of Alexa goes a long way. Perhaps a couple of 8x8 and 12x12 frames with bounce and diff will be of more use for those. Lighting interiors with purely practical sources is fraught with problems though - the Alexa's sensitivity may allow you to get exposure, but I'd worry that the difficulties in creating appropriate looks with them would slow you down rather than speed you up.

I'd always err on the side of a decent lighting package over a better camera - because it gives you more control. But you know your situation better than I do - go with whatever will get you the best results.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:19 AM

I agree and disagree with you Mark. I think a lot of it comes down to personal and aesthetic preference, ya know. And even if you have the lighting controls, you really need people around who know how to use them otherwise you'll spend a long time setting things just so.Practicals can be interesting and give a "realism" or whatever other cliche catch phrase you want to throw in there. I would say too get some clamp lights to throw up, and don't be afraid to turn things off and let things go dark-- really dark.

Another neat little trick, I just remembered, would be peanut bulbs-- basically the 12V bulbs from a maglight. I don't like LEDs, but maglights and other flash lights are very cheap. You can use these through a lot of diff, or as a reflected source to give you the little light in the eye you often need to keep a dark scene from looking under exposed (the light in the eyes keeps you connected to the character a bit, even if it's all you can really see or so the thinking goes. )


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#11 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 08:52 AM

 

There's a good bit in here about lighting "Blue Valentine" with only practicals.

 

Lighting with practicals can be great, but they take a lot of prep. As DP, you have to have as much say in the practicals as the Production Designer. Also, it gets rather time consuming to hide tiny pieces of tape and gel onto practicals and lampshades during the shooting day; you and the gaffer have to have that kit sorted out and ready to go in prep. Go to home depot, get lots of zip cord, quick plugs, hand dimmers. Mix color temps; it's real and dynamic! And build yourself a little paint bucket light (an socket in a white paint bucket - better than a chinese lantern IMHO) to use as a handy key light.


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#12 John E Clark

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:01 PM

Yeah, I've seen those kino flo cfl! Are they small enough for standard household lamps(and not too tall as to stick out the top?) That hair dye tip is great, can they be sprayed with the dye? I'll use that for sure! How long to the photofloods last?

Any tips on candlelit scenes? Or other combustion based/enhancing lighting

 

In my experience with still photography and 'daylight' bulbs, they were 'pretty short'. Not hours short, but definitely seem to far shorter my expectation...

 

On candle light and shooting, since you say your are using an Alexa...

 

Here's an American Cinematographer article on the shooting of the film "Anonymous"(2011), where the values of ISO 800, 1280 and f/2.8 are mentioned as frequent shooting settings.

 

 

http://www.theasc.co...ymous/page1.php


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