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Set construction lighting?

set construction lighting

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#1 Simon Jansson

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 02:14 PM

Hello,

We have built a set construction of a storefront (see attached photo, WIP). We are now considering different types of lighting setups. We are going to rent the equipment needed, so there are no limitations in the number of light sources or types of light. 

We would like to achieve an image free of sharp shadows (see attached photo 2). The backdrop itself is built from stained veneer. The movie is set in 1920 and The Great Gatsby is in terms of cinematography and lighting a huge source of inspiration.

Any lighting ideas? 

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  • Inspiration.jpg
  • Kuliss liten.jpg

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#2 Albion Hockney

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 12:17 PM

I wouldn't treat it any different then shooting it for real. the only thing is your inside so you need to create the sun and or ambient daylight.

 

 

usually in studios people use space lights for a soft ambient top light and use another source as the sun.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 12:40 PM

Do you mean you are shooting an "exterior" scene in front of a storefront but indoors on a stage?

 

You'll basically need to create a lot of soft overhead light, ideally a bit cooler than tungsten but that's not absolutely necessary.  So how many lights you need is a function of the area that has to have soft daylight falling over it because you will be creating some sort of grid pattern overhead of soft lights of some sort, and if you have enough of them and the money for it, a giant half-silk / quarter grid or some other diffusion to further soften and blend them.

 

Traditionally 6K space lights have been used for this sort of work, which are cheap to rent but pull a lot of power and take a lot of rigging.  Recently I've been using clusters of large fluorescents like Kino Image 80's or Kino Blanket Lites, or Lumapanels -- they pull less power, are a bit easier to rig even though they are heavier (less cabling), and can be tubed for tungsten, daylight, or a mix, which is what I do.  And again, if you can fly a giant diffusion overhead to blend the units even more, that would be great.

 

If this is just a one-day sort of shoot, it may be simpler to rent some balloon lights.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 12:48 PM

Here are some examples of where I've used Kinos for soft overhead skylight on stage:

 

kinoblanket.jpg

 

kino_image80.jpg


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#5 Albion Hockney

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 01:48 PM

Hey David, A random question I've never had to do this type of work....and maybe never will ....but I wondered if you are doing a "direct sunlight" look in a stage how do you go about that.....do you still create a base of the overhead top light and then just a add big source on top..

 

 

do you need a huge stage where you can get a big huge source really far away for wides so the fall off is right?


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 02:46 PM

Bigger but farther always helps with the naturalness of the fall-off but it can create issues with exposure levels, though with today's digital cameras that's less of a problem.

 

You basically need a very soft skylight effect that should be cooler than the direct sunlight effect.  So in my case, I used Kinos that were globed 50/50 with tungsten and daylight to create a soft ambience around 4300K and then used big tungsten units for the sun.

 

The problem is more the hard sun effect because it is difficult to get the even spread over an open space, which is why it is easier to fake daylight in a forest or jungle set rather than an open field.  When there are trees, you can justify patches of sun and can use multiple units aimed at different areas of the set.  Otherwise, you are better off making the sun a backlight where you might not notice that it doesn't hit everything evenly.

 

I did a whole movie ("Manure", aka "Smell of Success") with exteriors faked indoors for a stylized effect, here's one frame:

 

900manure2.jpg

 

That backing is only fifteen feet behind the actors.

 

Again, I had Kino blanket lights (daylight) for a cool skylight effect and tungsten (12-light HPL) for a backlight. In this case, the whole movie was warmed up and desaturated for a sepia effect, so the coldness of the skylight is hard to see.

 

In that second photo of the stage rigged with overhead Kino Image-80's you can see 20K tungstens on a sliding bar to create hard sunlight.


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#7 Albion Hockney

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 07:02 PM

still looks great David the backlight worked well there ....amazing backdrop....is it swooped toward the talent? has a really interesting luming feel


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 07:21 PM

The backing was about 270 degrees around but being in a rectangular stage, we curved the corners, but in this shot, the curve is in the right third of the frame. Otherwise, it's a flat vertical backing but the stage floor was ramped up all around to meet the painting of the sky.  Art department put smaller details on the ramped sides to create a receding effect in perspective.  Trouble was that the landscape and the sky touched and I needed to get the sky to be overexposed to look more realistic, so I ended up with an 18K HMI on each side of the set off-camera pointed into the sky painting with big flags to shadow the bottom of the light off of the ground.  This create a fall-off in light at the base of the sky (otherwise if I lowered the flags to get all of the sky, the top of the ground would be in a hot light, the flags created a soft cut) but it looked sort of like some sort of darker cloud formation at the base of the horizon.

 

We mixed in a few HMI balloon lights -- this photo was taken while we were still rigging the stages but you can see the shape of the space:

balloonHMI.jpg

You can see why I needed to blast the sky backing with big HMI's, otherwise the sky was the same brightness as the ground.  In retrospect, we should have painted the sky a lighter shade but one advantage of using lights to get the sky hotter was that white portions of the sky actually started to clip and there was more bounce back from the sky into the lens, which made it feel more alive.

 

We also discovered that a light amount of smoke helped increase the depth of the space by making the background fall-off more into haze.

 

In fact, we shot that scene twice because it was the first thing we shot on Day One and by the third day, we had learned so much about faking daylight that we went back and reshot the first scene at the end of the week.

 

First version:

900manure1.jpg

 

Second version:

900manure2.jpg


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#9 Simon Jansson

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 04:35 AM

Amazing work David. 

I really like the soft light you created by using Kinos for soft overhead skylight. I will, like you say, shoot an exterior scene indoors on a stage. 

A good idea seems to be using a lot of overhead light softened with a giant half-silk. What kind of lighting did you use for the silver lining on the characters? It seem to have very warm colors. 

Thank you for the answers, explained a lot.


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#10 Albion Hockney

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 11:53 AM

Wow big diffrence David .....glad you got the 2nd go at it


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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 12:10 PM

What kind of lighting did you use for the silver lining on the characters? It seem to have very warm colors. 
 

 

That was a tungsten 12-light, the overheads with daylight Kinos and the camera's color temp was set halfway between.


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#12 John Holland

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 01:32 PM

Shit excuse the pun ,wish i could get to see "Manure" over this side of the pond.


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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 01:49 PM

John, It's streaming on Netflix! Now titled "The Sweet Smell of Success."
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#14 John Holland

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 02:08 PM

Thanks Satsuki  :)


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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 02:59 PM

"Smell of Success"... "Sweet Smell of Success" is that classic Burt Lancaster movie.
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 04:13 PM

Oh right, haha! Sorry David. Great cinematography by James Wong Howe in that one.
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#17 Simon Jansson

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 08:43 AM

I encountered problems when trying to mount the Kinos. I could not find nor build anything to attach the Kinos to. Instead I ended up using some 5m tripods in every corner of the stage, where I rigged HMI lamps. These lamps were missing soft boxes, which means I now have to build new. 

If I succeed with everything tonight, I can share some results. We will be recording on Saturday, so there are still time to do some improvements. 


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#18 Simon Jansson

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 12:54 PM

I made some testings, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. There are still too much reflections in the veneer  (upper left corner), because of the angle of one of the lamps. This is already solved. 

Also the lighting inside the storefront are work in progress. I only used a redhead to spot some light on the cycle and the white backdrop. I think the window background should på lit up by one more light, to avoid reflections in the window glass. 

 

However, in my opinion it is a good beginning. What do you think?

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  • Ljustest.jpg

Edited by Simon Jansson, 10 December 2014 - 12:54 PM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 12:59 PM

So you don't have anyway to light from overhead?  No grid to rig off of?  No white ceiling to bounce off of?


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#20 Simon Jansson

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 01:08 PM

So you don't have anyway to light from overhead?  No grid to rig off of?  No white ceiling to bounce off of?

 

Short answer is no. The studio I'm using is more os less only a big room. To solve this I used giant "sails", huge white half transparent fabric. You think this is a bad idea? 


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