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One (huge) size fits all? (Day Exterior)

day exterior lighting fixture size

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#1 Phil Soheili

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 07:13 AM

Good day,

 

For a low budget short I will have many day exterior scenes (in moving and parked car and on the street)

where I initially thought using only scrims, reflectors and negative fill, because I was afraid adding light

would slow us down too much.

 

But we are in winter and being in the mountains the weather (and light) can change very dramaticaly in

very little time so I thought that if I took only one single but very powerful artificial source it could not slow

us down so much and would up the results noteably.

 

I figure a 6 or 8K would fit every shot (as I can always bring down it's power, but I obviously cannot raise

the light of a smaller source) and we would not have to rent more fixtures. (less fixtures, fewer people to

physically manage the light, fewer generators, smaller truck, faster shooting)

 

Let's suppose physical space is not a matter: if I need the light it "lower" I could simply move the source

further away before it hits the 8x8 diffusion.

 

But: Is there something I miss?

Is this (less fixtures ... faster shooting) a "valid formula" without overly compromising the result?

 

(We will shoot on SRIII, Super16, Vision3 200T)

 

Thank you in advance for any advice or shared experiences!


Edited by Phil Soheili, 13 February 2015 - 07:17 AM.

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#2 Albion Hockney

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 11:00 AM

The thing with lighting day exteriors is that thee is no "one size fits all" and its not as simple as the idea that having lighting will allow to imitate other kinds of natural light like for example if it becomes cloudy you can't just pull out an 18k and make it look sunny....not unless your against a flat backdrop like a wall  and you might still need more then 1 18k to do it.

 

Roger Deakins is well known for saying he doesn't even really diffuse the sun because he finds it looks artifical and the way he makes his day exteriors look so good is great planning and LUCK!

 

If weather changes your always gunna be in a bind and lighting can't really help that much.

 

 

a 6khmi (not aware of any 8ks) will be sufficent to light medium wides at most ....with the sun out it will not be very useful at all. it will also require a large generator and all of the baggage that comes with it.


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#3 Jacques Koudstaal

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 04:12 PM

I think 6k is a good size light for what you looking for, it can be setup and operated by one person. You did not specify it but there are a few different types of 6k hmi's. I would recommemd the 6k Par, it has 30% more poke then the 6k compact as well as having a set of lens that come with the light so you can control the angle of the light.

You will work quicker without lights that is forsure, not having to worry about lights, cables and genies will help. I would recommend finding locations that will help you. Limiting backgrounds, between buildings, alley ways etc and only if you get stuck then pull the light out the truck.
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#4 Guy Holt

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 03:44 PM

For a low budget short I will have many day exterior scenes (in moving and parked car and on the street)

where I initially thought using only scrims, reflectors and negative fill, because I was afraid adding light

would slow us down too much.

 

But we are in winter and being in the mountains the weather (and light) can change very dramaticaly in

very little time so I thought that if I took only one single but very powerful artificial source it could not slow

us down so much and would up the results noteably.

 

 

 

I have always found reflector boards and overheads to be useless under rapidly changing conditions.  They work great in modeling your talent when the sun is out, but as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud they are useless, resulting in the shots of even a short scene not matching when you get into the editing room. I agree with Jacques that you definitely need a large HMI source. A 6k will work, but as Albion points out it will require a large generator and all the baggage that comes with it. A better choice would be the Arri M40.  It has the output of a 6k Par but you can run it, along with other lights,  on a 7500W modified Honda EU6500is/Transformer gen-set that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit.

 

Like all M-Series lamp heads, the M40 is equipped with MAX Reflector Technology, a unique and very bright open face reflector design that combines the advantages of a Fresnel and the output of a PAR in one fixture. Focusable by the turn of a knob (from 17-55 degrees), the MAX reflector produces a remarkably even light field and a crisp, clear shadow. The elimination of spread lenses, makes MAX reflector lamp heads comparable to par configurations of even a higher wattage. In fact, the M40 is brighter than some 6K PARs on the market. 

 

To power the M40, ARRI has engineered a dual wattage ballast that will operate on supply voltages ranging from 100-250V. With Active Line Filtration (ARRI's system of Power Factor Correction) built in, the M40 ballast is incredibly efficient and generates virtually no harmonic noise - enabling it to reliably operate on portable gas generators like our 7500W modified Honda EU6500. And drawing only 36A at 120V, the M40 leaves room (24A) on the 60A circuit of a 7500W modified Honda EU6500is/Transformer gen-set for other lights, even their M18.

 

The approach that I find works best to maintain continuity in rapidly changing light is to shoot the establishing master shot when the sun is in a backlight position. Shooting into the downside of your talent, a M40 is large enough to create a sunny feel in a fairly large frame.  Up to that point I shoot the close coverage under a full silk. Shooting the coverage under a silk offers a number of advantages. If the sun is coming in and out of clouds, the silk takes the directionality out of the sun and knocks down its’  level by two and half stops so that again a M40 is large enough to create a sunny feel in your close ups.  

 

A good example of this approach is a scene I lit for a low budget feature that took place around a campfire in a small clearing surrounded by woods. Surrounded on all sides by woods, we knew that we would lose direct sunlight in the clearing early in the day and would need lights. We also knew that the scene was going to take all day to shoot because of its’ extensive dialogue, so we figured out where the sun was going to be throughout the day and where it would look best for our establishing wide shot.  Where it was a two shot, mostly over the shoulder of one character talking to the second character who was standing with his back to the campfire with the woods behind him, we decided to wait until the sun had moved into a near back light  position to shoot the establishing shot.  So we shot our close coverage first with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2k Par under a 20x light soft frost on top of which we threw leaves. The 4k was heavily diffused and positioned so that it gave the talent the most attractive modeling. The 1.2kw was positioned as a backlight where the sun would be when we would eventually shoot the wide - this way there was always an edge in every shot for continuity.

 

When the time came to shoot the establishing shot, the shadow of the overhead frame and stands were thrown forward and did not interfere with the wider framing. Since we were still shooting under the Frost, we were wider open on the iris and so our exposure dug into the dark woods and brought out more detail. As an unexpected added bonus, the smoke from the campfire drifted into the woods, creating shafts of light where the sun broke through the tree canopy. What would have impossible to cut together without lights, turned into a beautifully lit scene, and was accomplished with nothing more than what could be powered on a modified Honda EU6500is generator.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, Screenlight and Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston.


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