The scene from the Drake video appears to be all natural light shot wide open. I think that's what most people are doing these days, maybe with a light panel or two and some negative fill to take away the streetlights you don't want.
Have to disagree. He is lit consistently from the side when the only motivated source is the store window, which is directly behind him. That and the cool color temperature tells me there is a large soft source to frame right. One new approach to lighting night exteriors that Gaffer Tony Lullo does on “Chicago Fire” is to use Mactech 96 LED panels rigged under a condor basket to create just this type of soft ambient light.
The production stills below are from an episode from season two where a car has crashed into an electrical pole causing a black out. To create a soft ambient top light, he rigged several Mactech 96 fixtures with 5500K tubes under a condor and flew it over the scene.
He then used another Mactech 96 on a rolling stand with 3200K tubes to create the warm glow from the resulting electrical fire. Since the Mactechs draw only 8.4 Amps each this approach can be very cost effective because it means you can run your entire set off of a couple of paralleled Honda EU6500s.
One of the biggest hurdles to obtaining good production values in low budget digital cinema productions is the high cost of the blimped studio generators required to power large HMIs for wide night exteriors (the signature of high production values.) Not only are blimped generators expensive to rent, but they also come with hidden costs.
Since rental trucks like those from Ryder or Penske are not equipped to tow, you quite often have to hire the rental house's grip truck to tow them. And, since most rental houses require that one of their employees drive their trucks (for insurance reasons), the production has to hire a driver at roughly $575/10hrs - which is probably more than anyone else on a typical indie crew is getting paid. All of this makes the traditional approach of an 18k Fresnel in a condor very expensive.
Now that you can parallel two modified Honda EU7000s or EU6500s for a combined output of 120A there is a more cost effective alternative. A complete paralleling system consists of two generators, a Paralleling Control Box, and a Transformer/Distro (either 60-, 84-, or 100 Amp.)
Parallel operation of two Honda EU6500 generators made possible by our new Paralleling Control Box)
The EU7000 generators require modification to interface with the Paralleling Control Box, which syncs the frequency and equalizes the load between the generators. The paralleling control circuitry uses the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of the generator's inverters to control the load sharing. The phase angles of the two generators are synchronized using open loop architecture. The final function of the control box is to switch the outputs of the inverters to a common bus after their frequencies are locked in step (same phase angle and time base.)
(As demonstrated here, our new HD Plug-n-Play Paralleling System can power a 6K HMI as well as 2-2k and 2-1k Fresnels)
To provide power that is readily accessible in industry standard outlets, the Paralleling Control Box is outfitted with a 240V Bates receptacle. The 240V Bates pocket enables you to power larger HMIs than has ever been possible before on Hondas (4k - 9k ARRIMAXs) power a Transformer/Distro. The Transformer/Distro serves several important functions in this system that enables two EU6500/7000s to be paralleled, but its' primary function is to step-down the combined 240V output of the two generators into a single large 120V circuit (either 60-, 84-, 100 Amps) that is capable of powering more small lights (it can power up to 10k Quartz). The Transformer/Distros are outfitted with the industry standard 120V Bates receptacle so that you can use standard distro equipment, like Bates Siameses, Extensions, and Break-Out boxes to distribute power around your set, breaking out to U-Ground Edison Outlets where ever needed.
Our 60A Transformer/Distro provides 120V power to smaller lights while a 6K HMI operates at 240V)
An added benefit to using a Transformer/Distro to distribute the combined power of the two generators is that, no matter where you plug into the Transformer/Distro on its' secondary side, it automatically balances the load on the generator's two legs (which is critical for successful paralleling of two machines – use this link for details.)
Where the four Mactech 96 LED fixtures lighting the action area of this crash scene from Chicago Fire draw only 34 Amps total, there is plenty of amps remaining on a couple of paralleled Hondas to power more lights to light the deep background when you consider that both the ARRI L7 LED Fresnel and Kino Flo Parabeam 400 use approximately 2 Amps. In fact, with the efficiency of lights today there is enough power on a couple of paralleled Hondas to power just about all the lights needed to shoot a night exterior on a digital cinema camera. This combination of brighter, more efficient lights, with more sensitive digital cameras, and new more powerful portable generators makes it now possible to achieve remarkable results on a tight budget.
Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston