I shot this teaser back in November or so. It's supposed to be two characters having dinner at night. I've gotten comments that it looks like daytime as opposed to night time, and while I don't completely agree, I'm wondering what I could've done differently to make look better as a night scene. Any ideas, comments, or critiques? Also interested in hearing how I could've made it look better overall, not just more "night-like."
For a little background info, the guy has kidnapped and drugged the girl (his ex) and is forcing her to have a nice dinner with him. It's a thriller.
For the scene, the characters were pushed up right next to a window in a cramped kitchen. I had the option of either lighting through the window or from camera-side, which I avoided as I felt it wouldn't fit the dark material.
I used a 1k open face about 10 feet back from the window, using drapes to shape/control it as much as possible. Some light curtains were softening the light a bit. The light was a bare tungsten unit and my camera was balanced to 3200k. I also had a bare tweenie bouncing off the ceiling for fill.
Since there were no practicals to motivate from, I tried to pretend there was some sort of street light coming in from the window, so I wasn't going for a moonlight look or anything.
In night scenes the light source can be overhead, or there are practical lights within the frame. You can put the latter in if they're not already there, perhaps you could've put a candle on the table, so forcing an artificial romance to the power struggle.
Simply making it a bit dimmer or warmer or both, might have made it more convincing. As it is, those two frames just seem a little to bright. That's the thing with digital cameras these days. They've become so sensitive that you basically have to err on the side of under-lighting, especially if you're not doing any major color correction.
It's the side-y nature of the light; the lack of a kicker, and I think the contrast ratio between them and the back wall. without having seen the room it looks like there is a window right out of frame.
Those walls are really killing you-- you'd need to flag like mad the light off of them, and yes, a lamp in the background "on" in one of the shots-- or an establishing shot showing there is a "lamp" where we think there is a "window" would've helped; thought the walls would still probably be too bright.
Hopefully there was a wide shot that showed the window and established the streetlight effect more clearly. If that's the only source, then the main problem with the close-ups is that they should be darker with less fill. I would have probably picked a color for the streetlight but being neutral is a valid choice.
I was trying to suggest that the main source was a street light coming through the window, and the fill was coming from other lamps elsewhere in the house. I shot a wide/two-shot, but I had a hell of a time getting the window to look dark enough to be believable as a street light, and still get some rim on the actors (from the key). The window would blow out, so I stopped down enough to look believable, but the characters lost their edge light as well as detail. I brought in more fill, but that started overpowering everything, almost replacing my key light.
I guess in reality, any lamp you have on inside at night would pretty much either match or be brighter than a streetlamp spilling in from outside. I hoped to use the "street light" as just an accent, and key from some sort of lamp, but the limitations of the location, production design, and blocking all forced me to key from outside the window.
I guess my "fill" could've have been more sourcey and controlled, as opposed to general room ambience. The way I set up the tweenie bouncing into the ceiling, it essentially replicated the overhead pratical that was already in the room, although much dimmer. The pratcial gave me almost a 1:1, which obviously looked horrendous for the tone.
Ehh Horrendous is a bit much. It doesn't work as these 2 shots in isolation, but might've worked in whole. What i'd've done is lit from outside for a "streetlight" than cheated their rim from an inside source-- maybe doing that with a menace arm or something similar-- maybe a 300W lightbulb hung from the ceiling and then streak and tipped off so it only spills forward as a rim, right above frame line-- that way the window is still dark, but you get the suggested edge.
In reality; sure, but this isn't reality, it's film And it's certainly not the worst thing ever. Hell I cringe every time I have to do "moon light" which is then, magically as bright a source an actors turns on in frame-- or moonlight in general in any urban envoirment-- but that's the life i guess.
Yeah, I had hoped to use a wall-spreader to get the rim in the wide, and keep the window dark, but the limitations meant I both didn't have a spreader and was talent was pushed right up against the window. Now that I think about it, maybe it would've been nice to have the streetlight at a higher angle, coming in hitting their chest, and have the key softer and warmer, as well as those kickers and darker walls. Maybe that would help keep it from looking like one giant bright source blasting in from outside (sun).