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Pre-Lighting, Lighting and Time-saving


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#1 Sergey Block

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 06:39 AM

Hi!
 - I have some questions about lighting, logistics and time-saving in production.

For example, I have a standard two-person dialogue scene. There are 3 shots:
1. Wide shot (two actors standing one before another)
2. OTS MS of 1st person (man)
3. OTS MS of 2nd person (woman)

So, in the wide shot I have the main source coming from behind the actors and rigged to the top of the window.
After I move to OTS MS of the man, I have the key soft source on the ground (from the left) and add backlight.
Then, when I turn to OTS MS of the woman, I have a flat light on the nape of man and not so noble lighting on the woman's face. Because of that, I should cheat the key light and move backlight from the 1st person to the 2nd person.
Is it normal process in production? Or should I rig some of these lights (backlight for each person) in pre-lighting the scene? Should I plan it on preproduction? Are there any other time-saving tips for such situation?

- And I have similar questions about night scenes.
For example, is's a night dialogue scene in the city street. Two actors stand face-to-face to each other, but 1st actor stands face to camera and 2nd stand back to the camera. The shots are:
1. A Wide Shot (1st actor face to camera)
2. OTS CU of the 1st actor
3. B Wide Shot (2nd actor face to camera)
4. OTS CU of the 2nd actor
On A Wide Shot I have one powerful light (18K f e) on the condor, situated far away behind the actors. When I move to OTS CU of the 1st actor I add some soft light on his face.
Then, when I go to B Wide Shot (turn on 180d), what should I do to avoid flat light? Have I got to move the condor to the other side of the street? Or should I order two condors and 18Ks for time-saving?:) Are there any tips for this situation? Maybe any tips for multiple camera set-up?

Thanks a lot for your answers!


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 10:57 AM

If you were on a tight budget, you'd probably not shoot a reverse wide shot because of that time problem of needing to move the condor or the costs of getting a second condor and second 18K HMI.  Perhaps you can design the reverse angle either to be tighter, or with a convenient building to put a backlight on, or fake the reverse in the same direction as the first wide shot.


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#3 Miguel Angel

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 11:27 AM

If you are not on a tight budget and want to go for the 18Ks I would say go for 2 x 20Ks Tungsten instead. 

They are cheaper to rent and the light is more pleasant to the eye because it is a tungsten source (my opinion of course)

 

If money is not an issue but time is, get two cherry pickers / condors / etc, rig each light on each of them and place 1 electrician in each (as you should anyway) and have your soft light on the ground ready.

 

You will save a lot of time by doing that, however you will double the electric and manpower.

 

There is another option tho but it depends on how wide is your wide shot.

Are you going to see the whole street?

 

You might want to shoot the wides during twilight so in one of them you have the sky helping backlight the actors? Just an idea! :) 

 

If you don't want to use 18K's you might want to use practical lights and maybe placing 1Ks / 2Ks on them and at some stage directing them towards the actors? 

 

Maybe, as David suggested, you could design the shoot so you have either a building or a window shop so you can place the window shop behind the actor in the reverse angle.

 

If you have the option to pre - rig I would go for it as you will be able to see how the lights are going to work and you will need just 10 minutes to make minor adjustments when the actors are in position. 

 

Have a good day!


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#4 Sergey Block

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 07:11 AM

Thanks you for your answers! It's so helpful for me!

So, as I understand, it'll be good for me to have prepared backlight for reverse shot.

 

Miguel, do you mean "to use practical lights and maybe placing 1Ks / 2Ks on them" I'd can place 1K on the lamppost (for example) and take it with 1K in the shot?

 

David, could I ask you some clarifying question base on your work?

What was your stratgy for lighting this scene in the "Smash"?

Did you pre-rigged some lights in both direction? (and what light did you use?)

 

204 - The Song.avi_20150402_132903.093.jpg

204 - The Song.avi_20150402_132907.796.jpg

 

Thanks!


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 11:35 AM

That was a dark alley next to a loading dock for a stage in NYC -- it was daytime but not a lot of light got down between the buildings, so it was a very toppy skylight.  I decided to make it more romantic by having a hot backlight come down as if the sun was coming through a gap in the buildings.  We were on location with an HMI package, so I probably used an HMI PAR as the backlight, with maybe 1/2 CTO on it.  We probably put the HMI's on a fire escape staircase or some other second floor landing.  I'm guessing maybe 4K HMI PAR's were used for his angle because there was a wider shot made that established the space, I don't remember if we used something smaller on the reverse angle on her.  Most of the ambience and fill came from the skylight in the alley, plus the backlight bouncing back up, which I probably augmented with some bead board on the ground, though I usually put some scrim/net/bobbinet over the bead board to knock down the brightness of the bounce, or flip to the reverse side where I usually put Day Blue Muslin to cool off the fill.


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#6 Sergey Block

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 01:12 PM

Great! It's so simple and powerful approach to use one source for the whole scene!

So, when you shot "his" direction (from wide to close-up) with the 4K backlight, you moved that 4K for backlight "her" direction?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 01:15 PM

No, I had another HMI ready on a balcony or top of a staircase for her direction.


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#8 Miguel Angel

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 08:09 PM

Sergei, 

 

It depends on the size of your frame and the mood you want to get. 

 

In "The Cold Light Of Day" we shot a long car chasing sequence with 5 cameras at night in one of the most historical streets in Madrid (we shot a lot of chasing sequences but the one I am talking about is very well remembered amongst the crew :D). 

 

It is a very long street and we had to shoot all the way through but the 2nd Unit DOP (Daniel Aranyo) was not able to place any lights outside the street so what he and his gaffer did was hiding either 1K or 2K (I don't remember right now) in each street lamp (like 150 or 200 of them!), attached to them, so he had a pool of light for each street lamp which allowed him to shoot at T2.8 with Kodak Vision 3 500T (no pushed)

 

Very recently, working on a feature in Ireland, the cinematographer had to light part of a street at night and the frame was tight enough so he could place a Joker 800 attached to one of the street lamps to give a kick to the talent.

 

Hence, it depends on the look that you want. 

 

There is an interesting movie (Seventh Son) which will show you how to light a "talking romance sequence" with two people by a lake at night with a couple of either 20Ks or 12Ks.

Worth watching, the cinematography is very interesting. 

 

Have a good day. 


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#9 Sergey Block

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 06:58 AM

Thanks a lot for all your answers!
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