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Parking garage lighting


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#1 Kenny Williams

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 10:23 PM

Hello this is my first post in here and I had a question about lighting a parking garage. I wanted to know just what I'm going too need? Am I going to need a lot of light or can I use any of the already available light? I want to try and do this in a long shot as well
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 11:01 PM

Too general of a question, since every parking garage is different - is it interior or exterior, day or night, if day will there be daylight visible? You also have to factor in the look and mood you are going for, the blocking of the actors and action, and whether you have permission to be there and create a big lighting setup or not. You should scout the location and check out all these things, as well as if there are any outlets nearby or not. Most likely, battery powered lights like Litepanels will be your best bet.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 11:55 PM

Parking garages come in all sorts of configurations and lighting sources.  Some have plenty of light of all one type, some are too dark to shoot in, some have a weird mix of color sources including daylight.

 

Also depends on the look you want, the mood, and if you can stage the action in relation to existing sources that are bright enough to shoot with.

 

Can you take the camera you are planning on shooting with into the parking garage before the shooting day, or a digital stills camera set to the same ISO and shutter speed as the camera you will be using?  Can you take a light meter and check the levels?

 

Assuming that there is only one type of light in there, or 90% of it comes from one type of light, then any lights you may need to add should match that particular color.  Many garages have metal halide or mercury vapor or Cool White fluorescents, which are all in that range close to daylight with some green in them, but some might be lit with tungsten (rare), some with Warm White fluorescents, some with sodium vapor fixtures, etc.


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#4 Guy Holt

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 05:05 PM

Too general of a question, since every parking garage is different - is it interior or exterior, day or night, if day will there be daylight visible? You also have to factor in the look and mood you are going for, the blocking of the actors and action, and whether you have permission to be there and create a big lighting setup or not. You should scout the location and check out all these things, as well as if there are any outlets nearby or not. Most likely, battery powered lights like Litepanels will be your best bet.

 

If it is a day scene in the typical above ground parking garage Litepanels won't cut it because of the extreme contrast between the exterior and interior of the parking garage.  They are usually poorly lit and very dark, so unless you can shoot your talent as silhouettes against the exterior city-scape you will need to do some lighting in order to keep the exterior from blowing out. I would think you would need at least 1200 Pars through diffusion frames to light any size scene.  The problem is going to be powering them since parking garages are not well wired.  You can usually find an outlet next to the stairwell that was put there for a vending machine.  If there is a vending machine there already you will have to generate your own power. The problem with using portable power in garages is that they are echo chambers, so what I would suggest you do is put a Honda EU6500 on the level above, and then drop down from the outside a cable plugged into its’ 240V receptacle.  The reason to go 240V is that it will enable you get 400-500ft away from the generator so that you don’t hear it  and then you can use a step-down transformer/distro  with boost taps to compensate for the voltage drop on the long cable run. That way you will have full 120V line level on set and won’t hear the generator on your audio tracks. Use this line for more details.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer

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Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston


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#5 Kenny Williams

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 07:26 PM

Oh I'm sorry everyone its int night parking garage. I want it below ground I'm going for a dark & mysterious type of feel and I started to scout locations a week ago but it doesn't look like I'm going to get permission from city owned garages. Might have to find private I just wanted to know if I could use the available light along with added light and if not what kind of lighting can simulate parking garage light.
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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 07:31 PM

Oh I'm sorry everyone its int night parking garage. I want it below ground I'm going for a dark & mysterious type of feel and I started to scout locations a week ago but it doesn't look like I'm going to get permission from city owned garages. Might have to find private I just wanted to know if I could use the available light along with added light and if not what kind of lighting can simulate parking garage light.

 

What are you shooting on?...


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#7 Kenny Williams

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 07:47 PM

Canon 60d
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#8 Miguel Angel

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 08:51 PM

My question here would be: 

Why would you want to recreate the garage light? 

Why wouldn't you want to go with something different? 

 

Car parks are very interesting locations, especially at night since you can create colour contrast by using either different tubes or by gelling some tubes and leaving some others ungelled or gelled in a different way. 

 

Last time I worked on a car park was when shooting "The Cold Light Of Day", we changed 90% of the tubes for them to be the same colour and left 10% of them uncorrected (which was very interesting) 

 

We ended up having a mixture of 90% cyan and 10% yellow plus some "car park" practicals which were red. 

 

I remember that when shooting actors in the car park we had a kinoflo or a vistabeam 3/4 behind them so the actors had a rim light. 

 

Have a good day. 


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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 10:15 PM

Take a look at Gordon Willis' work on All the President's Men - specifically, the scenes in the underground parking garage when Woodward meets Deep Throat.  It sounds like that's the kind of look you are going for but I'm not sure how that camera performs in low-light.  You may need to add some soft fill to avoid noise.


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#10 Kenny Williams

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 10:25 PM

I've seen that and that's exactly the look I'm going for
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 10:36 PM

That garage had Cool White fluorescent tubes, though Willis clearly used a tungsten lamp in order to create the hard contrast and shadows on the actors.

 

None of us can really answer your question if we don't know what is already there in terms of lighting to know what you'll be matching to.

 

Also, does your location have available power to plug into?

 

Fluorescents (like Kinos) and/or LED's (like LitePanels) are probably going to make the most sense if you have little power to draw on, or have to use a battery-powered lamp.  But without knowing the color temperature and level of green in the location light sources, it's hard to know what will complement that.

 

Often when you have limited lighting choices in a night location, the best thing is to frame in a lit area in the background and if necessary, add some light for the foreground, and let the middle ground go dark.


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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 11:37 PM

I would also bring a selection of Plus Green and Minus Green gels for your key light. This will give you some options on how green or neutral you want the background to look. You would white balance the camera for the background and add the gels to your key to bring it back to the color you want.

I had to shoot a day interior parking garage scene a while ago and really missed those gels. I wanted to let the overhead fluorescents go very green for a stylized look, but keep the key neutral. So I white balanced the camera to get the green color and was going to add Minus Green to the key. But since we were doing a quick splinter unit scene before lunch, my gaffer forgot the gels on the truck and I had to live with the overall green. I was not happy...
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:48 AM

Here are some frames from "All the President's Men":

 

The widest shots were made under existing Cool White fluorescent tubes, uncorrected on film stock balanced for 3200K, hence the cyan cast:

allthepresidentsmen1.jpg

 

Robert Redford's close-up had some underexposed hard fill / eyelight from a small tungsten lamp:

allthepresidentsmen2.jpg

 

Hal Holbrook's close-up had had a cyan back/edge that could be either from a Cool White fluorescent fixture that Willis had made (other medium shots seem to indicate at least one fluorescent fixture was being used that wasn't in the ceiling but on a stand) or it was a tungsten lamp gelled with blue + green to match the Cool White color.  The eyelight is clearly an underexposed hard tungsten lamp gelled to match the Cool White color, flagged to just create a strip across the eyes:

allthepresidentsmen3.jpg

 

I don't know why Robert Redford's eyelight/fill is ungelled tungsten since there is no warm light established in the garage.  I guess Willis wanted him to look less creepy.


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#14 Miguel Angel

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 07:38 PM

Beautiful frames.

 

Regarding different colour temperatures, I took this photo around 2009 / 2010 with a very bad phone, but it illustrates that a car park can have very interesting mixtures of colours and you can create a mood with them if you want to.

 

Carpark.png

 

Have a good day. 


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#15 Kenny Williams

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Posted 17 April 2015 - 12:09 AM

Wow! Thanks so much everyone for your advice. My teacher wasn't kidding when he said this could be a useful tool. I look forward to shooting now that I understand a little more.
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#16 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 17 April 2015 - 04:03 AM

Wow! Thanks so much everyone for your advice. My teacher wasn't kidding when he said this could be a useful tool. I look forward to shooting now that I understand a little more.


Cool! Good luck & have fun!
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