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Lighting a "futuristic" scene


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#1 Vincent Aalbertsberg

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 07:43 AM

Hello everyone ! 

 

So I'm working on this (very) short film, and I basically need to make it look like one scene takes place in the future. I'll be going for a dark mood (since it's a pretty negative view of the future), chiaroscuro, really play with the contrast, some blue lighting overall (with some use of color contrast here and there).

 

Now here's the tricky part : This film is written for a festival that has some specific rules, the main one being you have to shoot it on a cellphone. Now, for those who haven't left reading "shoot it on cellphone", I'll admit it seems pretty cumbersome (if that's the right word), but I guess it's pretty much the purpose of this festival to see what we can do without any professional gear (the first prize being 30 000€ and a producer to help you create your first short film). 
I intend to shoot it on an iPhone with some app, such as Filmic Pro or similar, that allows me to set iso, shutter speed and focus manually. 

All right, now that you have the main problem, here's another one : being a student, I don't have plenty of money. I guess at this point it looks pretty hopeless, but here's what I plan to do : where I live, there is this association that allows us to rent 3 lights (anything in the limits of available stocks, so LEDs, fresnel, kino, redhead...) for 25€ a day ; and i was going for a 3 LEDs pack (that i've shot with multiple times, so I know them quite well), mainly because i intended to shoot it in an underground parking (in a corridor, to give it some "futuristic hangar stuff" kind of look). In the next weeks I'll be doing some location research to try and find the best location, but it's still very challenging. So, to recap :

I have to shot a futuristic scene, in a parking (or if you have some other kind of of places that could look good as well to suggest), with 3 LED panels (and gels), and the practicals, with an iphone. The good thing is that I don't especially need no some very wide shot to show the set, since the plot makes it obvious that it takes place in the future, and my goal is only to maintain the illusion, while giving it this dark, disenchanting vision of the future.

So, since I've been visiting this website for a while now, I'm really looking forward to any good advice you might have, or some movie references, or anything :)

One last thing, about the content of the scene. It's basically two people entering the corridor through a door and then talking, so it's mainly about lighting two persons at once.

Thank you !

(hope my english is understandable)


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 11:05 AM

It seems like you've answered your own questions:

 

 

 


[edited] I'll be going for a dark mood chiaroscuro, contrast, blue lighting overall with some use of color contrast here and there.

 

 going for a 3 LEDs pack (that i've shot with multiple times, so I know them quite well), mainly because i intended to shoot it in an underground parking, in a corridor, to give it some "futuristic hangar stuff" kind of look.

 

two people entering the corridor through a door and then talking, so it's mainly about lighting two persons at once.

 

 

So maybe find a practical that will provide some fill, use the LED's and gels to get your color contrast - maybe red key one of the people, and bring lots of cheap reflectors.  I have not used the iPhone to shoot anything, but I find those types of cameras hard to light for.  If you can gain control over the camera in software, I would choose an aperture that allows for the amount of light you have (lets say f/4 or whatever), and use a light meter to set up the stage, and allow the shadows fall off into black.  I assume because of your want of chiaroscuro, you'll have the LED's more hard lit than defused.

 

Shooting the conversation is all up to you for setup. Are you going to do over the shoulder? Are you going to shoot coverage/reactions... is this a one take... there are still a lot of questions you could think about. Just some suggestions.

 

The thing I would be worried about is digital gain on the iPhone...


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#3 Stuart Allman

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 11:53 AM

Vincent,

 

As for a dark future there is probably no better reference than Jordan Cronenweth's work on Blade Runner.  Perhaps you should take a look at that film as an idea generator.  Obviously you're not going to recreate that film's look with 3 lights and without an extremely talented production designer, gaffer, and grip crew. but it's always good to start with inspiration.  Some things to think about...

 

1.  Do you have access to power outlets (how many circuits) or do you need battery power?

2.  How large is your grip crew?

3.  Do you have money to buy gels or rent lights that can produce deep colors?

4.  How much time do you have to do a location scout?

5.  A hard light can easily be made soft with diffusion, but it's more difficult to make a soft light hard.  You might want to consider harder lights and some basic diffusion to gain versatility.

6.  How far do your lights need to be to be out of the shot? ...i.e. how many foot-candles do you need.

7.  Do you have access to or money to buy diffusion, flags, and reflectors.  How about number of c-stands and sand bags?

8.  What can you add in post to complete the look...not that I personally like CGI.

 

Hope this helps catalyze your planning process.

 

Stuart

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illuma.blogspot.com


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#4 Vincent Aalbertsberg

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 05:05 AM

Thanks for the responses !

 

It seems like you've answered your own questions:

 

 

 

 

Quote

[edited] I'll be going for a dark mood chiaroscuro, contrast, blue lighting overall with some use of color contrast here and there.

 

 going for a 3 LEDs pack (that i've shot with multiple times, so I know them quite well), mainly because i intended to shoot it in an underground parking, in a corridor, to give it some "futuristic hangar stuff" kind of look.

 

two people entering the corridor through a door and then talking, so it's mainly about lighting two persons at once.

 

 

So maybe find a practical that will provide some fill, use the LED's and gels to get your color contrast - maybe red key one of the people, and bring lots of cheap reflectors.  I have not used the iPhone to shoot anything, but I find those types of cameras hard to light for.  If you can gain control over the camera in software, I would choose an aperture that allows for the amount of light you have (lets say f/4 or whatever), and use a light meter to set up the stage, and allow the shadows fall off into black.  I assume because of your want of chiaroscuro, you'll have the LED's more hard lit than defused.

 

Shooting the conversation is all up to you for setup. Are you going to do over the shoulder? Are you going to shoot coverage/reactions... is this a one take... there are still a lot of questions you could think about. Just some suggestions.

 

The thing I would be worried about is digital gain on the iPhone...

 

There's one thing i'm not sure I understood : to "red key" someone. Does that simply mean to set a red keylight on them ?

Otherwise, since the short film is mainly based on the plot and the ending, I was going for something pretty simple and not too distracting, one shot ore something close, maybe some over the shoulder, but since they have like 2 lines, i'm thinking some one shot could be best for the movie.

 

For the digital gain, I was going for the lowest ISO setting i could, and then maybe add some fill (through practical or some LED panels), and then, if needed, contrast/draken the image to get closer to that chiaroscuro look...
 

 

Vincent,

 

As for a dark future there is probably no better reference than Jordan Cronenweth's work on Blade Runner.  Perhaps you should take a look at that film as an idea generator.  Obviously you're not going to recreate that film's look with 3 lights and without an extremely talented production designer, gaffer, and grip crew. but it's always good to start with inspiration.  Some things to think about...

 

1.  Do you have access to power outlets (how many circuits) or do you need battery power?

2.  How large is your grip crew?

3.  Do you have money to buy gels or rent lights that can produce deep colors?

4.  How much time do you have to do a location scout?

5.  A hard light can easily be made soft with diffusion, but it's more difficult to make a soft light hard.  You might want to consider harder lights and some basic diffusion to gain versatility.

6.  How far do your lights need to be to be out of the shot? ...i.e. how many foot-candles do you need.

7.  Do you have access to or money to buy diffusion, flags, and reflectors.  How about number of c-stands and sand bags?

8.  What can you add in post to complete the look...not that I personally like CGI.

 

Hope this helps catalyze your planning process.

 

Stuart

---------------------------------

illuma.blogspot.com

 

Yes of course, Blade Runner is the first reference I can think of, and I actually haven't seen it in a long time, so i sure will !

Thank you for the very organized questions :) I'll try to answer them all : as I said, I don't know where i'll be shooting yet so I don't know about the power outlets yet, but since it is unlikely I'll have access to some, I'll just assume I need some battery powered lights. I'll have probably 2 or 3 people in my grip crew. I have about two weeks with nothing planned, and I intend to use them for the location scout. You're totally right about the hard light, but the thing is the association that allows me to rent lights for almost no money doesn't have plenty of battery powered lights, and they are almost all LED's panels, so not extremely hard (although they can be pretty hard if not too diffused), but I can't really afford anything else... My shot(s) is (are) going to be quite close, so I don't need so much power... I do have access to some diffusion, and I personally have a reflector, and I guess i can build some cheap ones for almost nothing. And yeah I also thought about some discrete futuristic screen or "exit" panel I could add in post that could help achieve the look. It's a little complicated, cause if they don't look perfect, they will only break the look, so it's a pretty tricky thing. I'll do some research before the actual shooting, and see if I'm able to get something good. If not, I'll just pass...


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#5 Jay Young

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 02:03 PM

Thanks for the responses !

 

There's one thing i'm not sure I understood : to "red key" someone. Does that simply mean to set a red keylight on them ?


 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, I simply meant to use a key light with red gel. 


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Visual Products