I'm shooting a poor mans driving scene in a couple of weeks time, it's for an experimental cinematography unit that I'm doing for part of my film degree. My plan is to have the car appear as if it's driving down a street at night. For this I'll be using a soft moonlight key, along with various sodium gelled lamps, a mockup traffic light made up of 3 dedos with coloured gels, and various lamps swinging and swivelling replicating passing cars etc..
I want to do a practical lighting change as if the car has driven into a tunnel. I plan on just having everything on a dimmer, so i'll dim down all of the sodium lights, and dim up a side daylight balanced light shining into the car, with the addition of poly on the other side for fill light. This will be the ambient light from the tunnel, probably a dirty kind of daylight, for the cheap fluorescent look, i'm thinking like Rotherhithe tunnel in London.
My main question is that I want to achieve the effect of passing overhead fluorescent strips reflecting on the cars front window screen. I'm aware that this might be achievable in post, however for the sake of trying, I'd like to see if it would be possible to create this lighting effect practically. An idea I have is to use a single fluorescent tube (either a kino 1 bank, or a cheap shop bought tube) rigged above the car as if its on the roof of the tunnel. Then I would have a spark simple move a cookie along the light, and have the light switch off, then reset have the same movement again.
Just wondering if/how anyone has done this effect successfully in the past?
Thanks in advance for any replies, I appreciate the support on this forum a lot!
Edited by Bradley Stearn, 02 November 2015 - 05:32 PM.
The problem with wanting to see the reflection of the tubes in the windshield is that you may also see a reflection of the cookie, and the electrician holding it. If you just want a moving light pattern on your actors, it may be simpler to use tungsten lamps on a simple chase sequence, such as you might find on a DJ style lighting controller.
Ideally wanting to see the reflection on the outside of the window screen. My current plan makes use of 3 cheap fluorescent tubes that I found from my local hardware shop. CRI wise they are horrible, but I think it will work for the 'dirty daylight' look that tunnels usually have. My plan is to have 3 of these tubes around the car, one either side, and one at the back. They will be switched on and then lowered down, creating a white out effect around the windows. We are having a rain machine as well, so hopefully the rain drops will also help create this white out effect. I have also managed to get hold of a Westcott LED ice light, I will most likely have an electrician waving this around to imitate the passing fluorescent tubes on the ceiling. I guess I will have to play around with reflections to make sure my sparks aren't seen in the windows as well.
I suppose if I want to chose not to see the tube reflections passing by on the front window, I could rig a separate 650w or 300w fresnel, with full CTB above the car, and have my gaffer dimming this off an on rapidly. I reckon this would be enough to make the lighting in the tunnel look different, compared to the swinging /dimming street light effect I will be doing for the exterior sections.
Edited by Bradley Stearn, 06 November 2015 - 05:28 AM.
For the tight shots I can cheat the tubes to make it look more, the wide will be a medium 2 shot of the two people in the car. It's a really small car, a mini cooper, so hopefully I won't have to fill too much space. I have access to kino flos as well if I need to add more punch into the scene.
We had our pre-light for this shoot yesterday, we decided to scrap the tunnel idea, especially doing it as a practical lighting change. We decided to just try and perfect selling that the car is driving down a motorway, or other road.
I've attached a video with our 3 test shots. The first shot is a 15mm reverse from the back seat of the car. Things that will be different on the day are that the car rear lights in the background will be closer, similar to the medium 2 shot car front headlights. They will also be red as they are rear lights. For that shot we will also have a light rain machine, with the window wipers going. Combined with the haze i'm hoping all of that put together will sell the effect nicely.
We had some problems with our medium shot shot, regarding reflections from our lighting showing up in the front window screen. our passing street light on c-stand arm that we had passing over the top of the car in the reverse shot, was then reflecting horribly on the screen. So we pulled that lamp back to the side of the car to solve that. We then could see the whole ceiling of our room, which isn't a studio, so we solved that by putting a black drape over the whole car.
One thing I am struggling with is selling a believable exterior to the audience. At the moment I am happy with the interior of the car, the passing street lights, cars and traffic light effects work well, but the exteriors are too black. I was wondering what you have all done in the past to sell a believable exterior?
The footage is all ungraded, log-c straight out of the Alexa.
Thanks for the reply Mark. I agree with you on the swaying car lights, I think in a later test roll I told the spark on those lights to keep the swaying, but not to keep returning back to centre. So he can move to the left, but hold that position for longer before moving back.
We had someone with a plank of wood on the wheel arch, however the cars suspension is just so stiff, it just didn't want to move. Would you suggest we maybe try handheld instead, and use the movement from that to make the car look less 'tied down'. Thanks again
It's hard to pull back very wide with poor man's process because of the black backgrounds; it helps to stay tighter. You can try putting more dirt & dust on the windows, or rain drops, or some very light haze. You could try putting a few Christmas tree light bulbs in the far background as if a distant streetlamp.
Since the background is dark, it helps to not overdo the amount of lights passing by so that it doesn't feel like a busy commercial shopping district.
Here are the rushes from the final shoot. There are so many things that I want to change now that I didnt see/liked on the day/now don't like. I know how I would improve for the future, if I ever get the chance to do this kind of thing again. I know the opening 15mm shot doesn't work very well, it's just too wide for the effect to work. I may have over used the lighting effects, however it is starting to grow on me now and im starting to like it all. Maybe with some great sound design the effect will be sold really well.