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Lighting a small set-build music video tungsten


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#1 Lee Burnett

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 12:31 PM

To start with I'm just starting out with lighting stuff. I've had experience lighting a lot of interviews, but I'm a complete newbie except for book theory and watching lots and lots of stuff.

 

I'm shooting my first music video. It's very low budget, shooting on FS7. It will be a small set with paper backdrop and paper / card props with people interacting / playing instruments in the set. We have an illustrator who is building all of the paper props to be used.

 

The set is built so that the scene will be changed by people moving the props by hand, into and out of the scene. These people will be on and off camera at different points. It is meant to be sort of crude and have a handmade feel to the whole thing, with the talent interacting with the set.

 

So there is a colorama backdrop, then about 2 or 3 feet in front of that will be props, people interacting, scenes playing out. The props will stretch out to about 8 feet in front of the colorama we think. We will be shooting wide (the whole colorama in shot) and then close-ups on sections of the scene. Some scenes will use a dolly for tracking in and out / left to right.

 

The scenes don't all have to match up, as there will be moments where it all changes, so the continuity isn't such an issue there. Some scenes will be night time.

 

Considering there are a lot of flat paper and card objects, as well as people and a lot of movement, I'm thinking one big soft source off to camera right, above head-height. Then a soft fill to camera left... I'm not sure how I'm going to light the backdrop yet.

I'm currently thinking of using a set of 3 redheads through diff for fill / backdrop (as I already have these) and then a 2k arri tungsten fresnel for the key, blasted through a 42in x 78in diff frame.

 

Am I going about this completely wrong? What would you advise me to think through before I make any decisions. Do I need a lot more lighting than this. I find redheads are plenty powerful, so with a 2K I should be fine, it's just getting the backdrop a consistent exposure throughout, or being able to control it depending on scene.

 

Amateur hour.

Thanks

Lee


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#2 Lee Burnett

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 06:14 AM

Now considering bouncing the 2K off a muslin on the ceiling, although it's not a very high ceiling. This should get me good soft ambient and soft shadows.

 

Just not sure if I can get a redhead behind for some sort of backlight, just not sure whether this would need some diffusion or bounce. The space is quite tight.


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#3 Maximilian Motel

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 09:40 AM

Hey Lee, do you have any mood photos of light setups that you / the director liked? It's probably easier to start out with where you want to end up and then it'll be easier to figure out what you need.

 

Also, will you be shooting in a studio? Or at least somewhere where you know you'll have the power to run a lot of Tungsten Lamps? The base-ISO of the 7s was 3200, right? If so, you could be fine with the 2ks, but usually it is safer to go for (at least) a size over. Always easier to take light away than the other way around.

 

Edit: The Shot Designer" app might also make life a bit easier, if you want to have an image of your light setup idea so you can post it here. 


Edited by Maximilian Motel, 03 March 2016 - 09:42 AM.

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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 10:06 AM

In such a small space, big soft sources will make everything look fairly flat in contrast, but maybe that's ok due to how much stuff is going on. Personally, I would be tempted to go for a more high contrast graphic look. It's all to taste really, so there's no wrong way to go about it.

Not sure what your backdrop is made out of, is it paper as well? If you were going for a more graphic look, I would consider backlighting the paper backdrop with the 2K and playing things more in silhouette with 2x redheads as edge lights on the props. With different colored paper, you can get different colors. Or just use white paper and use different colored gels on the 2K. Then use the third redhead to punch into the ceiling in the foreground or through the diffusion panel for fill as needed. Could be cool to rent a 1K dimmer and dim up the fill in shot as you push in on the dolly.

Another thing that could be fun would be to get a bunch of small colorful paper lanterns from a party store and string them up in the depth above the props so that you have so more color and interactive lighting with the people moving around between them. You could put LEDs in them or small peanut bulbs.
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#5 Lee Burnett

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 06:22 PM

Hmm, that's good advice. I was mainly thinking soft ambient bounce light because there will be multiple props with different coloured cards and illustrated details. Therefore they need some emphasis and don't want them lost in silhouette. That being said, I think we have some freedom to mess with it, the storyboard follows a sequence, but it's rough, and thinking it through now we can cut from silhouettes, to bright fill, to contrast.

 

How would you go about lighting the backdrop with one 2K? I don't really want a big hotspot, or strong sidelight. If I had 2 x 2k's then I'd diffuse them both from either side, but not sure with one?

 

Base ISO on FS7 is 2000 - so still pretty high. 

 

I'm doing another recce tomorrow and going through storyboard again, so I'll get some lighting references and a light setup sketch / diagram done after that to help cement this all.

Thanks


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 07:39 PM

How would you go about lighting the backdrop with one 2K? I don't really want a big hotspot, or strong sidelight. If I had 2 x 2k's then I'd diffuse them both from either side, but not sure with one?


I was thinking that you could backlight through the paper with the 2K at full flood, but you do need enough room to back the light up far enough away. The idea was to have a circular beam. If you want a completely even look, then spreading the Redheads out so that the beams overlap would be better.
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#7 Lee Burnett

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 06:34 AM

Thanks Satsuki, arfter doing another recce and camera tests in the space, I reckon we will use a 2k Blondie from behind, flooding the paper. We have about 7-9 feet behind the colorama, do you reckon this would be enough space behind to get a decent flood on the backdrop?

 

We will be showing roughly 8feet width of the colorama on the widest shot, any idea how to work out the rough flood of a 2k from about 8 feet distance? It doesn't really matter if we get some gradient.

The other option would be to bounce the blondie off the back wall of the room.

 

Also, would you just ND the light in order to control exposure of backrop?

Going to make a rough lighting plan of the location and set to work out how we are going to light the talent and objects.

We will have a 2k blondie and 3 redheads to work with on the talent.

 

Thanks


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#8 Lee Burnett

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 07:16 AM

Here is a rough layout drawn on the shot designer app. Very useful app.

 

So the top line is the colorama... it is 9 feet wide.

 

The light behind is a 2k blondie, we have 7-8 feet of distance behind the colorama. It is a beige coloured colorama.

 

The 2 people will vary, one or two shots are 3 people. mostly 1 person

 

The line below the 2 people is a line for placing the paper props. They will be cut out of card and fit into a rail system. They will always be dead flat with the camera.

 

Then I have 2 redheads bouncing off the ceiling to camera right. This will hopefully give a soft, but contrasty look to faces with shadows on faces, but eliminate shadows from the cutouts.

 

A redhead through big diff to camera left to keep consistent exposure of the cutouts and fill on faces, not bounced off ceiling.

 

We will have another 2k blondie to play with. So not sure whether to replace 2 bounced redhead key lights with a 2k?

 

This is the illustrator who is designing the cutouts, so you get an idea of the style / colour pallettes, and reasoning for it being quite flat - http://owendavey.com/

 

I will be gelling the back 2k, from blue to orange throughout, as there is a sun rising on the background colorama in the song, so want the colour to change on the backdrop.

 

IMG_1215.jpg


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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 02:05 PM

I reckon we will use a 2k Blondie from behind, flooding the paper. We have about 7-9 feet behind the colorama, do you reckon this would be enough space behind to get a decent flood on the backdrop?
 
We will be showing roughly 8feet width of the colorama on the widest shot, any idea how to work out the rough flood of a 2k from about 8 feet distance? It doesn't really matter if we get some gradient.

Also, would you just ND the light in order to control exposure of backrop?


Sounds like it should be enough space, but you should use a photometric calculator to make sure: http://calc.arri.de/calculator

I would use scrims that come with the light to control intensity. Might also be good to have a 2K Variac dimmer handy. It will change the color when you dim, but in combination with scrims you should be able to control exposure very precisely. The only thing is that if you start using deeply colored gels (especially blue ones), you will lose significant light output so just be prepared for that.
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 02:20 PM

If you want a 'sun rising' effect, the 2K Variac could be quite handy indeed. I used one through a large bleached muslin frame for a scene in my reel:

(Timecode 0:49-0:58 if the video doesn't go directly to it)


If you want to do the color transition, another way to go would be to take a bunch of party gels and cut them together with clear J-lar tape to make a color strip that you can roll across the beam. Something like this, but much larger:

image.jpeg
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#11 Lee Burnett

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Posted 08 March 2016 - 03:20 PM

Thanks again. Good tips.

 

How would you go about getting a more graphic look? I don't want harsh shadows on faces, but the faces are the only place I can get some depth and shadow, so also don't want it completely soft... shall I just tone down the fill light as much as possible?


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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 March 2016 - 04:16 PM

That's going to be very tough since the actors and props are all in the same space and you want to light them both with the same source.

You could try making the key very large and even for maximum softness but playing it more from the side and having negative fill on the opposite side for more contrast. One way to do this is to buy large sheets of bleached muslin and Duvytene and staple them to 2x4's to create massive rollout frames. Then just hold them up with a couple of c-stands and Cardellinis clamps. It's a cheap quick way to make your own large diffusion frames. You would want a floppy or two between the diffusion frame and the backdrop so the color doesn't get washed out.

Another approach might be to create a soft toppy ambience over the table and skirted with duvytene so that the props are evenly lit but the actors have some shadow. Then make a separate soft 3/4 key for them and flag it off the table so that each subject has its own light. This approach needs space above the table though. I think you'd want the soft source to be at least three feet above the actors' heads if not more.
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#13 Lee Burnett

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 03:22 PM

OK, height space is an issue.

 

I think what I might do is to light from the side (camera right) with a 2k running through a dimmer, through a sheet of 251. This will give the faces almost split lighting, with the opposite wall as soft fill... can duvetyne the opposite wall if too much fill.

Then I can flag this source from the backdrop, and maybe the ceiling, (although space is tight, but think I can flag most of it)

Then I can redhead through 251 (maybe doubled) from a distance for the props, coming almost from the camera. 

That way I can control exposure for the props carefully, without the actor key lighting hitting the props too much, which will also give stronger shadows on the faces.

 

I'm hoping this will work, can you see any issues?


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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 03:49 PM

Sounds like that might work. You'll just want to keep the frontal source from washing out the color of your backdrop. So maybe go high with it and tilt down? You can also use flags in front of the diffusion and perpendicular to the frame to contain the light even more without losing softness. Sort of the same principle as an eggcrate on a softbox.
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