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When the DP settles for available light


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#1 Chris Lange

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Posted 30 April 2016 - 12:33 PM

I have been on sets where a DP often settles with the available light, believing it to be suitable or the best option. 

 

I understand that some feature films are shot entirely with available light, or some with only minimal supplementary lighting.  In this regard, the DP is chosen because of their understanding of exposure, composition, and visual storytelling language.  

 

Why does it sometime seem like a director, producer, or various crew members expect the DP to use big cinema lights in order to be a real DP?

 

 


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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 01:23 AM

I suppose that if a certain DP commands a sizable day rate, then there is a general expectation that they at least have the knowledge and experience to use all of the tools available to them, even if they choose not to use them in this one instance.

I think for a studio, agency, producer, director, and even gaffers, grips and ACs, there is a comfort level when working with someone who has that experience which is completely separate from their confidence in this person's aesthetic sensibility. They want to feel that their project, their investment, or the quality of their own work is in proven capable hands and won't be wasted or make them look bad. It's a sort of risk management assessment.

I think the reality is that we are all learning on every shoot and constantly adding new tools to our quiver of tricks. There is always a first time with some new piece of equipment, whether it be a Steadicam, or a Breise light, or a Technocrane. So hopefully we keep adding to that knowledge base and continue to grow both aesthetically and technically.
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#3 JD Hartman

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 06:02 AM

Shot using available light: = Using every light that was available on the truck. 

 

That's my kind of DP.


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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 10:06 AM

Shot using available light,  every light that was available on the truck. 

 

 

Well, made me laugh anyway! :)


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#5 Chris Lange

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 02:19 PM

I guess the ability to do both is better; versatility, creativity, knowledge.  It's important to continue to learn new tools and techniques.  Thanks.


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 04:48 PM

You know what I say.. and granted I am generally just a mid-level-no-one of import-- but I say, screw the expectation, look at the monitor, then understand this is why you hired me, not to use every toy unnder the sun, but the choose the kit which is necessary to get us through the day in the style we all agreed on. Why on earth would you complain when I just saved you thousands of dollars of rental?

 

(consequently, the little shoot i'm on right was was superbly surprised that the only additional equipment, on top of the general 2-ton-ish package they were rolling with) i requested was a 12' menace arm rig, just so i can put a little par light out over a hill to a lower window. )


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 04:59 PM

It's also more of a 'first impression' type of judgement, once people have a working relationship together it's much less of an issue.
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#8 Justin Hayward

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 06:07 PM

 

 

Why does it sometime seem like a director, producer, or various crew members expect the DP to use big cinema lights in order to be a real DP?

 

 

I don't know that they do (especially the producer that would likely love a DP that only shoots natural light :), but consistency can be an issue. If we start shooting at a location with big windows at 4pm and we plan to shoot the same scene until at least 9pm... the natural light at 4 probably won't work for the scene no matter how good it looks.  Of course, like the others said, this is where experience comes into play.


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 06:09 PM

It's also more of a 'first impression' type of judgement, once people have a working relationship together it's much less of an issue.

To be honest, I don't much care for first impressions; I just do what I do. My own logic, flawed and impoverishing at times, is that those who pass such judgements so quickly are not those who'd I'd really be happy working with/for later on. Thankfully I've been lucky enough to have gotten in with a few people who for some reason or the other, enjoy working with me.


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#10 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 09:41 PM

Yeah, those kinds of Directors and Producers are pains in the arse... Just send them my way and I'll deal with the damned 10-tonne trucks, and the Arrimaxes (such a bore!)


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#11 andrew ward

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 07:55 PM

Because the film industry is full of wankers.
You could do away with 90% of crew and equipment and make better content. Its all just bullshit politics and WANK.
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#12 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 08:21 PM

I actually had to look up 'Arrimax'. WOW, that is one hughgass light. I cannot even fathom the daily rental charge for such a fixture, consider it costs $20,000 new.

 

$20,000 for a light... This must be why Hollywood films cost hundreds of millions to make. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 02 May 2016 - 08:21 PM.

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#13 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 11:03 PM

Because the film industry is full of wankers.
You could do away with 90% of crew and equipment and make better content. Its all just bullshit politics and WANK.

 

Hey man... we're all just trying to get off here. Stop killing our vibe.

 

I actually had to look up 'Arrimax'. WOW, that is one hughgass light. I cannot even fathom the daily rental charge for such a fixture, consider it costs $20,000 new.

 

$20,000 for a light... This must be why Hollywood films cost hundreds of millions to make. 

 

Well, actually, that's just for the head. The Ballast is another $20,000, bulbs are $2,000 a pop, cables another $1,000. You can rent them for about $900 a day (though obviously you'd also need a diesel tow plant to power them, so that's an added cost - but odds are you'd need that anyway for unit.

 

On the surface it may seem expensive. But lights that are powerful enough to let you maintain a consistent appearance of time of day can save you so much more money than having to spread the shooting of a scene out over multiple days just because the sun moves through the sky.


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#14 timHealy

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 09:01 PM

All this crying about lights. An experienced DP will use the right light for the job. Sometimes that means lots of lights and other times in may mean no or not much at all. That means a DP will consider everything including the budget and size of the film. And if he or she wants to work the same people again.

 

Also lighting rentals are usually a day or a day in a half for the week. Depending where you are in the world and how badly the rental house wants to land the job.

 

best

 

Tim


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#15 Mark Dunn

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 02:51 AM

 And if he or she wants to work with the same people again.

 

:lol:


Edited by Mark Dunn, 10 May 2016 - 02:51 AM.

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#16 Bruce Greene

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 10:43 AM

Sometimes, I walk onto a location set (not sound stage) and see the perfect lighting coming through the windows.  For a moment, I think I should say "ready".  Of course, an hour and a half later, when the actors come back to set in makeup and wardrobe, I think ...  Good thing we set those big HMI's up outside.  Otherwise, it would look like crap now :)

 

Which reminds me of a commercial I was booked a day on to operate Steadicam on many years ago...

One day shoot in a national park.  We walked a few miles through the forrest to a special spot.  It was a skeleton crew.  Maybe 5 people.  No lights.  We set up and rehearsed the shot.  Then we waited.  And waited.

 

Finally I asked the director / DP why we were waiting so long.  He replied that we were waiting for fog.  "How long will we wait?", I asked.  "Up to six weeks" was the reply.

 

If you can make films in this fashion, you don't need any lights at all.

 

I asked the park ranger about the weather forecast for fog.  He said that fog rarely comes in at this altitude...

 

At 3:00pm  the fog rolled in!  We did one take.  The Director liked it.  We went home :)


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 01:10 PM

Some of the best stuff I've ever shot was available light. Not sure what that says.

 

(Also I am not really a director of photography)


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#18 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 01:35 AM

Yes sometimes its a bit nuts sometimes.. I did a shoot for Mitsubishi of Tokyo Tower.. (the lifts where made by Mitsubishi ).. a dir came from the UK.. we were shooting from behind glass of an observation floor of a building near by.. 6.30am call .. a black out was built for the tripod and camera in about 20 mins.. all set to go by about 7.30 am... 10 hrs later we roll for about 5 minutes to get a dusk shot ! ..


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 01:51 AM

ひどいです...


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#20 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:15 AM

Ive had worse days   :D


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