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Getting A Similar Look To This Scene From Grand Budapest Hotel

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#1 Gareth Daklin-Wren

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 10:31 PM

Hi, new to the forum, and so far it's been a really great learning experience.

 

Anyway, I was wondering how any of you might go about getting a similar quality of light from this shot in Grand Budapest Hotel on a budget?

 

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The project I'm working on mostly takes place in the kitchen of which I've included pictures below:

 

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I'm pretty young and I usually just reserve myself to writing and directing, but I thought it might be a good experience to try to DP one of my projects. However I could use a little guidance as this is all rather new to me still, but I did have a few initial ideas.

 

I plan on putting up white curtains as the view outside is rather un-cinematic, and because I feel like it will add to the main character's feelings of being trapped.

 

I don't have much of a budget, the brightest lights I could rent are probably a couple of 1K tungsten lights. However, I plan on using my 5D mark III with ML Raw, so I can go up to 1250-1600 and get a pretty clean image, and I tend to like to shoot between an f.2 - f.4. 

 

My nearby rental place does have a set of 2 x 1K Arri's and an Arri 650w open face that are decently priced for the week. I could possibly try and rent a few other smaller tungsten lights as well. I was thinking about possibly going and blocking out the sun with some black cloth draped over some C-stands on the deck and then setting up one of the 1K's in front of it to light up the white curtains acting as the sunlight. My thinking to do this is so I can keep color temp consistent, and so we don't have to worry about clouds coming in and out all day. It would also help keep consistency as Minnesota weather can be rather unpredictable, and it will be a 2-3 day shoot.

 

From there I was thinking of using the second 1K as my key for the subjects as most of the dialogue happens in singles, probably bouncing it off of maybe some muslin or setting up a cheap book light scenario. Then finally using the 650w either for fill or for bouncing off the ceiling to raise ambient light levels. 

 

Anyway, I know that was a lot of information, but I was just wondering what any of you might do to get a similar look on the cheap all while trying to keep it consistent over a couple of shoot days. That was my initial idea, but I'm still not sure if that would even work as I've only been studying this stuff for the last couple months. 

 

Looking forward to hearing any and all ideas!


Edited by Gareth Daklin-Wren, 07 May 2016 - 10:38 PM.

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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 10:57 PM

From that sample shot, it looks a light through a frame of diffusion outside the window, a small interior fill light opposite Ralph Fiennes (that's what's providing the catch light in his eyes). and possibly something like a small dedolight supplementing that practical lamp above him to give it a little more of a hotspot and play onto the top of the chair (it could possibly just be the prac light itself, but the bulb is so dim I suspect it's been supplemented). 


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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 11:15 PM

There's nothing really special about the lighting in that frame from 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.' It's just the soft diffused window on frame right. What makes it look good is the location, the dark wood paneled walls, the wardrobe, the props, etc.
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#4 Gareth Daklin-Wren

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 12:06 AM

Thanks for the replies! Figured it wasn't anything complicated, but was curious of where that catch light might be coming from as you mentioned Mark.

 

Any thoughts on keeping that look consistent with changing color temp and weather over multiple days? 


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#5 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 04:16 AM

The catch light could be coming from either side of camera, it doesn't look to be doing much. I'd guess it's coming from camera right though (staying on the same side as the key).


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#6 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:39 AM

Guessing there is also a black neg fill on the left side of the frame helping to add some contrast and depth.


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#7 Guy Holt

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 09:50 AM

Any thoughts on keeping that look consistent with changing color temp and weather over multiple days? 

 

A couple of tungsten 1Ks and an open face 650 won’t be enough to establish continuity between shots over several days unless you can gel the sliding glass doors with an 85/ND9 gel and tent the outside of the doors with a large 12x12 solid. When shooting interiors with windows you have two basic problems: color temperature and the extreme contrast between the interior and exterior. Without either gelling the windows or substantially boosting the light levels inside, when you expose for your talent, your white curtains, which are being backlit by the exterior light, will blow out. If you expose for your white curtains to hold detail, your talent will be underexposed and become a near silhouette and those dark wood kitchen cabinets will become a black hole.

 

Without gelling the windows to 3200K, using 3200K balanced lights doesn’t make a lot of sense. Balancing tungsten to 5500K is not very efficient because full color temperature blue correction gel (Full CTB) cuts the output of the light by 70% in converting it to 5500K.  A 1k light becomes a 300W  5500K light when you put Full CTB on it. The output you get after correction will not be enough to light your talent with the windows uncorrected.

 

Covering the windows with a combination 85/ND9 gel will convert the daylight coming in the windows to 3200K so that you can use your tungsten lights at full strength, and it will knock down the level of your white curtains by three stops,  so that your tungsten lights will be more effective at  reducing the extreme contrast between the windows and the interior.  But, where a roll of 85/ND9 gel will set you back $140.00, it will be expensive and time consuming to gel sliding class doors of that size.

 

Since it is a long scene that will be shot over several days, you will also need to control the daylight hitting the glass doors from the outside. That’s where the 12x12 tent outside the doors comes in.   It will keep direct sun from hitting the doors so that only the “sky shine”, which is pretty consistent throughout a day, will be lighting the backside of the white curtains. But, since there is always the possibility that you will get a mix of sunny and overcast days, I would recommend that you use an HMI outside to throw your own consistent light on the white curtains from outside. 

 

The alternative approach is to use daylight balanced fluorescent or LED fixtures inside.  A good example of this approach is an American Experience program titled “The Most Dangerous Women in America” about Typhoid Mary that I lit for PBS. For part of her life Typhoid Mary was quarantined on an island in New York's East River.

 

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Typhoid Mary in quarantine on an island in New York's East River. Note the view out the window of the East River shoreline at the turn of the century.

 

Because New York’s East River today looks nothing like it did when she was in quarantine, we used a 30' blowup of a picture of the East River at the turn of the century rigged outside the windows of a house in Arlington MA. We wanted to overexpose the exterior by one stop so that it would look realistic and hide the fact that the exterior was a blow-up. As you can see in the production still of the exterior of the actual location used for the quarantine island, we rigged a solid over the porch windows and the blow-up to keep the sun off both. That way we could light the blow-up and interior so that it remained consistent even though the sun moved on and off the porch in the course of the day. To take the edge off the blow-up, we used a single scrim outside the window to help throw it out of focus.

 

tmfilmstrip2lg.jpeg

The actual exterior of Mary’s cottage was the backyard of a house in Arlington Ma with a 30’ blow up of a picture of New York’s East River shoreline at the turn of the century.

 

To maintain continuity between shots, we brought a 4kw HMI Par in a window on one side of the room as a sun source and a 1200 par through a window on the other side as a northern light source. We powered both heads off a dryer plug in the laundry room of the house using a 60A transformer/distro.  The two 2.5k Par lights used outside to light the blow-up were powered by a modified Honda EU6500is through a second 60A transformer/distro.  Since the Honda EU6500is could be placed right on the lawn, we were saved from running hundreds of feet of feeder back to a tow generator. Use this link for more production stills of PBS and History Channel historical documentaries where I took a similar approach.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, SreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston


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#8 Gareth Daklin-Wren

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 12:39 PM

Thank you all for the replies! And thank your Guy for that really informative post, I really appreciate you taking the time and the shots you provided look fantastic! Just a few questions though, if you wouldn't mind. 

 

Since it is a long scene that will be shot over several days, you will also need to control the daylight hitting the glass doors from the outside. That’s where the 12x12 tent outside the doors comes in.   It will keep direct sun from hitting the doors so that only the “sky shine”, which is pretty consistent throughout a day, will be lighting the backside of the white curtains. But, since there is always the possibility that you will get a mix of sunny and overcast days, I would recommend that you use an HMI outside to throw your own consistent light on the white curtains from outside. 

 

You mention using an HMI to add my own consistent light, but I was wondering what you would think of my idea to just block the sun out all together then using one of the 1Ks to light the curtains from the outside. That way the inside and the outside match in color temp and I wouldn't have to gel the lights or sliding glass doors. 

 

I also had the idea of using some thicker, yellow/beige curtains instead of white ones to help cut the light and warm it up, but I feel like I would have to still probably gel the tungsten lights to get it to match. I might just do that anyway though since the whole room in general is rather monochromatic and have been trying to find ways to add color.

 

Otherwise, I may just have to think about using LEDs and fluorescent lights to get something similar to the look above that I posted. Then the  sun is on the other side of the house in the morning, which is when the story takes place, so it's indirect light until about 2:00pm, so hopefully that will keep it pretty consistent. 


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