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underexposing neon Blackmagic bar scene

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#1 Haydn Michael John West

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 12:46 PM

Hello,

 

I was would love to hear your thoughts on the best way to expose a bar scene. We're using a the 4k Blackmagic Production Camera and I have no idea how it responds to be under-exposed. The Arri Amira produced very good results in low-key scenes on our last film but the type of film we're doing needed a lighter camera.

 

I've attached an image of the location. As you can see we have a ton of space and there is a beam that we can G-clamp lights to and also a ledge. OTS right there is a bar which has air-conditioners above it which would be OK to tape fluourescents to. We can't damage the walls!

 

The scene is a guy who takes a girl to a really crass, tasteless joint full of pink neon and cocktail umbrellas (I actually like bars liek this but there you go). The director wants to go walkabout with the camera with a DJI Ronin so the lighting has to go above. I was going to gel Osram De Luxe fluorescents behind the bar and high on the walls and then stick a 1k PAR above the table Bob Richardson style. Once that is done, I was thinking just get a rim light raking the room from the far side and have put a four bank Kino Flo through some 216 to fill the profile shot of the couple at the table.

 

If this sounds like an insane way to do it, feel free to correct me, I'm relatively inexperienced and open to suggestion. I liked what Dante Spinotti did for bar scenes in LA Confidential. He somehow achieved great modelling and depth.

 

Many thanks and good luck to you all!

 

Best regards,

 

Haydn

Attached Images

  • Bar Sceneuu.jpg

Edited by Haydn Michael John West, 17 July 2016 - 12:52 PM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 01:14 PM

 We're using a the 4k Blackmagic Production Camera and I have no idea how it responds to be under-exposed.

 

Poorly. The camera (and the 4K Ursa Mini, which performs similarly) get a lot of stick for their performance, but I think it's unfair: stick to ISO 400 and light to ISO 400, and you're fine. Try to pull it up out of the murk, and you'll get - well - fizzy murk.

 

As to the specifics of your lighting choices, it's difficult to comment - the walls look dark, which is good, but ultimately you'd need to measure distances and meter the lights.

 

As I say, expose fully.

 

P


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#3 Haydn Michael John West

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 01:16 PM

Thanks for the heads up Phil.


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#4 aapo lettinen

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 01:27 PM

underexposing a BMPC and the cameras with the same sensor leads easily to visible fixed pattern noise and other issues. Expose to ISO200 or 400 with enough fill so that you don't have to lift shadows afterwards.

 

If you really have to underexpose it and gain it after you can try to shoot a noise sample with body cap in place and try to use it in post production to subtract the pattern from the image, it may help to some extent


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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 03:28 PM

It doesn't really look like there is room to rig a par can above the frame unless you frame really tight or are shooting 2.39:1. A Dedolight on an autopole or clamped to the cross-beam and armed out over the table would work though.

I think you're going to want as many practicals as you can get. Rope lights and string lights, little table lamps, single kino tubes with harnesses, drug store candles in glass jars. Then haze. Bonus points if you can actually rent large neon signs and put them into the shot, 'Blade Runner' style.

You might actually want to fill with a large hero practical that you bring in closer to the actors on their tighter coverage. That way, it should end up feeling less lit.

Like Phil says, definitely don't underexpose that Blackmagic 4K camera. And don't expect it to look as good as an Amira. If you can swing an Alexa Mini at all, that would look way better.
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#6 aapo lettinen

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 04:20 PM

the Blackmagic 4k 's look is closer to Red One or Red One MX , I think.  Treat it like it would be the original Red One and you'll be fine  ^_^

 

I normally only shoot vfx plates and some of the low saturation and b/w stuff with the BMPC and everything else is usually with FS7 or film to get more dynamic range, sensitivity and much better colors


Edited by aapo lettinen, 17 July 2016 - 04:23 PM.

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#7 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 03:08 AM

Again to reinforce what the others have said, don't underexpose the BM4K. Expose it for 400 ISO and I actually think the picture is quite lovely. I've only shot with it a little, but I've graded a fair few spots shot on it, and the colours came up really nicely.

Your art department are going to have to do a fair bit of work to perk up that location, but that bracing running across the centre of the ceiling is ypur friend. Some long Cardelinni clamps will let you mount your lights from there, I'd consider a colourfully gelled 4-bank 4-foot Kino facing out in each direction across the floor, and perhaps a couple of dedos mounted up there as well for picking out accents of light in the room.
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#8 Haydn Michael John West

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 04:40 AM

Wow, such a great medley of pointers. Thank you all so much!


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#9 Bruce Greene

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 12:37 PM

I think this is a job for the Art Department.  Get as many practical lights as you can to define the room.  Neon ads on the walls, small table lamps on the tables.  If this is done well, then you should see the shape and ambience of the room before you add any movie lights.

 

Next, light your actors.  I'm thinking here that maybe a bunch of 300W dedo lights to light your main guys.  The background actors may only need rim lights to make them feel present.  

 

If you're going to start wide and move the camera about the room and into close shots, there's no place for large soft lighting while keeping a sense of "bar" ambience.  If the closeups are shot separately, you can bring in softer sources to mimic the ambience from the wide shots done with the small "hard" lights, that are easy to hide above and control.

 

Don't forget about colored gels to recreate any neon colors that may be in the background after the Art department dresses the set.

 

And, you can use those windows too to light with, even if it's a night scene.

 

Good luck and post your results!


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#10 Haydn Michael John West

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 12:48 PM

Cheers Bruce, I'll be starting with the practicals and take a look at it before adding my key lights. Thanks to everybody, its been a great response. I'll show how I got on.


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#11 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 03:49 PM

 

Definitely a job for set deco.

 

As for the direct lighting, just pull the table so it's directly under the joist and then c clamp a vnsp par or leko to it. Make sure to use pads. You could easily do more than one along that beam, and then focus them accordingly. You could also use them for bounces. If you have the means, you could also do a wood or pipe spreader, but that is of course more involved. China balls could provide adequate fill, and act as practicals as well, if they fit the scene. Seems like a good op for a fogger or hazer too. But yeah I would rely mostly on the practicals. Sounds fun.

 

Some long Cardelinni clamps will let you mount your lights from there, I'd consider a colourfully gelled 4-bank 4-foot Kino facing out in each direction across the floor, and perhaps a couple of dedos mounted up there as well for picking out accents of light in the room.

 

Dont hang lights from cardellinis. That's a fireable offense.

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