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Lighting an evening street scene


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#1 David Schuurman

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 10:06 PM

Hi folks,

I was just talking with a friend about a shoot I may help him with and it got me thinking how I'd light it.

It's a single "main street" type street in a small town, a block, maybe two.

 

I've never lit anything that size so I was wondering if anyone had any bts stills they could share of something similar they've done, or how you'd approach lighting a street scene. I had thought about a large balloon light, but not sure how much light I could get out of one, or how high I could put it, because part of whats happening involves being on the roof of one of the buildings. I thought perhaps doing two large 20x20 frames on alternating rooftops pointing down into the street/rooftop area with some big lights through it (5k's? 10k's? I don't know how much would be needed) But wasn't sure if that would be too directional. The idea is that it get's lit once and then shoot everything needed with only minor adjustments with smaller lights to augment.

 

Anyway, would love to hear what advice you folks here have for something like that.

 


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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 10:24 PM

You may well find that the existing light sources at the location give you enough to work with, so that all you need to add are accent lights and perhaps a key for your talent. At 800 ISO, a city street with shop fronts and streetlights is fairly well illuminated, but a residential street may be more challenging.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 11:40 PM

Depending on how many stories tall the building is the streetlamp may in fact be lower than the rooftop.

 

Streetlamp light is semi-hard and directional actually, it's sort of a movie convention to soften them.  A round balloon light has the advantage of shining both out and down if that's helpful to light a one-story house roof.  But some people would use a condor with a soft box rig under it and then shine some additional lights from the basket of the condor to other areas where it might be needed, so you could have a soft top light for the street, skirted for a pooling effect, and then shine some semi-hard lights out from the condor to rake a rooftop a little dimmer than the pool effect below.


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 11:40 PM

Balloon lights get pretty expensive pretty quick; but they can be very  large. Really, it's the Helium you need that costs a boatload (and the techs but  mostly, Helium).

 

Many streets are pretty bright on the whole, and you can get by with a lot of interesting placement of units.

 

A lot depends on how you want it to look-- if you're going a bit stylized, you can rig up PAR64s on the street-lamp posts and have them blasting down-- I'd go with wide flood globed in them, and ideally be able to wire them all to a dimmer to control them-- that's a good start, but without seeing the location, and knowing what you're after it's a little hard. 

 

Also depends on if you're trying to do a walk and talk down the whole street or just pick off action place to place-- picking off makes ti a lot easier.

 

Also work with the art department to rig up some interesting lights in the background to Bokeh out-- which can also serve as motivation for augmented lighting later on.

 

Also you could boom out large soft lights up on condors hanging over with silk-- much like in a studio, and that can be your base level illumination-- if there are side alleys to park the condors into of course.

 

 

the rooftop is most difficult-- but if it's near a large illuminated sign up there that can serve as a motivation for the angle of lighting-- else you can play with lights coming out of doors or even "up lighting" from passing cars (all faked mind you)


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#5 Michael Rodin

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 04:31 AM

Have you considered doing the "roof" shots in the studio? It won't be hard for the art dept to build a "roof" set and for you to light it with some 20-30kW of tungsten, or even less. Will likely turn out much cheaper than shooting on a real rooftop. And there are numerous ways to fake the city in the background.


Edited by Michael Rodin, 19 August 2016 - 04:31 AM.

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#6 JD Hartman

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 06:14 AM

Start with photos of the street, buildings and rooftops and the budget.  No point in designing a plan that exceeds the budget.


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#7 David Schuurman

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 12:04 PM

Depending on how many stories tall the building is the streetlamp may in fact be lower than the rooftop.

 

Streetlamp light is semi-hard and directional actually, it's sort of a movie convention to soften them.  A round balloon light has the advantage of shining both out and down if that's helpful to light a one-story house roof.  But some people would use a condor with a soft box rig under it and then shine some additional lights from the basket of the condor to other areas where it might be needed, so you could have a soft top light for the street, skirted for a pooling effect, and then shine some semi-hard lights out from the condor to rake a rooftop a little dimmer than the pool effect below.

Hi David, thanks for the reply!

The surrounding buildings are 2 stories high, and a performance going on on the roof of the 2nd story.

 

A balloon sounds great to me because as you say it's shining both out and down, but would having a balloon 3 stories up be ineffective for bringing up ambient level of both the rooftop and the street below?

 

A condor also sounds nice. You're saying it would hang above the street/rooftop scene in the same way the balloon would? or it would have ot go up the street a bit and provide more side light instead?

 

The goal here is to light it once and then more or less be able to shoot everywhere in the scene.


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#8 David Schuurman

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 12:05 PM

Start with photos of the street, buildings and rooftops and the budget.  No point in designing a plan that exceeds the budget.

Budget is $35k. music video. No street pics yet. but 2story old country main street type.


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#9 Amanda Eckle

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 04:56 PM

David S.

 

I agree with David Mullen that a Balloon Light would be an excellent idea for your shoot-but where are you shooting?? (city wise).

 

I'm a huge balloon light advocate (I'm a little biased as I've been working with them for the past year); but the helium advantage is always best as flying your light will give you a ton of flexibility (when you need to move it-guaranteed to take far less time then re-rigging or moving larger lights).

 

2dvkdtu.jpg

 

You can always air fill them and rig them to condors too to save on helium cost if the balloon requires a very large output

 

rsc4eg.jpg

 

Anyways just thought I'd throw that in!


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#10 David Schuurman

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 10:21 PM

Hey All!

Thanks so much for the awesome insights!

I just want to chime back in here and let you all know how the shoot went and what I ended up going with.

 

Didn't end up getting the balloon lights unfortunately. Would've been amazing but budget didn't allow (would've been about $1500 for what I discussed with the guy at the balloon place).

 

So the night before the shoot the director and I went to the street we were shooting on and scouted it for the first time at night (would've loved to scout at night earlier but timing didn't allow for that). I'm glad we did because the old-timey lampposts that are in the street were all retro fitted with white light at about 5000k!  So what we did was cut out pieces of half CTO to wrap the lamps with, and then on each lamppost was an electrical outlet, so we attached a 250w/300w/650w to each (hidden behind the lamppost fixture) depending on how far away from our scene it was (further light meant brighter light because it needed to cover a larger area ). Each light was pointed up at the building beside it to look like the lamppost had a higher intensity.

We also added a kino tube or two over some store signs overhanging the street to play as practicals.

 

I put a 12x12 with light grid on the sidewalk at a 45 degree angle to the band, and put two 5k lights through it. and I backlit with a 2k mole LED with opal in front to soften it a bit, which was supposed to be up in a lift in an alleyway but the lift died as we were moving it across the street so I had to have it on a skyhigh stand.

 

 

After shooting a quick wide shot that looked nice we decided the action looked too sparse so the entire final scene is going to live in frenetic closeups....which doesn't really show off the effort we put into lighting the whole dang street lol but it did look pretty cool still.

 

Anyway. Figured I'd write it out in case anyone cared or is going through something similar. Like I said, this was the biggest project I've DP'd and the largest scene I've lit so I was flying by the seat of my pants and I think I succeeded . So thank you all!


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