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Advice for Low Key lighting - Short film


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#1 Killian Lassabliere

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 07:20 AM

Hi guys,

 

I’m usually more of a camera operator for documentary, but next month I’ll be dping on a short film. 

My knowledge in terms of lighting is quit limited so I would love to get some advice.

I’m also french so I do apologies for my english.

 

The project is very low budget so I won’t get access to much gear. 

The camera is going to be an Sony A7s ( 3200 iso - Slog 2 / Variable ND Filter ) with some Samyang Cine prime lenses.

Light wise I’ve got access to : 

  • 2 CFL Softbox 1000W 
  • 1 HMI Cine Par 575W 
  • 1 Redhead 800W 
  • Diffusion frames, black flag, etc

I could possibly trade the 2 softbox / HMI for a single Fresnel 1000w or a LED 900 Pannel. 

 

We are trying to go for a low-key lighting look to suits the dark mood of the story. 

 

I’m going to talk about 2 scenes here and try to apply your advice/suggestions on all the others. 

 

The first scene take place at night time in a kitchen: a father is cooking dinner for his daughter while chatting. The father is standing in the bar area and the daughter is sitting on the table.

 

We didn’t do the scout yet but I've received a picture of the location : 

Cuisine_1.jpg

 

Screen_Shot_2017_01_31_at_12_54_43.png

Screen_Shot_2017_01_26_at_17_50_08.png

My idea was to place a softbox over the table to act as key lighting, directing the light using black wrap. ( + another softbox directed on the father if needed. )

I can’t decide whether or not to use the down lights as practicals, I’m afraid it wouldn’t match the low key look wanted. Which is why I’m thinking about using some more “classic” practicals placed on the background. 

I also thought about using the small HMI thought a diffusion frame ( maybe also bounced it ? ) to add a bit of fill. 

 

 

The second scene takes place at night in a lounge : the father is on the sofa watching the new, while having a drink.

On this location we are going re-arrange the whole space, probably hang some fabrics on the wall as well as other props to make it look more cosy: 

Salon_2.jpg

Screen_Shot_2017_01_31_at_12_57_40.png

Screen_Shot_2017_01_30_at_19_05_31.png

Here I would like to use the TV as my key light. For that I wanted to use a softbox placed in front of the tv and wave some gels in front of it to emulate the flickering. 

The other softbox would be place behind the sofa to act a fill, motivated by the practicals in the background.

 

Finally, I was thinking about hazing a little bit all the interior scenes to have some “texture”.

 

Having never worked with this type of lighting I found it quite hard to visualise how those setups would look on camera. I’m open to any suggestions / idea, and would love to hear how you guys would go about lighting those scenes ?


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#2 Dan Quigley

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:44 AM

For the first scene, it seems like you have a good plan already. Softbox looking down would create the look you are going for. You will have to just see for yourself if those led practicals are too bright for the low key look that you're going for. I'm guessing you can't replace bulbs in the 3000k LEDs?If you can, you could try something that's less bright. The HMI for fill is good too, you will have to play to get your contrast ratio to where you want it.
 
My major concern would be the color balance for the lights you are using. CFL's are nasty with green and probably wont mix well with the HMI. If you plan on using the CFL with the HMI in multiple setups then you might want to do some tests and try adding some purple gel to the CFL.
 
For scene 2, I'd be careful once again of the practicals but it's good that you have them on a dimmer. The setup looks good. Id' imagine you might have difficulty with the softbox you are using for fill. That room looks kind of tight and it might be hard to stop the fill from overpowering the key. You will also probably have to use blackwrap to keep it from spilling too much on your subjects.

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#3 Killian Lassabliere

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 11:31 AM

Hi Dan,

 

Thank’s a lot for the reply ! 

 

I actually just came back from the shoot. It all went well considering the micro budget and the tight schedule we had. 

 

As you mentioned, the biggest struggled was to deal with the different color temperature. The CFL’s gave me that nasty green tint you talked about… 

It is definitely something I’ll have to be more careful next time ! 

 

I also didn’t had access to the HMI as the director wanted to rent an Atomos shogun plus other bits and bobs. “Instead” I used the other softbox for the ambiant light. 

I realised now that the kitchen wide shoot is missing a lot of fill light making it really dramatic. It work for the story but it’s not the result I intended. 

 

Screen_Shot_2017_02_23_at_17_15_45.png

 

Screen_Shot_2017_02_22_at_17_23_09.png

 

For the second scene we decided after the location scout that we would be using an other lounge that was connected to the kitchen, which gave us a nice background.

 

Unfortunately the practicals started to flickers when dimmed, so it acted more as a fill light. Finally I used the other softbox to get some ambiant light in the kitchen ( in the background ).

 

Screen_Shot_2017_02_22_at_17_14_34.png

 

While watching the rushes I spotted the reflection of the softbox in the kitchen window …  I did angled the window to avoid it but someone must have closed it afterward. 

 

I realised that I still got a lot to learn, any feedback / criticism are welcome ! 

 

PS : Sorry for the quality of the screenshots, ( would also take any advice for good website to host images  ^_^

Thank’s again.


Edited by Killian Lassabliere, 23 February 2017 - 11:35 AM.

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#4 Jay Young

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 12:07 PM

I think they look great! 

 

What was the Atmos used for? 


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#5 Dan Quigley

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 12:35 PM

That looks great. The green tint is so slight that it shouldn't matter and if you guys used an atmos it should be no problem to raise the shadows a bit in post to compensate for the fill.

 

How did you rig the softbox above the table?


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#6 Killian Lassabliere

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 01:30 PM

I think they look great! 

 

What was the Atmos used for? 

 

We used the Atomos with a Sony A7s to be able to film in 4K / 4:2:2.

 

 

 

How did you rig the softbox above the table?

 

I rigged it with a T-Stand ( on the right of the table / frame ). Since the softbox are lightweight it worked well.

 

Thanks for the reply.


Edited by Killian Lassabliere, 23 February 2017 - 01:31 PM.

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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:04 PM

I think the frames look really nice, quite moody and dramatic. I really like the composition of the kitchen shot with the sink in the foreground. And the color temperature choices in the living room work great.

If I had one criticism, I think the art direction is a bit cluttered, I find it a bit distracting. Though maybe that works for your story, I don't know. If the edit holds on the wide shots for an extra long time, then it would be less of an issue since the eye will have time to scan the frame and find the subject.

Anyway, nice work!
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#8 Killian Lassabliere

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 10:03 AM

I think the frames look really nice, quite moody and dramatic. I really like the composition of the kitchen shot with the sink in the foreground. And the color temperature choices in the living room work great.

If I had one criticism, I think the art direction is a bit cluttered, I find it a bit distracting. Though maybe that works for your story, I don't know. If the edit holds on the wide shots for an extra long time, then it would be less of an issue since the eye will have time to scan the frame and find the subject.

Anyway, nice work!

 

Thank's for the feedback Satsuki ! 

 

You hit the nail on the head since no one was in charge of the art direction. My only "input" was to remove all the flashy colored items that would of be to distracting.

 

Another thing that I'll have to look out for next time ! 

 

Cheers


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#9 Mihnea Snooker

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 05:18 AM

Results are great. Just enough fill not to look like a family/comedy movie. What lighting setup did you use in the end? 


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#10 Killian Lassabliere

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 06:35 AM

Results are great. Just enough fill not to look like a family/comedy movie. What lighting setup did you use in the end? 

 

Thanks Mihnea, 

 

For the kitchen setup I sticked to the original lighting diagram, except that I replaced the HMI by a 1000w Softbox bounced of the ceiling. ( I also added a honeycomb grid to the softbox above the table to control the spill ).

 

For the lounge I had 1 softbox ( +extra diffusion ) as key light, with an assistant waving is hand to emulate the TV flickering. I also dimmed the other softbox to 500w and bounced it of the ceilling in the background ( kitchen ). 


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