I have an important night exterior to shoot on a very low budget indie short film. I've scouted for a street with good overall lighting and for cars going by to have background detail and I think I've found an excellent street. But the thing is, I think I still need lights to get good exposure on the actors.
To better explain the scene, here's a photo I took from the street. I'll have one actor sitting on the ground, in front of store with the owl and another actor sitting down in the other store. On the right there's a cute little restaurant as you see in the picture.
What is the cheapest way to get a good exposure on the actors, besides using a very fast lens and a light sensitive camera (camera will be the Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k)? LEDs are still too expensive to rent. I was thinking maybe 2x 1k tungsten fresnels to get good exposure on the actors skintones. And they would match with the yellow light from the lamps much easier than HMIs (I think the lamps are probably at 2800k). I would probably have to gel the tungstens...
What do you guys think? My experience with night exteriors is limited, so I'm hoping someone more experienced could chime in and share their knowledge.
Camera will be between both actors. Actors will be sitting down, against the doors of each store and talking to each other. At one point, actor on the left will walk to the other, sit next to him and talk.
Okay, well since you're really budget-poor I suspect rigging anything to the buildings is probably out of the equation. I'd probably look to start with something like a light firing down onto the curb/sidewalk (acting like the throw from some kind of overhead street light). The bounce off the concrete from that could play nicely on your two characters positioned in front of the shops.
Would you use any backlight on the actors? They will be sitting in the ground, with their back against the stores and looking at each other. I could have two lights on each actor, one bouncing down from the wet floor (great advice!) and another as backlight to silhouette them. What do you think?
BTW, would it look better to have the actors lit with tungsten balanced lights or daylight (in this case, moonlight) balanced? The street is filled with street lamps, so it would be easy to motivate light from the street lamps. Not sure how I'll balance the tungstens with the street lamps... Maybe 1/4 CTO would do.
Here's a good example of the kind of lighting I wanted for the scene (look at Sam L Jackson):
Of course, Samuel L Jackson is not sitting in the ground against a wall, but the overall concept of lighting in this still is what I'm after. I can see some frontlight on his face that falls off very fast on his cheek.
That would be a great idea! Unfortunately, we'll be filming in the night, after the closing hours of both stores. Anyway, the framing will be almost parallel to the stores, to create depth with the car lights, street lamps, people, etc. Tomorrow I will go on location and shoot some screen tests without any artificial lights and post here for you guys to see.
What about LED lights? I need something discreet as I don't have a permit to shoot (I don't really need one, as long as I'm not creating any hassle with traffic or with people walking by). How could I recreate that look of the still I shared, using only LEDs? How would you place the lights?
Edited by Tiago Pimentel, 22 August 2017 - 03:25 PM.
The production and locations department could help with that by asking the stores to stay open when you shoot or ask them if they can leave the lights on?
The problem I see is that if you need to be "discreet" and "unseen" a generator is going to make a lot of noise.
I would keep things really really simple and first of all I would ask the production department if they could talk to the restaurant's owners to see if I could plug the lights in the restaurant without creating any hassle.
If you have that sorted that's 75% of the battle won!
You could take a look at what Matt said on his youtube channel regarding street night lighting on a budget.
The restaurant will be opened at the time we'll be filming. So i'll have some backlight on the actor on the right. My idea is to rent two led lights with booms and diffuse them to the actors (or is it better to bounce at the wet floor?). Much cleaner then huge tungstens with generators. How would I get the look like the sam l jackson still I pasted? Not talking about the color, but the way the light just falls off so fast. Is it placed on his left side and doing a kind of Rembrandt illumination?
Edited by Tiago Pimentel, 22 August 2017 - 04:56 PM.
For those two shots I would have a light on a dimmer with a 1 meter x 1 meter frame (or even a 1K Rifalight with dimmer) to light the character upstage and then I would have 2 floppies right by the camera for negative fill.
I would even live without the light if it were the case but if you have one you can play with it and see what it does and also you can model the faces a bit more, which I think that is good as a learning experience.
You will see that by taking the light off the faces by using the negative fill you will start modelling the light though!
Are you still going to shoot a wide shot? Hopefully not too wide?
I'm a little limited by the gear I can take with me, but the rental company that I usually work with, have this Dedolight DLED7 Kit (90w each bulb) that seems great. It's three Led lights with chimeras that can go down until 2700k. My first problem will be the overall light of the street which I measured at 2500k. So, to have the faces white balanced, everything else will look a little yellow. But that's probably ok and a relatively easy fix in post.
Your idea for negative fill would be to place a black flag against the wall, between the actor and the camera, to stop the light from bouncing back to the cheek and neck, right?
As for wide shot, there will be a very wide first shot of the street that I'm not that worried because I won't be adding any light. After the big wide shot, the widest I'll get is going to be this:
Well, the background doesn't need to have the same colour as the faces but that's up to somebody's aesthetics.
I can't upload any images but the negative fill should make the short side of the whole face less bright, usually it is done by bringing a black solid, floppy, net, etc camera side but sometimes you have to play with it around the face to find the right spot.
As per the Dedolight LED Kit, I have never used that particular kit, if you can get a CELEB or SELECT you won't need to worry about the output, or the 1K with some diff frames if you can plug it into the restaurant.
Maybe Guy and the lads have some other suggestions?