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Lighting approach diner windows

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#1 Michael Ognisanti

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Posted 21 June 2018 - 02:01 PM

Hello,

 
I could use some advice on a lighting approach.  I have a shoot that takes place in a diner.  I’ve attached photos.
 
2 people sitting at a table in the back of the diner with windows far behind them at the other end.  My question is how do I light them and how would I use the windows.  I can push lights through the window but not sure if it would do anything since the subjects are so far from them.  Since it’s a long scene I should probably use artificial light anyway for consistency even if it doesn’t hit them.
 
But l also want to add light from the inside to hit them that is motivated by the windows and give them a nice edge.  The problem is I don’t know where to put any lights.  We have a wide shot that sees almost the whole diner and the singles are shot with 2 cameras from different directions.  I could front light it but I don’t want it to look so flat.
 
Any tips would be much apprecieted
 
Thanks
 
 

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#2 Stefano Stroppa

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Posted 21 June 2018 - 06:10 PM

If I were you, I’d try not to use much lighting, as they could create problems with multiples shadows, and you are using two cameras, so you might have some space problem? I’d keep it really simple, using a naturalistic approach (and you save on the budget, especially if you're thinking of renting an HMI, which may be quite expensive)

 

Depending on the look you want to go for, it seems to me by looking to the attached pic of the location that this has the right part of the diner, where the two subjects wii be sitting, which is sort of hidden from the direct sunglight of the windows, because of the closed door, and the bluish daylight coming in blend with the warmer top practicals of the diners.

 

- You could place an HMI outside the window, you could bounced on the left wall where the paintings are, so it doesn’t come direct on the two subjects. And this gives the ambience, you could slightly overexpose these windows.

 

- Maybe then you use soft (so not to cast ugly shadows on the eyes, unless that’s wanted) light faking the warmer top practicals, if you can rig any, or just shape the practicals with black fabric if you want it to just hit the table and not for instance all the wall behind the actor. 

 

- Or if you think you don’t want to blend in a warmer color, just keep the window as the main natural source and work with a few black fabrics to create contrast on the actors’ faces in the close-ups. Just slightly filling in if necessary: as you don’t see the windows in the close-ups you could  (and you won’t see the windows you’re free to place a light closer to the subjects, as it it comes from the window itself).

 

 

I don’t know.. I’m just giving you some tips from the little I can do, hopefully will motivate and inspire you to find the best approach for lighting your scene :)

 

Stefano

 

 


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#3 Guy Holt

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Posted 21 June 2018 - 07:55 PM

Any tips would be much apprecieted

 

 

If, as you say, there is extensive dialogue you will need to light for consistency.  With the window behind the talent,  reverse keys are motivated by the window and will maintain contrast in the shot, but will require rigging because of the coverage from shooting with two cameras.  It looks like there is plenty of height to the space from the location still, so it is just a question of what the best means of rigging the lights will be.  What type of lights you use to reverse key your talent will depend on how much weight your rig can take. Do you have pictures of the ceiling above the table and the opposing walls around the table that you can post.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting sales and rentals in Boston 


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#4 Ryan Emanuel

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Posted 21 June 2018 - 09:26 PM

Indie rule - Do not key through a window that is visible in frame.  The edge will not wrap around well.  So the you have to put in all this work to expose for a window that isn't even lighting the talent.  It usually looks worse and is more work.   If you have budget you can pull it off, but even with resources its ill advised.  I would suggest changing angles or your blocking.  Why are you putting one character against the wall.  Also cramping yourself into the back of the restaurant might force you to put daylight sources too close.  Whats wrong with the center of the restaurant?  Or putting them right next to the window?


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#5 Michael Ognisanti

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Posted 21 June 2018 - 10:39 PM

 

If I were you, I’d try not to use much lighting, as they could create problems with multiples shadows, and you are using two cameras, so you might have some space problem? I’d keep it really simple, using a naturalistic approach (and you save on the budget, especially if you're thinking of renting an HMI, which may be quite expensive)

 

Depending on the look you want to go for, it seems to me by looking to the attached pic of the location that this has the right part of the diner, where the two subjects wii be sitting, which is sort of hidden from the direct sunglight of the windows, because of the closed door, and the bluish daylight coming in blend with the warmer top practicals of the diners.

 

- You could place an HMI outside the window, you could bounced on the left wall where the paintings are, so it doesn’t come direct on the two subjects. And this gives the ambience, you could slightly overexpose these windows.

 

- Maybe then you use soft (so not to cast ugly shadows on the eyes, unless that’s wanted) light faking the warmer top practicals, if you can rig any, or just shape the practicals with black fabric if you want it to just hit the table and not for instance all the wall behind the actor. 

 

- Or if you think you don’t want to blend in a warmer color, just keep the window as the main natural source and work with a few black fabrics to create contrast on the actors’ faces in the close-ups. Just slightly filling in if necessary: as you don’t see the windows in the close-ups you could  (and you won’t see the windows you’re free to place a light closer to the subjects, as it it comes from the window itself).

 

 

I don’t know.. I’m just giving you some tips from the little I can do, hopefully will motivate and inspire you to find the best approach for lighting your scene :)

 

Stefano

 

 

 

Thanks Stefano,  Yes I'd like to keep it simple for budget and time's sake.  We do have the budget for some HMI's.  I was thinking of putting diffusion on the windows and then shooting in a couple m18's.  I won't reach the subjects but it should help with ambient and keeping the light consistent.  I might use the practicals to fill in around the restaurant but flag it of the main table cause i think it might be hard to shape.  

 

 

If, as you say, there is extensive dialogue you will need to light for consistency.  With the window behind the talent,  reverse keys are motivated by the window and will maintain contrast in the shot, but will require rigging because of the coverage from shooting with two cameras.  It looks like there is plenty of height to the space from the location still, so it is just a question of what the best means of rigging the lights will be.  What type of lights you use to reverse key your talent will depend on how much weight your rig can take. Do you have pictures of the ceiling above the table and the opposing walls around the table that you can post.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting sales and rentals in Boston 

Thanks Guy, I'll post pictures of the ceiling.  I'd love to rig lights off the ceiling but it's a small crew and we will be pressed for time.  Yes, reverse keys are what I am going for so it's just a matter where to put those lights if we can't rig them.  What if i put a light from where the bar is left of camera and have that be the key for camera right person and then mount a white bounce card on the brick just out of frame and have that key the person camera left.  You think that would work?

 

Indie rule - Do not key through a window that is visible in frame.  The edge will not wrap around well.  So the you have to put in all this work to expose for a window that isn't even lighting the talent.  It usually looks worse and is more work.   If you have budget you can pull it off, but even with resources its ill advised.  I would suggest changing angles or your blocking.  Why are you putting one character against the wall.  Also cramping yourself into the back of the restaurant might force you to put daylight sources too close.  Whats wrong with the center of the restaurant?  Or putting them right next to the window?

Good questions Ryan.  Our choice for putting the characters in this position were motivated by story.  Simply enough the character in the back of the restaurant against a brick wall is trapped emotionally. And we liked seeing the environment of people around her.  If we shot in the corner against the window we would lose that.  Also, their is a bit when she is trying to leave and gets stuck and people are looking at her.  It works well from that spot


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#6 Ryan Emanuel

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 10:07 AM

I understand there is some story motivation, but the shots still seem like some standard medium overs and a 50/50 wide.  Plus if you are pressed for time,  I would show as little of that window in your shot as possible.  The problem with the current wide is that you will have to find a balance in exposure between the cross keys and the window, where the faces are bright enough to stand out but dark enough to be plausibly motivated from the distant window.  Especially since one character will naturally be silhouetted in the wide its not a quick process to get that key/backround window ratio right.   In the end its up to you what you want to try, but to me the feeling of being watched or confined could be achieved with lensing in the center of the room where the natural light would actually be helping you in a time crunch.  


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#7 Michael Ognisanti

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 10:49 AM

I understand there is some story motivation, but the shots still seem like some standard medium overs and a 50/50 wide.  Plus if you are pressed for time,  I would show as little of that window in your shot as possible.  The problem with the current wide is that you will have to find a balance in exposure between the cross keys and the window, where the faces are bright enough to stand out but dark enough to be plausibly motivated from the distant window.  Especially since one character will naturally be silhouetted in the wide its not a quick process to get that key/backround window ratio right.   In the end its up to you what you want to try, but to me the feeling of being watched or confined could be achieved with lensing in the center of the room where the natural light would actually be helping you in a time crunch. 

 

Ok.  So you would recommend putting them in the middle of the restaurant closer to the window so they will naturally feel the light and the reverse key will balance more.  Just trying to understand.  That would solve a lot of problems.  I could get another light on camera left for camera right subject.  That won't show less window though since they will be more centered in the room right?

 

This is really helpful to talk this out with you guys.  love it!


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#8 Stephen Perera

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 06:30 AM

I'd go ambient light and hang a space light on a boom above the actors for a bit of facial definition but keeping the vibe of the place...they're not sat by the windows so you expect a bit dimmer light


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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

The Slider

CineTape

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc