Hey all...i'm working on a short film right now and I was lucky enough to get hired as the D.O.P. Anyway, I thought it'd be a great idea to get on here and ask for some advice since a lot of you really know your stuff. I even noticed some of you are in the ASC.
Back on topic, we're shooting a night exterior on the roof of an apartment building. I've been trying to figure out what kind of setup to use. The scene is very dramatic. I was thinking of having a lot of contrast within the image and taking advantage of shadows. I'm just not sure how to light the scene and make it look believable. I was thinking of focusing on using a backlighting and a softlight to light my actors.
What do you guys suggest? Any thoughts, opinions, ideas? It would mean a lot to me getting feedback.
We're shooting on an Arri 16SR3 with a film speed of 200ASA, if that helps.
When your character gets up to the roof, you have to establish that there is something up there to throw light on him, whether it's a neon sign, a sconce outside the door to the roof or moonlight. Once you've established something is lighting him, you can light him pretty much any way you need to.
Then, I'd want to have something else in the background that is atleast partially lit. Whether its the stairwell tower he just came from or the building across the alley with apartment lights on.
This allows you to add some edge light.
If you are on the highest building around, shoot down on him once or twice and include the street below with lit storefronts or traffic on the streets. Something to give your shots some depth. And you can then add some fill.
Shooting someone in absolute blackness rarely looks good and leaves the viewer lost. Just by picking points around the roof where you can add background elements will allow you to cheat with adding more lighting to the character, but you have to hint at where the light MAY be coming from, even if there's no way the existing lighting on the roof could ACTUALLY look that good on your character.
Or you could do like "The Goodbye Girl" and ring the rooftop with Christmas lights. Then you're free to light him however you want and you get the nice out-of-focus points of light in every shot.
OK, that was a little wordy.