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Need some advice


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#1 filmmakermilan

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:59 PM

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.

Thanks, Milan

Edited by filmmakermilan, 18 July 2005 - 05:01 PM.

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#2 Ckulakov

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 05:09 PM

I you could pick a day and time in the evening when the sky is this dark blue, consistent, glow. You could take a direct focusable light gel a blue color to outline the actors in blue. Then take some soft sources and glaze the actors in a warm softlight.

Check out my post 'moody backlit scene' if you whant it in such a extreme.
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#3 filmmakermilan

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 05:17 PM

I'll check that out. Thanks. Any more suggestions, I'll take them
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#4 Tim J Durham

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 06:41 PM

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.

Thanks, Milan

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 07:19 PM

Tim's advice is good. You basically might need to design in some practical sources on the rooftop, maybe a China Hat over a stairwell door, etc. You can even put a light on a high stand and dress the stand to look like something (TV attenna, who knows.) Or just wrap it in black and hide it in the darkness.

Otherwise, if you get lucky, there might be a nearby rooftop just a few floors taller that you can shine a backlight from onto your rooftop, or a higher window on an opposite building to use as a lighting platform. As for buildings in the background, some uplighting from lower floors or the ground may look good and add some depth. It doesn't necessary have to be at full exposure either, just enough light on some background spots here and there.

You may want to switch to Vision-2 500T for this scene. It should cut fine with other scenes shot on 200T. High-contrast night exteriors make it easier to hide graininess since grain is most visible in flat areas of midtones.
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#6 filmmakermilan

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 08:39 PM

thanks to the both of you for your advice. It all makes sense and sounds like there is definitely a way of making things work. As for the film stock, i'm stuck with using the 200T because it's a school project and that's all they're giving us. Only makes it harder to expose my images. However, we're always left to work with what we got so I'll do what I can.
This is the highest building in the area so I'll definitely rely on the buildings below to provide me with what could apparently be my fill.
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#7 Robert Edge

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 08:44 PM

You might have a look at the extra material on the DVD for the film Fargo. If I recall correctly, there is some discussion about how Deakins lit a scene that takes place on the roof of a parkade.
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#8 filmmakermilan

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 08:54 PM

You might have a look at the extra material on the DVD for the film Fargo. If I recall correctly, there is some discussion about how Deakins lit a scene that takes place on the roof of a parkade.


Appreciate that..i'll definitely check that out.
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 10:20 PM

You might have a look at the extra material on the DVD for the film Fargo.  If I recall correctly, there is some discussion about how Deakins lit a scene that takes place on the roof of a parkade.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>




Yup, there's the american cinematographer article about the film, actually. I remember Deakins mentioning in particular that they chose the rooftop because of a smokestack he wanted to put in the background.


Edit- Now that I look, there's a full audio commentary by Roger Deakins on the DVD.

Edited by Christopher D. Keth, 18 July 2005 - 10:24 PM.

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#10 filmmakermilan

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:42 AM

thats awesome. I'm gonna definitely check that out. I love getting feedback from other cinematographer's and learning from them.
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