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Lighting for Jail Scene


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#1 James Brown

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 09:21 AM

Hi,

I have a short coming up very soon and i'm looking into a certain look. In the Jail cell i want it really white, really bright, really ugly, almost fluorescent. I am also wanting the same look for the interview room in the Jail but predominantly brighter. These scenes are so important to me and i'm wondering how to light them. My motivation for the colour and look of the interview room is 25th Hour, when Edward Norton is being interviewed.

I want shadows over the cell mates eyes so I was thinking overhead lights, maybe 650 Wattas or Redheads hanging on wall spreaders, do you think this is too much light? Or maybe too heavy to hang? I am on a low budget and any help would be great.

Also......the opening scene is the aftermath of a police raid, a really nice slow scene of my main character being escorted out. I want to whole night time landscape to be filled with blue and white flashing lights, there will be no police cars in shot but the sound of a car leaving and taking the lights with it. Any Ideas? Thanks.


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#2 Louis

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 06:53 PM

Also......the opening scene is the aftermath of a police raid, a really nice slow scene of my main character being escorted out.  I want to whole night time landscape to be filled with blue and white flashing lights, there will be no police cars in shot but the sound of a car leaving and taking the lights with it.  Any Ideas? Thanks.
James

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well, on the feature I just worked on, there was a scene similar to this. The grips had this triangular box with mirrored surfaces on it, and they hung it from a C-stand with string. Then they pointed two lights at it, one gelled to look bright red and one gelled to look bright blue, at just the right angle, and they simply rotated the box at just the right pace to make it look like there was a police car just out of frame. I don't know where you could get such a box, but you could probably make your own for pretty cheap, or have someone help you. Hope that helps.
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#3 Lars.Erik

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 02:50 AM

What's your format? Film, HD, HDV?
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#4 James Brown

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 05:12 AM

What's your format? Film, HD, HDV?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


DV, Shooting with an XL1s -financially not possible for film-

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#5 Lars.Erik

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 08:29 AM

I've never shot with the XL1. But done tons of DV stuff. Both in 1/3" and 2/3" formats. Is there a knee or white clip function on the XL1? If so, use it.

One thing I'd do is to take care that none of the actors have pale clothes on them. If they do have pale clothes this will make them blend in with the background, meaning it will lean more towards flat.

The police lights sounds good. I'd watch out for using too much red on DV though. In my experience it doesn't respond too kindly to that colour. (When there is much of it in the frame) Especially when it hits faces and skin tones. But the blue should be nice with it.

I'd try and go for a good matte box also. This because when you have a white room, lights will bounce off everywhere. This again will cause flaring into your lens. I don't mean those "cool" sun type flaring. I mean unwanted light will pass into your lens and make the picture seem flatter. A ordinary lens shader won't do the trick here.

You want to light the scenes with direct light as I understand it? Some diffusion (at least 3/4 diffusion) might be smart to put on then, or the lights will come off very hard. And it will look ugly, I know this is what you want, but there is a difference between ugly lighting, and lighting a scene to make it look ugly. Maybe the 800w will be better to use then. Don't know how big your room is, so it's difficult to know how close you can place your lamps.

If you can, a ceiling rig might be a good idea. This to motivate the light coming from for example fluorescent lights from above. Did you see the roof in 25th hour in the interview room? It had these square white boards. These can be taken off and you can place wooden planks here. Attach a baby mount to the wood and you can hang a lamp here quite safely. Remember to safely secure the wooden plank to the ceiling with some straps.

If you can't use the ceiling like this, you can use auto poles. They come in different sizes and are very cheap to rent. You should be able to hang 2-3 redheads on them quite safely. Just use some strong tape under the wall attachments and you'll be fine. You should probably use some black wrap around the 800w as these tend to spill quite a bit. Be careful about making several shadows on the walls. Depending on the room, you probably need about 8-12 redheads if you want it to look similar to 25th hour.

Don't know about wall spreaders. Don't know what it is actually. I'm Norwegian, sorry.

The CU's in the interview room could be good to use some 650w with 1/1 full diffusion on them.

Two redheads straight over the two actors sitting at the table could be good.

About the cells. One way to do it is to kinda "create" 2-4 lamps in the room. By this I mean using the redheads. Have them pointing straight down. This will create a shadow under the actors faces. This will also make this room seem a bit darker than the interview room. Here again you could use the auto poles. One auto pole will cost around $5-6 a day. (US)

Another way of doing it is bouncing the 800w off large white boards. This will also do the same effect, but with softer light.

Edited by Lars.Erik, 30 August 2005 - 08:31 AM.

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#6 James Brown

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:17 AM

Hi,

Thanks heaps for your help, exactly what i needed

Don't know how big your room is, so it's difficult to know how close you can place your lamps.


The interview room is a bedroom in my house - quite small, so i think ill only be using 24mm and 50mm lenses. I'm not sure of the exact size 5mx4m roughly with really high roofs, but it's good, i want a sense of claustraphobia within the frame and this size allows for that.

Depending on the room, you probably need about 8-12 redheads if you want it to look similar to 25th hour.  .


Do you think i could get away with six in such a small room?

Don't know about wall spreaders. Don't know what it is actually. I'm Norwegian, sorry.


Sorry, i'm wrong, i wasn't sure of the name, i havent used them before but you were right

Something about that scene in 25th hour just appeals to me, actually the whole film appeals to me visually. Do you think hanging the redheads in the Cell would need any Gels on them, maybe a 242 Fluoro, converting it to 4300, or will that be slightly green?

Last Question- because i havent used overhead lighting this may sound dumb, but, will using say 4 redheads in the Gaol Cell create numerous shadows?

I really want overhead lighting for the look and what you said is quite feesible for such a low budget, thanks again.

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#7 James Brown

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:21 AM

Well, on the feature I just worked on, there was a scene similar to this.  The grips had this triangular box with mirrored surfaces on it, and they hung it from a C-stand with string.  Then they pointed two lights at it, one gelled to look bright red and one gelled to look bright blue, at just the right angle, and they simply rotated the box at just the right pace to make it look like there was a police car just out of frame.  I don't know where you could get such a box, but you could probably make your own for pretty cheap, or have someone help you.  Hope that helps.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi

Thanks Louis, it helped a lot, now the trick is to construct such a thing..hmmm..... What did this gizmo look like? Do you know roughly how strong the lights they were using?

Thanks

James
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#8 Lars.Erik

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:41 AM

Hi,


The interview room is a bedroom in my house - quite small, so i think ill only be using 24mm and 50mm lenses. 

- Lenses sound good.


I'm not sure of the exact size 5mx4m roughly with really high roofs, but it's good, i want a sense of claustraphobia within the frame and this size allows for that.

- Perfect place for using auto poles.


Do you think i could get away with six in such a small room?

- Maybe. If you want a table like in 25th hour, you'll use 2 redheads on this. Leaves you with 4. If you could get a hold of 2 more would be good. Try putting 1/1 diffusion on the lamps hitting the walls, the two over the people by the table a little lighter, say 3/4 or maybe even 1/2.


Something about that scene in 25th hour just appeals to me, actually the whole film appeals to me visually.  Do you think hanging the redheads in the Cell would need any Gels on them, maybe a 242 Fluoro, converting it to 4300, or will that be slightly green?

- You will need diffusion. Black wrap. What about using Half plus Green? (245 Lee Filters) It will cast a greenish colour to the tungsten lights, this making it look like fluorenscent. If you want it to be more green than that, just put a double on it. Get a good monitor. A 9 inch will do. Get it properly set up, and what you see on the screen is basically what you get. You can decide then if the look you've created is ok or if you want to change something.


Last Question- because i havent used overhead lighting this may sound dumb, but, will using say 4 redheads in the Gaol Cell create numerous shadows?

- Yes, but as long as you don't get those multiple shadows casted at one place, it will look good.


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Edited by Lars.Erik, 30 August 2005 - 10:45 AM.

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#9 Lars.Erik

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:54 AM

You'll need extentions for your poles though. Longest are 3.7 meters. You can get extensions that will make them 2 meters longer. In this room it sounds like you also can use some stands for the wall lamps.

Edited by Lars.Erik, 30 August 2005 - 10:54 AM.

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#10 Lars.Erik

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 11:08 AM

Hi

Thanks Louis, it helped a lot, now the trick is to construct such a thing..hmmm..... What did this gizmo look like?  Do you know roughly how strong  the lights they were using?

Thanks

James

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


For this I'm guessing you'll be best off with mirrors. Large ones could be good to use. If you have a mirror at home, just take a lamp home and try it out during the night. When bouncing, light will lose some intensity. And as you stated, you want the whole landscape filled. Don't know if 800w will do it. You might need 2k's. But not sure here.
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#11 James Brown

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 11:15 AM

Perfect....

It doesnt seem like such a daunting task after all.

Thanks again for everything you said. Aprreciated.

James
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#12 Greg Gross

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 12:45 PM

Hello James Brown,

I was just wondering what kind of DOF you had in mind? With a harder light I'm
thinking you'll have a major DOF. Do you want that? Are the walls of the jail cell
white? If you don't want a high DOF,I'm thinking of bounce,diffusion to let the
light fall off at a desirable place in the scene,ND filtration,diffusion filtration. Last
fall I shot a dv feature about a retired Philadelphia police detective, who accidentally
stumbles on to some serial homicides. He sets out on a quest to track down the ser-
ial killer.Anyway we shot with two DVX-100A's, each one had the complete cinema
package adapted to it. We had a scene where the detective goes to a state prison,
to talk to an inmate,he suspects the inmate know's something about the serial killer.
Anyway we shot the scene at an old deserted navy base in Delaware,used an actual
jail cell on the base. I used just one light for this scene and reflectors. Of course I
wanted a dark, mysterious scene. From the lighted side of the inmate's face the light
gradually fell off in to shadows. The detective's face was lit by just fill and just lit en-
ough to reveal the detective. This was a critical event in the scene,thus I decided to
light it this way. Considerably different from the light you wish to use. Originally the
bars of the cell were gray(we painted them flat black) and the state of Delaware re-
quested us to paint them gray again. Have you thought of using the DVX-100A,it
has some great menus. I'm not familiar with XLS-1,I guess you can use interchang-
able Canon lenses. I would have preferred to shoot on film but budget only allowed
for DVX-100A's and no ASJ-SDX900. Well anyway I was just wondering about the
DOF that you desired for your scene. Best wishes for your production!

Greg Gross
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#13 Louis

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:21 PM

Hi

Thanks Louis, it helped a lot, now the trick is to construct such a thing..hmmm..... What did this gizmo look like?  Do you know roughly how strong  the lights they were using?

Thanks

James

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It was basically a box, but when you look at it from the top, it looks like a traingle, and all three surfaces of the box are extremely reflective. I don't remember exactly the strength of light that they used, but the distance they had to cover was roughly 30-40 feet, so I believe they used 1Ks. If you need to cover a larger distance obviously you would need stronger lights.
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#14 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:36 PM

Police Lights thread
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#15 James Brown

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:05 PM

Hi Greg

I was just wondering what kind of DOF you had in mind? With a harder light I'm
thinking you'll have a major DOF. Do you want that? Are the walls of the jail cell
white?

Most shots that i have storyboarded in the Cell are with longer lenses. I have two characters in there. My main character, and a crazy vietnamese man. When i am shooting both people they will be primarily against the wall (1 in bed, 2nd in the corner) I didnt consider the deptth of filed because i feel there wasn't much depth to work with. My main intention is to shoot this Cell scene with longer lenses, no head room, not much depth, lots of MCU & CU's, no wide shots.

Of course I wanted a dark, mysterious scene. From the lighted side of the inmate's face the light
gradually fell off in to shadows. The detective's face was lit by just fill and just lit en-
ough to reveal the detective. This was a critical event in the scene,thus I decided to
light it this way.

The scenes are set when the character is in remand, and in australia it is 24hr lighting in the rooms before, so in one scene it is very bright and ugly. But in a later scene, when he is moved, there is a scene at night but i just wonder what sort of motivation for light there is? I know you could motivate some fluorescents from the hallway, but the Cell doesnt have bars, just a wooden door with a small latch at eye height and after lights out in Jail, and no bars?.........

Have you thought of using the DVX-100A,it has some great menus. I'm not familiar with XLS-1,I guess you can use interchangable Canon lenses.

The main reason is because we have a variety of lenses, my friend (the dp) owns the canon and has about 5 diff (24mm-300mm), otherwise our school as DV500's for use.

Thanks,

james.
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