Jump to content


Photo

Lighting in Small Spaces


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 Stephanie Zimmer

Stephanie Zimmer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera

Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:03 PM

I'm shooting with 7231 (BW Neg - 80D) mostly night interiors. I'd like to see an exposure out the window and light the subject with hard light for a moonlit effect. Because it is B&W I was planning on shooting day for night and lighting the subject with a 3 to 4 stop difference to outside and then using the natural light as my fill.

However, it's a very small apartment with white walls. I'm worried that any light I introduce is going to bounce like crazy and make everything flat and if I use smaller units, I won't get the exposure I need for 64T. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to light this tiny room and see out the window? Do you agree with the 3 to 4 stop difference from the actor to outside?
  • 0

#2 Dimitrios Koukas

Dimitrios Koukas
  • Sustaining Members
  • 569 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Athens, Greece, London UK

Posted 25 October 2005 - 02:10 AM

I'm shooting with 7231 (BW Neg - 80D) mostly night interiors. I'd like to see an exposure out the window and light the subject with hard light for a moonlit effect. Because it is B&W I was planning on shooting day for night and lighting the subject with a 3 to 4 stop difference to outside and then using the natural light as my fill.

However, it's a very small apartment with white walls. I'm worried that any light I introduce is going to bounce like crazy and make everything flat and if I use smaller units, I won't get the exposure I need for 64T. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to light this tiny room and see out the window? Do you agree with the 3 to 4 stop difference from the actor to outside?


Does it going to look like a night when the outside will have three to 4 stops difference?{(wich means that you have to expose for the indoor (usually 2.8 f/stop to 1.4 f/stop)}.
I guess it will look more like a daylight shot to me.If you are doing a day for night, just add some ND filter on the windows, to compensate for the difference, and don't use so much difference between in and out.
This hard light I guess will be the sun?
Usually with an 64 stock you will have an 11-16 T/stop outside when there is bright sun, and a 2.8 near the window (inside).
So you have the difference you want, if you want the room dark, expose for the daylight.If you want the room brighter, u will need some fill.Always order bigger lights than the ones you are planning to use,
in case you need less, you can reduce it, but what if you need more and you don't have it??
Dimitrios Koukas
  • 0

#3 Sol Train Saihati

Sol Train Saihati
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 96 posts
  • Gaffer
  • London

Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:11 AM

Personally I now flat out refuse shooting in apartments with white walls, even if it means going in there two days before we shoot and painting them myself! Can't think of anything worse than two people sitting on a sofa in front of a white wall, it's a photographic and compositional nightmare and I have fallen into that trap more than once. Get the production designer in, or alternatively convince the money spender that it's worth every penny spent on a few cans of approrpiately coloured paint and maybe borrow the odd mirror or painting from someone.

You should think about a small HMI positioned outside the window as a key moonlight source, effectively lighting the entire scene, then under expose it by about a stop. The Shawshank redemption is a pretty good example, some of the images in the cells are unbelievable, the exposure is exactly on the line between seeing nothing and seeing just enough... Deakins!

Getting a 3/4 stop exposure difference will be very tricky, unless your scene is set in a big city with a naturally high light level outside, but even then you would probably have to supplementarily light the exterior. Could you tell us a bit more about the scene?
  • 0

#4 Glenn Hanns

Glenn Hanns
  • Sustaining Members
  • 160 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 25 October 2005 - 06:19 PM

I'm shooting with 7231 (BW Neg - 80D) mostly night interiors. I'd like to see an exposure out the window and light the subject with hard light for a moonlit effect. Because it is B&W I was planning on shooting day for night and lighting the subject with a 3 to 4 stop difference to outside and then using the natural light as my fill.

However, it's a very small apartment with white walls. I'm worried that any light I introduce is going to bounce like crazy and make everything flat and if I use smaller units, I won't get the exposure I need for 64T. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to light this tiny room and see out the window? Do you agree with the 3 to 4 stop difference from the actor to outside?


Hi Stephanie,
A couple of things I would do is obviously ND the window, you might need ND1.2 for the setup Im suggesting.
Then use a polarizing filter to darken the sky out the window even more. This will bring your sky down about 6 stops (depending on the angle of your sun to the sky) and your buildings/trees at 4 down. Then if you can use a mirror to reflect sunlight from another window directly into your scene as a single source light which becomes your exposure. The Polarizer will mean you have to open up a little 1.5-2 stops but will sell the low light feeling you want (shallow DOF) The natural bounce will fill the room. Its a cheap and quick option.
Just a suggestion.
Cheers G.
  • 0

#5 Mario C. Jackson

Mario C. Jackson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Student

Posted 25 October 2005 - 06:46 PM

One thing you could also do is instead of putting ND gel on the window is just put ND filters in the camera. Then just light the interior of the house like you want it. This will save you the time of gelling the window.
Hope this helps
Mario C. Jackson
  • 0

#6 Stephanie Zimmer

Stephanie Zimmer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera

Posted 25 October 2005 - 07:26 PM

You should think about a small HMI positioned outside the window as a key moonlight source, effectively lighting the entire scene, then under expose it by about a stop.

Getting a 3/4 stop exposure difference will be very tricky, unless your scene is set in a big city with a naturally high light level outside, but even then you would probably have to supplementarily light the exterior. Could you tell us a bit more about the scene?

To answer your question, the scene is a guy sitting in a bedroom at night without any practicals on, sitting next to a bay window. I shot a test in the bedroom (which I have not gotten back) and although it was an overcast day, I got a 2.8 for the outside through the window with my spotmeter. At that rate, I figured I didn't need to gel the windows and if the key for the actor was an 8, lets say, in B&W, it would appear to be night outside without having to actually light it. Right?

I have a basic question, though. Theoretically, anything measured under the speed of the lens is going to fall off, correct? Even if the film stock has 7 stops of latitude, that is within the range of approx. F2-16. I recently transfered some 16 footage to tape of a contrasty film where the blacks all got crunched into oblivion, where they were shot to be just barely exposed. With this in mind, I'm thinking that I can't let the exteriors go below a 2 or so. That's why I was thinking that I have to light the actor at an 8 because we can't afford to light outside otherwise. What do you think?
  • 0

#7 Joseph White

Joseph White
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 25 October 2005 - 07:52 PM

i don't think just adding ND to the camera is a good idea - if you are trying to make it look less like bright daylight outside, gelling the windows is a good idea as it will change the ratio within shot of amount of light you are putting in the room versus how much light is bouncing around outside. plus with your white walls, the less light coming in and bouncing everywhere inside the better.

i shot a lot of 7231 back in my film school days and love it - although its incredibly unforgiving in terms of latitude, so make sure you get your ratios right. i'd gel the window so that outside is just about 2 stops under or so, and use negative fill outside to cut the shape and direction of sunlight (depending on the location, obviously) so that it doesn't appear to be incredibky bright outside - even on a farm in wisconsin with a full moon it aint THAT bright.

also be mindful of what time of day you're shooting - if sun is coming in through the window, try using ND gel and some diffusion so that the light coming in is softer, like moonlight. if hard light is coming in from outside a window, i always assume its a street lamp or lit sign or something. be mindful of reflected tonal qualities from the skin thats being lit - just because its not color, doesn't mean that different qualities and colors of light won't effect tone, which is crucial in b&w. also - with an 80 asa stock how are you planning on keying your actor at an f8? especially with moonlight?

also, just because your lens might only open up to a 1.3 or what have you, your film stock has the latitude - a lot of times - especially with 5218 or the like - "E" on my meter doesn't mean i'm not going to see it - especially on Superspeeds.

happy shooting!
  • 0

#8 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 October 2005 - 08:32 PM

One thing you could also do is instead of putting ND gel on the window is just put ND filters in the camera. Then just light the interior of the house like you want it. This will save you the time of gelling the window.
Hope this helps
Mario C. Jackson



Doing this accomplishes a completely different thing than gelling the windows. Gelling the camera will reduce exposure of the WHOLE scene by 4 stops (in the case of ND1.2). Gelling the window will reduce the exposure of everything outside by 4 stops (ND1.2 again) but leave the interior unchanged, bringing the two areas 4 stops closer in exposure.
  • 0

#9 Stephanie Zimmer

Stephanie Zimmer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera

Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:11 PM

Doing this accomplishes a completely different thing than gelling the windows. Gelling the camera will reduce exposure of the WHOLE scene by 4 stops (in the case of ND1.2). Gelling the window will reduce the exposure of everything outside by 4 stops (ND1.2 again) but leave the interior unchanged, bringing the two areas 4 stops closer in exposure.

So as a rule of thumb, what would you say is a typical contrast ratio from indoors to outdoors in a night scene with a window? How about daytime then?
  • 0

#10 Glenn Hanns

Glenn Hanns
  • Sustaining Members
  • 160 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:24 PM

So as a rule of thumb, what would you say is a typical contrast ratio from indoors to outdoors in a night scene with a window? How about daytime then?


Anywhere from 2-4:1 depending on mood. Night INT/EXT, Day EXT/INT
  • 0

#11 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 26 October 2005 - 12:30 AM

Doing this accomplishes a completely different thing than gelling the windows. Gelling the camera will reduce exposure of the WHOLE scene by 4 stops (in the case of ND1.2). Gelling the window will reduce the exposure of everything outside by 4 stops (ND1.2 again) but leave the interior unchanged, bringing the two areas 4 stops closer in exposure.


hey Keith,

Respectfully I disagree too. It is better to ND the windows in this scenario because not only does this reduce the exposure outside, it will reduce the exposure inside as well and reduce the light coming into the room. When I think of windows I think of two sources of light, direct sun and soft ambient light coming in from all directions. The direct sun will hit whatever it hits but the soft ambient light will bounce all over the walls floors and ceilings. That kind of ambient light fills everything making it look like daylight. reducing it helps to sell the desired night look. or maybe at least dusk. Personally, I would try to do this at night becasue it may be a hard sell, but I have been wrong before. One could use ND on the lens too to reduce the depth of field, but I would start with ND the windows.

respectfully

Tim
  • 0

#12 Mario C. Jackson

Mario C. Jackson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Student

Posted 26 October 2005 - 12:48 PM

I have encountered the same problem you have and I put a ND filtetr in the camera and then I lit the interior to how I wanted it. The results turned out pretty good and got some compliments. The way I light may not be the norm, perhaps what the guys are saying is right and alot easier. I was letting you know I did and how it worked out. heel_e said the best thing by just shootin it at night time. Nevertheless figure out what you want and go for it. Don't be afraid to experiment and don't always follow the rules. You may have something thats crappy or you may have something that is visually stunning and pushes the envelope of cinematography.
Mario C. Jackson
  • 0

#13 Mitch Lusas

Mitch Lusas
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 99 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 26 October 2005 - 02:17 PM

A difficulty arises with shooting day-for-night, while trying to have the background visible: street lights, house lights, and passing car-headlights would be visible. When shooting day-for-night, those lights will not be there. Otherwise, your day-for-night will look like pre-dawn and post-sunset, where lights have not yet been turned on.

There is a solution, but you will need the background to be severely out-fo-focus. Use 4x4 floppy's, and duvetene, to create a 4(wide)x6(long) box around the window. Four feet away from the window put up a strand of white christmas lights (strategically take out bulbs to give the effect of spaced out lights). Have the lights that are on different levels (ie., high for street lights). Use gaff tape on the lights that are on to change the 'size' of the light. Make sure that these lights are out of focus. You can also put gel on the lights for differing color temps. Leave a space open on the top of this box. This will be where your 'moonlight' will be coming in from. Only put a UV filter on the camera.

Another way to do this, is using the box concept, you can place a dark piece of cardboard as the wall furtherest from the window. On this, paint light blue on the top (the sky). Cut out the shapes of windows for houses, lights for streetlamps. Place gels over these cut out for the different color temps. You could also place pin-holes in the sky for the stars. However, you will need this to be out of focus.

You will not be able to see the detail outside. It will only provide the lighting ambience you are looking for.

Hope that helps.

Mitch Lusas
Virginia Beach, VA
  • 0

#14 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:16 PM

I have encountered the same problem you have and I put a ND filtetr in the camera and then I lit the interior to how I wanted it. The results turned out pretty good and got some compliments. The way I light may not be the norm, perhaps what the guys are saying is right and alot easier. I was letting you know I did and how it worked out. heel_e said the best thing by just shootin it at night time. Nevertheless figure out what you want and go for it. Don't be afraid to experiment and don't always follow the rules. You may have something thats crappy or you may have something that is visually stunning and pushes the envelope of cinematography.
Mario C. Jackson



This still doesn't solve the problem if the possibly extreme contrast ratio between the interior and exterior, though, unless of course you want the outside to overexpose which can look pretty cool in the right scenario.
  • 0

#15 Mario C. Jackson

Mario C. Jackson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Student

Posted 28 October 2005 - 10:08 AM

Hey Chris thats what I did. I overexposed the outside slightly and it look pretty cool. THe light I had coming from the window had this light blue look and it worked out fine. I guess when I post I should be more descriptive but nevertheless you make a good point.
Thanks Mario C. Jackson
  • 0

#16 dbledwn11

dbledwn11
  • Guests

Posted 28 October 2005 - 02:30 PM

Hey Chris thats what I did. I overexposed the outside slightly and it look pretty cool. THe light I had coming from the window had this light blue look and it worked out fine. I guess when I post I should be more descriptive but nevertheless you make a good point.
Thanks Mario C. Jackson



Mario's mention of blue light got me thinking about a post i once saw on these forums about the use of tungsten stock without an 85 filter during a day for night sequence. I believe it was in reference to either 'Heat' or 'Manhunter'. the attached still completely sold it for me. there was a brilliant reflection on the ocean, seen through a large window - but i don't know if the window had ND on it or not. from the discussion above it would seem more likely than ND on the camera.

I believe that sometimes the "blue" look can seem too artificial or hyper-real unless done really well or matches an overall aesthetic (which it clearly does in Mann's films), but it does at least make an entirely white room take a more interesting character.

My other suggestion seemed like a fairly simple one, but could you not just introduce a shape or shadow somewhere compositionallly intresting on the plain wall behind your actor(s). quite often one see's incredibly conventional sets brought to life because of one well placed shaft of light or shadow.

...damn i can ramble on... if i throw it out there someone might comment on it, but what would be people's positions on going for the typical day for night technique of underexposing and developing/printing normal?

does this only really work when shooting exteriors rather than interiors???
  • 0

#17 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 29 October 2005 - 11:12 AM

Hey Chris thats what I did. I overexposed the outside slightly and it look pretty cool. THe light I had coming from the window had this light blue look and it worked out fine. I guess when I post I should be more descriptive but nevertheless you make a good point.
Thanks Mario C. Jackson



Do you have any frame grabs you could post? It's something about every DP encounters frequently with location lighting and I'd love to see the yield of your approach.
  • 0

#18 Mario C. Jackson

Mario C. Jackson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Student

Posted 29 October 2005 - 11:28 PM

Chris,
I will try to post some pictures, I have no idea how but I have some pretty technical friends who can help me out.
Mario C. Jackson
  • 0

#19 andres victorero

andres victorero
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 412 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Spain

Posted 01 November 2005 - 01:46 PM

putting ND filter in camera only you will reduce the total amount of light and putting ND in the window you will reduce the contrast ratio between EXT-INT
  • 0


Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineTape

The Slider

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc