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forest, campfire, nighttime how to light?


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#1 Chris Settlemoir

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 09:35 PM

I am shooting a short, 16mm, sync sound, student film where three people will be sitting around a campfire in the forest at night. We will be shooting with Kodak Vision2 500T film and the camera we are using has a lens the opens up to F 2.2. The lights we have available are:

Mole Richardson
three 600w lights
one 1000w solar spot

Arri
four 650w lights
two 2000w lights

In addition to the lights we will have an actual campfire burning.

As far as power is concerned, we will be running extension cords from a house, which means that we won?t be able to use very many of the lights. We do have a 2500 watt generator but it is very noisy and would need to be placed far away.

Any suggestions on lighting the scene, simulating firelight, simulating moonlight or what gels to use would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Chris Settlemoir
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#2 Chris Sharman

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 08:00 AM

Hi,

I'd use the 2ks as your moonlight - give them a bit of CTB (half to full will work best) and use them on the background and probably as a backlight for your actors. Think about waving branches in front of the lights to break up the beam a bit since it's set in a forest.

My favourite trick for simulating firelight is gelling up a spotlight with as much CTO or amber as you like, then bouncing it onto the talent off of a bit of loosely-hung gold lame fabric. Waggle the fabric around randomly for a nice flickering firelight effect.

You can gently bounce in a little more fill if you think you need it, but remember it's supposed to be dark! Gel it Amber to match the firelight. Don't neglect the eyelights if the actor's faces are kept pretty dark...you can get away with an awful lot of shadow so long as you can see a glint in their eyes.

Hope this helps and best of luck with the project.

JM
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#3 Chris Settlemoir

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 03:35 PM

Thanks for the advice.

What about a day for night shoot? Since there is a campfire in the scene I figured that day for night would look bad because the fire wouldn't look bright enough. Am I right?

Thanks,
Chris Settlemoir
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#4 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 03:48 PM

The day-for-night would not have the correct shadows with the campfire.

I agree with Johann; definitely go for the 2k's as your moonlight. I would suggest pointing the lights almost straight up, into a bounce card which would throw the light down.

As for the campfire, I neat trick is to wrap the logs in an organic fabric, and submerge them in oil. Throw them on the fire and you will get a 2-4 minute burn of intense light. You will probably need one of these specially dowsed logs for each shot. I'm not sure how far your actors will be from the fire, so you may want to test this out. See how close they can be, and see what your exposure is.

Have fun with your shoot.

Mitch Lusas
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 04:09 PM

Your biggest problem will be your widest shot.
Your second problem wil be electric.

I recommend running several extension lines from the house. Making sure that each one is on a separate curcuit. Folks in the past have talked about making an adapter to plug into a 220 volt dryer plug (in the US) where you can get 50 amps instead of 15 or 20 amps. But get an experienced electrician to do this for you. Most house hold outlets are 15 amps. Hospital grade is 20. You'll need 2-20 amp curcuits for the two 2k's alone. A better option are 1k pars that have punch but not much spread. So in lieu of pars you could use the 2k's full spot to paint splashes of moonlight across the background. You can use the smaller tungsten lights for backlights to carry the moonlight on the actors. You can use the actual fire to light the actors. Expose for the backlight and background and just keep and eye on the fire to make sure it is not too bright or too dark as it will vary from take to take. Then you could easily adjust forground and background in the coverage and close ups.

There are certainly many variations on a theme here.

Good luck

Tim
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#6 Joseph White

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 05:00 PM

i'd say push your stock one stop, rate at 800 asa, and use your units to light the backgrouns with a slightly cooler cast to them try punching your tungsten with 1/4 CTB and maybe some light diffusion like 251 or something and focus the units on the surrounding trees - it'll give the sense that they're sitting at night, but it'll give you a little context. i'd light the trees to something like 2 stops under or so (which will honestly be probably the most you'll get with your units plus the gels) or you can just let stuff go dark and perhaps work a higher-angle cooler backlight on your actors to act as a nice contrast to the warm keylight.

with 7218 (especially if you push a stop) if your actors are close enough the fire you'll get enough footcandles to expose. on closeups just bring in your backlight or devote more tungsten units to the visible area behind them, giving them a cooler surroundings - and this is when to work your firelight gag. there are tons of interesting ways to construct cool fire gags - the Medusa light s a cool handmade device you can employ with some bulbs, some dip, some dimmers, and a cstand - see the American Cinematorgapher back-issue on "Van Helsing" for a detailed description. or just some dimmers or a flicker box can alwas give you something. in general try to get the flicker light from being flat - go sidey with it or maybe just a rim - as the more of the face you see flickering, the more you'll generally experience the weakness of the gag. maybe have a china ball with a small flood on a squeezer too to give you a nice eyelight as well.

best of luck though - long live night exteriors!

Edited by Joseph White, 01 November 2005 - 05:02 PM.

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#7 Glenn Hanns

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 07:19 PM

I am shooting a short, 16mm, sync sound, student film where three people will be sitting around a campfire in the forest at night. We will be shooting with Kodak Vision2 500T film and the camera we are using has a lens the opens up to F 2.2. The lights we have available are:

Mole Richardson
three 600w lights
one 1000w solar spot

Arri
four 650w lights
two 2000w lights

In addition to the lights we will have an actual campfire burning.

As far as power is concerned, we will be running extension cords from a house, which means that we won?t be able to use very many of the lights. We do have a 2500 watt generator but it is very noisy and would need to be placed far away.

Any suggestions on lighting the scene, simulating firelight, simulating moonlight or what gels to use would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Chris Settlemoir



Something Ive done is flash your film 10% with a blue/purple cast light, to creep into the blacks. Then use your 2k's with some 1/4 CTB and 1/4 plus green as B/L ambience. Would be good if you could get some tota 800w lights to supplement the fire or a flame bar to add to the real one for your key.
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#8 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 03:15 PM

I would definetley use the 2k and bounce it for the moon light. Just put some CTB on it. For the fill light for the campfire just bounce a 650 with CTO into a bounce card near your actors. I know I am just restating what people are saying. As far as back light just use the 2k moonlight to position your actors so it will back light them. This will save you from having to plug up a back light and will eliminate using so many stingers.
Hope this helps
Mario C. Jackson
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#9 scorsesebull

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 03:11 PM

i'd say push your stock one stop, rate at 800 asa,


Wouldn't pushing on 500T create a ton of grain in those dark areas--a majority of the image?

To Chris: are you looking for a grainy?

[Sorry, i just did some tests with 500T and pushing in dark areas (see 16mm Only forum) and I was a little surprised.]

Also, I just shot in a forest and we had a huge diesel genny running about 50 yards away and the sound didn't pick it up. Try gettin in there early with your sound guys and do a test cuz that generator will be a huge help.

Good luck

Edited by scorsesebull, 03 November 2005 - 03:14 PM.

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#10 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 04:26 PM

If he rate the filmstock at 800asa it will not produce grain it will just expose one stop. For example a 2.8 in 500T is a 4.0 in 800 ASA. So all that he will be doing is underexposing one stop. 500T has alot of latitude. I shot a film 2 weeks ago on Vision 2 500T and I got some really good images. I under exposed alot and I didn't get hardly any gain at all. Also if there is enough light then under exposing won't hurt at all. Nevertheless others may disagree but this is what I have found out by shooting on this film stock.
Hope this helps
Mario C. Jackson
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#11 Joseph White

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 04:45 PM

yeah amount of grain is also a relative thing according to one's taste. if not properly lit, 7218 pushed a stop and rated at 800 asa will give you a lot of grain if you are still underexposing past the boundaries of the push.

also depends on your ratios and who your colorist is - some are better at crushing blacks and whatnot than others - because if its a finish-on-video type thing are you sure you're seeing actual film grain or noise from underexposure in your telecine? ive had to deal with both for sure :)

plus i'll take a little grain and get more natural light than no grain and something that looks source-y (unless thats what the director wants). hell i'll push two stops if at that asa i can get the light just right!
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#12 scorsesebull

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:37 PM

If he rate the filmstock at 800asa it will not produce grain it will just expose one stop. For example a 2.8 in 500T is a 4.0 in 800 ASA. So all that he will be doing is underexposing one stop. 500T has alot of latitude. I shot a film 2 weeks ago on Vision 2 500T and I got some really good images. I under exposed alot and I didn't get hardly any gain at all. Also if there is enough light then under exposing won't hurt at all. Nevertheless others may disagree but this is what I have found out by shooting on this film stock.
Hope this helps
Mario C. Jackson


Was that 35 or 16mm?

yeah amount of grain is also a relative thing according to one's taste. if not properly lit, 7218 pushed a stop and rated at 800 asa will give you a lot of grain if you are still underexposing past the boundaries of the push.

also depends on your ratios and who your colorist is - some are better at crushing blacks and whatnot than others - because if its a finish-on-video type thing are you sure you're seeing actual film grain or noise from underexposure in your telecine? ive had to deal with both for sure :)

plus i'll take a little grain and get more natural light than no grain and something that looks source-y (unless thats what the director wants). hell i'll push two stops if at that asa i can get the light just right!


Thanks a lot. Yeah that makes sense, and to be honest, I'm not sure if it's all noise or not, I think now, after reading some of your comments maybe it's a little of both. I appreciate you guys takin' the time to talk to me. I've only DP'ed a few films, primarily a director, but I'm loving it! And your input makes me want to continue experimenting! Good luck to all in your respective film endeavors!
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