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interior night with the lights off


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#1 melissa.c

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 07:54 AM

Hello. I am shooting a short this weekend that takes place in a two story house with much of the action in the second story bedrooms and hallway, all of this at night. The shots that I am concerned about are where all lights are supposed to be off as motivated by the script. It's not supposed to be creepy, just dark. Seeing as how you usually need light to capture an image I am looking for some help on how to accomplish this. We are shooting on a dvx.

For inside the bedrooms I am thinking of putting an HMI outside the windows and having that be the moonlight. What I am really concerned about is the hallway, in which there are no windows. There are two different scenarios. One is a wide shot where our character walks down the hallway and we don't really need to see his face, but at least some definition of his body. The second has him leaning against a wall (in the hallway) with medium close-ups to close-ups where we must see the emotion on his face clearly. How am I supposed to motivate any light coming into that hallway? Any ideas?

Perhaps we could open a door and have "moonlight" spilling into the hallway? A nightlight that is twenty times more powerful than you'd suspect? And how would I accomplish this? I've got kinos, china balls, an arri kit and a few other 650w tungstens, with some CTB. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks a lot!

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#2 Tim J Durham

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 08:26 AM

For inside the bedrooms I am thinking of putting an HMI outside the windows and having that be the moonlight. What I am really concerned about is the hallway, in which there are no windows. There are two different scenarios. One is a wide shot where our character walks down the hallway and we don't really need to see his face, but at least some definition of his body. The second has him leaning against a wall (in the hallway) with medium close-ups to close-ups where we must see the emotion on his face clearly. How am I supposed to motivate any light coming into that hallway? Any ideas?


That's what I'd do. But I'd make sure the "moonlight" was spiiling across something that could further reflect the light throughout the room, such as a white bedspread or rug. Then you can use that light as motivation to light your character within the room.

Perhaps we could open a door and have "moonlight" spilling into the hallway? A nightlight that is twenty times more powerful than you'd suspect? And how would I accomplish this? I've got kinos, china balls, an arri kit and a few other 650w tungstens, with some CTB. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks a lot!

Melissa

How many doors open on to the hallway? If you have one side of the hall with two or three doors, you can use the doors to reflect "moonlight" into the hallway creating 2 or 3 light pools that your character could walk through and stop in for the close-ups.

Sounds like you're already on the right track.
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#3 Patrick Neary

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 10:51 AM

Hi- don't forget about some base-level ambience as well. If you were standing in a dark hallway at night (without a camera) chances are it wouldn't be pitch black, there would be some level of soft ambient light defining the space. Just raise that level (with your own lights, a china ball is great) 'till it creeps in on the bottom end of your exposure. It doesn't hurt also to have some small hot spots (moonlight spill/nightlight/etc) for contrast. Watch movies that have done it well (and badly too) and try to dissect the lighting. A lot of people overlight night scenes.

Edited by PatrickNeary, 10 November 2005 - 10:54 AM.

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#4 melissa.c

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 02:29 PM

How many doors open on to the hallway? If you have one side of the hall with two or three doors, you can use the doors to reflect "moonlight" into the hallway creating 2 or 3 light pools that your character could walk through and stop in for the close-ups.


There are three doors that open into the hallway, all on different sides. One in the back(behind the camera) and two more on each side. Must they be on the same sides? And by reflecting moonlight into the hallway, you're just talking about bouncing it off the opposite wall of the doors, right? thanks again!

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#5 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 03:23 PM

Melissa
I see moon light as nice and soft, so I would definetley bounce the HMI throught the window, I might would even ad a 1/4 CTB to it just to make it a little cooler than normal. As for the scene in the hallway, I would probally leave the door open from where the moon light is. I would allow that spill to be a soft fill or side light on your actor. Just position in a way that it looks like the light in the room is hitting your subject. Then just pull out a 650 with 3/4 CTB and bounce it on your subject, that way it will be motivated by your moonlight coming from the room.
Hope this helps
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#6 Tim J Durham

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 03:33 PM

There are three doors that open into the hallway, all on different sides. One in the back(behind the camera) and two more on each side. Must they be on the same sides? And by reflecting moonlight into the hallway, you're just talking about bouncing it off the opposite wall of the doors, right? thanks again!

melissa

I would only have the "moonlight" spilling into the hall from one side of the hall (the moon can't be on opposite sides of a house at the same time). So in each room with a door to the hall on the side you're going to put the lights, I'd put a large, blue-gelled soft source. Whatever you have, just make sure it's not too much.

If the open door is going to be visible in the shot make sure the light is flagged off of it so it doesn't blow out. Maybe you could even put a window frame shaped ellipsoidal and gel it blue and hit the hall floor or wall through one of the open doors.
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#7 Frank Barrera

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 11:30 PM

moonlight is soft? that's news to me. there's only one source that's harder than the moon. that would be the sun. naturally, we are making art here so interpretation is of the utmost importance. if you think the moonlight in a particular scene is better represented by a soft blue light than that's what you should do. however, as an exercise, you should sit in an unlit room with some real moon light in the room and see what that looks like. it always amazes me how strange "natural" light really looks compared to how we usually choose to represent it in the movies.

as for your particular circumstance in the unlit hallway. try to use the "no light" light. this is a slightly cooled down bounce that comes right over camera. try to make it as big as possible. have scrims and flags available to control it and bring it to just the right level. a moonlight slash through a doorway is a good way to motivate a small eye light in the CU's. and yes, a night light can motivate quite a bit of light.


here's another trick: forget, for a moment, about motivation. just light it so it looks good.



have fun
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#8 Tim J Durham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 01:30 AM

moonlight is soft? that's news to me.


Are you talkin to me? Or Mario? You didn't quote anyone.

Moonlight bouncing off a white bedspread or rug would be soft, yes. Here's what I said about "soft moonlight":

That's what I'd do. But I'd make sure the "moonlight" was spiiling across something that could further reflect the light throughout the room, such as a white bedspread or rug. Then you can use that light as motivation to light your character within the room.

For the direct (hard) moonlight effect, what I said was:

Maybe you could even put a window frame shaped ellipsoidal and gel it blue and hit the hall floor or wall through one of the open doors.

No?
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#9 Frank Barrera

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:21 AM

yes, of course you are correct. that's what i get for posting half asleep.

a moonlight bounced glow from a room through a door way is a good idea.


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#10 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:50 AM

Maybe you won't need the HMI at all for dv,
Even an 1,2K is big for dv.
If you have more than one window in the scene u can have two 1k tungsten fresnels with double CTB on hard in for each window.
It depends of how big the room is.
As for the hallway as mentioned by the rest posters here, keep the light coming in from one side.
If it is a hotel an ambient light could be the sign outside for example.
There are many types of ambient light at night, unless it has to be moonlight only.
U can have a yellow street light coming in from the other side for example, it's always good to mix warm and cold light.
U will definately need some fill for the close ups, and MS's, but it can be moonlight bounced off of walls.
Maybe u can have it slightly warmer. If it is a yellow wall for example it could be more white bounce than a white wall!
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Edited by Dimitrios Koukas, 11 November 2005 - 06:50 AM.

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#11 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 10:35 AM

Yes, I percieve moon light as soft light. To me it is not hard. I would not shoot a HMI straight through a window, I would bounce it. To me moon light is elegant and sensual and whenever I emulate moon light i always make it soft. This is what I believe and how I percieve. Others see it as hard and thats ok.
Thanks
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 01:58 PM

Surely how blue or soft moonlight should be is dependent on the dramatic needs of the scene. If you want the moonlight to create shadow patterns from swirling leaves on branches, window blinds, etc. with strong areas of blackness in the frame, it would have to be a hard light.

In real life, on a clear night, moonlight is a fairly hard source, barely softer than direct sunlight. And it can be very frontal or toppy depending on the angle. What makes it seem soft is that it is so dim, forcing your eyes to use more of its monochromatic rods instead of its cones, plus your eye's iris is wide-open, all contributing to a feeling of softness.

Plus moonlight is daylight-balanced since it is a reflection of the sun, hence why it appears cooler to the eye than tungsten sources at night -- but not as deep blue as tungsten film records underexposed 5500K light, hence why a half-blue or quarter-blue effect is more realistic.
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