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Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:54 PM   #1
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Best way to film day for night?

Hello everyone:)

So I am doing my dissertation for University and for my pratical I am creating a short horror film. I am using a Sony PD 170 and plan to film in a forest. However as there is no electrical sources I am forced to film day for night.

Any tips on the best way to do this and also how to get that "Cinematic" effect? I know that is quite a broad statement but I feel that the PD cameras give a very documentary/home video look which is something I am completely trying to avoid.

Any tips would be fantastic:).

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Old February 2nd, 2011, 06:54 PM   #2
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You might try this to see if will help:
Hollywood's Dark Secret: Shooting Day for Night
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 08:54 PM   #3
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A few thoughts:
Day for Night can be anything depending on how you want your night to look. Just like in day-time, night-time lighting can change depending on how the moon behaves. Also, during the night time, except for the moon, there aren't any other sources of light so unless you're shooting in the same direction try to shoot when there aren't any hard shadows - like on an overcast day.

I'll have to tell you that there are many people who prefer the harsh sun to simulate hard shadows, but they are going for a different look.

From experience, I know getting day for night shots to match each other can be a real pain when under harsh day conditions. So be prepared to do some heavy color correction work to match your shots and to maintain one particular 'feel' to the whole thing.

However, my advice would be to get a few LED lights (or atleast flashlights) and rewrite your script to get this to work. Trust me, the amount of time and energy you save doing this will be substantial. Don't do it in post production if you can. Hope this helps.
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Last edited by Sareesh Sudhakaran; February 2nd, 2011 at 08:58 PM. Reason: typo
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Old February 10th, 2011, 12:11 PM   #4
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You *could* opt for a generator and lots of cable.

We did this last year, but the producer cheaped out and didn't get a long enough cable run. The resultant genny noise was an issue. I then convinced him to shoot day for night. Also a pain in the ass but at least less sound issues (I say "less" cause we ended up with a flight of helicopters from a training school hovering over our location. Jerks).

AVOID skyline! It will ruin the effect. Use a graduated filter if necessary.
You could shoot "blue" and dark or you could opt to do so in post. Whatever method you are thinking of, do test shots!

The time of day will effect the size of your shadows. There is some debate on short vs long, but regardless, keep them consistent.
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Old February 11th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #5
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There was just a webinar from AVID in the past couple of weeks that detailed some steps for day to night using the BCC plug in.

Might check the website and see if it's still around.
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Old February 11th, 2011, 02:42 PM   #6
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Two ways to approach this:

1. Shoot ENG style and underexpose by two stops or so on set.
2. Shoot regular exposure and color correct in post for desired effect.

In my opinion, color correcting in post gives you more creative control. On the other hand, shooting ENG will eliminate added time in post.

Just be sure to eliminate the sky if possible as others have suggested. And definitely avoid shooting the sun.

Here is an example I did in which the night effect was applied in post.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 12:20 PM   #7
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Re: Best way to film day for night?

I edited a project a while ago where the DP used filters. To be honest, it would have been easier to apply effects in post than to deal with the "randomness" of the footage that he shot. Im a big fan of 'fixing it in post' where I can control all the elements.
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