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Old June 8th, 2003, 07:43 PM   #1
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Early Morning Scene

I'll be filming a scene that takes place early in the morning. A couple is in bed, just waking up. I'm trying to figure out the best way to light this thing. I obviously don't want it to look lit. It might be nice to try to simulate early morning sunlight. Any recommendations from you lighting pros?

My available tools are

150w Arri Fresnel
300w Arri Fresnel
650w Arri Fresnel
Chimera softbank.
Scrims, Frost diffusion etc...

Would anyone recommend getting some gels that simulate sunlight? I'm not sure which is the best kind to get. I've read about gels that correct tungston light to simulate sunlight - not as good as HMI's but better than having the lower color temperature of tungston.

by the way, doesn't Bogen make packages of gels? I watched a video where they recommended Bogen gels, and I can't find them anywhere on the internet or their extremely unuser-friendly website.

thanks in advance
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Old June 8th, 2003, 11:18 PM   #2
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Major gel manufacturers are Rosco, Lee and GAM.

A lot would have to do with the layout of the room, especially the placement of the windows, also the direction you plan to shoot. If you had the window in the background, it would be helpful to gel the windows with CTO and hang a 650 just above the frame or above the window to get a hard rim on the actors to simulate the sun.

If the sun is nominally coming in from one side of frame, the same light could rake the bed from the window direction--it would be nice to break up the beam with gobos (can be as simple as placing various "found objects" in front of the light). Also experiment with hanging a woven curtain just out of frame that the light comes through to create a pattern.

If you were to shoot night for day, you would have even more control. Placing the 650 outside the window shooting through the sheer curtains will look very natural (especially if there is a little gap in the curtains, and you artfully place the strip of light across the bed). You can use the Chimera outside the window if you are shooting that direction, which would create the bright sky effect (you would essentially be looking right into the Chimera through the curtains). One of your small Fresnels could be bounced into the ceiling to add fill aka "room tone" to taste.

As far as color temperature, that would depend on the feeling you are trying to create. Very early morning would be quite bluish, but the strong morning sun generally is given a warm feeling. There's no reason to add blue totungsten lights unless you are matching to existing daylight, since you can color balance the camera to whatever you like. For the example above with the daylight coming through the windows (shot at night), to create a warm light I would opt to white balance to tungsten, then warm up the "sunlight" unit with 1/4 to 1/2 CTO, while adding a 1/4 CTB to the "room tone" fill to create a little difference in feel for the ambient light.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 11:31 PM   #3
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Thank you, Charles. I'm preparing to shoot a nearly identical scene to what Brad describes and have been brain-wrestling with the same question. So your detailed recommendations killed two birds with one post!
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Old June 8th, 2003, 11:53 PM   #4
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those are some interesting and very creative suggestions Charles. Thanks for the tips, I'll experiment with that technique. Unfortunatley for this scene there are actually no windows in the frame from the angle we want to to shoot. I have a feeling I won't be able to acheive exactly what you mentioned, but I presume practice makes perfect. I'm having a mental block with lighting techniques because I just don't know if what I'm doing is "the right way". What looks good to my eye, is different on the camera, different on the monitor, different on my computer, and different on SD and HDTV. Very confusing so far but I'm learning.

thanks again.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 01:06 AM   #5
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That narrows things down nicely.

So, you can go ahead and block any windows that might leak light into the room, saving you having to either gel the window (lots of gel) or gelling the lights (you'll lose one stop of light if you use full CTB, which will correct the light to daylight).

Then you can go ahead and create the window light as I described earlier. The trick to making it look natural is to have the light broken up (see previous thread). Don't let it get too hot--I wouldn't let it play directly on the actor's faces (let that be more diffused light from the same direction--you can position a piece of opal or light frost such that it just works on the actors).

Use a good broadcast monitor, set up properly to bars, and judge your exposure with that.

A light diffusion filter such as a white or black promist will add a nice softness to the scene, and help smooth out the highlights created by the "sunlight". Even better, a light touch of fog in the room can really help with that early morning feel.

BTW, there is no "right way" with lighting, and you are absolutely right, practice makes perfect. Studying similar types of scenes in movies and analyzing the direction and quality of the light can be a tremendous help with this sort of thing. Good luck!
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Old June 9th, 2003, 03:01 AM   #6
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those are all great suggestions. I'll try to simulate that look and I'll post my results here when it's all finished. You're right, I think some fog would look really nice for that effect. Just to be clear, (let me know if I'm wrong here) I'm thinking I should use the 300w fresnel as the diffused fill light source, and then the 650w as the sunlight source from the same direction, (not lighting their faces) with a gobo, and scrims to cut the intensity down? Does that make sense, or should it be the other way around? Just not sure which source needs to have the stronger light.
Thanks again.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 01:44 AM   #7
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Umm--I wasn't being clear, but then again it's a bit hard to describe.

The ideal situation is to use a single unit to create the sunlight, and then shape the light from that unit in various ways. This gets into grip equipment, which is often overlooked or misunderstood. Using a flag some distance from the light to cut an edge is very different than swinging the barn door, there's much more control available when you are able to regulate the distance between the lamp and the gobos. In this instance, the ideal is to use a diffusion frame with opal or 251 for instance (light diffusion) and position it in such a way that it is softening the light from your main source on the faces, and allowing the cut of the frame to fall off somewhere on the body. This will knock a bit of intensity off the light as well. If you expose the faces normally, the raw light will come out a bit hot just like sunlight. This is a style you see a lot of, particularly on episodic television such as "The West Wing"--the hot sunlight plays on the bodies but not on the faces.

If you are able to shape and cut the light from that one source, all that remains is to add the "room tone" as described, which is as simple as banging a light into the back wall or ceiling, You can scrim the light down to adjust the intensity, or simply bring in the barn doors, adjust the focus (spot/flood), etc--it's easy when it is being bounced.

Hope this helps!
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Old June 10th, 2003, 09:36 AM   #8
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Ah ok I see what you're talking about now. That explains it. I'll give that a try. Boy it would be nice to have someone like you around for our shoot. I've learned a lot from you so far. Thanks again Charles.
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