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Old July 14th, 2003, 03:47 PM   #1
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Lighting a campfire scene - Need suggestions

I need to light a scene where the set is Ext. Night with 5 actors around a campfire (all else is dark) and it's in a forest.

I'm probably going to shoot with a GL2 with the F's wide open and no Gain (I don't want a hint of video noise). I may even shoot it with an Arri 16mm, but that's pretty slim. Either way, I'm looking for advice on placement and/or color advice for realism.

I'll probably put a back light with some blue gels (high angle) to simulate moonlight, but the fire alone is not going to light the faces.

Any advice would help, Thanks!
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Old July 15th, 2003, 07:46 AM   #2
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Do you NEED to shoot it at night? Perhaps you can better shoot
it at dusk or dawn for example?
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Old July 15th, 2003, 08:06 AM   #3
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What is "F's wide open and no Gain?"
I'm still learning about the wonder that is GL2 :)

Thanks
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Old July 15th, 2003, 08:11 AM   #4
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Depending on your shot design, I would thinmk a "chinese lantern" would do the trick. This is a large paper globe with a high intensity light in it. It is usually suspended on a pole, held above the shot like the mike boom. This will give you more "fill" while allowing the fire to add the flicker. The blue backlights will add a nice touch.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 08:55 AM   #5
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No, it doesn't have to be done at night, but I had hoped to do it at night for ambience reasons. I'd like to help the actors as much as I can. They need to be scared!

The Chinese Globe idea is good. Would you suggest a gold/orange to give that warm fire side glow? I was thinking of at least one 300w baby with some yellow/orange gel down low for fill light on the faces. Would anybody disagree with that?

I also read the article on DV.com about lighting the woods at night. There's good stuff in there about how to light the trees.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 09:16 AM   #6
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Stewart,

"Fs" is refering to the F-stop and is indicated by a number like f2.8. It refers to how open the iris, or the apature in still cameras, is. On the GL I think its about f1.8. The f-stop affects the amount of light that gets passed to the capture medium, in this case the CCDs or charge coupled devices. It also affects the depth of field. Think of it like a garden hose, when you put your thumb over the end of the hose you get a sharp, fine spray, with a small f-stop, f8-f16, your entire frame will be sharp. If you don't put your finger over the end of the hose you get a softer stream, with a large f-stop, f5.6-f1.8 your image has only a small area that is sharp and the background or foreground is soft or out of focus. This is a loose description as there are lots of other factors that affect the DOF such as CCD size but that's a different kettle of fish.

As for gain, the signal can be strenghtened or weakened using the gain. Increasing the gain mean you will require less light to be able to see detail in your shot but the image quality suffers from the affect of video noise, or a sort of grainy image. Decreasing the gain or leaving it at 0 means your image will be clean but you will need more light to correctly expouse the shot.

If you do a search on DOF you will find lots of discussion on the subject or check out The Ultimate DOF Skinny by Jeff Donald on the DV Info Net main site.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 09:34 AM   #7
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Alex,

I just now saw a nicely shot campfire scene on the movie channel here..."The Brave" with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando. Looks like they had one or more bright lights off to one side with blue filters to simulate moonlight. They were pretty bright, and Johnny Depp was facing toward them. In front of him was the fire which they made teepee style to get a nice high, intense flame.

The result looks good...and even though this film was shot on film, I'm betting there's enough light there the way they lit it for video.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 10:15 AM   #8
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Thanks John, I'll check out that film.

Adrian, for the record, the GL2 will open up to F1.6 as long as it's not zoomed too tight. (Just FYI)
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Old July 15th, 2003, 09:48 PM   #9
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Thanks Alex, as I don't have a GL I wasn't 100% sure.
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