Lighting an in-car scene using work lights. at

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Old July 30th, 2008, 09:45 PM   #1
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Lighting an in-car scene using work lights.

I'll be shooting this in a large garage and I have several work lights (250-500 watts) but I'm thinking that I'll only need to use my clamp lamps with certain bulbs. I don't really need any street lights going over head or headlights from the rear going on. It will just be one actor that I'll be shooting in the car. I'm very new to lighting, thanks in advance.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:05 AM   #2
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Travis, here's the thing.

Opaque areas like roofs, doors, floors, etc, ALL prevent light from entering the car. So if you light from the car exterior you're left with only what comes in through the windows.

This means ALL the light will come from a narrow band essentially at the actors eye levels and all shaping lights (back or rim lights, etc. are forced to come from BEHIND the actors at window level, which is a recipe of having the lights visible in your shot all the time.

Even simply trying to light from in front of an actor through the windshield from outside the vehicle and you'll find the lights reflecting back at the camera off the glass making the windows unsightly and throwing harsh shadows across the chest and/or forehead of your actor.

So to do the job properly and light a person inside a car without all those annoying shadows, you typically need to get lights, themselves INSIDE The car.

But that's REALLY hard since in a car, there's little or no room. So all the techniques that make people look good in regular video are a MESS to achieve in the limited space of a car.

You might want to consult with someone who's done this a few times if you want good results. It's a pretty tricky setup unless you're just going for a quick and dirty result.

Good luck.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:32 AM   #3
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Also occurred to me that work lights in a car would turn it into an oven pretty quickly.

Any chance of using a convertible?
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Old July 31st, 2008, 07:36 AM   #4
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On the one Indie I was DOP on, we used an DC to AC inverter plugged into the cigar lighter to power a strip of LED Strip lights and wrapped/taped them to the dash and instrument cluster. We even used blue on the driver side to give the suggestion of reflected light from the gauges on the driver and a white strip on each side to suggest "normal" light. Worked pretty well, all things considered.

PS. This was shot at night on the "open" road.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 10:49 AM   #5
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Further to Shaun's post, you may want to consider Rosco Lite-Pads
they have 12V DC electric input and the small ones are easy to hide in dashboard
and you can put the whole range of gels on them
we just used the 12x12 model on a recent scene where we needed to have a mysterious light coming out of a thick office file... workd great, and we hid the 12V cable inside the actor's sleeve
if you want spot illumination or complicated lighting patterns, try the various tiny dedos inside and outside the car

Last edited by Claude Mangold; July 31st, 2008 at 10:54 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old August 1st, 2008, 10:22 PM   #6
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another option is small 12" florecent lights. they are pretty cheap, some take 12V from a transformer, others take power in one side, then use ethernet cables to string power to the other units. they are pretty cheap, easy to tape or clamp up. only catch is if the tubes are the right color temp, and have decent CRI. can always look at KinoFlo tubes, then find fixtures to match.

of course there is always the Sawzall option too ;) then you could put a 6X6 on and flag it down as needed.
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