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Old March 11th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #1
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Lighting a Horror Scene

let me first set the scene.... Imagine standing at the entrance of a long indoor hallway/corridor of an old church at night, the brown brick walls tower 40 feet high with glass windows lined throughout the length of the roof. The floor is made up of dark stone and the length of the entire hallway stretches 100 feet and 6 feet wide. Near the far end of the corridor stands a small haunting figure of a young girl who is lightly bathed by the luminance of the moonlight that is coming from above, whilst the same/surrounding light is strong enough to bring up some detail in the walls and the flooring.

This is a location that will feature in a short horror film im making and im concerned about how to light it with the equipment I have to obtain the look (or near to) that im after.

I have access to 3 heads, 2 cfl 5600k cheap soft lights (output about 450 watts), a small reflecter and a 2 head 500 watt tungsten worklight. As far as I know there are power sources at either end of the corridor, however there are doors which lead to rooms along the corridor but i'm not sure if there are power points there (hopefully there will be)

I'm hoping you guys who have lit alot of scenes in the past could give me some tips to get the look im after using the equipment I have. I was trying to attach some stills from other films to help illustrate what im after but had no luck, however if you've seen 'WHAT LIES BENEATH' then many scenes in that have the colour rendition and lighting that I am trying to emulate. Thanks in advance for the help :)
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Old March 11th, 2009, 10:10 PM   #2
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My mental image of this scene calls out for fresnel spots and some beam-shaping gadgetry (gobos and cucaloris) to make directional light with deep scary shadows....enough base fill from a weak, broad source to bump your shadows up enough to pick out some detail and keep your exposure above the noise level....light should look as if it is sourced from some existing place like the windows, or whatnot, to be credible, perhaps...not sure how to do this with what you have at hand, but I think that's how it would be done on a pro set..../Battle Vaughan /miamiherald.com video team
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Old March 12th, 2009, 12:32 AM   #3
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You're trying to light a 24 THOUSAND cubic foot area with two CFLs and a worklight?
(you said 100ft x 6ft x 40ft right?)

Doesn't that sound just a tad insane?

Yep. it is.

Forget the space. Light the girl. Worklight on a dimmer for a strong backlight. Then one softbox on the floor pointed up at her to do traditional horror movie spooky uplighting.

Leave the other softbox out of things since you can't balance it with anything else.

Gel everything with strong CTB to imply moonlight.

With that you'll lose the floor, the walls and any sense of space and most likely it will look exactly like you shot her against a black curtain, but you just don't have the gear to do anything else.

Sorry.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #4
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Shoot in daylight and do night for day in post?
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Old March 12th, 2009, 06:47 AM   #5
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Thanks guys great input, I know my available resources are very limited and ideally does sound a little crazy trying to get the look that I'm after however like Jim mentioned I have considered shooting in overcast daylight to try and emulate the look seeing as the only outside light coming in is through the narror windows high above, and i was hoping i could get creatve with my budget tools to start doing a bit of shaping.

Battle Vaughan, the mental image you conjured up is very fitting to what I'm after and i'm actually trying to source some finance for some extra lights to get even closer but right now the chances are looking slim .

Thanks Bill, I know trying to light such a big space at night is insanse but filmmaking (for me anyway) has always been an insanse adventure and I've found that if I usually present a problem no mater how big or crazy, there will always be atlest one person who has a crazy enough idea that might just work (or not but hey ya gotta try right ;) ) But yeah, Bill if i were to shoot it on an overcast day so there was enough light coming in to atleast bring some detail to the walls and floor, would I have any chance on getting the look im after with what I have available? I was thinking to follow your advice and just light for the girl as she is a key element but at the same time I need to be able to establish that she is in a long corridoor.

Thanks guys
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Old March 12th, 2009, 07:16 AM   #6
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For a larger space you're going to need larger lights. I don't know why people don't think renting, or "borrowing" larger lights rather than only using the lights they actually own. You can use theatre lights, although the stands tend to be heavy etc.

You can learn the lessons from the 1940s black & white B movies: light only enough to suggest the space around the character, details are unimportant unless it's a nasty looking statue or something that adds to the mood.

Being in the UK, 2k lights are the largest you can use on the mains and given the size of the set they should just about work unless you're using a 35 adapter. Just be careful not to overload any circuits. Fresnel spots give you the most control and work extremely well on horror films.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 07:23 AM   #7
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Thanks Brian, renting is an option (although not a prefered one on the budget) but just wanted to see if there were any creative options with what I had available. "light only enough to suggest the space around the character" I like that and gives me something to think about.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 11:42 AM   #8
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When I chimed in I was also thinking about shooting on an overcast day, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that you would want to shoot on a bright sunny day to get hign contrast which I think would work better with the mood.

Then contrasty lighting on the girl would be believeable. Other idea would be in fact to go to B&W. Another thought would be to green screen the girl and composite into the hallway scene.

Essy to have ideas when I'm not the one who's faced with having to do it!
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Old March 12th, 2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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I don't think this can be answered properly without knowing the actual scene and anticipating the camera movements. I can think of a few things I'd do that would get blown if the camera had to travel down the hallway.

Ultimately, I think the simplest answer so far is to shoot day for night. Its the cheapest for your budget.

I wouldn't though... I'd buy a bunch of cheap worklights and gels, and try to backlight and angles/geometry of the architecture, hinting at it's dimensions, creating some ambiance.

And then I'd fog the hell out of it.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 02:51 PM   #10
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Yeah, I was thinking that if the girl were running down the hallway, her shadow would sort of strobe as she passed each window. And if the camera were following her down the hallway - Uggggh!

On the other hand if she's more or less standing still, and all you're trying to get is an impression of the hallway in which she's standing, then it would be a different (more do-able?) situation.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 04:55 PM   #11
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Great stuff, a bright sunny day for high contrast could possibly do the trick. Im pretty much swayed towards doing a day for night shot and I really like the idea of adding some fog but not sure how this would look in such a large space with the lighting I have, i have never used a fog machine so would really need to research the hell out of the subject (or a test shoot if i can) as i think this would add to the look.

To give more insight to the camera setup for the shot, it will be a slow dolly in towards the girl standing off in the distance, she is just standing still holding something in her hand. There will be many more shots in this space but they are quite close up and thus im quite confident with getting the look im after then, its just this wide shot which is quite essential to the story that im trying to get right.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #12
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I guess I have a hard time thinking why there would be fog inside a building - ouside in the graveyard, of course, but indoors? Although it IS a fantasy so reality isn't all that high on the list of things to worry about:<) Hell, if it helps sell your overall concept, fog in the middle of the Sahara Desert at high noon on a Summer day would be fine!
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Old March 12th, 2009, 08:29 PM   #13
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yeh, im not so concered with reality as i am quality, so hell if i could get a good looking fog rig in there i think id run with it
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Old March 13th, 2009, 03:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Alexander View Post
yeh, im not so concered with reality as i am quality, so hell if i could get a good looking fog rig in there i think id run with it
That's a large space, so any fog effect could be inconsistent and may not hang for that long. It's just something to be considered
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Old March 13th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #15
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Ok, you don't have the latest and greatest equiptment, however work lights are cheap enough. Get a half dozen or so and place them around the church to light areas of the church. Use Black wrap to shape the light or create patterns, ND or aluminum screening for level adjustment. Just be sure not cut off the cooling vents.

Haveing the best makes thing easier, using other types of lights just means you have to work a little harder to get the results you want.

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