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Old November 14th, 2003, 02:39 PM   #1
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Advice Needed: Dark Interiour Lighting

I am working on a short film that we are shooting with my Canon GL-2. The interior scenes are inside a house, at night, with no/few lights on. I want it to give it the look of darkness, but still be able to make out the actor walking through the dark house. I figure that the best method is going to be bouncing light around as much as possible, to eliminate any shadows caused by lighting. If I get the shadows right, I should be able to darken as needed in post.

Does anyone have an pointers on setting this up or techniques to use? Also, any resources (books, websites, etc.) that I should look at for this?

To get a feel for what I'm talking about, you can see a rough cut of the scene just before the actor enters the house (it has a makeout scene that is slightly racy (PG), so don't watch where that would be embarssing or get you into trouble):
http://www.indianapolisfilm.net/file...ile.php?lid=51
He would go into the house after that clip. You can kind of get and idea of what I need by the reverse camera angle from inside. So how do I make the lighting look like that?

Thanks all.
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Old November 14th, 2003, 03:58 PM   #2
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To add to this, I just noticed the article about making a Chinese Lantern. Is this what should be looking at for the effect I want?
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Old November 20th, 2003, 11:15 PM   #3
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Does anyone have any pointers for me? I'm going to be working on testing various light setups on the location tomorrow night.

Thanks.
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Old November 21st, 2003, 02:06 AM   #4
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Pretend there are streetlights outside, have their light spill through the various windows. . .cheat so that the light we see in the scene you refer to comes through the windows (the porchlights and what have you). Fake moonlight through windows.

Use lots of backlighting or edgelighting, kickers, and silhouette effects to convey darkeness while still making the action comprehensible.

Combine these ideas or use only one. . .

Just my suggestions.
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Old November 21st, 2003, 05:14 AM   #5
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"I figure that the best method is going to be bouncing light around as much as possible, to eliminate any shadows caused by lighting."
I would do it the other way arround... hard shadows, spots of light from the window like Josh describes, maybe a bluish cast.
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Old November 22nd, 2003, 12:01 PM   #6
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Continuing on the previous advice, which is good; keep the figure in half light or backlight or silhouette. Silhouette can be especially moody, where you light the wall behind the actor but not the actor himself, so that you just see his outline against the wall. Don't overlight that wall though, just enough to create contrast.

As with the others, I agree that soft light is not the way to go here. Everything will become lit and the mood you are looking for will not happen. Selective hard light allowing for high contrast is the ticket. Pools of light for the actor to pass through. Backlight rimming the actor, glinting off the gun as he searches the house etc.

Having a Chinese lantern may be useful in one way; if, in a given shot, you need to be able to see into the actors eyes, having a soft fill source that is quickly controllable will be helpful. You can walk it closer or further away to dial in just enough light to register the facial details as needed, and if you are able to block it in such a way that he is not standing in front of a wall at the time, it won't lift the exposure of the surroundings noticeably.
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Old November 22nd, 2003, 05:03 PM   #7
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Someone should ask Joe what he's got available as far as lighting gear goes.
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Old November 23rd, 2003, 12:31 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Josh Bass : Someone should ask Joe what he's got available as far as lighting gear goes. -->>>

You are right, I should have stated that earlier. We have a pretty minimal setup. Two Lowell Omni's, two Totas, stands umbrellas, some decent reflector and diffuser setups. Then quite a bit of non-professional, hacked together lighting that works and matches the Lowell pretty well in color.

Charles, I had not thought about shooting it in silhouette. When I think about it, that just be the perfect way to get what we want. I can use a cookie cutter out of foam board on the light shining in through the window, if I need to break up the sloid lit wall. My goal is to try and light both small rooms that he actor is waling through, so I can shoot the sequence following him with a Steadicam (magiqcam). All of the rooms have decent sized windows, so lighting almost exclusively from outside could work.

Thanks for all the ideas everyone. If you have any more, keep them coming.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 01:37 PM   #9
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Am I right in saying that your set actually doesn't have to be
dark at all? Just that the contrast should be there? Your camera
should need more light anyway then the human eye (especially
if you don't want grain to appear). Dialling down the camera might
be an option as long as the contrast is there?
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Old November 24th, 2003, 03:30 PM   #10
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Correct. I'm concerned with getting a believable look with enough light for the camera to see it. As long as everything is in the correct level of light, relative to each other, the actual levels don't matter. I can drop them slightly in the camera and more if needed in post.

I've gotten some good ideas here. There is motion through two rooms. They are linked with doors with glass panes. I think this will offer a chance to use quite a few of the suggestions given here.
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Old November 25th, 2003, 04:33 AM   #11
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one other thing: besides a blues cast, also lower the color saturation.
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Old November 28th, 2003, 12:48 AM   #12
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Is there any disadvantage to lowering the saturation in post? I'm wondering if I need to cast the color more blue in post, I might want to have more color data to work with. Either way, I had not thought about reduction of the saturation and that is a very good idea to "sell" it as being a dark night shot.
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