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Old December 4th, 2003, 08:40 AM   #1
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Indoor Lighting Idea (low$)

More questions from a newbie...

My 'film' will be shot partly outdoors and partly in my living room (about 16' x 24', 10' ceilings). Since I'm buying camera and audio, I need to hold lighting cost to a bare minimum.

Here's my lightiing strategy, please give me your thoughts on this approach.

I'll replace the regular lamp bulbs in the room with higher output halogen lamps, bought at Home Depot. I'll also direct some more of these bulbs into upper corners of the room, using clamp-on light fixtures. The idea is to get the room evenly illuminated, say to about f5.6. Then, I'll add a single Starlite/Softbox, which I'll use as my key, set at about f8.

The overall idea is cheap, even illumination to provide fill and background light, and a single key moved around from shot to shot.

Is this reasonable?

Thanks...
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Old December 4th, 2003, 10:59 AM   #2
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Lighting to F8 or even 5.6 is much more light than is necessary. The sweet spot for most prosumer cameras is between F2.8 to f4. You can certainly get usable footage below that.
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Old December 4th, 2003, 07:09 PM   #3
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The problem will be that your Practical lights will be blown out.

The clamp-ons or Halogen work lights bounced off the ceiling will raise the overall light level without giving you a deer in the headlights appearance.

If the Practicals are slightly more red than the general lighting it will give the effect of warming up the shot without throwing the entire color balance off.

I'd tend to want to reduce the wattage in the Practicals so they don't get blown out.
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Old December 5th, 2003, 08:06 AM   #4
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Thanks, I was a little worried because the Starlites are 500W min., and even diffused with a softbox, that thing will be bright compared to the 150W halogens. Being a still-film guy, I'm much more familiar with strobes. Anyway, since f2.8 or so is good for video, maybe I can fashion a fixture to put 2-3 150W halogens in a softbox as the key, and still keep my general light level approach. At least all the lights would be the same color.

BTW, by "Practicals" I assume you mean the key light, right?

Cheers...
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Old December 5th, 2003, 12:32 PM   #5
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Practicals are those lights on the set that are seen by the viewer and are the obvious source for set lighting. If there are none, then the viewer is subtly bothered by the lack of explanation for the visible light. Sort of a Stage reality or home/office reality.
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Old December 5th, 2003, 12:49 PM   #6
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Just an appendix to Mike's explanation, you'll sometimes see the term "motivation" with respect to lighting. That basically refers to the use of some "practical" light source (a window, a lamp, etc.) to visually reconcile where your actual set lighting could be sourced. Not that the lighting on the talent actually comes from these "practicals", but it just looks to the viewer like it probably does. This type of composition is generally considered to be less distracting to the viewer, although there are some directors that have a philosophy to just "make the frame beautiful" without primary regard for such details.

Also note that many pros carry a simple inline dimmer with them as part of their kit, specifically to dim-down practicals in a shot.
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Old December 13th, 2003, 05:29 PM   #7
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Hey I just got home from the first day of a two day shoot. This is an independent short film that some friends of mine are doing. They usually ask me to help because at this point I have a LOT of lighting to choose from. So here's the point:

What do people have against shadows? In a dramatic scene MUCH of the drama comes from the shadows of the scene i.e. the "stone face" of the gangster. One eye lit, one almost dark.

In a romantic scene the shadows suggest privacy and intimacy. It gives you the idea that the lovers are alone in a quiet area. The shadows raise the mystery and excitement of the scene.

In a horror movie it's obvious what shadows are for.

I guess what bugs me is that I see a lot of decent ideas RUINED by OVER-LIGHTING. My buds always want me to show up with everything I have and then they want to actually USE everything.

All I'm saying is I doubt you'll EVER need all that lighting in a living room. As I built a complete kit of lighting people continuously convinced me that I needed more power and more light per head.

The more I use my lighting gear the less I feel I needed.

If you do use practicals to suggest they are the light source you'll need to get low wattage bulbs. Then you may only need a reflector to accompany the starlight. Or else aim the starlight so that it lights your subject directly and bounced off a white wall, simultaneously.
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Old December 13th, 2003, 11:00 PM   #8
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Matt,
Gee, there's nothing wrong with shadows! You're absolutely correct in that they are critical for reinforcing dramatic moods and for helping define depth and shape.

Over-lighting is as common an error as under-lighting on video projects. Less is generally more.
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