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Old April 1st, 2004, 02:59 PM   #1
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Questions about lighting in the dark!?

Hi everyone,

I am planing to shoot a scene in a car. However, I have a problem. I am afraid I won't have enough light. I mean, if i just shoot normaly, I will have the picture noise as the camera will say I don't have enough light. However, I don't know how to light it probably for it's to be like it's shot without any light. Like in those movie where they shoot a street or a scene in the car at night. We still see good image and no picture noise at all. For our cameras with that kind of light condition, I think we'll have picture noise. So, is there a way that I can avoid that? I hope I can explain it better. Let me know if you have no ideas what I am talking about. Thanks.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:13 PM   #2
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It would be helpful to determine the right advice for you if you mention which DV camera you have, and what type/size of car.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:18 PM   #3
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Sorry about that. I am using the XL1S and using toyota vans. Thanks.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:20 PM   #4
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Will the car be moving?
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:33 PM   #5
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This is low budget advice. I'm not sure what your budget is, so I'm going to start with the safest assumption that you don't have tons to spend.

The trick with shooting in cars at night is that you want there to be a subtle light cast on the people, but you don't want it to be too noticeable. Then, you want to craft shadows and moving light on top of that. That way, your subjects are always visible with that base light, but it's very apparent that they are driving and in ever changing light.

I'm not sure if you'll be faking the driving part or if you'll actually be shooting in a moving car, but having a variety of different lights with color accents outside of the car indicating some kind of movement with consistent speed can be helpful. Or if you're actually driving, drive in well lit areas for best results.

For the base light cast, a small fluorescent lamp would do wonders here - the kind you can pick up at Home Depot or Lowes, or your corner hardware/lighting shop. It's a low budget solution, but it works surprisingly well, and even with the gain turned all the way down on your XL1s, it will help make a really nice picture. Get two small ones, and get a DC converter so you can plug them into your cigarette lighter outlet.

And a lot of times, depending on the car, the vanity mirror light behind the sunshade can make for a good low-budget subtle hair light. Depends on your shooting angle, of course, if you can actually use it.



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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:38 PM   #6
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A couple of options would be: using an power inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter so you can power a couple of soft flourescent worklights. Or shooting Day for Night, or at least late-in-the-day for night.

In his book, "303 Digital Filmmaking Solutions," Chuck Gloman recommends a combo of Kino-Flos and Micro-Flos (The Micros as fills, attached via gaffer tape to the front dash and backs of the front seats). He includes a photo as well.

EDIT: Imran beat me to the punch on some of this while I was double-checking Gloman's book. Always a bridesmaid...
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:55 PM   #7
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Hi Tony, I posted a reply at Wrigley Video for you, but in order to "spread the wealth" I'll post my answer here also:
_________________________________

I think what you're reffering to here is Gain. Gain is an electronic brightening of the image, and results in a lot of grainy "noise" in the picture. My advise to you is to shoot in manual mode if your camera supports it, and turn gain off or down to zero.

As for lighting, is the car stationary or moving? If the car is stationary, life is good becasue you have some things you can do. If the car is moving, you are much more limited in your options.

You can use cheap worklights from walmat, and reflect them off of foam-core boards to difuse the light (not too close to the lights, or you'll melt the boards - don't ask! LOL). You can position this rig outside the car and direct it in, set your white balance and exposure, and you'r good. You can green posterboard in the windows where the light is not coming in, and you can key this out to add the appearance of moving background.

If the car is moving, you can try creating a low wattage China latern and have someone hold it for you (or you can hold it youiself if you're good) while you shoot. A china lantern is a big round paper globe with a light in it. It can also be made out of plastic, you can get the plastic globe from Lowes. If you're interrested, I can post some sites that tell you how to build all this stuff. Anyway, what makes a China Lantern good is it makes a big soft defused non-directional light. Hope this helps
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Old April 1st, 2004, 07:49 PM   #8
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When I had to do this, I just taped white christmas bulbs on the dash. Ran them from a small DC to AC converter. Worked OK. Today I might grab a few of the $10 battery-powered flourescent lights and tape them in place. Most run at around 20 Khz and therefore will not have a flicker problem. Just have to test and make certain the light output is OK with your camcorder.

Sound will be more of a problem than lighting.

We had the camera mounted above the front bumper and shot through the windshield.

Oh, and by the way. It is much easier to do this in a van. You can hide behind the seats and watch everything on a portable monitor.
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Old April 2nd, 2004, 07:48 PM   #9
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Thanks, guys! Really appreciate it. I'll try the advices out soon.
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Old April 5th, 2004, 01:11 PM   #10
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If you live in an area with a professional equipment rental house, renting some of the small Kino Flo sets is an easy way to go. They are very small, lightweight units and can be taped anywhere you want in the car and can run off the cigarette lighter plug. You can also vary the intensity of each light.

It doesn't take much light at night inside a car. If you overlight, everything outside will be black. I've actually shot before in a pickup truck with the dome light on and a small reflector. It looked very natural.
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