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Old October 19th, 2004, 05:58 AM   #1
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Nightime outdoors - "pink" tinted street lights...

ok i am doing a short that is 50% night exteriors in a small city.

the street lights area a light pink color.

i'm having a hard time making the pinkish ting go away, suggestions?

i'm using a dvx-100a if it helps, the existing light is pretty consistent the pink street lights + very white lighting from the storefront windows.

the pink background streetlights are ruing an otherwise very pretty shot of the dark downtown backgrounds.

matthew
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Old October 19th, 2004, 08:35 AM   #2
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well you could white balance under the pink lights, of course that will have the effect of turning your subjects green-ish...

What is wrong with pink light? Can you not hide the lights by selective composition and then use the lights to rim your subject or light your BG?

Last resort - ask the city to shut the lights off for 10 minutes while you get your shot???

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Old October 19th, 2004, 12:05 PM   #3
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the problem with the pink lights is that they are so powerful that it colors the entire area around them for at least 100-150 feet.

if the lights were off main st. in northampton mass would be a little bit dangerous, even at 2am there is a bit of pedestrian traffic and it is a town where there are no lights on main st. and pedestrians absolutely have the right of way.

i'll have to play with some more white balance tricks.

i was hoping there was something i was missing.

matthew
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Old October 19th, 2004, 07:18 PM   #4
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Matthew, from the times I shot night exteriors in Northampton, I don't recall the streetlights being a problem, but I didn't rely on them as my source of illumination. It's better to use tungsten lighting units and allow the background to go warm (I think of them as being more orange than pink).

Someday I'll have to post the music video I shot about 10 years ago at the old Bay State bar on Pearl St., we had about a hundred people dancing on the street outside right around 2 a.m... (the band was the Big Bad Bollocks, I think they still play around there).
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Old October 19th, 2004, 09:44 PM   #5
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i am using some lighting on camera, it is supposed to be a dark thrilled type thing, the weird thing is that the pink street light light seems to carry forever and it paints the street so to speak for a couple hundred feet from each light.

its raining a lot up here right now but when it stops i'm going to go back up for another night and try some more things.

the biggest problem is that i only have limited power to run lights...

matthew
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Old October 19th, 2004, 10:07 PM   #6
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Thrilled...you mean thriller, right?!

Sounds like you don't want on-camera lighting if you want a low-key look.

Now, for years folks have dreamed of not having to spend hours lighting night exteriors to get them to expose with any detail...sounds like you are frustrated by having this be the case?!

I think if the pink color is an issue for you, the best bet is to cheat the white balance as Stephen suggested. White balance under the streetlights, then you'll need to experiment with gels on your lights to get the color neutral. Your best bet is to get a lighting swatchbook with samples of all the color correction gels, and shoot some tests. Here's one way to do it: head down to Noho and do the white balance, then scoot home (rt. 47?) and set up your camera with a monitor, then hold a selection of gels in front of the lens. Whichever makes the image look "right" will be the one you need to buy a few sheets of to place in front of whatever lights you will be using for the shoot.

Yeah, it's raining in LA too, big old storm. Last time I came to Northampton was exactly two years ago: tried to hit it during foliage season, but it rained the two nights I was in town. Oh well.
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Old October 19th, 2004, 11:23 PM   #7
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thanks for the suggestions.

i keep meaning to get one of those swatch books, i have a sample of gels from NRG 12"x12"

i am planning on bringing my sony 14" ntsc monitor and a ups and run that in the back of the jeep to see what it really looks like.

the thing is the stores are lit so well at night that it is almost too bright!

the things i'm trying to light are the one actor and a car that is following him when it goes down some alleyways etc.

sort of a christine like movie but much more thinking less blood and cliched.

so far the lighting is just a mini-frezzi on the camera and i have another one that i can use with a battery to highlight specific scenes.

matthew
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Old October 20th, 2004, 01:04 AM   #8
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ok i am kind of embarassed to post this link...

keep in mind, this is just a VERY rough test, we did it in less than an hour, it was basically a lighting test and a location scout that we ended up editing.

think of it as 1/4 of a storyboard that was done with a video camera.

just trying to get a handle on what shooting at night is like in a variety of light and locations.

http://www.cluelessandlark.org/scary...hase-small.wmv

and later on there will be a

http://www.cluelessandlark.org/scary...ase-medium.wmv

matthew
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Old October 20th, 2004, 03:15 AM   #9
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Matthew:

Looking good!

I would repeat what I mentioned earlier: ditch the on-camera light. If you can figure out a way to power it separately from the camera, do so--but just don't light from on or directly behind the camera, it's a cheesy TV news-look. For atmospheric night lighting, use a half-light from the side or backlight from the rear, and if you need to see facial details or into eyes, go ahead and use some front fill but make sure that it is 1-2 stops under key (i.e. underexposed) to look natural. But in general, you don't want your actor walking towards camera and getting brighter as he goes.

For the car down the alley shot (as soon as you said "alley" I figured you'd be using that one by the Haymarket!), have a backlight playing on the wall of the alley. For the angle you chose with the car roaring after him, I'd place it just out of camera range down low and to the right (near Starbucks, yeah? You can see I'm having fun with Northampton nostalgia, forgive me!) This will pick up some nice sparkles and texture on the brick walls, and make ominous shadows.

Personally, I think the city looks natural in the background with the sodium vapor street lights--I wouldn't worry about correcting them out. I'd just warm up your film lights a bit (maybe 1/2 CTO) and then color correct the whole thing a bit bluer, to taste.

I don't know if you had this planned, but in terms of your actual shots, I'm seeing a great moment with a closeup of the car's headlights as it plays across the parking meters etc.--very interesting shadow and light action. It happened in several of the wide shots. As a closeup, it would make a nice insert into the sequence, adding tension.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 06:35 AM   #10
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One other thing to add: if the color is really bugging you in the
end and you can't get rid of it while shooting you might be able
to fix it with color correction in post (make sure you do lots of
good tests with this if you want to go down this road).

With an NLE like Vegas/Premiere Pro you might be able to change
just this color without effecting other colors (with enough time
and work from you).
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Old October 20th, 2004, 07:49 AM   #11
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I agree with everything Charles said. The test shoots look great so far, I like the sodium coloring of the background. I do not like the light mounted on camera effect.

For the most part the "natural" light in the environment should be enough light your scene quite well. If you need additional lighting for the dark alley, you might want to place your light(s) above and out of frame to simulate alley door lights. I think using a blue gel might give you a pleasing mix with the orange/pink lights from behind.

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Old October 20th, 2004, 07:54 PM   #12
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thanks for all the feedback...

the camera light is not locked to the camera, the battery is external and i have two of them, so putting them somewhere else wouldn't be a problem.

when you mentioned putting the light across the alley from the car, do you mean so that the light hits the brick wall corssing the path of the car when it comes down the alley?

i love the idea of the closeup of the parking meters, i had something in mind in the way of a closeup/parking meters, but what direction did you see that shot coming from as far as camera placement/direction of car and light placement?

thanks for all these tips, i'm leaning a lot!

this is my first attempt at any artificial lighting. everything else i have done has been either documentaries, or one short that was shot documentary style. all very run and gun.

matthew
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Old October 20th, 2004, 09:57 PM   #13
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<,when you mentioned putting the light across the alley from the car, do you mean so that the light hits the brick wall corssing the path of the car when it comes down the alley?>.

yup! having it low will throw the car and the guy's shadow up high across the wall, or if you don't like that, just raise the light up on a stand. You'll likely get a hot kick from the reflection of the light, but by moving it around you'll find a way to bury it. If you really want to go for it, see if you can wet down the walls of the alley!

<<i love the idea of the closeup of the parking meters, i had something in mind in the way of a closeup/parking meters, but what direction did you see that shot coming from as far as camera placement/direction of car and light placement?>>

On your tape at :46 and 1:00, you can see the pattern of the headlights as they move past the meters etc. I'm just suggesting a tighter version of this. You could design a shot that your actor passes through, seeing his feet, and then as he leaves the frame this lighting effect is visible in the background. Or just shoot it separately
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Old October 21st, 2004, 06:51 PM   #14
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Matthew,
If the pink/orange sodiums are driving you nuts, I've found that full CTO and full Green in front of a tungsten source will balance pretty close to sudium vapors. Personally, I don't think the streetlights in your footage look that bad at all.
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Old October 21st, 2004, 11:12 PM   #15
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i guess the biggest problem is that i don't have enough artificial light to cover the areas that are pink.

with the cto and the green that you mention, wouldn't that require throwing enough light to overpower the local lighting?

matthew
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