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Old April 1st, 2005, 05:39 PM   #1
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Shooting for Night

I looked around this forum for a good explanation and haven't seen one yet. I have a few outside night scenes I need to shoot. Does anyone have any recomendations on lighting and camera settings. I have a GL 1. I also have Final Cut pro for editing and color correction.

I have seen some video shot where its grainy, others where the lighting looks unnatural and others where the whole image is dark or uneven. I am going for a natural look - like film I guess where the blacks are blacks, image isn't grainy and flesh tones and other colors look natural. I have seen it done before but just don't know how they accomplished it.

I am looking for a relative cheaper approach as opposed to getting a $10K lighting setup. Any tips would be appreciated.

Also - any tips for inside shooting in a dark room/hallway?
Thanks in advance.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 12:34 AM   #2
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I would like to know the same thing as you Mike. The only thing I've been told is shoot during the magic hour (time between day and night) but usually pretty hard to achieve there's got to be another way I think.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 08:26 AM   #3
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Magic Hour

Shooting at the magic hour still doesn't give you a night look. Your lighting is just softer and easier to film - but the look isn't a night look. I have also heard people say shoot day for night (shooting at magic hour) - which I think in a lot of applications - doesn't look natural. Also shooting at magic hour is not practical because a lot of times - depending on when you live the magic hour isn't so magical. I am in Florida and magic hour is when it rains. So if you have a 100 hour shoot - how many days is it gonna take you?

I also have a day for night filter on my computer which basically just blue's the entire shot which isn't natural - at least the way it applies the filter. A correct looking night shot has blue tint to the lighting but the entire shot isn't hazed in blue. I have tried lighting it - kind of bright but then it looks a bit fake. I know the answer is lighting, camera settings and probably gel's. But would like to hear from a few people who have done it with a Gl 1 or other prosumer camera convincingly and see how they exactly did it.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 08:57 AM   #4
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Hey man try the other Magic try the Magic Bullet for editors the night time preset I like the way it looks if done correctly :) Or if grain is the issue try grain surgeon for AE that a good plug-in
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 11:00 AM   #5
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As you guys are guessing, it has everything to do with lighting and very little to do with which camera you use to record it, given the proper exposure (although a 60i camera will deliver a more video/"soap opera" look than a camera that can provide a 24p or 30p cadence).

Depending on how big your night lighting setup is (how large an area you need to light), you can manage it with a few small lights or you would need a much greater than $10K package to do it convincingly.

My recommendation if you have a large area such as a street or woods to manage is to treat the foreground and background as two separate areas, and let the midground go dark. Rake the background trees/buildings with hidden uplights so that they separate against the sky, then light your foreground so that the faces are a little under exposure. A decent backlight will help provide some contrast and separation. Working this light from high (think the roof of a nearby building, or upper windows) will give you more flexibility in your angles. It's not necessary to have to think "moonlight" i.e. blue for night work--it depends on the scene. A city night scene is much more natural if the light is motiviated by streetlights, ambient etc. than a blue moonlight feel.
Charles Papert
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 08:01 PM   #6
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Well, I've been waiting for someone to reply to this post for a couple days with no luck. I, too was hoping for some interesting information.

I haven't planned any night shots. Just happened to find myself in a spot where it seemed a good idea to step away from the party for a while to clear my mind and saw an opportunity to get a few minutes of maybe useful footage. That approach, obviously, only allows the obvious; open iris, slow shutter down, aim camera, and hope for the best, whic sometimes turns out OK.

Were I a photographer, or were I to think as a photographer with slow film, I would find exposure values for the high, mid, and low values, and the exposure value for my subject. The decision, then, is to to determine the exposure value that puts all image elements in the correct balance. Once done, lighting techniques and careful thought come into play.

In my line of work, event videography, I find the best foreground lignt I can, and let the rest of the scene fall into place as it will. I am in a situation where I can control lighting, I use all the resources I have (which usually isn't much) at my disposal.
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Old April 4th, 2005, 04:41 AM   #7
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Mike: I've merged your two threads (please don't crosspost) and
moved it to our lighting forum where it is much better situated.

There have been discussions on this before, a search on "day night"
in just the lighting forum yielded the following threads (and more):

Faking it:

Shooting at night:

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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Old April 27th, 2005, 12:57 AM   #8
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some of my questions concerning lighting were answered in those post. thanks.
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Old April 28th, 2005, 01:18 AM   #9
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Rate my night shots... (in a car)

It was my first time using a real kit, so I'm sure I can improve. (still, it's 1000 times better than my last night shoot). I used 3 mole-richardson fresnel lights. (2x 650, and 1x300). A key, a filler, and a back light in their most ordinary positions. What do you think?
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Old April 28th, 2005, 03:11 AM   #10
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it looks pretty good to me. are you the same bryan michell the post in the amf boards?
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Old April 28th, 2005, 10:35 AM   #11
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That is me. I learned of AMF from Bryan Harley's posting of his Time Traveling Jug movie here.
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