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Old January 2nd, 2010, 01:34 AM   #1
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lighting a short

So many of you are aware that I was somewhat pressed into service in October lighting a short film that was shot locally (to me). While I was supposed to serve as First AD, due to some unforseen circumstances, I was asked to step in and light the movie shortly after photography began. I ended up lighting perhaps 90% of the film.

I thought it might be instructive for folks here to see some of our setups from filming. We did not have a photographers for 2 days of shooting so those setups are missing, but this is representative of the work.

You'll notice how often I am on the meter (Blue SpectraCine IV) in these photos. I lit this shoot pretty much as if we were shooting film. The camera was the Canon 5D. Most of the movie was lit daylight balanced with only a few exceptions where we had to balance to fluorescent.

I set an ISO of 400 indoors, 100 outdoors, and 800 at night.

Enjoy!

Lighting Setups pictures by perroneford - Photobucket
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 02:34 AM   #2
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Lighting looks great. Why the decision to use so much tungsten and then soften it, as opposed to fluorescent or LED?

Any links to the finished film?

I am a bit concerned with the distinct lack of tripod I saw from the DP. ;-)
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 02:43 AM   #3
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That gear is owned not rented. I brought what I had. Same reason you don't see any HMI on set.

As for the lack of a tripod, the (first time) director specifically said "NO TRIPODS". Consequently, I spent about 80 hours stabilizing footage in post...

The film is not yet finished. So no links. I've posted some frame grabs over the past couple months.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 07:40 AM   #4
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Lesson being that fixing in post can be expensive and it could've been easier to use a tripod unless you want the hand held look.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 08:20 AM   #5
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How about some comments about figgis rig and dslr video?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 12:14 PM   #6
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Perrone - I have no experience with a light meter, but the more I use lighting the more I'm thinking I'll need to get into using one. As for the ASA settings that you used, did you select the 100, 400, and 800 settings to match the camera's setting for each setting (i.e. camera's ISO needed to be jacked up on interior shots at night because you couldn't get enough light in there to get proper exposure anyway), or were you using a different ASA setting than the camera's ISO? If the latter, how did you come up with those numbers?

And when you're using your light meter with an EX1, what ASA setting do you use? And how does the EX1's gain setting factor into its ASA rating that you'd use on the light meter?

Great pics, by the way - I like your use of foamcore for bouncing instead of ceilings - more directed and "pure white" instead of whatever color the ceiling is. Requires several more C-Stands and flags for blocking bounce than otherwise, I'm sure... :)
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 01:02 PM   #7
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ok, a few comments.

First on the no tripod deal. The director was looking for a "handheld" feel to the movie. Thus the decision not to use a tripod. The Fig Rig gives an excellent feel for doing this, but does require some practice. The Fig Rig is NOT a steadicam. However it is an excellent stabilizer that allows for all the classic camera moves. I really love mine.

Shooting DSLR has been a revelation to me. I really didn't have a lot of respect for it a year or two ago, but advances in the cameras are changing my mind. There is still a lot to overcome with them, but it's been a lot of fun. For me, this was like shooting film. But with digital magazines (CF cards).

Regarding light meters. The problem with using a light meter on a typical digital camera, is that the cameras can be wildly variable. So while shooting at 1080/24p you might measure one thing on the light meter and be accurate (I rate the EX1 at 320ISO in this mode shooting -3 gain) as soon as you change the frame size, or the shutter speed, you might get results that don't match what you SHOULD get. So testing is very necessary. Much like testing film. The gain on a digital camera is supposedly the same as gain on film. +- 6db is a full stop up or down.

I chose ISO 100 and ISO 400 because I've spent so much time reading about film stocks using those ISOs, I had an idea what kind of instruments would be necessary to light at those ISOs. And it allowed me to light by eye a lot better since we had consistency. Again, this harkens back directly to working as though you were shooting film. Lighting indoors to ISO 100 is just silly. Especially with tungsten. It's SUPER bright, gives you a headache on a long day, and it's hot. I would have lit to ISO 800 if I could have shaped the light better.

Yes, I used foamcore. But not necessarily because of the color cast of the ceiling. The ceiling gives an unflattering angle to the light. I bounced off the ceilings for ambient. But shaped the light with light from a different angle. We had severe limitations in many instances because we did everything on location, and mostly in sub-optimal conditions.

The director wanted very long, continuous takes and the camera was very mobile. So keeping instruments out of shot became something of a balancing act. It was a very healthy challenge for someone at my level. That is, someone with basic concepts in lighting, and a bit of experience, but not used to lighting films. I'll be trying to do more of this work in 2010 to extend my knowledge and skills.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 01:36 PM   #8
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Rifa rocks! I wish I had some, they're so easy to set up.
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