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Photon Management
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Old August 13th, 2010, 04:17 AM   #31
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The mysterious light is probably there to direct your eye to the hero in what could be a busy set - it's one of the techniques used to do this. Also, you often need to see the actor's eyes so that you can see their emotions. The well known Godfather counter example had a good dramatic reason for not revealing the eyes.

You can get away with less "beauty lighting" on an art house or indie film than a mainstream studio picture in which the leads have to look good. The result being that these films can be a bit over-lit at times because you need to keep the execs happy.

All dramas are an artifice and all sorts of devices are used in story telling or as Kubrick said "it may be real, but is it interesting?".
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Old August 13th, 2010, 07:20 AM   #32
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Bugger the lights - get some reflectors or make some...
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Old August 14th, 2010, 05:01 AM   #33
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I was just reminded of another lighting quote - when asked where the light was coming from the DP replied "the same place as the music."
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Old August 15th, 2010, 01:27 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Just to add fuel to the fire... here's a CRAZY idea.

The lighting package should be decided, scene by scene, by looking at the STORY BOARD.

Don't have a Story Board that breaks your entire film down scene by scene? Then you're not really serious about making a quality movie. Period.

If you haven't pre-visualized the location, content, time-of-day, background action, foreground action, and movement in EACH AND EVERY SINGLE SCENE OF YOUR FILM - you're simply not taking the task of filmmaking seriously.

If you DO this stuff, then when you're looking at scene 104-c - and the gaffer tells you that to achieve that look in this location under these conditions the best option is to fly a 10x silk for the sun and fill with 8 Kinos. Then you have a starting point to light something properly.

If you just toss six miscelaneous insturments in a truck and expect to light EVERYTHING you'll encounter with just those you're either making a VERY simple movie, or you're a very simple moviemaker.

It's like throwing four acoustic violins, a bass drum and a xylophone into a truck then showing up and figuring you can cover all the necessary music to keep a crowd entertained for a couple of hours - no problem.

Good luck with that.
Storyboarding is an interesting one. For those who have a tricky time visualizing a breakdown of a scene, it's a help. To be able to communicate a frame to others ahead of time, it's useful. However I have seen many a new filmmaker become hung up on the process of making storyboards, investing way too much time and effort into making beautiful "comic books" that ultimately bear little resemblance to what the actual film will become. Basic shot concepts like closeups, over-the-shoulders, triangles etc. don't need storyboards. Over the years I've worked with many novice directors who have started designing the visuals without me, only for us to sit down and end up radically reworking things, rendering their storyboards useless.

In features and episodic, most of the time we use storyboards for complicated action sequences or visual effects or second units, places where a lot of people need to be dialed in on the bits and pieces. Standard dialogue scenes are virtually never storyboarded.

So I guess for me Bill, the "period" at the end of your statement about not being serious about making a quality film would be replaced by a less serious piece of punctuation! Depending on the experience level of the person making the film, of course.

As far as building the lighting package based on the scene, we do do that, indeed. However it is more based on the location itself than the individual shots, unless there is something unusual or particular noteable planned. This would come in during discussions between the director and DP in prep. A big night exterior may require adding some additional units or support (in our world, condors of various height), whereas a day exterior is likely to be more grip-based, i.e. adding a larger set of bounces or butterflies. BTW I would be a bit perplexed if a gaffer ever recommended using Kinos on a day exterior--they don't have much punch, so certainly you would need a lot of them--I guess in a situation where only limited power is available it's a way to go. It's a lot of gear to get a reasonable amount of light though...

It can certainly get complicated having rental items come and go from a package during a job--it's a virtually full-time job handling the ordering and return of such things (for all those who have ever asked what the job of a best boy is, there you go). For small jobs I'll tend to order a package that will work for most of it and cover the bases with a minimum of day-played items.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 04:13 AM   #35
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I work at the other end of the spectrum as Charles and I come to the same conclusions sometime. Storyboards are good for some scenes, but others scenes are fairly routine and a story board would be a waste of time. I will say that thorough pre-planning is critical, but a complete storyboard is not necessarily the most important part. As far as the light kit goes, I bring everything I can and shoot with whatever light or power I have available. I recently got some LED lights not only for their convenience, but because they won't rack up huge deficits in what is normally a limited power source. My next gadget in my light kit is probably going to be a big mirror for outdoor shoots.
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