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Old February 25th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
I suggest NOT worrying about 3 point lighting, unless you're filming an infomercial in there.
Agreed. The somewhat slavish devotion to 3-point is silly and unnatural. In nature, unless you turn on a lamp, there is 1-point of light called the Sun. Now how it bounces, and where it goes is a matter of the structure around the subject.

Unless you a are shooting a documentary (and probably even if you are), you can cheat the light somewhat to get a pleasing effect. But the light might come from 2 places or 10. Typical 3-ppoint will always look contrived.
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Old February 26th, 2010, 10:12 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post

Again, don't get hung up on three-point lighting. That's an old-school rule, best applied for interviews. Most prime-time drama (like you referenced) doesn't use it in the traditional sense.
So would one work light sitting on the table pointing towards the kitchen work? Or possibly two work lights pointing directly at the kitchen? The work lights are 500w halogens so two would be 1000w.

Im assuming that would be enough?
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Old February 26th, 2010, 11:34 AM   #48
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Enough in what sense? Enough for proper exposure? That all depends on how much light you need to balance against the windows and ambient light in the room.

If you need to use both lights for exposure level, try to get them as close as possible so they make a single source (assuming you are using the umbrella).

Lighting from the same approximate direction as the camera will flatten the scene out which isn't what you are looking for, I think.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of this is dependent on what angles you plan to use in the scene. If you can go in there and rehearse the scene with your actors or simply block it out and take stills representing your camera angles and post those, it would be easier to know what is and isn't in frame and what direction you should be lighting from. I'm sure this exercise would also serve you well on the shoot day from an efficiency standpoint too.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 10:51 AM   #49
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Here's the final setup I ended up going with. This is a shot from the first run through of the script. I'm pretty happy with the lighting. I don't think I'm gonna be able to get much better on my budget.

http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/3603/picture1fw.png

Good, bad, ok?
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:05 PM   #50
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I've never seen a kitchen with curtains like that. They look like bed sheets.

People always want bright airy kitchens and consequently have light, minimal curtains that let maximum sunlight in. This is awkward looking IMHO.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:11 PM   #51
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I also think your talent is too dark -- still too much backlight, IMO.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:21 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Lee Tamer View Post
Here's the final setup I ended up going with. This is a shot from the first run through of the script. I'm pretty happy with the lighting. I don't think I'm gonna be able to get much better on my budget.

http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/3603/picture1fw.png

Good, bad, ok?
Lee, if you use the Export function out of FCP you can output the actual frame as a JPG, you don't need to use a screen grab.

Before anything else, you need to understand that lighting is about the concepts, not about the gear. When you say "I don't think I'm gonna be able to get much better on my budget", that implies all the wrong things. Worklights are clunky and not ideal in many ways, but how you place them and what you do with them are far more important than anything else. Many people here have done quite elegant lighting with the same tools and a lot of ingenuity. I've been lucky enough not have to use worklights, but there have been many times over the years that I've had to improvise with whatever I can find at the location (bouncing lights off white paint trays, dishes, making reflectors with tinfoil etc).

What I'm seeing there is that you put one of your lights off to the right slightly above counter height, with no diffusion even though most of us suggested softening via diffusion or bounces and keeping the sources high (unless you are going for a specific low bounce look). Counter height lighting is neither here nor there--the hard shadow on the collar is not great. Looks like you have another source coming from the left, which is serving to flatten things out.

It's sort of endless, the suggestions one could make--flag off the light on the sink area, avoid shooting into flat walls (try shooting into the corner instead), the window covering looks ragged--even on a limited budget I think there have been some good suggestions made on this. Guess I'm feeling a bit discouraged that many have donated their time and offered their advice and this is what we've ended up--I'm not being harsh on your experience level as much as your application of the information given.

At this stage I'm going to suggest that you scour your local bookstore/library for lighting books. It's how most of us learned (along with practice, of course). You can't really learn lighting from a message board. Perhaps someone can recommend a DVD or online tutorial that's good, I haven't kept up on those.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 01:05 AM   #53
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Lighting from below is great - if you're doing a horror movie. Otherwise - well it's more than the collar shadow, I think it accentuated the beard stubble and puts a couple of unattractive shadows under the eyes. It also makes the area under the nose brighter than the side of the nose - not sure that's what you intended to emphasize.

Also, not enough tonal/color separation between the talent and the wooden cupboards - can you really tell where the cabinet door ends and his forehead begins? And the curtains - well, what everyone else said. Nice idea to use heavy curtains to cut down on the backlight, but the curtains themselves look raggedy and way too heavy. People like bright airy kitchens and I don't think it would be natural to block the window with heavy curtains - it isn't like a bathroom where you want privacy!

If you can't get enough light into the kitchen to compete with the window (I think you'd need a few kW at a minimum) it isn't so expensive to cover a window like this with some neutral density material. Or better yet, figure out how to use the light that's coming through the window - it's free!
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 11:40 AM   #54
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If the guy goes berserk and starts throwing the Captain Crunch around the kitchen no one will notice the curtains or the hard shadow by the coffee maker, but if he stands there and poses and gives a speech, those items stick out like a sore thumb and will draw your attention away from the center of the screen and the actor.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 11:54 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Guess I'm feeling a bit discouraged that many have donated their time and offered their advice and this is what we've ended up--I'm not being harsh on your experience level as much as your application of the information given.

At this stage I'm going to suggest that you scour your local bookstore/library for lighting books. It's how most of us learned (along with practice, of course). You can't really learn lighting from a message board. Perhaps someone can recommend a DVD or online tutorial that's good, I haven't kept up on those.
Yeah I see what you mean, this is the first time I've ever tried to shoot any kind of lighting like this on my own outside of class. And I do appreciate all the advice everyone has given to me.


Honestly, I wasn't expecting this much advise on this forum. I came here hoping to find some solutions to cheap inexpensive lighting, and honestly, a lot of the advise that was given is way over my head as far as experience level. I'm a third year college student with very little lighting experience outside a studio set up. I've never lit something on a location before.

By all means I am a beginner
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 12:38 PM   #56
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Remember 'advise' is a verb, as in "I would advise you to light the kitchen..."
'Advice is a noun as in "the advice that was given" (sorry I'm a word nerd)
In all honesty, you are very lucky to have gotten advice from Charles Papert, the guy is a pro in Hollywood. And I thank you for posting this thread because I've learned some lighting techniques from it.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 01:49 PM   #57
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What I'm seeing there is that you put one of your lights off to the right slightly above counter height, with no diffusion even though most of us suggested softening via diffusion or bounces and keeping the sources high (unless you are going for a specific low bounce look). Counter height lighting is neither here nor there--the hard shadow on the collar is not great. Looks like you have another source coming from the left, which is serving to flatten things out.
So from what your saying, the fact that the light source that is on the left is is too low is casting a shadow on the collar of my subject? And the source from the right is flattening things out.

From what I've gathered from this thread

flat lighting = bad?

I'm trying to gather this info together in my head. I should use one light source and bounce it off some type of diffusion?
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 02:56 PM   #58
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I would suggest, is to watch a movie with a scene that you like the lighting and try to think of how they pulled it off, and try to add your own twist to it. Try out some tests on just lighting with one light to see what happens when you add diffusion, gels, flags, Bounce boards and placement. Then add another light and so on. Seeing how your particular camera acts to light is the best teacher. There's hundreds of books on lighting like (Film Lighting, Painting with Light, and so on) but you never really know until you try some things out with your camera.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 03:48 PM   #59
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Part of that is my bad phrasing--the shadow is from the collar, not on the collar. And it's not just about the shadow, as Jim A. clarified, it's about the quality and direction of the light. Although I disagree that uplighting is restricted to horror films. I use low bounces plenty. It's a natural look that simulates when sun bounces off the floor. When it is the only source in play, it looks like a horror film but when mixed with other sources it can look interesting.

So what I was saying is that the predominant right (from the right side, not the left) is the one that is too low and too hard.

Stepping back, flat lighting is not generally what you want if you are trying to invoke a moody, textured or naturalistic feeling. Flat can be stylized if done carefully but usually you don't want to blanket actors and the set with light.

Maybe it would help if I could reference something specific. Easiest to use my own work as I know what I did (at least as much as I remember--this one was shot 6 or 7 years ago). I picked this because as an Instant (think 48-hr) Film, it was done on virtually no budget and with limited resources, similar to what we are talking about in this thread. I had an SUV full of lighting gear--certainly more than worklights, but it still required a lot of making-do. I used probably no more than 4 lights at a given time in this scene. Also, as you'll see, this isn't an example of my best work, just something that was done down-and-dirty but I think still has a decent enough look, and I also noted where I could have done better in retrospect.

YouTube - The Undecided

The kitchen scene starts at 2:42. Because we had just gotten the script that morning, by the time we got to these scenes it was already night, although the scenes took place during the day. The advantage was that I could now keep a consistent look without worrying about the sun.

As I recall, we put a 4x8 sheet of foamcore outside the window and hit it with a 1K open face. This served to both illuminate the shears and create the appearance of a hot window while also edging the blonde actress from the right side. It looks to me that I added a soft fill from above and to the right of camera. If I was to do this again now I'd probably go further right with it to give her more modeling on her face (allow her right side, aka the camera left side, of her face to drop off a bit more. Might have been a space issue that prevented this. But notice that the background is darker than her face, which creates separation. The look was supposed to be a sort of scummy, messy house so I wanted to let the edges fall off, but because it was a comedy it was important to see into everyone's eyes and thus the lighting on the actors is somewhat flatter than you might see in a drama.

For the other side of the conversation (congressman and aide), we put another 4x8 foamcore outside the sliding doors in the background again lit with a 1K open face. While this may have created a slight edge on the actors, I'm guessing that due to the distance to the bounce I would have augmented this with a source behind them and just out of frame right, supplementing that edge on the left side of their faces. Probably a Kino or another bounce. The key light for them is the window bounce from the previous setup; I may have moved it around a little to maximize it since it was now out of frame but it's nice because as he steps forward, you "feel" that he is coming towards the window.

In the next scene, the closeup of the blonde at 4:02 probably retains the bounce outside the sliding doors, but it looks like I augmented it with a separate source, probably the same Kino I used for backlight in the previous scene just panned around. There's also a strip of hot and hard light on the shade and wall above her left elbow. This gives the scene some contrast and suggests late afternoon light (passage of time). It's boxed in pretty well, either with flags or blackwrap so that it remains an accent. But notice how it creates layers, where the hot splash gives way to a darker section of shade that then contrasts nicely with the lit side of her head.

So far so good. I will admit in all honesty that I'm not in love with the way the next scene (starting at 4:25) looks, but I'm sure that it was getting late and we were all getting tired...! The cabinets behind the congressman are blocking up as dark wood will tend to do. If I were to tackle this today I might put a little bounce on the floor behind the actors that would uplight the cabinets just slightly to give them some detail. It would have to be VERY subtle to work (and this is an example of when uplighting can work as it would sell as a sunlight splash). The lighting on the blonde (4:44) is also not something I'm too crazy about--while it is "accurate" in that it remains faithful to the established light sources (the window and sliding door), it looks a bit lit to me and her shadow is a little too prominent. I'd be inclined to put a 4x4 frame of light diffusion between her and the source and raise it if possible. Also the backlight from the left of frame is a little hot on her hair, although I like it on her shoulders--a single net would have helped that.

OK, so hope that helped in some way.

(p.s. this was shot on a DVX100 with the Mini35 adaptor. Outside of the opening shots in which I went with a pronounced shallow focus look to create a mood, you'll notice that the rest of the film is more subtle, which is the way I prefer to work, especially since this was a comedy. I bring this up in the face of the super-aggressive shallow focus that has come in vogue in recent times especially with the HDSLR's).
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 05:10 PM   #60
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Hi Charles - Have to admit that I was being dramatic when talking about horror films - of course there are lots of times lighting from below works well as you pointed out - another example might be a night scene in a car where the light would supposedly be coming from the dashboard, people sitting around a campfire,etc etc. And of course ambient light reflecting off of floors, table tops etc.

I think the real point though is that lighting doesn't just happen in a vacuum - it needs to be motivated, either to mimic "real" or "natural" lighting or to set up an effect that's desired or etc. so it furthers the intent of the scene.
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