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Old May 5th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #1
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Lighting a bunker.

Hi guys,

I'm shooting a short this weekend on DSLR (5D/ 550). It's set in a bunker. Check out the set below;

OCTOBER set First Pics | Facebook

Now, for mood I'm happy with what the practical lights provide, and the large sensors on the DSLR's mean that the amount of light is not a problem. But, of course, there are times when characters move in front of lights/ move into shadows. So, my question is, how can I complement the practical lights to compensate for this... Is there an introductory lighting for interiors tutorial that anyone would recommended? Any tips? I'm fairly experienced with the cameras and understand their capabilities, but haven't worked with such a low-lit set so far.

I have two 1000w daylight temperature bulbs housed in softboxes (an ebay set, cost about 100) and two orange gels.

Any thoughts/ suggestions?

Many thanks, John
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Old May 6th, 2011, 03:38 AM   #2
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Re: Lighting a bunker.

You're doing one of those "Hitler Subtitle" videos? :-)
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Old May 6th, 2011, 03:40 AM   #3
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Re: Lighting a bunker.

I would suggest a few low-level "snooted" lights to provide some spot lighting for the talent. Don't overlight with soft boxes or you'll lose that low-key feeling.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 01:14 PM   #4
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Re: Lighting a bunker.

Great looking set. I might suggest seperate lights for the key "bunker" elements like wall maps and gas masks etc and very specific lighting for the talent. Hoping that there isn't too much movement maybe even that interogation look with tight hard lights from above in any xcu shots. In reality a bunker would have been lit with a small generator powered incandesant so make it very warm CT whatever you do. Maybe even a backlight behind the radio set to make it pop out without needing much front light to define.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 02:36 PM   #5
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Re: Lighting a bunker.

Since the walls are covered with so much white material and papers, you'll probably want to limit indiscriminate spill on them. It's nice to have a couple of hot, nearly burned out areas here and there for contrast, but overall, if the level is too consistent on the walls, it will make the set less claustrophic and "bunker-like". Of the pics, I like the vibe in the sixth one the best.

I personally prefer the look in picture 6 than picture 5, where you had the desk lamp working instead of the bare hanging bulb. More controlled, less heat on the walls. The desk lamp will be a good "weapon" for you to use as a key or a rim depending on where the talent is facing. If you do opt to use hanging bulbs, positioning them further from the walls will result in more light on talent/less on the walls. You can also use Streaks n Tips spray on the back of the bulb, which will knock down the light level on the walls and retain the output towards the subject.

I would recommend putting all practical lights on dimmers so you can adjust their levels accordingly.

For fill, I don't know what kind of softboxes you have but if you can rig a standard socket into them instead of the 1000w daylight and use a lower wattage incadescent bulb, you'll be able to use them in a more subtle way. Just a touch of it to lift the down side of the talent should reduce their effect on the back walls. Again, use dimmers so you aren't locked into a particular wattage. If you have a bare bulb pointing towards camera, you may even be able to use a bounce card to provide enough fill.

The trick with a set like this is to avoid it looking over-lit (or, I guess, under-lit). Everything should feel like it is coming from the sources visible to camera. Allow the actors to move in and out of pockets of light; half-lit and edge lit and silhouette can look great. Front lit, not so great. Make sure every shot includes plenty of contrast.

This is, by the way, a very specific lighting challenge due to the confined space, white material on walls, and mandated feel of a bunker. I don't really think you'll find any great advice in a lighting handbook that is tailored for this particular challenge, other than general guidelines.
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