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Old February 24th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #1
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Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

I'm going to be having to go to a Central American country to film scenes for a documentary where I will not be able to take ANY lights only 5 in 1s, so I will be having to rely on existing practicals. The outdoor shots shouldn't be a problem, just the indoor shots where I will have to shoot using existing practicals in the location I'm stuck with - with only an hour or two to fake it as best I can.

I'm not asking for a step by step (which would be ridiculous). What I am hoping to get is tricks that I may not have thought of, to get useable footage. I'm hoping some of you folks who are smarter than I am may have been in similar situations and figured out interesting ways to make the footage not suck.

A thousand thanks in advance...
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Old February 24th, 2012, 10:30 PM   #2
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Oops. I will be shooting with a Canon 7D so I can get away with a little lower light than with some cameras out there.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 03:58 AM   #3
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

A reflector is a handy tool with available light. Perhaps some small amount of ND that you can put into a light shade to cut down on the hot spots facing the camera.

Mixed colour temperatures are a common issue with available light, so you can be in the position of going for the white balance with the best look, rather than the technically correct setting.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 09:02 AM   #4
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Good point on playing with the WB. I'm having nightmares of ending up shooting in a room with nothing but red and green lights with no windows. LOL.
But the 5 in 1s can also shape the color temp a tiny bit when using the gold and silver sides to reflect.
Thanks.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 09:39 PM   #5
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Any chance you can bring a few rechargeable LCD lights? They're tiny, easy to hide, and will add just the right amount of kick. I always keep some Sima LED's in my kit. http://www.amazon.com/Sima-Color-Smart-Camera-Light-SL-200LXI/dp/B0054TW0S2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330227309&sr=8-2
Interlock a few, throw them behind the scrim and you've got a soft key.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 09:32 PM   #6
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

That's a great idea, one I'll have to remember for when space is the only issue, but unfortunately no can do. Some countries aren't to friendly to the U.S. (some of them admittedly for good reason) and I just can't take the chance.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Frank, I would go with reflectors as well, they work indoor with practicals, too. I use photoflex which fold up neatly. A good trick is white foam boards, which you can use as such or covered in aluminium foil. You can get them at the local store anywhere in the world.

Also on hand everywhere are small fluorescent tubes, the kind car mechanics use, about one ft in size, main or on battery. They come in unbelievably handy, especially the battery kind. if you're unhappy with the temperature, just gel them, easy since they don't heat up.

Also super-handy is medium black cardboard. You can cut out flags, gobos , anything you'd like and just paste it to the fluorescent tubes or practicals or even windows. manages ugly shadows, costs zilch, doesn't get people upset. can be bought most anywhere.

Last: in your host country, go out and buy an array of light bulbs which you can screw into the practicals. the low-energy fluorescent kind are good because they give off little heat for a given dose of lumen and are mostly something like daylight so mix quite well with window light - if you can find them there. but even just a 100W bulb instead of a 60W helps- if it's in your bags. Do NOT use commercial halogens - they give disgusting red faces which you can't correct in post. (But Xenon car head lights, if fitted to your vehicle, are great combined with reflectors.)

A single visit to the hardware store gets you most of this
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Old February 27th, 2012, 10:29 PM   #8
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Ah yes, the trusty white foam board. I love 'em. I will be able to take some 5 in 1s which will give me a number of possibilities for reflection. Fortunately, they don't even have halogen bulbs where I'm going and since I'm not doing a zombie movie... that one's not a problem. LOL.
Good idea about upping the wattage on the bulbs. I was also thinking I could use every lamp in the house, just out of frame and pray they don't have their famous blackouts during the shoots or the ALL the practicals will be candles (Barry Lyndon here I come, wheeeee).
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Old February 28th, 2012, 02:34 PM   #9
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

whoaaa, only candles (if there,s an outage, that is...) I'm currently experimenting with such situations, and trying to get a Konica f1.0 lens onto a pl-mount. for the famous scene, Kubrick btw used a Mitchell lens (or a lens from a Mitchell) which also had f 1.0... or so it is said.

Shooting with practicals is both fun and cheap. with a good gaffer, the results can be stupendous.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

It is definitely going to make things interesting and it could end up being fun (or at least a cool story to talk about). I just read how the director for No Country for Old Men likes to use a big ring of 60 watt bulbs hung from the ceiling as his key...

Thanks you guys. It may seem small to you, but it got my creative juices flowing and some directions to go in.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 07:18 PM   #11
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Re: Documentary w/ ONLY Practicals

Frank

You might also think about carrying a white Chinese paper lantern or 2 to put one of those 100 watters in. Nice soft light. Pack them in your 5 in 1 for travel and they should be protected.
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