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Old December 6th, 2005, 07:26 PM   #1
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lighting school hallways/classroom

I'm shooting a video for film contest at a high school this week in the dark.

A lot of shots will be of a character walking through a dark hallway, as well as a empty unlit classroom. A lot of the shots will be dollies down the hallway, as my character is frequently moving down the hallway.

I would like to be able to see the character, and details in the background, (ie lockers, other halls...) but these halls are supposed to be dark since the school is vacant.

How can i reveal details, especially the character who is walking (and the camera will be moving too) and still keep the feel like the halls are dark and empty.

I think the most trouble i will have is because of the constant moving of the camera. Would it work to have a light fixture on a cart that will follow the camera dolly??
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Old December 6th, 2005, 08:02 PM   #2
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Day interior or night interior?

If day, I'd make-believe the hallway is lit only by light coming through classroom doorways. That would be both a hard light and a soft light scenario...hard light for the sun coming through some of the imaginary classroom, soft light to simulate some of the bounce coming from the same place. These hard/softlight pools would be spaced every 20 feet or so, coming from one side of the hallway, and spilling to the other side.

If night, then all bets are off and almost anything goes. Maybe a hard backlight from the ceiling at the back end of the hallway? Key light at that point is completely non-motivated also, so probably something very soft and 3/4, about 2 stops under from key (in other words, keeping the face kinda dark).

I'd recommend Tivoing some old Buffy episodes! When watching other people's work to reverse engineer it, it helps me to identify the major sources of light in the scene (there's usually only one or two). Then imagine where they are in the room, and then the SIZE of the source. Some sources are small and throw harsh shadows, some sources are huge (like an 4ftx4ft square), and the entire square is emitting light. Then lastly, note if the source has a blue tint, an orange tint, or is absolutely neutral white.
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Old December 6th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #3
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I mostly shooting AT NIGHT, TO LOOK LIKE NIGHT. I am most concerned about lighting a character who who walking down this dark hallway. The camera is on a dolly moving with him.

Idealy i guess, I would like there to be streams of bright streams of (moon) light that beam on his face, and our constantly appearing and disapearing, so somtimes you are seing his face brightly lit, and sometimes it is dark.

However I could never set up this many beams of light to reflect on the face as he passes by, and if i did, you would see the lights all set up ahead in the shot.
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Old December 6th, 2005, 11:17 PM   #4
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Could you shoot this daytime? Then in post take the highlights down compressing the exposure ,add a colour tint( blue or green or orange or gold)
This would give you lots of light to expose the face as the daylight will come thru the classroom doors .
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Old December 7th, 2005, 09:33 PM   #5
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I'm now thinking i want to have flashes of light, so as my character is walking, moonlight will appear on him, and then go away as it is getting blocked, and kinda flash on and off like this every few seconds.

I think the light should be like a bright white/blue tint, and should only light a small area.

what about those L.E.D. christmas lights, the kinda neon blue tone, whenever i see those i think they would make a good subsitute for moonlight. anybody ever tried this?
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Old December 8th, 2005, 05:18 AM   #6
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One big question: are their windows on the classroom doors?

If there are, you can achieve the look you want. Otherwise, you will need to leave the classroom doors open. If there are windows, clean them and put a daylight-balanced (~5500K) fluorescent light a few feet back from the window pointing out into the hallway. It should be placed fairly high and pointing slightly downward. If the windows are clean, the dirt and dust won't make it look brightly lit. If you do this right, you should get a beam of light coming out the window into the hallway. Daylight balanced light is the same color as moonlight since the moon is just reflecting the sun.

Next, put a bright light at the end of the hallway just out (above) of camera view. You can also bounce it off the end of the hallway from around the corner. With a big light at the end of the hall, your subject will be backlit and there will be lots of glare off the glossy floors and painted lockers.

The traveling light on a cart or wheelchair might work if it is very diffuse. If you use a hard light source, you will create defined shadows which will indicate the source of the light. A huge diffusion frame (maybe a shower curtain on a wooden frame) will make the light source so diffuse that your audience won't be able to figure out where it originates.

I think you would rather backlight by lighting the end of the hall. If you have closeups in the hall, you could put a rim light behind and to the side of the actor to put an outline around his/her face. If you need to see detail in the actor's face, do it near a windowed door that has your fake moonlight shining through. Only light one side of a person's face and slightly backlight the rest and it will look light night.
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Old December 8th, 2005, 04:18 PM   #7
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For your backlight, maybe try using 2 1k's raking opposing walls, creating a kick on both walls behind your talent. This will look especially good if the walls are lined with lockers. For the blue effect, add 1/2 to full CTB, depending on how blue you want it.

Something like this.

Other than that, Marcus' suggestions about lighting through the windows in the doors are worth following.

Now mind you, those kick lights may not be motivated by anything, but it will look pretty nice if done well.
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Old December 8th, 2005, 09:42 PM   #8
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The 1ks shining down the walls is exactly the effect I was trying to describe. I did it once with just lighting the interesection at the end of the hallway and it looked natural. Most buildings keep certain areas lit, and a far-off light at the end of the tunnel gives you some light but keeps it seeming dark. You could leave the light at the end of the hallway the same color temperature as regular light and accent it with the "moon" light coming from the doorways. Also, if there is an "exit" sign, it's red color can be a nice accent. It will also make nice stretches of red color on the shiny floor and lockers. You could probably make a fake exit sign with some red gel and a piece of black cardboard with the word "exit" stenciled.

edit: I forgot to say why you could leave the light at the end of the hall the same as tungsten light. That/those lights will be simulating an existing light that is lighting the intersection, or perhaps a different area of the building. It is a bit like what is called "faking a practical". If you use a studio light to reinforce light that is already present, it should be the same color as that light. If the "moon" light is more blue than the end-of-hallway light, it will seem more like moonlight. If all your lights are the same color, they won't accent each other. If you use regular incandescent (tungsten) light for your "moon" light, use the blue CTB filters that Matt recommended.

Last edited by Marcus Marchesseault; December 9th, 2005 at 02:03 AM.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 10:26 AM   #9
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thank you for your suggestions, i really like the idea of using the classroom windows.

now i'm not really all technical into lighting, so im a bit unsure of some of the lights your talking about. I have a set of those 500W x 2 construction lights that i've been using, and we also have a bunch of lights from the drama department here at the school. I know i can put transarency cards on these to make them blue.

I am still unsure about lighting up the lockers so they are just visible. I'm an not sure what light could be used to do this, and not end up in the way on the view of the camera when we are filming (since the shot is moving down the hallway on the dolly)
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Old December 9th, 2005, 11:15 AM   #10
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Are you planning to dolly backwards as your character walks forewards (to see the front of him), or are you going to dolly foreward as your character walks backward (to see his back)?

What kind of theater lights do you have access to? Are they PARs (rounded back with the bulb recessed in the fixture) or fresnels (focusing light with a lens that looks like it has concentric circles)? Do you know the wattages on those lights?

The 500w work lights work fine if you are going to bounce, diffuse, or use as backlight or kick light. I wouldn't recommend using them as a hard key because those type of lights have a very dirty pattern. If you are concerned about seeing the fixtures kick lighting the lockers, just back them away a bit. You DON'T want to have those lights IN the hall, but hidden around a corner like in the crude diagram i posted. The more blue gel you add and the more you back the lights off, the less intense the kick light will be.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #11
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ok i will do that then but i don't have any blue gel to use. do you know of any household items or something cheap i can pick up to turn the construction lights into "moonlight". i heard shower curtains can do the trick?

ideally i would like the follow the character from behind on the dolly, then he stops (in the classroom window light) and the camera comes up from behind and shows his face, and then backs up to see him turn around and face a girl, who is brightly lit behind him. This is the ideal shot, if i need to sacrifice so that lighting works better...i'll do whatever.

I'll try to post a diagram of what my scene is going to look like

and the link you posted doesn't work. could you repost it?
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Old December 9th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #12
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oh i also have a question about lighting when you are circling the subject completely

i would like to do this with a brightly lid table with too people sitting at it.

I want to camera to dolly around the table a bunch of times, but the two people need to be really well lit, as it's going to be closups of their faces.

how do you hide the lights, and still get a bright, clean look on the subjects
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Old December 9th, 2005, 10:32 PM   #13
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here is a pic of basically whats happening. the light blue walls are all glass looking outside, so there is where i will already have some real moonlight, and i can easily add more

the red is kinda the path of the camera, it starts from behind the character, and turns to face him and move backwards as he walks forwards then stops.

http://img454.imageshack.us/img454/6...teimage7sr.jpg
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