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Old February 15th, 2003, 11:25 AM   #1
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Interior Scene with Really Big Window

I working on a short with a critical scene in a room with really large windows. Much of the action centers around the window which will be partially open.

I have tried to light the room as brightly as possible. This helps but doesn't solve the problem. I also have the color temperature issue to deal with.

My alternatives seem to be:

Gel the window with a CTO +N6 . This should address the color temp issue and knock out enough light so I can balance it with the lights in the room. My concern is that if the window is partially open, will it look really unnatural? Perhaps gel just with ND. Still might look odd.

Gel the lights for daylight. This solves my temperture problem but makes my problem with being overpowered by the light from the window worse. I can add more light but I quickly run out of room for light stands.

Don't gel anything. White balance every few minutes and every time the camera changes position. Wait until late enough in the afternoon so that the light from the window is diminished enough to balance with my lights. This is the simplest approach but I risk missing the shot.

Anyone with suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any and all wisdom.

Rick
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Old February 15th, 2003, 12:00 PM   #2
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Rick
I'd gel the window with ND, and gel the interior lights for daylight, and white balance as the sun changes. Probably the solution with the most work, but I think it will achieve the most consistant results.

What type of interior lights are you using? Hopefully all the same type.
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Old February 15th, 2003, 12:36 PM   #3
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I've been thinking of that too. My concern about gelling the lights and the window is that you are working against yourself. The gel on the window cuts down the light coming in and the gel on the lights reduces their output by almost as much as you gain by gelling the windows. The temperature problem is solved but not the balance.

I am still wondering how odd it will be to shoot a gelled window that is partially open.


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Old February 15th, 2003, 02:58 PM   #4
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Oops, I didn't read the window was partialy open. My mistake. Yeah, that might look weird.
A better solution might be, not to ND the window, but instead mount a diffuser outside to cut down the sunlight coming through. This will help your contrast, and won't look funny.

As far as gelling the interior lights, depending on what time of day you are shooting, and what look you want to achieve, you might not need to colour correct them. White balance for the light coming off your interior lights, then when people approach the window it will look natural when they are hit with the whiter sunlight.

What type of lights are there in the room?
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Old February 15th, 2003, 03:58 PM   #5
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A couple of questions.

Which direction does the window face? Is this the only window?

How large is the window?

When you say the window is open, do you mean the blinds are drawn? Or, is the window actually "open?" Do you want to see this window in the shot?

What practical lights do you want to use in the scene? If there is sunlight in the room, and its daylight, I would not think you would want interior lights "on" such as table lights. Unless they were in a dark corner.

What lighting instruments do you have available to you? Is renting additional lights an option?
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Old February 15th, 2003, 04:52 PM   #6
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The window is big, roughly 5'x6', not quite floor to ceiling. The scene requires that it be open at least a foot or so. (The tension in the scene is an uncertainty as to whether the actor will throw herself out the window, so it needs to be physically open.) The window is on the 14th floor so mounting anything outside would be precarious at best.

I have a couple of Lowel DPs, a V light and and three softboxes. The lights are all halogen about the same color temperature. The problem is that the room itself is relatively small and rectangular. I can fit roughly three maybe four light stands in the end of the room away from the window which helps considerably for shots aimed toward the window. For the shots away from the window the lights would be removed and and I was thinking of adding a halogen key light to mix in a little more yellow into the bluish daylight. Of course I'd have to white balance carefully for each set-up.

The absolutely craziest approach would be to block out the window completely with a green screen but that is a whole 'nother set of problems to deal with.

I could rent some serious HMIs but the budget doesn't support it. That would be the simplest if most costly approach. Or the low cost way would be to shoot the two minute scene between around three and four o'clock when the light through the window is fading and hope for the best.

An interesting shoot to set-up.

Rick
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Old February 15th, 2003, 05:55 PM   #7
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Wow. "An interesting shoot to set up" hardly does it justice, Rick. I forgot to ask how many people are on camera at one time. But since someone is contemplating jumping, I am betting only two. I also assume that at some time in the scene you need to tie the would-be jumper to the window and see how high up you are from the ground. Else why bother to go the the seventeenth floor? That is known as an "Oh by the way," in technical terms, as in "Oh by the way, did I mention the location is on the SEVENTEENTH FLOOR?" Grips love to hear that. Hopefully you can store gear in the hall or another room.

Its hard to give really good suggestions without seeing the location and the blocking of the director, but here goes. First forget the Lowell lights and pop for a couple of HMIs, maybe two 500watt. They should be available for under a hundred bucks for two, and worth every penny. Now you won't be playing around with color balancing all day. If there are any practical lights in the room, put full CTB around the bulbs. Now everything is daylight.

I would not ND the window. If possible plan to shoot any shots that feature the window when the sun is not blasting through, such as late afternoon as you mention. What you do with the window the rest of the day is up to you and the director. If you need the sunlight in the room, you can soften it by putting a six by six silk over the window. Much cheaper than buying ND, and softer. Use one soft box in one HMI and use this for a key light. Move the other around for a bounce fill as necessary.

Have a small grip package that includes some flags and floppies. You need to create some negative fill to make shadow sides to peoples' faces in close ups. This would be the side of the face away from the window. The problem shooting a lot of daylite interiors is everything starts going flat, so you have to create contrast and shadow.

Lastly, it is also possible to put black duvatyne over the window and block out the sunlight. Then you can create your own daylight effect with the HMI's or, god forbid, your lowell lights.

People standing next to a window can look really beautifull if they are not being hit with direct sunlight. But this is a tough scene, and you must have co-operation from the director. Good luck.
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Old February 16th, 2003, 01:07 PM   #8
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Have you thought of hiring a lighting whiz for this shot series?

I don't know how much $ you have for the production but here in Northern California, we can hire a lighting genius with a truck full of lighting solutions for $800 a day. He is so good at 'colors' that he can even help set up the camera.

Not only is he good, he is very quick. That brings his 'real' cost down very fast when you have multiple setups.

Hopefully it is a window facing North. Or maybe you can change rooms. Bluer light but much more consistent and (usually) no sun in the face.

I hope you will post the solution you finally use.
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