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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #1
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help with lighting?

Hi, I'm just starting out and I was wondering if there was a good light kit that I could get that Can Simulate indoor lighting and lamps, and sunlight that comes through the window during the day. I want lots of shadows to give it a more dramatic feel. Any ideas? My lighting budget is $400 Canadian, or about $340USD.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #2
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You could try replacing existing fixtures with stronger lights?
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Old January 29th, 2007, 07:19 AM   #3
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I can't really talk about the pro kits, but I'm getting good dramatic results with just ACDelco clamp lights on microphone boom stands. I've been using GE compact flourescent lights, but recent sound tests have been showing them adding lots of buzz to my non-XLR Microphone. I love the lights, but may have to switch back to incandescent for a while until I can afford to upgrade my audio package. Total cost per light, $15...white and black foam core for controlling/directing the light. Add some coleman worklights w/ 7' stands ($20ish), and you've got a decent amount of light to throw around. The worklights have instructions around the web for building barndoors for them. Some black foil can do the same job on the clamp lights.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 08:30 AM   #4
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First are you asking about lighting an indoor scene in a house/apartment an office, a work area?
In most cases you can use existing lighting and supplement either with more practicals like adding a couple of extra fixtures upping the wattage in existing fixtures (with in reason) or use a china ball(s) for fill. To add some texture to the scene use a Cucoloris. There are so many variables it is a hard question to answer.

Bill
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Old January 29th, 2007, 02:47 PM   #5
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@Cole: That sounds like a very affordable set up, I might look in to that, actually.

@Bill: Most scenes would be indoors in small rooms, I've always wondered about outdoor lighting though, would using sunlight be sufficient in those situations?
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Old January 29th, 2007, 04:10 PM   #6
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Nick,

Small rooms are easy especially if they have white ceilings.
You could bounce some lights off the ceilings or use a china ball to add fill.

See this thread.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=84896

As for outdoors think of it this way if you take a digital camera outside can you take a picture? Answer, most of the time yes, you will however get better video shooting in the early morning or late evening( The Golden Hour.) Shooting during the heat of the day can be done you just need to be more aware of what the light is doing and how it is changing. Shadows glare direction etc.
Using reflectors scrims overheads etc. will give you more control over how the scene will look.

Attached is a screen shot that was shot about 5:30 am just after dawn.
Notice the even lighting, just enough shadow to give some definition, no glare, really cool reflections in the windows. We get contrast between the actors by their position. The female talent is facing more toward the light while the male talent is looking away. This puts emphasis on her as he turns toward the camera more emphasis is placed on him as his face lightens and he approaches the camera.

Bill
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Old January 29th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #7
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Lucky for me, most of the rooms we will be using have white ceilings. That's a good tip, I never thought of bouncing light off the ceiling.

For outdoor shooting, it makes sense then to shoot during the very early morning and right before sun down. I do like the look of that screen shot.

Thanks for your help Bill, I'll check out that other thread you directed me to.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 10:25 PM   #8
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When using ceiling as bounce, don't forget to fill the chin and eye socket shadows that will be created.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 11:28 PM   #9
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So if I read the initial question correctly, it sounds like "dramatic" is the desired effect. In that case, you probably want as little bounced and diffused light as possible in your scene. In fact, you probably want as little light as possible. Depending on your camera, instead if up-lamping your practicals, you may want to down-lamp them so they don't appear blown-out. You're probably not too concerned with how much they actually light the set. Your main concern is 1) the light falling on your subjects and 2) the shadows falling on the back walls. Instead of using the typical softbox to key your subject from the front, try using a clear light bulb flagged off with cinefoil, (or similar effect) and key from the rear. If you need more fill, use a bouce card, and move it forward and back till it fills the right amount. Then concentrate on the shadows on your bg. Anything can act as a "gobo" or gobetween your light and wall. Plants, blinds, cut-up foil... But the main thing is that in dramatic lighting, the point is not so much "lighting" as un-lighting. Un-light everything that doesn't matter, or basically only light where necessary.

Now for the other question - kits. There are so many threads about starter kits, that it would be silly to rehash everything. Try searching for light kits, and you'll find hundreds of responses to your question. If you're looking for a specific fixture to help achieve that 40's style high-contrast effect, there's a great old mole richardson fixture called the molette. It's basically a 1K lamp on a stick. Placing black cinefoil behind it means it behaves basically like sunlight - a single point source with a single shadow. Without a reflector, it only casts the single shadow. Classic hollywood lighting was often about multiple fresnels, and carefully placed flags and teasers... But if you're looking for a harsher look, the molette (or similar homemade replacement) is about as hard a source as you can get. Crisp, clean shadows, easy to cut and shape with cinefoil.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 11:24 AM   #10
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Yes, dramatic lighting was the idea, but I don't know very much about lighting in general. It's great that I can get away with not using a lot of lighting, is there any place online I can buy a "molette" type light, or is there a way to construct one myself. I didn't plan on using a lot of fill mainly because I want the shadows. I just don't want these shadows to be unnatural, like if there is no light in the room except the light coming from a window, I want the only light sources to be coming from the direction of the window.

Sorry about posting about lighting kits, I realize there are probably dozens of these around, I'll look around first next time before posting.

Anyway, Thanks Jaron.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 12:10 PM   #11
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Buy a couple of cheap lights first, shoot tests with them...tape is cheap. If you have access to the location, shoot them there. Figure out how to make the subject look good to your eye.

Once you've done that, start working on lighting the area as well...light leaves a fixture in a very predictable way...any Directional (reflectored) light will throw a cone of light outward from its origin. The edges of these are less strong than the center, and it dwindles in power as it goes away from the light source.

Moving a light away from the subject makes it dimmer, wider and the edges get harder. Closer, bigger lights make softer edges. Once you've set the lights up for your subject, use black foamcore cards to clamp to stands to block the light falling onto the background and light that separately.

The DJTV stuff at http://www.digitaljuice.com has lots of good tips for this stuff.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 01:31 PM   #12
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The great thing about the molette is that it's basically a fancy lightbulb. You can build something similar for a few bucks. The molette is nice because it's a 1K. Alternatively, you can get a similar effect using the brightest bare lightbulb you can find, preferably clear, and just flag the back of it with black cinefoil (your best friend for dramatic lighting). Or, get a 500-watt worklight (or 1K if possible), and remove the inside reflector, replacing it with black cinefoil. It'll make a nice crisp light with only a single shadow. If you place it outside your window and don't actually see your window in the shot, you can make very believable daylight effects, as the sun is essentially a point source. It's more complicated than that, but cole's right - just mess around and burn some tape. You can learn a lot in a short time if you get some patient friends to model for you while you move lights around. Just don't forget to make notes on everything you do - after a while you'll get a feel for how light behaves, and won't need the notes anymore.

Basically, the biggest difference between cheap and expensive lights is convenience (and power). You can approximate a LOT of stuff with relatively simple homemade solutions, and even in big budget productions they often have to Macgyver stuff last minute to get the shot. There was a great discussion on cinematography.net a while back about dp's favorite lighting instruments. Consensus was that the brain is your best lighting tool. Experiment, read and figure out things that work for you. Everyone looks at lighting differently from one another, so having someone explain their "magical" solution may mean nothing to you. Suggestions and insight definitely help, but in the end you have to understand how light behaves, in terms that you understand.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 02:52 PM   #13
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Alright, tomorrow I'll run out and grab some work lights, black foamcore,and some black cinefoil and just experiment. All your advice has been really helpful, and I guess the next step is just to give it a shot for myself.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 05:19 PM   #14
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Portrait lighting research on the interweb will get you a good start...once you've played with lights a bit, make sure you start watching movies and tv shows that you would like to emulate and try to setup a shot like they're doing in what ever catches your fancy...

There is a lighting master class on the special edition dvd of "Dead Poet's Society" that has some cool information on it...they poured 20k ish into the bedroom scene to give it just the right looks, and exposing the characters' face correctly came down to folding a piece of printer paper in half and putting it in the pages of the book he was holding to bounce the light into his face.
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Old December 13th, 2007, 01:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole McDonald View Post
The DJTV stuff at http://www.digitaljuice.com has lots of good tips for this stuff.
Wow - this site has to be the best technical DIY page i have stumbled across in years, where have you been all my life!! I'm learning how to do so much with so little :)
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