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Old June 29th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #1
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Lighting a dark basement...

Hi, I'm going to be filming a scene in a dark basement. I want it to be dark, but with key components and actors well lit, while the rest of the basement around them dips into complete darkness.

What is the best way to light this? Should I light it brightly and just try to drop the levels in post?

Or should I light it exactly the way that I want to see it on film, dark.

I really need advice on how to do this.

Thanks,

Mike
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Old June 30th, 2007, 12:38 AM   #2
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Mike,

This is precisely all of us who've been doing this a while always are harpiing on "Control" your light - and "Control" your spill light.

That's the only way to generate the illusion of an object that is visible in an otherwise dark setting.

You want light falling on the SUBJECT, not on the background.

Start with a back/rim light to subtly define the subject's shape. Then add/reflect just enough light on the front/body/face to let your audience see what they need to see of the subject.

This is a circumstance where light position and control via eggcrates, barn doors, blackwrap and/or whatever else you need to use, to KEEP THE LIGHT OFF THE BACKGROUND and from reflecting back on the subject from the ceiling/walls/floor, etc are so important. You need to keep whatver light you use exclusively on the object. And OFF everything else.

Good luck
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Old June 30th, 2007, 04:39 AM   #3
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Bill is exactly right. Control your spill and light mostly with a rim light about 3/4 behind your talent (45 degrees off to the left or right behind the talent). Create areas where they will walk through light. You will probably need to have your lights as far back as possible so you won't get a strong ramp-up of brightness as a person walks by a light. If it suddenly gets bright, you will ruin the illusion because it will be obvious a light is nearby.
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Old June 30th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #4
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I had to accomplish this very task for a zombie flick I shot last week, where the protagonist flicks on the light to find the basement is full of zombies. What I did was to use a strong blue gel be the ambient light (for the camera; the script calls for complete darkness). People associate blue with dark, so that plus underexposure and a bit of desaturation did the trick for us.

There are many ways to skin a cat, and my way worked for my circumstances.
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Old June 30th, 2007, 11:32 AM   #5
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What kind of lights will you be using?
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Old June 30th, 2007, 06:46 PM   #6
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Great advice! I'm going to contact my lighting guy and I'll get back to you with the details on the lighting equipment.

Thanks,

Mike
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Old July 1st, 2007, 12:28 AM   #7
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One trick I used to use in my portrait studios was to "extend" the size of the barndoors on the lights with sheets of black construction paper clipped (using powerful bulldog clips) to the metal barndoors.

One other way would be to use a largish softbox but equipped with LARGE barndoors. This would help eliminate harsh "hot spot" areas.
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Old July 1st, 2007, 03:04 AM   #8
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I would suggest using black wrap over construction paper, black wrap wont start on fire
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Old July 1st, 2007, 11:57 AM   #9
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but the construction paper will flash at 451 degrees fahrenheit (hence the name of the book). It'll smolder before that.
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