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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:42 PM   #1
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How to get light into a corner?

On a recent shoot I had an issue that was difficult to resolve. Several shots needed to occur at the front door of a house and our location had the front door in a corner of the room. How in the world do you do 3-point lighting in the corner of a room? The only thing I could do to get light on the background and get an accent light was to open the door and let in the sunlight. This worked on a few shots where the script was accommodating, but without the door open I couldn't get any light over there except for a straight-on key light. With just a bright key, it looks like a news crew showed up and turned on a big camera light. The only thing I can think of is a boom, but I did not have one or the time to improvise something.

I'm guessing this won't come up often, but I was perplexed. Any ideas?
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Old July 7th, 2007, 12:54 AM   #2
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There would be many possible solutions.Depending on the mood of the scene the best one would be your call.
Why 3 point lighting? You could use softbox and flood the area.
How about using bounce card or maybe shoot a light thru a white reflector which will give soft direct light and bounce.Is it possible to use low watt flo's in close?
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Old July 7th, 2007, 01:15 AM   #3
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Or bounce a hard light off the ceiling to eliminate all the shadows and stuff, then use a softbox for some natural shadows maybe?
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Old July 7th, 2007, 04:25 AM   #4
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I say 3-point lighting but that is just a generic term. I was trying to figure out how to get some kind of backlight and do something to make the plain set more interesting. It was an off-white house with a dark brown door that almost disappeared. The real problem was probably the lack of curtains on the living room windows about 5 feet from the door. The director (in charge of location and decorations) put sheets over the windows and that helped a bit. Unfortunately, the assistant director and I remembered 99 of the 100 things we had to bring and forgot the blankets. We had about half a dozen blankets intended for sound absorption and cutting down light that we left by the door as we left. Unfortunately, it was a 45 minute drive (each way) back to the house so we had to do without. I think I need a light grey/dark grey blanket to permanently include in my grip equipment.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:33 AM   #5
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Duvetyn...

Try www.rosebrand.com for a lot of that kind of stuff.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 11:56 AM   #6
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Have you seen the Mathews putty knife?
http://www.msegrip.com/mse.php?show=...ducts_ID=24158

Very handy for unusual placements, takes little space for storage/transport.

Jam it between the door molding and the wall, sometimes (especially in Hawai'i) there are seams between wall and ceiling, etc.

Lowel also has some interesting mounts, I always carry a Big Foot which can be used like a baby plate, or even taped to a window, hung from a cup hook, etc.
http://www.lowel.com/clamps.html
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Old July 7th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #7
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Seth, that putty knife looks handy, but I'm thinking this spot on the set was just bad. I don't think I could have put a light in there without a cord showing or having it look totally unmotivated (is that the right word for a light coming from out of nowhere?). I think the idea to just blast the area with soft light is the right solution, but I didn't have enough to combat all the sun coming in. Really soft light requires so much power to blast through the diffusion that even the Coollights CL-455 wasn't enough. I probably should have tried to set up some reflectors, but I didn't have enough grip equipment with me. I think I need a mirror to send a beam of light into a building onto a big soft source.

BTW, the CL-455 was extremely helpful. I can not stress how helpful a bright daylight fixture can be during a daytime shoot. When the sun is knocked down just enough that it can be useful instead of an exposure nightmare, lighting is much easier. We were able to shoot with mostly the CL-455 as both a key and fill by bouncing it off walls and ceiling as well as letting a bit directly spill on the actors. I used a second daylight fixture as an accent light on the other side and let the natural sunlight take care of the rest. I only wish I also had the CL-655 for when I needed a huge extra-soft source mixing with sunlight. If Richard wasn't able to get the CL-455 shipped over to Maui so fast, we would have been in a pickle. Shipping my softbox over there would have been more than my plane ticket and it isn't nearly as bright as the CL-455. The flat-mounted tubes seem to be oriented much more efficiently than my big CFL that has the tubes perpendicular to the direction of the subject.

I think our biggest problem was in the front room that was dimly lit before noon but got really bright after noon due to a lack of trees on that side of the house. Unfortunately, the dark front door acted as a weird negative fill that kind of stumped me. We just moved a character motivated to be near the door inside the doorway to hold the door open.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:47 PM   #8
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Gelled flourescent scoop light in a PA's hand.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #9
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Wow, I shipped one to Kula, HI last month. I didn't know that was for you Marcus. Glad I could help and glad to hear it was what you needed. We'll have some special offers coming up soon that will include the CL-655's again along with some portable flo products and the new, lower cost HMI products. This may have been one of those times it would be nice to have someone holding something up like Cole said for that extra fill here or there. I bet the 150w daylight metal halide fresnel would be perfect for what you were doing. And so small too.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #10
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Richard, Gabe is a good friend of mine and I made him buy the light since he doesn't have any pro lights. My softbox kit is too large to ship affordably (until the superferry gets here). I don't think his wife would talk to me anymore if we bought the two we really needed, but just one of those is a big help. It's self-contained package saves a lot of time as it packs instantly by closing the barn doors and the yoke creates it's own handle.

The more I think about it, that location was the real problem. The walls in the corner were fairly glossy off-white so the perimeter of shadows were punctuated by highlights. Most of our lighting felt very natural until I set up for that area. Additional front fill wasn't the only problem. I put diffusion gel over the CL-455 but that wasn't large enough to spread out the source (though it made highlights more attractive). Add to the equation the light that a 35mm lens adapter eats and it was a real nightmare scenario for low budget movie making. We only had about 7 hours at the location, so I had to make snap judgments and it mostly worked. I guess I'm having afterthought jitters as I always want everything to go perfectly and it never will.

I again can not stress how much hassle a big daylight fixture eliminates. All houses are almost completely backlit from every camera angle during the day since many rooms have windows on more than one side. It just isn't practical to shoot with the windows at your back all day. Even if you do, the far side of the room starts to go dark. Using a daylight fixture for fill and the windows as accent light fixes a lot of problems and I think it is more attractive.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 11:37 PM   #11
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That's a great testimonial. Thanks for the kind words.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 04:28 AM   #12
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Reflectors... no one’s mentioned them, mirrors can move a lot of light around.

Had I known about it in advance would have used a wall spreader, all your lights wires etc. are above the shot.

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Old July 8th, 2007, 06:10 AM   #13
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Bill, what's a wall spreader?

I'm not sure I could have thought of an excuse for a light being in that corner. The ceiling also wasn't very high. It would probably need to be an actual household fixture that looks like it belongs. It also would need an excuse to be on during the day.

The mirror probably would be a good idea, but all we had were collapsible reflectors. It was really too windy to use those outside. I would like a mirror system, but I'm not sure how to go about getting one. I've been thinking of making a plywood base with 12"x12" mirror tiles for the reflective surface. I've even tried to figure out if I can make one that folds, but I haven't figured out the yoke system and how to make it easy to aim.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 03:53 PM   #14
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For relectors that fold use RoscoFlex M 3801or like product.
Inexpensive wall mirrors work well and do not break the bank if they break. (You still get seven years bad luck though.) ;-)

Wall spreaders, this one is for 2x4s
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...eader_For.html

I made mine much cheaper but if you do not have the time these are the best.

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Old July 8th, 2007, 10:17 PM   #15
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Hang Kino bulbs from the ceiling. Take the tubes and harness out of the shell and use 2" black photo tape (paper tape) to tape up everything including the header cable. Run the cable down a wall that's out of shot, or hide it behind a curtain. I often cover it with white 2" white artist's tape and make it look like it's part of the window molding.

I do this a lot on Don't Sweat It, the show I'm gaffing, for HGTV. You can hang Duvetyne teasers and diffusion to shape the light, otherwise it's pretty flat and poopy looking.

As someone else mentioned, wall spreaders are great, as are autopoles/polecats. Autopoles are nice because they are light weight and spring loaded, so you don't have to screw/nail them into the wall. They may not have the same weight capacity as spreaders, but they can hold a fair amount depending on the span. Use a pancake (a 1/8th apple box, which is 1" thick) on both ends to prevent going through the wall. Try and line up on the studs inside the wall. There are several different types of wall spreaders that use 2x4's, or aluminum speed rail.

If you are paranoid about things falling, then you can use wood under them and then have the art department paint, or stain them the appropriate color so they blend into the set. I've stained 2x4's to match the furniture, put them against the wall and that works very well.

Furniture clamps can be clamped to a door frame and then a light can be hung from that. This should pretty much be out of the camera frame. Use wooden cribbing, or pancakes, so you don't mar the surface.

Look at the Matthews catalog, or other mfr's catalogs to get ideas of what gear is out there, that may help you solve your problems before they happen and give you an idea about what gear to use to solve your Gripping/Lighting problems.

Another idea is using a leko to precisely bounce light of the ceiling. The leko has a lens and shutters that projects and shapes the beam. K5600 has an ETC Source Four head and the Joker Bug head plugs right in the back. Voila, instant daylight flavored leko.

Using a larger stand and a lot of sandbags, you can make a menace arm. A length of speed rial, or 2x4 is held by a clamp on the stand and then arms out over the set. You can hang your light(s) anywhere along the length, or at the end. Be sure to gusset the arm to prevent falling, or sagging into shot.

I suggest hiring a good Gaffer and Key Grip with a lot of knowledge to help you out of situations like that.
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