No-Budget Outdoor Shooting - Reflectors at

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Old July 8th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #1
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No-Budget Outdoor Shooting - Reflectors

I'm aware that there is a recent topic on reflectors, but it doesn't quite answer my question. My friend and I are working together on a no-budget feature, and when we say no-budget we don't mean a few thousand. We're literally talking we just spent $50 and hardly have any more money to spare. I understand a lot of you have money to spare but know that we're just two college freshman who need to pay for living and school expenses, but are still determined to pursue the art of movie-making. The script can be shot budgetless with some innovation and creative techniques that we already have under control, but it's lighting (along with sound but that's a separate topic... advice still welcome) that stands in our way of having a truly "professional" feel.

I know a lot about shooting, editing and color correction for a film look, which I have been able to achieve in my experimental shorts but very little about lighting since I don't have access to that sort of equipment.

I just purchased a large piece of white foam core and some car shield protectors which, after doing quite a bit of research, seemed our best bet for no-budget shooting. Problem is, I don't have a very good idea of how to get the best use out of them. What is the best set-up for using reflectors and the sun or maybe one artificial light source (for some scenes where a power outlet is handy I have a floodlight and during the night outdoors I plan on bouncing car lights off the reflectors). Are there any good diagrams (diagrams or photos are extremely helpful) out there? I did a quick test with the reflectors but the way I positioned them seemed to make hardly a difference in the picture. I'm also wondering what cheap items (not light stands) we can use to properly set up these reflectors.

A polished, lavished perfectly-lit scene is not too important to me. I am a huge fan of the neo-realistic naturally-lit look directors such as Godard pioneered, but it's a well-known fact that digital video (especially a $700 Panasonic PV-GS220) is much less allowing than film (I also believe Roeg's beautifully shot naturalistic 'Walkabout' used almost all reflectors as well now that I think of it).

I am AT ALL COSTS trying to a avoid the heavily contrasted and shadowy look the bright noon sun brings, and the color-less, unpleasantly grained look that night brings. Sorry if I've sounded stupid to all you lighting gurus out there, but I'd really appreciate any advice as lighting is not my forte.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #2
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the cheapest reflector is a sheet of cardboard with aluminum foil spray mounted to it.

The concept of fill reflectors is the same as projector screens.... flat white is an even gain of 0... and then silvers and matalics go to the plus 1 and so on.... those old slide projector screens make great fill cards....

Silver matte board also makes a great reflector.... I'm a still commercial shooter ( 20 years now ) and allways use silver matte board to fill my table top sets.... sometimes as small as 1"X1" remnents of it for just the right kick.... they borrow light from a spot rear light.

but if you want to control light at high noon... the best this to do ( to keep the squinty eyes at bay ) is to take away light with a "scrim"... basically a shhet of diffused material like white rip stop nylon... the add light by bouncing the sun in using reflectors.....

to be honest.... try to shoot during "magic hour" about 1 hour before sunset or 1 after sunrise..... most outdoor productions tend to keep to this method ( think brokeback mountain or any redford film ). And it's much easier to fill and control shallow depth of field.

Those car sun shades are great...
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Old July 8th, 2007, 11:40 AM   #3
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Thanks a lot for the response Chris. For diffusion is just a plain white blanket sufficient as well during high noon?. As for the "magic hour", I'm assuming any extra lighting isn't necessary unless you're going for a highly stylized look? Terrance Mallick's perfectly photographed "Days of Heaven" I believe was shot primarily during the magic hour with no or minimal extra lighting so this sounds like a pretty good idea although this is a bit unpractical for my further locations that I have in mind.

What I'm also wondering is how I need to set the reflectors up. I can't seem to figure out how to do it the right way, although I must admit because I don't have sufficient stands I haven't had much of an opportunity to practice extensively.
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