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Old August 20th, 2006, 04:49 PM   #1
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Suggestions welcome for night office shoot

Hi all,

First time post from a long-term lurker here.

I'm a pro TV writer/director/producer/Avid editor but working on tons of light entertainment and lifestyle programmes over the years has slowly sucked my will to live and so finally I am getting round to shooting one of my short-ish films, essentially a very dark comedy, much of which is set in an office at night.

Planning on using an M2-equipped HVX200 with some Nikon lenses.

I don't have the location set yet but I imagine it would a large 20-40 desk open-plan office lit with nasty strip lights. Not ground floor so lighting anything from outside is a no-no.

It sets the tone for the beginning of the 'dark element' in the comedy but is also where about 70% of the whole piece takes place so it can't be powerful to the point of distraction.

Now the build up to the office scenes are very vibrant with some lovely stylised London exteriors and by way of contrast, I wanted the office to be cold - almost unsettling.

Without spoiling too much of the story, what unfolds is a night long conversation (think Kevin Smith with less dick-jokes) between a terrified office junior and a gun-toting murderous IT man who has essentially gone 'postal'. All this takes place amid the office floor with many many former colleagues now dead, spread over their desks - much of the funny talk is taking place with elements of the prior (but unseen) carnage in frame.

I've got Magic Bullet and a host of plugins for Avid and Boris Red / AE but I assume I should try to achieve as much as possible with the lighting at the time, rather than 'fix it in post'. .

I can't come up with a reference look. Any suggestions of movie references, along with suggestions of how to achieve them, would be GREATLY appreciated.

So far I'm thinking whites VERY white (ie tube lighting glare - white shirts) and reds very pronounced (as we only see it on the clothing of furniture of dead people). Originally thought about a sickly yellowish-greenish tint to everything but that may well be a distraction. Dunno.. Any thoughts?

Ben
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Old August 21st, 2006, 05:12 AM   #2
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Ben first off welcome.

Your project sounds pretty damn funny and something i'd like myself.

As for lighting here is the idea that sticks out to me. If it is one of those open plan offices then ussually you can control which lights are on and which are off so i'd turn all of the other strip lights off other than the one over your main characters. In the case of the dead employees I would use small desk lamps making sure they are only strong enough to light its own desktop area with no over spill onto the floor or surrounding desks. That would create a pretty interesting visual where the main attention is the brighter lit scene in the middle with smaller points of light scattered around them with the dead employees.

You mentioned nasty strip lights which i agree are horrible, i've never went to the trouble myself but you can get colour corrected strip light bulbs to replace them which would solve that problem.

And with your CC plugins you could make the bubbles of light any colour you want.

Anyway thats my tuppence worth.Hope it helps

Andy.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 05:40 AM   #3
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Thanks Andy,

I really quite like that idea of isolating certain segments of the open plan while keeping others dark. Aside from the wides on the entire office, of which there won't be many, most of the action takes place at various different points in that room for no other reason than to give me another chance to be creative with a new setup and so that half an hour isn't passed with two guys sitting on a wall chatting.

But your idea could really open it up and I can even get a cheap laugh out of it in story terms if I make a point of it with the IT fella actively turning lights off in the background once they have moved into a new 'bit' . The fact that my murderous IT man might not care about wasting 30 people but doesn't want to waste electricity made me chuckle anyway.

But it's then almost as though each setup can be a clean slate, rather than having to be one continuous and potentially dull feel.

Maybe anybody (sorry.. any bodies) in shot can be lit by, as you said - desk lamps plus the monitors (sickly green glare - I KNEW I'd figure it in somewhere), albeit helped by some sort of jiggery pokery.

Thanks for that. You've set the wheels turning...

Ben

PS. I once did a job for Bravo TV and shot in the Loaded Magazine office in daytime and we spent about 5 hours up ladders covering every strip light with gels. NOT why I got into the business... lol
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Old August 21st, 2006, 05:51 AM   #4
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No problem Ben, hope you enjoy getting away from those light entertainment and lifestyle programmes even if it is for a little while!


Andy.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 06:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Graham
No problem Ben, hope you enjoy getting away from those light entertainment and lifestyle programmes even if it is for a little while!


Andy.
Ha ha.... Just destroyed my 8th dvd in a row trying to get my showreel burnt off nicely so while my flashy intro keeps scaring/scarring encoders there's no chance of me going back to that dark dark place... Yes, I once worked on Barrymore. It was soo bad I had to murder some fella in his pool and frame him just to get a weekend out of the edit suite...

Checked out your site fella. Your flick sounds fascinating. How's it all progressing?
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Old August 21st, 2006, 07:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ben Scott
Checked out your site fella. Your flick sounds fascinating. How's it all progressing?
I'll direct you to a thread i started which a created as a result of rosslyn. It was our first movie and man did we make every mistake in the book and even had a few more mistakes to ad to it!.

Its been a long time in post and its become more of a rescue mission than anything else. Mind you we learned twice as much making mistakes as we would have if it had went without a hitch.

I'm just looking forward to editing our second flick lottery which went a whole lot more smoothly. This time round we used a mac lap top and an M box to record the sound straight to hard drive instead of the DAT route we took on Rosslyn which ended up being a nightmare.


heres the link, there are some great stories there. http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=73454

Andy.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 08:21 AM   #7
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Cool. Just read it and added my tuppence worth. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, is it?

Except drinking beer.
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