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Old September 24th, 2006, 06:33 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: New York, US
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Lighting rooms with white walls

I have a question:

All my walls are pretty much white and plain -not much decoration.

I'm trying to shoot a horror short movie but can't figure out how to set the lighting to give it that dark, "exorcism"-type look. Turning on any light source results in light bouncing all around the room and kinda spoils the horror look. In addition, it flattens out my subjects even when using a backlight. Actually, this problem goes for any footage I've taken inside my house.

Here are some pics: (not screen grabs, just quick pictures taken from my digital camera with flash as only light source)

I'm far from a professional -really just a student film-hobbyist having fun, so renting out a studio wouldn't be reasonable and I cant paint my walls as I'm renting.

My setup:
Lowel DV 44 kit

What do you guys recommend I do?
Any links to internet articles would be great as well.

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I'm Chris, and I'm pretty much on a rollercoaster ride as I learn about filmmaking. 6 weeks ago I didn't know anything! Shutter, iris, gain, depth of field, or even that the XL2 existed --I've been learning as I go and reading tons of internet info.

I'll be posting a LOT of newbie questions!

Take care,
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Old September 24th, 2006, 07:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
Posts: 1,675
put a light on the floor right next to the wall to draw the texture out and angle it up the wall...shoot it through a cookie or a plant to break up the light...perhaps gel it. See the video "Roleplayed" ( ) for ideas about how to deal with white walls.
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Old September 24th, 2006, 08:52 PM   #3
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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Chris, I'm not sure exactly what's in that kit. Does it have a lowel pro or two in it?

Basically, you want some lights that aren't broad. So don't pull out an omni, a tota, or a rifa. Look for the pro light, or if you have access to a fresnel, spot it and barndoor it in tight, or try to find or make a snoot for a lowel omni.

You might be able to make a snoot with some cinefoil. You don't want to obstruct the airflow around a light when working with cinefoil, or you might start a fire or shorten bulb life.

So, once you get a narrow beam it won't be splashing all around the room as much - now try backlight by itself. Or, backlight plus reflector for front fill. Or, hard side light. I think these approaches will tame your white walls. Generally, night-time horror is pretty hard light.

Then, you can think about some low wattage source and (cinefoil again, do some research on cucoloris, aka. cookies) some dramatic slashes that look like they come from windows, or, shoot at night and light from outside through the windows.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 09:50 AM   #4
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Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
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Yeah, you need to be working with very controllable light to try to keep it off the walls. I'd say just experiment and see what you like best. Try a single light to start with, and play with it more toward the back than you would normally. Small, white walled spaces are very difficult, so you might want to shoot somewhere else. Your place doesn't look all that spooky to me :-)

Seriously, I assume there will be other folks involved in this project, so there might be some other locations that you could use for the shoot. Lighting can do a lot for you, but sometimes it's best to lean on the Art Director/Production Designer for help.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
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How about adding some flats if you can't paint the walls...just make new walls: Wooden frame with muslin stretched over it to paint on...then you can do anything to it.
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