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Lowlight Scenes

Tim Terner

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I watched World Trade Center last night and would like to know how you achieve the shots like this




What speed of stock would you use ?

How would you meter it ?

And would you expose for the meter reading or underexpose it ?


BTW, The shot seemed quite a lot darker than the image in the theatre I watched it in


Thanks in advance for any help

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Basically it's done like any other shot.


Since it's lit scene rather than shot using available light you can use any stock, although higher speed stocks like 500T are commonly used on 35mm for interiors. However, on Super 16 you might want to use a slower stock because of the grain.


On a low key scene like this you'd use less fill light and place your key light so that it is less frontal on the subject, so that it comes in more from the side. In this case, the background lighting and the subject's 3/4 backlight have an orange gel (they could be using the same light for both functions here).

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Thank you both for the advice. One further question is when shooting the grey card at the start of the scene, I assume you put it in the light as from the highlight part of the shot


You'd correctly expose the grey scale under what you're taking to be the correct colour temperature - usually 3200k in tungsten lighting. This means the grader has a reference for their settings if you're using strange coloured lighting or going for under/over exposed looks.

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In practicle working terms if I had lit this shot I would have set the light to the right first as the "Key" at my shooting stop by measuring with an incident meter pointed back to the light. More than likely I would have set that light to a particular stop that all my keys would be at in that location or the entire film for all night shots perhaps.


Then I would have set the other light's by eye with the aid of my contrast glass then I would have measured them for reference for later setups if the lights have to be moved.


If I shot a grey card I would have stuck it into that right side key or perhaps lit and shot it seperately at the same stop but I find doing that sometimes create incosistent results.

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