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Improvised light set up for night shots: will it work?


jack king
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Hi there,

 

I have a music video shoot coming up soon, and were doing one strand of the video in a wood during night hours. There is no industrial lighting, or anything. Also, not many extended length shots, which should make it easier. We want to do this pretty mobile, and the theme of the song is actually concerned with lights, so we were thinking of doing the whole thing using a mixture of:

 

sparklers (loads of em - for close ups)

fire (we would light a bonfire)

fireworks (loads of these - the kind which 'spray blankets of embers', not rockets)

Car headlights (2 cars)

Chinese lanterns (about 50)

Power torches (about 5)

Maybe one or two small HMI's/Kino's if needs?

Strobes (about 4)

 

What do you think? Are we going to get some good footage here?! What problems might we expect? Were shooting on 16mm, 8mm, mini dv and vhs - like I say we just want some nice shots of a light- themed party in the woods; pretty much.

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Well it might work, but the most important things is really if you know how to actually light a night scene.

 

Personally, I would never do something like that. And if it's improvised, how can you be sure that it will actually work for you?

 

One thing you should also consider is weather the lighting you are using is enough for exposing the 16mm film. Which film stock do you use? Film speed?

 

I would suggest you to bring at least one or two 2.5k HMI lights with you, among with one large or two small kinoflows and dedolights are always wonderful tools for creating fill, when lighting up a human face. Also bring stands, colorgels, gribs, dimmers, some kind of light reflector and one flag with you.

 

You are still able to use all the things that you listed, but combine them with artificial light for better result and quantity.

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sparklers (loads of em - for close ups)

fire (we would light a bonfire)

fireworks (loads of these - the kind which 'spray blankets of embers', not rockets)

Hi Jack, please be safe with fire and fireworks in the woods - hope you're not in the SoCal area.

 

You could try Christmas tree lights or rope lights powered from an inverter. China balls are a good idea, make sure they're all on dimmers. You won't actually get much exposure from these lights so I would get a genny, some par cans, fresnels, kinos. If you can afford an HMI or two, it'll help. Also, something like a Barger light with a Chimera would be good for a soft hi-output key light. Make sure you have plenty of cable out there.

 

A lot will depend on what filmstock and lenses you are using - the faster the better. I'd go with 7219 for 16mm and Super8 (not sure if it's available yet, you may have to get 7218).

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Thanks ziryab and satsuki - some really sound advice there.

 

Looks like an inverter is the best idea - like your suggestion of xmas light satsuki - could string them up all over the place between trees to get some fill. Will use rope and hang lanterns from those to add.

 

if we do decide to use a few small HMI's and maybe one or two kino's/fresnels/dedolights - can this all be powered by an inverter too?

 

We need to do this as cheaply as possible, it's only a small production so we didn't want to have to rely on big lights and generators. I think with the above and some high speed film like you mentioned, we should be okay. We've got a HD cam with us and an xl1s so were not just relying on the 16mm picking everything up.

 

cheers again!

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if we do decide to use a few small HMI's and maybe one or two kino's/fresnels/dedolights - can this all be powered by an inverter too?

Dedos yes, if they're 12v. I don't think you'll be able to power the others, definitely not the HMIs. I just worked on a shoot where the electricians were powering a dozen par cans from a custom heavy duty inverter built into a Sprinter van, and the van caught on fire. Luckily, the fire department was on site. Not something you want to try out there in the woods by yourself...

 

I don't think you'll have enough light out there with just china balls and rope lights so you will need that genny, IMO. I was suggesting that you use the rope lights and china balls as effect lights to create pinpoints of light in the background instead of the sparklers and fireworks, not actually using them to get an exposure.

 

If you're really strapped for exposure, you could try shooting with a Canon 5DMk2. It's probably the fastest mo-pic camera out there right now.

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Hi there,

 

I have a music video shoot coming up soon, and were doing one strand of the video in a wood during night hours. There is no industrial lighting, or anything. Also, not many extended length shots, which should make it easier. We want to do this pretty mobile, and the theme of the song is actually concerned with lights, so we were thinking of doing the whole thing using a mixture of:

 

sparklers (loads of em - for close ups)

fire (we would light a bonfire)

fireworks (loads of these - the kind which 'spray blankets of embers', not rockets)

Car headlights (2 cars)

Chinese lanterns (about 50)

Power torches (about 5)

Maybe one or two small HMI's/Kino's if needs?

Strobes (about 4)

 

What do you think? Are we going to get some good footage here?! What problems might we expect? Were shooting on 16mm, 8mm, mini dv and vhs - like I say we just want some nice shots of a light- themed party in the woods; pretty much.

 

you say the song is mainly about lights so i assume you will include them in the shots. just remember the big discrepancy between exposures for the light source and for the people or objects being lit. to be safer, do not just rely on the sources within the frame but supplement them with others outside the frame. so, say you are filming the chinese lantern scene, balance the exposure with your hmi's and/or kinos.

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Go with some China Balls and the like and power off of a genny. It's a music video so you're all MOS. Be careful, but a big enough fire will give you a lot of exposure just that falloff into the woods will be equally as fast.

If you're scrapped for power I have had good luck, so far, using CFL bulbs from Home Depot. There's one we got which gives you the equivalent of 300W off of just a 63W power draw. Something like that could be powered off of inverters. and if you're close enough to the talent it'll work well. Christmas lights etc, are great for close ups and for getting an eye light. Wrap some 'round the mattebox and they make batter powered lights too which you can use in a pinch.

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Hi everyone

 

Thanks LOADS for all your help. This has been massive help. Feeling alot better, but this has made me realise how much work is involved so i've advertised to get a dop/gaffer on board - and i will be discussing everything i've read here from you guys with him. I will post the video on the forum when it's done - sometime toward the end of november. I'll let everyone know how it goes - which suggestions worked best etc...

 

Thanks again :)

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