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Urban Lighting


Michael Kubaszak
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I'm DP'ing a short at the end of the month(1/2 night ext 1/2 night int) and wanted to play around with either making tungsten look like Sodium Vapor or Mercury Vapor. I've seen Lee's Super White Flame 232 on a tungsten light and it looked close to sodium vapor to me. Also, I've read on here and heard from some gaffers that Lee Steel Green 728 on a tungsten fixture approximates Mercury Vapor.

 

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or results with said gels. Or with these Lee gels which I guess where specifically designed for making vapor lights: http://www.leefiltersusa.com/lighting/news/articles/ref:N4AA7745D2BD62/

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Hi Michael,

 

For Mercury Vapor... more blue-green choices, you should have a look at the LEE 241 and 242. They look particularly good on film, as they are not excessively blue, but what blue is present, the film "sees" quite well. Those colors may go a bit greener on digital, as most digital sensors are less exposure-sensitive to blue (compared to film). For the more amber sodium lights, I have not found a gel that re-creates that well, other than a 1/2 or full CTS with a 1/2 Plus Green added. I've had the best luck actually finding sodium lights and using those as sources (instead of gelled tungsten units) if I want an exact match. You can diffuse or bounce them as you would any light.

 

It should be noted that sodium and mercury gas arcs are rarely the same color from unit to unit. Age and the uncontrolled nature of their manufacture (compared to the type of color fidelity that movie lights are expected to perform) can vary wildly. Best to shoot some tests with a few gel choices and arrive at a good plan.

 

There is a great Bill Fraker quote; "You learn not from your successes from pre-production testing, but from your failures."

 

Very true. Allot of times you can identify things that don't work, which can help direct you to a path that does work. Putting in the needed extra time in order to arrive at a viable plan is something all good cinematographers do, so don't be afraid to log some hours out on those night streets until you create the plan that works best for you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know there are specific Gels out there that match tungsten to sodium and mercury vapour lights, you could use those. Bastard Amber is another good one for imitating sodium vapour street lighting.

 

Rosco makes two gels just for that purpose, converting Tungsten to Sodium vapor. Transmission is about 28%.

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Rosco makes two gels just for that purpose, converting Tungsten to Sodium vapor. Transmission is about 28%.

 

Yeah, the industrial vapor gel is pretty nice, works well and looks pretty good. Doesn't match perfectly, but not all street lights seem to match perfectly (tho in theory sodium vapor lights should). Works well with par cans to make pools of light but, as mentioned above, it cuts output quite a bit. I liked what I saw of it.

 

I think 1/2CTS+1/2CTO and 1/2CTB+1/2 plus green over tungsten sources are the traditional formulae for sodium vapor and mercury street lights, respectively. Industrial vapor has a browner look than 1/2CTS+1/2CTO would, though.

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While it doesn't actually match at all I enjoy Rosco 2003 Storaro Yellow for my "streetlights." I also used to use 99 Chocolate Gel, but moved away from that. I would, if possible, as Shelly mentions, used just actual Sodium Vapor or Mecury lights, and If memory serves, there's a company which makes them for film s Par heads.

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I'm DP'ing a short at the end of the month(1/2 night ext 1/2 night int) and wanted to play around with either making tungsten look like Sodium Vapor or Mercury Vapor. I've seen Lee's Super White Flame 232 on a tungsten light and it looked close to sodium vapor to me. Also, I've read on here and heard from some gaffers that Lee Steel Green 728 on a tungsten fixture approximates Mercury Vapor.

 

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or results with said gels. Or with these Lee gels which I guess where specifically designed for making vapor lights: http://www.leefiltersusa.com/lighting/news/articles/ref:N4AA7745D2BD62/

 

Tests are the way to go for sure. Shelley Johnson is very right to point out that the fixtures on location can each be very different, both the Sodium and Mercury. If you can't shoot tests with your film or cine digital its helpful even to snap a few with your DSLR. The sensors may not be an exact match ( especially for RED ) but it allows you to try a few things quickly.

 

MT2 works great most of the time. I find all the new 'Urban Vapour' series of gels much too red and don't match real sodium.

 

Another trick for exact matching is to use real Sodium fixtures as off camera sources.

 

post-39617-0-36039300-1313764866.jpg

 

Real Sodium 1 side , MT2 on tungsten the other.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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