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Quartz light for interior/exterior day location

William Ardani

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I'm going to shoot a mini-documentary divied in 2 scenes.

I think I will use quartz lights: 1x 1K, 2x 650 (Lilliput).


1) the first scene is an interior/day on a irish pub. the shot is a medium close shot and a medium close up (like an interview). I would like to mix a daylight coming from the open door, the practicals light, and a backlight to separate the subject.

How can I simulate a daylight with a quartz (I guess the natural light is not enough, the pub is pretty dark)?

I'd use the 1k outside and near to the door, gel it with ful CTB (so it's 5500) and a frost to get a soft light. then I'd use the 650 as fill light without any gel but at 3200K and the other 650 (I don't know with which gel) to get a hairlight. I don't want hard light on the subject's face.


2) the second scene is an exterior/day. Do I have to match the 1K with the natural light or not? is a frost gel enough to mix artificial light with natural light? I'd like a very soft light, I don't to create a sunlight effect. in this case I can use a hairlight?


I'd like hear your advices and opinion about the setup I described.

Thank you,





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I'm not sure if your if your 1k would have much impact being placed by the door, especially with a CTB on it. Usually you're into HMIs with that approach.


Best way is usually to use these small lights inside the pub in order to extend reach of the natural daylight and giving the impression that it's the source.


Often going with 1/2 CTB works in these circumstances, so the faces don't go too red or the outside too blue.

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It seems the door is not in your shot, so I would you rather use 1/2 CTB on the 1K and put it just some space away from the door and a bit closer to your camera/actor's position, and you can use a Red Gel on the other 650 for your hair light since you are inside a pub.

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ok, I'll place all the lights inside the pub, so I'll have enough exposure. but, is the 1/2 CTB necessary for every light or just for the 1K? and which temperature on camera setting, 5500 or what else? this way the light will be soft? I think is needed at least a frost, but I'm not sure.

Edited by William Ardani
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Do you have any scout location photos at the exact time of day you pretend to shoot? That will give us some stating point to be more accurate on how to mix daylight with your quartzes on your first scene.


Anyway, I do have the same opinion has Brian. I don’t think your 1k will do anything to augment daylight unless you are shooting at magic hour with its dim natural light coming from the door.


Do you have the open door on your shot? Is it a back, rim or sidelight? You can always put your 1K with the same direction as your daylight entering the door if it is a sidelight but fall off from that source would not resemble daylight at all.

Answering your question it will be very difficult to simulate daylight with a 1K quartz because for that you will need a big source far away from your subject.


What camera are you using? Is it a camera with a Base ISO of 800? What lens? Is it a fast lens? If yes to both my strategy would be to start looking closely at all praticals within the pub (they usually have a lot of them), and see what are the best angles for your interview.

From that I would only augment (motivate), the pub’s lights and gel the quartzes to match the light coming from the practicals saving one quartz for fill if needed.


Regarding your 2nd scene. What exterior? Is it in the shade (since you don't want a sun in your scene?)


Shaded exteriors have higher color temp so you have to gel the quartz differently to match. Nonetheless that’s not the main issue to me. If you want soft light in a exterior day forget your quartz, choose the right day to shoot (cloudy will be best), or grab an overhead silk in a sunny day and start from there with reflectors to create some contrast on your subject’s face.

Edited by Alexandre de Tolan
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I'm using a 5D mark II with a 50 mm f 1.4, 16-35 f2.8 and 100 mm 2.8 macro.

this picture was found on their site, I don't have any idea of the light when I'm shooting. It will be at 11 am (more or less for a hour).


I want the door open and the natural light to left side of the subject. I'd use the 1k just to get a right exposure on his face. maybe I can bounce the 1k and the fill light to have them more soft. Now I cannot give more information because I don't know much about the location. I saw it just one time and for few seconds.


2° scene (from 2pm)


I thought bouncing 1k light on subject's face was a good idea just to give him some contrast. I'm shooting on shaded location. I was thinking at a 3 point lighting.


I know I don't have any clear idea about the job I'm going to do. I hope it will be fine.

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When you first said Pub I was thinking Low-Key lightning. That photo puts a very different perspective on things :)


I would say that you have plenty of natural light as is from what I can see. If you plan to shoot at 11am that's almost noon and natural light will come in from what it seems to be a big window (or windows), on the right side of that shot.


I would be more concerned about controlling that natural light that comes in than putting quartz all over. Your subject can be beautiful lit with all that natural daylight if you just control it well. Just place him/her in the right spot and fill in the shadow side to taste with a reflector if you're using a 5D.

Edited by Alexandre de Tolan
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Lubezki: I didn't use any lights. It’s funny, because sometimes I talk to other cinematographers and they say, ‘Oh my God, Terry doesn’t let you use lights,’ but it’s not that he doesn’t let me — I don’t want to use them. On Tree of Life we really tried to do combinations of scenes with light and scenes without, and when you add movie lights they doesn’t have the complexity of natural light. You’re putting one light that has one tone and one color through some diffusion, and it doesn’t have the complexity of natural light coming in through the window from a blue sky and clouds bouncing green off the grass. Some would call that kind of light imperfect, but it’s more accurate to call it more complex. That complexity of natural light and the way it hits the face is amazing, and when you start to go that way it’s hard to go back and light [things artificially]. The less you use artificial light, the more you want to avoid it, because the scenes feel weak or weird or fake. Often we would be inside a house and it would be cloudy and we would know that we’d probably have to rewrite the scene and shoot it outside or come back another day, but that would be better than the option of lighting the scene and not liking it.

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Don't forget that overcomplicating things is a common habit for us humans :)


Look at the great work Emmanuel "El Chivo" Lubezki has being doing with Terrence Malick since "The New World" and you'll see what I'm talking about ;)


If it is a long interview, you won’t be able to do it with natural light. The problem with working with natural light is that it is not always what you want or need for a scene and if by chance it is, it will invariably change in the course of your production leaving you with a continuity nightmare. Few of us have the luxury or budget to come back when the light is right. It is better control the natural daylight, and use HMIs to create a consistent daylight look, than limit yourself to a brief window of opportunity and take your chances.


The first step to artificially creating a natural daylight is to take the direction out of the natural daylight by flying a silk out the window, and then bring in your own consistent lighting. But remember, light quality is as important as color temperature when it comes to simulating natural daylight in an interior. There are two components to daylight: hard direct sun and soft diffuse sky-shine. Because direct sunlight is a very hard source that creates crisp shadows, the traditional approach is to use a large HMI Fresnel like an 18K to simulate direct sunlight. Unfortunately, this is also a very expensive approach because it requires a movie blimped generator.


One of the biggest hurdles to obtaining good production values on the low budgets of documentary productions is the high cost of blimped studio generators. Not only are blimped generators expensive to rent, but they also come with hidden costs. Since rental trucks like those from Ryder or Penske are not equipped to tow, you quite often have to hire the rental house's grip truck to tow them. And, since most rental houses require that one of their employees drive their trucks (for insurance reasons), the production has to hire a driver at roughly $575/10hrs - which is probably more than anyone else on a typical documentary crew is getting paid. All of this makes the creation of natural looking daylight expensive.



(The light generated by the CAD designed Max Reflector of the new M90/60 is incredibly bright and sharp.)


If you are shooting on a low budget, a less expensive alternative is to use the new ARRI M90 with MAX reflector. The ARRI M90 introduces a new power class for daylight fixtures. Utilizing a 9 kW lamp, developed by Osram according to ARRI's specification, the M90/60 can be operated on portable gas generators, like Honda's new 10kw EB10000, to achieve remarkable results. 
The unique MAX reflector of the M90 creates diverging parallel rays to produce a crisp light with even distribution through a wide spot/flood range. The result is a lens-less open face fixture with a quality of light close to that of a Fresnel. The elimination of spread lenses like those used on HMI Pars, makes the ARRI MAX reflector lamp heads comparable to par configurations of even a higher wattage. In fact, the M90 is brighter than some 18K Fresnels on the market.



(The Active Line Filtration (ALF) of the new ARRI EB 6000/9000 ballast makes it an incredibly efficient and clean load.)


Since hard direct sunlight can be unflattering as a key light for talent, and to replicate the softer more diffuse sky-shine that should also come through a window, I would suggest you use for the talent’s key source a smaller HMI, like a 2500W HMI Par, through a diffusion frame from the same general direction as the window. Diffusing the 2500 will take the “source-i-ness” out of it and placing it close to the window will enable it to spread inside the room the way natural sky-shine does. Since you can operate a 2500W HMI on common 240V wall outlets with a Transformer/Distro, and an M90 can operate on our modified Honda EB10000 generator, well lit day interiors just became a lot more affordable for low budget productions. A final touch would be to fly a branch-o-loris just outside the window to create a little leaf break-up on the interior set. This would have the effect of creating some contrast (light & shadow.)


I have used this same combination of 240V wall outlets and portable Honda generators to eliminate the need for tie-ins or a tow genny on many of the historical documentaries I have gaffed. For example, I have used a similar package repeatedly at a historical mansion in Easton MA called the Ames Estate.



(Scene from "Unsolved History" powered from 50A/240V range outlet through step-down transformer/distro at the Ames Estate)


A popular state fee free location, the Ames Estate, like many historical house/museums, does not permit tie-ins and the electrical wiring in the house is so antiquated that it is unusable. Fortunately, they have a 50A/240 volt circuit in the carriage house for a welder they use to repair the mowers they use at the park. Our standard mode of operation when shooting there is to run 250V extension cable from the welding receptacle to a 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro placed in the entry hall of the house. Using a 60A Siamese at the Transformer/Distro, we then run 60A 6/3 Bates extensions, down to the library, to the second floor, and back to the maid’s pantry. At the end of each run we put another 60A Siamese. A 60A snackbox on one side of the Siamese gives us 20A branch circuits. The other side we leave open for a large HMI or Tungsten Light. Now we can safely plug 1200 - 4000W HMIs (or even a 5k Quartz) into our own distribution anywhere in the house to balance the interior levels to the exterior. A good example of this approach is an American Experience program titled “The Most Dangerous Women in America” about Typhoid Mary that I lit for PBS. For part of her life Typhoid Mary was quarantined on an island in New York's East River.



(Typhoid Mary in quarantine on an island in New York's East River. Note the view out the window of the East River shoreline at the turn of the century.)


Because New York’s East River today looks nothing like it did when she was in quarantine, we used a 30' blowup of a picture of the East River at the turn of the century rigged outside the windows of a house in Arlington MA. As you can see in the production still of the exterior of the actual location used for the quarantine island, we rigged a solid over the porch windows and the blow-up to keep the sun off both. That way we could light the blow-up and interior so that it remained consistent even though the sun moved on and off the porch in the course of the day.


We had to strike a delicate balance between the interior and exterior levels. We wanted to overexpose the exterior by one stop so that it would look realistic and hide the fact that the exterior was a blow-up. To take the edge off the blow-up, we used a single scrim outside the window to help throw it out of focus.



(The actual exterior of Mary’s cottage was the backyard of a house in Arlington Ma with a 30’ blow up of a picture of New York’s East River shoreline at the turn of the century.)


To maintain continuity between shots, in this case we brought a 4kw HMI Par in a window on one side of the room as a sun source and a 1200 par through a window on the other side as a northern light source. We powered both heads off a dryer plug in the laundry room of the house using one of our Transformer/Distros. The two 2.5kw Par lights used outside to light the blow-up were powered by a Honda EU6500is through a second 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro. Since the Honda EU6500is could be placed right on the lawn, we were saved from running hundreds of feet of feeder back to a tow generator.



(A child dying of Typhoid Mary filmed in a bedroom of the Ames Estate)


We have been able to use this same basic package at numerous museums and historical houses throughout New England including Sturbridge Village. Fortunately for us, to make ends meet, many historical houses rent themselves out for events and weddings. For that reason, they usually have at least one updated service with 30 or 50 Amp 240 volt circuit for the warming ovens of caterers.



(The New York City Health Inspector filmed in the library of the Ames Estate)


Use this link for more production stills of PBS and History Channel historical documentaries shot this way.


Guy Holt, Gaffer, Lighting and Grip Equipment Rental & Sales in Boston

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Holt, that's a very thought of reply and I agree with you 100% but if you have read the 1st post you would see that the OP intended to light that set with his quartz lights (2x650 + 1K).


It doesn't seem to me that your suggestions, albeit correct, fit the OP budget at all but I might be wrong and if I am William will step in and confirm that one way or the other.


One thing's for sure. His quartz have no punch to augment the natural light I see coming in onto that space hence my suggestion to use the natural available light.


You've mentioned a pertinent aspect though. That's the interview length and the obvious constraints it can impose and your throughly reply was based on that aspect.


Also remember that if that huge opening is facing north it will be more easy to shoot a lengthy interview, not to mention doing it on an overcast day.


For all that reasons I'm still convinced that I stand correct advising William to try shooting his interview with the natural daylight that comes into the pub.

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I decided to shot without artificial lights.

Now I can say it?s been a good choice.

for the first scene (pub scene) I shot at ISO 640 and f 2.8. I exposed for the half face lighted by the window, then filled a bit the other side with a reflector (5 in 1 used for portraits), but I left it pretty dark and underexposed.

I liked that look because,even underexposed, behind the subject there were a lot of bottle that create a shiny and colored bokeh. the subjcet was enough separeted from the back.

for the other scenes I had no problem: just close the iris and filled the shadows withe the same reflector.

now, while editing the video, I'm using the levels and rgb curves to fit the shadows/higlights.

Edited by William Ardani
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