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The Matrix - How to create the lighting?


Jordan Watson
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  • 4 weeks later...
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Whenever I've tried to do that sort of thing I've ended up having to hang a lot of black fabric and blackwrap and so forth around the lighting - it tends to be a bit indiscriminate. But then that's 35mm, and it falls off in the shadows a lot more than the digital formats we're all used to now.

 

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Jordan, you'll be pleased to hear the above shot was filmed in your hometown Sydney, at Fox Studios. Look up gaffer Reg Garside and ask him yourself! He's a good guy and i'm sure he'd be keen to help out.

 

I would say if you're trying to replicate it with budget lighting then either go for David's suggestion ( i would say use 3 kinos plus you might want to add a good layer of 216 too keep things v soft) and work with lots of negative fill around the edges of frame.

 

Personally if budget was a problem i would get hold of 2 source 4's and a long sheet of poly (8'x4'), rig it as if it was a backlight and bounce the source 4's up from the camera side.

 

Source 4's are much cheaper than kino's and work beautifully

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The advantage of Kinos is that even if you put 216 on them, you could clamp some barn door extenders to keep the spill down on the ground. With the bounce card method, that's a bit harder but you could still create a bottom shelf on each card with some black wrap and paper tape to reduce the downward spill.

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That shot is a nice softbox downlight look. Kinos can give you that great softbox light, especially when you add diffusion as David said. If you can't afford them, you can get a similar feeling by using large Rifa lights or chimera's on open-faced 1ks. In the early 1980s, before kinoflos were invented (or rifas or chimeras), I was building chicken coops for commercials all the time for the DPs I gaffed for.

 

It is easy to build a small soft box out of foam board available at any art store. Nail or screw gun together a square frame out of 1”x2” wooden battens, then nail or screw gun foam board to all four sides creating a box. Tape the corners together. Tape diffusion across the bottom, which can be diffusion gel, or something as inexpensive as tracing paper or even a cheap white plastic table cloth from the dollar store. Add two struts across the top. Clip onto the struts whatever open faced lights you have such as tota lights, or even clip lights with 250watt bulbs in them. Use enough units that when aimed down the entire surface of the white diffusion is lit. Tie rope, sash cord or twine to the four corners and attach them to a carabineer or some other hook. Make sure you run extension cords to it before you hang it.

 

The important positioning is what David pointed out and is what makes the image so great. It isn't hung directly above the two actors, but slightly behind them - rim and backlighting them while allowing their faces to go under and be only lit by the bounce coming up from the floor. It looks to me that the background was lit separately - there's a shadow between their chairs and the fireplace. Its lit also from above. This isolates the actors more from their surroundings, while still allowing the location to be seen.

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Personally if budget was a problem i would get hold of 2 source 4's and a long sheet of poly (8'x4'), rig it as if it was a backlight and bounce the source 4's up from the camera side. Source 4's are much cheaper than kino's and work beautifully.

 

Very interesting, on the cheap solution. Might just have to play with this one to see what you can get.

 

I would try hanging two 4' 4-bank Kinos end to end to create an 8' soft light from a backlit position above the chairs.

 

David, I agree and would probably approach this very similarly with Kinos if budget allowed. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

 

It is easy to build a small soft box out of foam board available at any art store. Nail or screw gun together a square frame out of 1”x2” wooden battens, then nail or screw gun foam board to all four sides creating a box.

 

I definitely remember using this back in film school. We used the larger 150w CFL bulbs if I remember correctly. Very good alternative and reusable!

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The fear I always have with this sort of thing is that there will be criticism - "Oh, you can't see their faces! How can we see their performances!"

 

In days of yore when I shot short films for fun, I would commonly set up contrasty things in this sort of vein and was very rarely allowed to shoot them. People round here are far too keen for everything to look like Casualty.

 

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Thank you all so much for the responses! I have easy access to four 4' 4-bank Kinos + a few C - stands so I will go with those as suggested above. What is the best way to suspend these lights? The ceiling we are shooting in is quite high (over the standard 2.4 metre hight). It's around 4 metres high.

Thanks Phil, I will black wrap around the lights as I've had lens flare and light spill before in a similar situation. Thanks Freddie for letting me know the info about the gaffer, I will definitely try and contact him! Thanks also for the lighting plan, that's another good way of doing it.

Cheers guys,

Jordan Watson

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Thank you all so much for the responses! I have easy access to four 4' 4-bank Kinos + a few C - stands so I will go with those as suggested above. What is the best way to suspend these lights? The ceiling we are shooting in is quite high (over the standard 2.4 metre hight). It's around 4 metres high.

 

Thanks Phil, I will black wrap around the lights as I've had lens flare and light spill before in a similar situation. Thanks Freddie for letting me know the info about the gaffer, I will definitely try and contact him! Thanks also for the lighting plan, that's another good way of doing it.

 

Cheers guys,

 

Jordan Watson

you can for example attach a 4 or 5 meter long steel pipe between two combos and hang the lights from it. two combo 2's or 3's, the pipe, two big bens, couple of safety wires, couple of sandbags, clamps to attach the lights to the pipe (you can use for example matellini clamps for this)

Edited by aapo lettinen
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