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Lighting and look breakdowns

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Hey guys,

I'm looking to start an ongoing debate about creating looks, with main focus on lighting.
- Light sources, grip, exposure, color, texture, direction, post-processing. The whole deal.

Ideally one could just go shoot tests with different sets and lighting setups every day.
But since that would require a great deal of money and time I figured this to be the next best thing.
- If you’re interested please join in!

Let me start out with this image,


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My guess would be that they used three light sources. No guess as to which. Placed this way;


For post-processing, there is definitely a good deal of contrast.
My guess is they warmed up the shadows, redish, and cooled the highlights, greenish.
- if I grade the opposite I get this more clean normal look;


What do you think?

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The problem with analyzing close-ups like this is that we have no way of knowing what the wider coverage was, how the room was lit, what practicals were there, and how were they contributing to her light.


It may be more valuable to analyze both a wide and a CU. First, to see how the room is lit, and then to see how, or if, the cinematographer has changed the setup for the close coverage.

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Yes, it would be more useful to include the wide shot as well. Few DP's just light close-ups only, the close-up comes after lighting the master. It's easy to just light close-ups, you can put the light wherever you want, make it as soft as you want, etc.


The height of the lamps is important to describe as well.

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You are right. It may be more constructive for a debate like this to include both wide and CU.
This scene, however, only has a CU for this particular setup. A CU on her and a CU of what she is looking at.

It may be helpful to see her from more angles though --

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Tonnes of shots that need answers LOL, heres a couple


AVP must be so far the most beautiful night scenes i've see since I started paying attention to them like this.


I'm guessing a 6K or more high up on a cherry picker and maybe some kinos up close but i'm no expert.


For Django it looks like there is a large light source hidden out of frame just above the house. What do you guys think?


Edited by James Daggy
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Hard to say with so many images -- But there's definitely a lot of backlit haze/fog in all of them, creating the separation by having a light background and dark silhouettes, more or less in all of them. I read somewhere that they used giant cranes for some night scenes in Django -- massive structures to cast illumination over greater areas, I'm guessing to simulate moonlight. I think it was ASC magazine, but it was another night scene.
-- I can find it if you're interested

It may be easier to go in detail with one scene in particular. I don't see the screen from Django with a house that you mentioned.

There's definitely a saturated blue color to the shadow region, but it's not affecting the skin. Maybe it's a key in post. Perhaps the background is lit with cooler lights. It kind of looks like it's something achieved in the DI though.

I agree with you, those are some pretty gorgeous night scenes. It looks like I may have to watch AVP! :)

Edited by Will J. Løkken
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in the first still there is a big hmi really far away backlighting trees and haze....that is just for the backround. then in the forground you can see another probably medium size HMI source giving an edge on the man. camera right there looks to be some sort of soft fill at a low level of illumination ...probably a soft source bouced into muslin or something then off of frame left from above the Police van there is another source side lighting....its hard to tell but it appears it might be a gag that emulates the lights on the cop car. You can tell they are using big sources and shooting at reasonable stop (like a 4 or 5.6) by the depth of field and also probably at lower iso/asa as the cop lights on the car are on and not even overexposed at all really.... They might have cut ND filters around them but it seems like they are just using really powerful sources.



the 2nd frame is just more or less relianet on that big backlight source as everyone is basically a silhouette


the last frame again you have the big backlight and fog (im guessing its an 18k actually in all of these) and then you have some frontal fill I would guess its a big frame of muslin with like a 5k bounced into it maybe but I couldn't really say.

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For this picture it looks like they may have used some of the same lighting as in the post i mentioned. Here are some bts shots from the scene:


Here they used 40'x40' truss frames fitted with 24 DMX-controlled 6K space lights and skinned with Gelfab Full Blue Silent Grid Cloth to "provide some "moonlight" ambience", according to the ASC magazine.

I'm guessing the general field illumination was done in the same way. You see some of this light hitting the front of the house as well. + You can clearly make out the 'vignetting' from the light.

Other than that it looks like they have a backlight that hits the top of the house and also the actors.

Here is another bts shot:

Here the "moon box" is further supported by two 12K HMI Pars, and ArriMax on a 125' Condor and two 15-light Beebe Night Lights.

My guess for your reference, they used the "moon box" and 2 smaller lights to give backlit shape. One on the house and one on the actors


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Awsome, big cranes like that out of most peoples budget, I forget also from the start of the movie. never seen woods lit like this. This is probably the crane lights again but it has been done extremely well.


Are those some form or airlight or HMI's?


Edited by James Daggy
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