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Lighting with (fluorescent) light from above (Toplight).

Leo Panthera

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Hey Guys!

I'm going to shoot a shortfilm set in a dry-cleaner's in a bit and am currently looking for inspirational films/scenes that use fluorescent top lighting as key, since i would like to go with fluorescent tubes that are already part of the location as practicals.

I'm currently looking into "The girl with the dragon tattoo"; "Arrival"; "Fight Club"; "Fallen Angels" etc. to learn how to create dramatic/thrilling scenes through the use of neon/fluorescent light from above.

(The ceiling of the dry-cleaner's is going to be pretty low, so I don't think I'll be able to hang Chimera Quartz's of any size, my initial idea was going with diffused Kinos or maybe pancakes if there is enough budget for it. I also would be happy about more ideas of Lights to use. I also thought about bouncing light into ultrabounce/musslin/silk attached to the ceiling, I'm not really sure if it's the right characteristic though, so I need to test this in the next few weeks)

So if you have a few other films on your mind that utilize remarkable top lighting, and of course your own tips/experience regarding working with top-light, I would be glad if you could share them with me!

I'm also happy about every bit of behind the scenes material of films using this type of lighting!



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Use existing ceiling fixtures and bounce board for high front fill? I've shot a fair amount of office stuff with that approach.


If you're wanting a more contrasty, edgy look, just shut off the fixtures in front of the actors so they are top and back lit, and then use your own highish key for them.

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Hey Christopher,

Thanks for your answer! Yeah, I'll most likely go with the more contrasty look, I'll give it a go in the next few weeks to see If this would fit the mood! Right now I'm trying to find out what the best settings for Kino's are in order to be soft enough to wrap into the eyes of the actors (if lit from above) but still maintain a dramatic contrast ratio on their faces. I'll also try working with the fixtures from the ceiling but "fake" a toppish sidelight with mobile kino's on C-stands and see how this turns out.

Again, thanks for your answer!


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