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How to Light Moonlight motivated Interiors


Haroon Saqib
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I have recently started learning and practice Light and I am going to shoot a Short horror Short film next week, so I decided to do few tests myself. I wanted to ask that how can I improve this scene and when lighting scenes like these, how much dark should I really go for. I used a Godox Sl60w with diffusion on it on the left side, reflecting it of side wall and used a led panel for the key.

Also how can I control light when shooting with white walls and using soft light.

 

 

 

how    324437987_lighting1_1.2.1(2).thumb.jpg.7e6c32d91e4af3f2f9854f60cee16bff.jpg

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If you care for the opinion of a potential consumer (me) as opposed to only that of a professional cinematographer, and imagining the still you provided as being a representation of the moving image, then I would say that I would consider the image, in all honesty, perfectly lit, if I were sitting close to the image relative to the image size, if the venue I was in was quite dark, and if the scene ran on long enough for my eyes to get used to it.

If any of those conditions changed, my suspicion is I would want a little more light.

I don't think think that I, as a consumer, would be disabused by or even concerned with the wall lighting or other peripheral lighting as long as the central action was viewable, the location the action took place in was rather small relative to the action, and the scene did not run on long enough for me to start concerning myself with peripheral lightning.

 If any of those conditions changed, my suspicion is I would spend more time on the lighting, if I had the time and money.

Edited by charles pappas
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I light a moonlit interior more or less the same as a daytime interior, the light comes through the window, etc.

White walls are very tough to deal with, it's always best to avoid them unless you are going for some very stark, white room effect in moonlight and people are more or less in silhouette against the walls. Otherwise, I'd use harder moonlight so that it only falls where you want it to fall.

I had a scene in the pilot of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" where Midge comes back into her apartment and is confronted by the set-up in the dining room for big dinner party; it's a sad scene but I needed to see the dining room table setting and her reaction in the dark, so I played the "moonlight" a bit stronger to see everything. The camera pulls back with her from the foyer with the lamps on into the moonlit living room / dining room:

maisel20.jpg

maisel21.jpg

maisel22.jpg

Even though we built this apartment for the series, for this pilot, this was a real apartment in NYC so it was a bit of a pain to get the moonlight effect through the dining room windows in the background because we were on the 4th floor and the street outside the window was not level. Once we rebuilt this for the series, it was easy to shine a light through that window!

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6 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I had a scene in the pilot of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" where Midge comes back into her apartment and is confronted by the set-up in the dining

maisel20.jpg

David, can you recall your setup for the foyer part of the shot? Was it just the two table lamps, or is there a soft fill source in there as well?

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Just the table lamps -- I had the art department add the one by the door because earlier we had a Steadicam shot that started in the bedroom and went down the hallway into the foyer and then landed on her face as she shut the front door and put her back against it, and I didn't want the overhead foyer light on and we saw most of the foyer ceiling when the camera started down the hallway, so I needed a lamp right next to the door. Plus that's a glass door with sheers over it, so any eye level lamp would have gotten reflected in it.

This is where the Alexa really shines, when the lampshades have to do the actual lighting too and you don't want clipping.

 

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13 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

maisel21.jpg

maisel22.jpg

Even though we built this apartment for the series, for this pilot, this was a real apartment in NYC so it was a bit of a pain to get the moonlight effect through the dining room windows in the background because we were on the 4th floor and the street outside the window was not level. Once we rebuilt this for the series, it was easy to shine a light through that window!

Do you recall the type of light you were using for these shots? Also did they have gels on them to give that steel blue color? 

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14 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

maisel22.jpg

Even though we built this apartment for the series, for this pilot, this was a real apartment in NYC so it was a bit of a pain to get the moonlight effect through the dining room windows in the background because we were on the 4th floor and the street outside the window was not level.

What was the trick for getting the HMI outside the window on the 4th Floor? Scaffolding? Or an extra tall condor? Adjacent building? 

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On 9/19/2020 at 7:05 PM, Haroon Saqib said:

how much dark should I really go for.

It really depends on the scene. What is happening, and what do you need to be able to see?

Here's a couple of frames from a movie I shot a couple of years ago. The character is exploring a house at night. It's meant to be dark and mysterious, and we already know who the character is, so I let her play mostly in silhouette. We also created little pools of light that she could walk through so that we could occasionally see her face.

 

Untitled-16.jpg

Untitled-17.thumb.jpg.9aebe45e82c01bbb0390c37cee52499f.jpg

In another scene, where she was on the phone, we needed to see her face more clearly, so I brought the moonlight a little from the side to light her face. It's still pretty dark, but as soon as she answers her phone, she's lit by that as well.

Untitled-27.jpg

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Yeah, I also light these with the same basic technique as day interiors, but with a little cyan+desaturation and a much lower fill/key ratio. On film, I'll put the fill light at -4.5 while the direct moonlight plays between -2.5 and -3. It looks terrible to the eye on set but falls into place on the film. You can put things further down the scale on the Alexa, the equivalent of -4.5 is probably -5 to -5.5 on the Alexa.

There's a new additional trick I came up with for moonlight. If it's any success I can share next year.

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Thanks Jarin -- that's something I've learned too -- if your key is going to end up, let's say, 2-stops under in the final shot for moonlight and the shadows go to near black at 5-stops under, then you basically have to have your fill only 2.5-3-stop under the key if you want detail. So to your eye, it seems a bit low-contrast on set.

Satsuki, I seem to recall using a very tall condor but it took a lot of leveling.

On her face, I think it was a daylight Litemat with a soft crate plus some flags.

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Yeah, right nowI'm doing exterior moonlit nights now with only 1 1/2 stops difference between the "moonlight" and the ambient "starlight." I also get costumes and sets to make nothing lighter in tone than the average skintone of the actors. Otherwise, you can't set your fill to anything consistent.  You really have to compress tones for night work!

 

J

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@Haroon Saqib  An added note. Moonlight also comes in through windows in the background as well :). Look at Stuart's first frame. The foreground window is lighting her side... but there is another window continuing this trend behind her, and illuminates more of the room. It also creates natural silhouettes as they move through frame.

@Stuart Brereton those frames look great!

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On 9/20/2020 at 11:21 AM, Stuart Brereton said:

It really depends on the scene. What is happening, and what do you need to be able to see?

Here's a couple of frames from a movie I shot a couple of years ago. The character is exploring a house at night. It's meant to be dark and mysterious, and we already know who the character is, so I let her play mostly in silhouette. We also created little pools of light that she could walk through so that we could occasionally see her face.

 

Untitled-16.jpg

Untitled-17.thumb.jpg.9aebe45e82c01bbb0390c37cee52499f.jpg

In another scene, where she was on the phone, we needed to see her face more clearly, so I brought the moonlight a little from the side to light her face. It's still pretty dark, but as soon as she answers her phone, she's lit by that as well.

Untitled-27.jpg

Nice work Stuart!

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