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Dune - night exterior lighting question


Benjamin Handler
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Hello all,

Just finished watching the new Dune film. It's beautifully shot. In particular I enjoyed the night exteriors in the desert. The film has about ~30 minutes of night exteriors that feel like this beautiful, diffuse blue hour, but last for what must've taken days or weeks of actual production time. Any idea how this was done? From my experience shooting blue hour, you don't get much time and it's a race to film before you lose light, and can be  tough to match in post with the light constantly changing. That seems prohibitive for a production of this size, though I know Chloe Zhao has done scenes like that (though much more contained scenes)

Am I naive, and this is on a stage? Or some sort of elaborate day-for-night? I can't imagine lighting the desert would be possible, as there are many expansive wides. Nor does this feel like a stage.

Can't attach screenshots unfortunately but see here on the Dune trailer below,

close-up : https://youtu.be/n9xhJrPXop4?t=86

wide : https://youtu.be/n9xhJrPXop4?t=170

Appreciate your all's thoughts

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On 10/24/2021 at 6:04 PM, Benjamin Handler said:

 

Hello all,

Just finished watching the new Dune film. It's beautifully shot. In particular I enjoyed the night exteriors in the desert. The film has about ~30 minutes of night exteriors that feel like this beautiful, diffuse blue hour, but last for what must've taken days or weeks of actual production time. Any idea how this was done? From my experience shooting blue hour, you don't get much time and it's a race to film before you lose light, and can be  tough to match in post with the light constantly changing. That seems prohibitive for a production of this size, though I know Chloe Zhao has done scenes like that (though much more contained scenes)

Am I naive, and this is on a stage? Or some sort of elaborate day-for-night? I can't imagine lighting the desert would be possible, as there are many expansive wides. Nor does this feel like a stage.

Can't attach screenshots unfortunately but see here on the Dune trailer below,

close-up : https://youtu.be/n9xhJrPXop4?t=86

wide : https://youtu.be/n9xhJrPXop4?t=170

Appreciate your all's thoughts

Not certain because I haven't seen the film or even seen much behind the scenes, but I know Greig Fraiser, the DP, is a big fan of LED Volumes, which can replicate sunset/blue hour for as long as they want and provide realistic backgrounds. Because they're LEDs, they also provide lighting that's accurate to the image being displayed. 

Again, not sure if that's what they did, but that would be my guess on what you've said and on the DPs preferences. 

Here's more information about Volumes:

https://www.xrstage.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

If that's Abu Dhabi in the background, then it was literally 15 people likely in blue hour for the close up. 

 

Here is the original plate before they added the sandworm and brought up the levels. I hear they were a mix of big budget and indie style shooting to get the naturalism the director wanted. 

e_131_fdp_0160_still_1027_v001_PR.jpg

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Fraser discusses this towards the end of this Go Creative Show episode (the entire episode is fantastic). It sounds like they shot most of these night scenes on location in full shadow during late afternoon. The dunes allowed for multiple hours of full shadow conditions in certain areas. The night look was then brought out in the color grade. 

I was surprised to hear that it was such a relatively simple setup to achieve the look. 

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Yes! I read that Villeneuves big ask before making DUNE was to be able to shoot on location. So im very sure, this is location work. Seems to be quite classic day for night work so makes sense with the dune shadows.

I honestly thought they got a bit too dark for my taste. But its so subtle so it might have been the projection in my cinema. 

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