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David Mullen ASC

The Sophomore

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First week out of the school and it began somewhat roughly. We had a day of driving around on the main street of Bayonne but due to lots of problems, some organizational and logistical, some just due to the nature of the scene, it was like pulling teeth to shoot this stuff and it reminded me of how much I hate doing process trailer / camera car scenes. We ended the day grabbing some nice twilight shots though on the streets.

 

The second day was partially spent inside a tiny garage, mostly lit by the fluorescent worklights on the very low ceiling. We had a magic hour sequence which required me to start shooting a couple of hours before sunset, inside a van, and fake magic hour, which was tough -- I saw partially out the door & window of the van, which opens & closes, so I couldn't ND gel the window. I put ND.90 on a 4'x8' wooden frame and put that just in the background to darken the view, then tented the van. I put a bright tungsten lightbulb in the van that comes on, so that I had a mix of color temps. But it was hard to get the light levels of daylight dim enough. We then shot the wide shots at twilight for real.

 

Because on this day and the next, we had some nighttime exterior work with a lot of natural light, we rented a set of the Zeiss Master Primes. I shot some of the wide shots at T/1.3 and then the closer shots at T/2 just for a little more depth of field.

 

I did one of my favorite night exterior shots so far, lit with just four 1K PAR64's (narrow spots, but they had two double scrims in them just to knock everything down to a T/1.3 level.) On a 40' condor on the left, I had one PAR64 with Cyan60 gel pointing down, about two stops overexposed, plus two ungelled PAR's aimed at the far background, plus a fourth PAR raking the building from the right. I also added a mercury-vapor practical on the left side of the building.

 

It was great lighting a wide shot to T/1.3 because between that and pushing the Fuji Eterna 500T by one stop, I was able to capture the glow in the sky from the sodium vapor night lights. Here is a digital snapshot I took of the set-up:

 

night1.jpg

 

That same night, we shot a scene across from some loading docks at the harbor. It begins with a teenage girl waiting near the shipping docks. We had an overhead 5K gelled with 1/2 CTO on a condor pointing down for an overhead streetlamp effect and I filled in from a distance with another 5K with Cyan60 gel over a Chimera softbox.

 

night2.jpg

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Lovely frames. Are they a lot like the what you shot on film in terms of framing? If that's the case, judging from the photos you've posted so far there's quite a bit of wide shots in your movie - and I love it.

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That same night, we shot a scene across from some loading docks at the harbor. It begins with a teenage girl waiting near the shipping docks. We had an overhead 5K gelled with 1/2 CTO on a condor pointing down for an overhead streetlamp effect and I filled in from a distance with another 5K with Cyan60 gel over a Chimera softbox.

 

Hi David,

It looks beautiful! The lights on the cranes on the boat, are they all practical or did you add lighting to it?

 

Laurence

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The boat and dock were just the real lights there, though from the Condor, I did shine one of the PAR64's onto the shipping containers -- it was so far away that it just added some weak fill.

 

My gaffer, Kevin Janicelli, always puts four or so 1K PAR64's (firestarters -- i.e. very narrow spot globes) in a Condor with whatever the main light is, just to pick out various spots from above, like a treetop or distant building. It's great because it adds some life way in the background.

 

On a condor at night, he also prefers using a big tungsten unit like a Dino or Maxilight rather than HMI's, and just gelling them for moonlight or a streetlamp color -- they are more sturdy & dependable than HMI's and don't require headfeeder cables, etc. We can turn off individual globes to control the intensity or swivel some globes for the spread. Of course, you do get a slight fringy shadow from a multi-globe source like that.

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Ah! Hapag-Lloyd. Now they are a very farmiliar sight around Newcastle. :)

 

Beautiful shots by the way. You really are one of the ASC's finest. ;)

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David,

Just wanted to know about how you crop your images in photoshop to get the proper aspect ratio? Also what was the reasoning or motivation for the Cyan60 gels? What kind of practical street lamp is it replicating? Maxilight is the same as a nine like Maxibrute, and what globes did you use on it? Were they all narrow spots or very narrow like the 1k singles? Thanks!

 

Rick

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I think the Maxibrutes were a mix of medium and spot rows, not sure. Cyan60 is just what I'm using for a faux mercury vapor color, blue-green. Actual mercury-vapor street lamps seem to be rendering a little more greenish than the tungsten with the Cyan60, but that's OK, cyan is green enough for me... It's a pretty color actually. I remember for "Shadowboxer" wrapping Cool White tubes with Cyan gel for a motel exterior and loving that color.

 

I shot the shipping docks at T/2 on Fuji 500 rated at 640 ASA with a one-stop push. But they were pretty bright in real life -- they use a lot of sodium vapor lamps on those cranes. I took these snapshots when I scouted the place, and the camera was set to around around a typical movie camera exposure time:

 

night4.jpg

 

night5.jpg

 

As soon as I saw the location, I knew we had to shoot some scene, any scene, with that backdrop.

 

As for the cropping, I just guess -- scope is a little over 2:1 so it's easy just by looking at the rulers in Photoshop. Or you could calculate the pixel ratio for the aspect ratio you want and then crop vertically until it matches.

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No, I don't have my Lee swatchbook on me, but I suspect someone might call Cyan60 as "Full Cyan" -- it's sort of similar to Full Plus Green, for example, in density.

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Hey David, very nice shots.

 

I did one of my favorite night exterior shots so far, lit with just four 1K PAR64's

 

Even though you have the budget to do more, you use less. I have been recommending using Par Cans for people with low budget lighting needs for awhile. Just lovely when even larger films do it. Looks great!

 

best

 

Tim

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he also prefers using a big tungsten unit like a Dino or Maxilight rather than HMI's, and just gelling them for moonlight or a streetlamp color -- they are more sturdy & dependable than HMI's and don't require headfeeder cables, etc. We can turn off individual globes to control the intensity or swivel some globes for the spread. Of course, you do get a slight fringy shadow from a multi-globe source like that.

 

He is smart to use tungsten during the night for those reasons. I recently posted that very same recommendation on this site awhile back and got some grief from a few people about it. Tungsten at night is simple and a better way to go. Also I wouldn't worry about the fringy look. It is usually completely unnoticable.

 

Best

 

Tim

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Do you know what the equivalent Lee gel for Cyan60 is?

 

Rosco's CalColor line is a really interesting one, don't think you'll find an exact equivalent to it with Lee. Comparing the swatches, the closest match to my eye is Lee 131 Marine Blue which is a bit more dense than CC60 Cyan, and closer to CC90 Cyan.

 

That definitely is a fantastic vista to take advantage of David :)

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Guest Stephen Murphy

David,

I love those night shots - they are truly beautifull. Ive just come off a night shoot where i used plenty of lighting firepower but my dailies dont look anywhere near as elegant as those shots. Im jealous again:)

Love that cyan....!

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David , i really like the way you are shooting this film not using tons of light even if the budget allows fast lens when needed pushing a bit just like a well shot '70s movie ,but using the advantage of modern Fuji stocks , so unlike the over lit Hollywood films that have lost the [ night feel ] to many Musco lights . I know iam going to like the look of this production . Hope rest of shoot goes well . John .

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Very nice work. I shoot a lot of night stills for fun and they look very natural. Industrial yards are often very beautiful at night on film just because of all the different light sources.

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night1.jpg

 

night2.jpg

 

night4.jpg

 

night5.jpg

 

As soon as I saw the location, I knew we had to shoot some scene, any scene, with that backdrop.

 

 

You can say that again. There's a power plant very close to where I live that in some ways reminds me of this. I've seen it at night and it has a similar feel in the way the lights are on different levels and the colors playing against the pitch blackness of the velvet night with, in this case, the desert in the foreground. I was thinking of including it as a location IF I can get permission to shoot there. After seeing these pics, I am inspired to re-double my efforts to GET permission. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly

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