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Simon j Rogers

Lighting a Street and graveyard

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Hey,

 

I'm shooting a film next month where i'm going to be lighting a street and graveyard. Only having done one night shoot i would like some advice. The film is a short Horror/Thriller about two burglers looking for an unidentified object. they are going house to house looking for it when they are attacked by a clan of hooded figures (the guardians of the object in my eyes, director may have a different interpretation). I will have access to 4 2k blondes, as many 1k red heads as i need and a range of spots if i need them. Hopefully shooting HD if budget allows, if not HDV, either way with a 35mm adapter.

 

I'm hoping the street will be fairly well lit (Street Lights), but i cant be sure as locations haven't been confirmed. It's gonna be a steadycam shot following a women up the street and into a house.

 

For the graveyard my main concern is lighting a wide shot of two characters walking through the graveyard, closeups for dialogue shouldn't be a problem. same equiptment availavble.

 

Also is there any tips for using a genny when dialogue needs to be recorded? i think we're looking at ADR at the moment.

 

Thanks

Simon.

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There are silent generators for film work, though they are probably too big and expensive for you. But I'd look into that first to see if you can get a deal.

 

Are you sure the streetlamps in the neighborhood are enough to get a good exposure?

 

If you aren't able to create a big single source moonlit look for the cemetary in the wide shots, you may consider creating pools of light as if the cemetary had some streetlamps -- then you could perhaps mount some 1K's and 2K's on poles and treetops for pools of light.

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I would shoot some tests of your street at night and plan on figuring out how to light it. I was recently asked to do the same (a night street on an hvx200 with a redrock) and while we could get an image, there was not enough to get the look we wanted with just the existing street lights. We ended up changed our shots to be tighter and having the action directly under a street light which we faked with a 575 hmi.

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Thanks for he replies.

 

I'm not sure whether there will be enough street light at all. the location hasn't been confirmed. but i hope there will be decent amount street light and not just a dark street. Does keeping the shot tight, using available light and adding a few 2k lights as high as possible (moonlight) sound like it might work?

 

I dont think a silent generator is going to be an option with the budget, but i guess looking for a good deal wont hurt.

 

I like the idea of pools of light in the graveyard. would you also add a light source to simulate moon light in the cemetary?

 

Thanks again for the replies, really appreciate it.

 

Simon

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You might consider losing the adaptor in exchange for an extra stop of lights. Also, when you scout the street location go at dusk and see whether your streetlights come on while there?s still enough sky light ambiance. If you?re well rehearsed before that ?window of opportunity?, you may be able to pull off the shot. Bring your camera to the scout if you can. I prefer dusk for night when it can be done.

Edited by Daniel Madsen

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.....a grad helped some too, I think.

 

 

 

Back lighting your subjects with many smaller sources may be prove less frustrating. With sidelight, the light will fall off very quickly and may look contrived.

Edited by Daniel Madsen

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Trouble with backlighting though, if this is meant to be moonlight, is that the farther in the background the lights get, the higher in the air they must be to get out of the shot. If you're stuck with 20' stands for lights, side-lighting would probably be safer for wide shots.

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I once read an article with Bill Fraker where he said he learned long ago with certain night scenes where there is little source light (and I believe he was speaking about day/night too) to take a small head, say a tweenie, and have it off in the distance pointing straight at the camera. He felt it added to the selling of night. It also creates depth. That is if you can spare a tweenie.

The car lights and garage overhead in Daniels shot do the same.

 

Nice shot Daniel, reminds me of a shot in Road to Perdition.

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I once read an article with Bill Fraker where he said he learned long ago with certain night scenes where there is little source light (and I believe he was speaking about day/night too) to take a small head, say a tweenie, and have it off in the distance pointing straight at the camera. He felt it added to the selling of night. It also creates depth. That is if you can spare a tweenie.

 

Great tip. I was thinking you might want to hide a small light low off in the distance behind a tree or gravestone and back light some very thin smoke. The night air might just pick up enough to glow.

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Don't forget about lighting your backgrounds / make sure they are exposed to your liking. One of the biggest things I have learned from shooting night exteriors (learned from my own mistakes) is that its easy to get carried away worrying about your face exposure/placing shadows and ending up with underexposed backgrounds, or pockets of the backgrounds that are just too dark. This can easily happen if you are doing a walking shot, where you might think about lighting your start and end frame, but get sidetracked from the middle areas, and then end up with sections of the dialogue where they pass areas with nothing visible in the backgrounds, causing the subject's light to look very staged. Also, don't forget the power of practicals in the background, get some PAs to drive the production cars past to give you splashes of light from the headlights!

 

Best of luck!

Edited by Ian Carleton

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