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Scott Ross

Supplementary light for twilight/dusk/dawn scenes - 500T

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Hi,

I'm shooting a dawn scene (mostly medium shots and closeups, no shots of the sky) on the steps of this columned building:

 

http://www.milnercarrconservation.com/images/custom_images/20080115033039_Photo1.jpg

 

I scouted to see how the light looks during the short twilight hours of dusk and dawn. The light there is nice but slightly darker than, say, an open field, due to skyscrapers in the surrounding area.

 

I'm definitely looking for a soft, dark blue early morning look, like this dawn scene from The Virgin Suicides:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2zMLC12QlHk/Sqdk77rDlcI/AAAAAAAAAK8/XVImrwR1nj8/s400/The_Virgin_Suicides_513.jpg

 

or the look of this clip from Amarcord (which is obviously on a studio set):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygr7De1wq6o

 

I'm going to be using a powerful fogger to add a significant amount of smoke/fog drifting through the scene.

 

My question is: is it standard practice to add a bit of supplementary light to twilight scenes to add a bit of dimension to the flatness of the light? I'm afraid it's going to look too flat or that the actors will look silhouetted in front of the light gray stone of the building. On the other hand, I don't know how to motivate any extra light... if your primary source is the huge, soft source of the illuminated pre-sunrise sky, then what would make sense in terms of adding a subtle boost to that light? I was considering using an HMI bounced off a large piece of muslin from the left or right of the stairs, but I don't know if that'll look bizarre. Would it be better to give them a soft backlight of some sort?

 

I'm shooting on Vision 3 500T. I'm figuring I might need to push it one stop during the darker parts of twilight. And I won't be using an 85 filter because (like I said) I want a really deep blue look.

 

Thanks a lot for any help!

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Some people fight the flatness by using negative fill, large black flags to one side or slightly overhead. You can augment with some soft side light if you want.

 

The problem with magic hour is that the levels change very quickly, you may find yourself using a 6K HMI through a 12x12 frame at the start of magic hour and end up with only one tube on a Kinoflo by the end, and even that may be too much. So you need a game plan for dealing with that.

 

Also the light can get a bit bluer than 5600K by the end so an uncorrected HMI can start to look warmer than the surrounding dusk light after awhile.

 

I generally keep magic hour shots very simple because I know we will be rushing to get set-ups done. So perhaps I end up with just a Kinoflo through a diffusion frame, with some intermediate frames and nets standing by to knock down the light. But as I said, some negative fill may also be useful.

 

You also have to decide whether you want the tail end of magic hour to be for your closer or your wider shots, it just depends. Sometimes if it is overcast or easy to silk the end of daylight, you can start with the close-ups and have more depth of field to work with, then pull back everything and get the wide shot at the end of dusk. Other times, it's better to get the wide shot done first because your close-ups are near a wall or something that can be lit for dusk should it become night before you are finished.

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Some people fight the flatness by using negative fill, large black flags to one side or slightly overhead. You can augment with some soft side light if you want.

 

The problem with magic hour is that the levels change very quickly, you may find yourself using a 6K HMI through a 12x12 frame at the start of magic hour and end up with only one tube on a Kinoflo by the end, and even that may be too much. So you need a game plan for dealing with that.

 

Also the light can get a bit bluer than 5600K by the end so an uncorrected HMI can start to look warmer than the surrounding dusk light after awhile.

 

I generally keep magic hour shots very simple because I know we will be rushing to get set-ups done. So perhaps I end up with just a Kinoflo through a diffusion frame, with some intermediate frames and nets standing by to knock down the light. But as I said, some negative fill may also be useful.

 

You also have to decide whether you want the tail end of magic hour to be for your closer or your wider shots, it just depends. Sometimes if it is overcast or easy to silk the end of daylight, you can start with the close-ups and have more depth of field to work with, then pull back everything and get the wide shot at the end of dusk. Other times, it's better to get the wide shot done first because your close-ups are near a wall or something that can be lit for dusk should it become night before you are finished.

 

Thanks a lot for the advice David!

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