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I'm a student cinematographer in Cape Town and I am doing a paper lighting with the following question: How can I light a evening dinner scene with 10 people around the table at night. Shooting at day time with two windows letting sunlight in.

 

I have an idea it has got something to do with mixing colour temperatures...

 

Do note we are not permitted to black out the windows.

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Is the point of it, what to do about the windows? Cause above the table and for the subjects there's a few ways to light it depending.

 

The short answer with the window situation is that you can use curtains inside rather than duvatine outside and "black out" the windows via art direction and set design. As opposed to the traditional commando cloth on the outside of the window. If you're 8 floors up and can't access the outside of the glass.

 

One main difference between movie sets and practical locations is very often practical locations are missing key elements of set design. Window dressing being one of them. So if there's nothing on the insides of those windows, no shade, no drapes, nada, have art buy or put something up there cause it probably looks awkward anyway just as bare glass with nothing.

 

If you can't dress the windows inside either you can gel the glass to make the outdoors appear blue and balance picture for tungsten but if you can't black them, I'm guessing you can't gel them either. It may or may not have the desired effect either based on the look of the outdoors on the day of the shoot. Whether sun is kicking in directly etc.

 

Also gel on windows, if done improperly can look horrible. Another option is to balance picture for the outdoors, warm up the inside lighting considerably and plan to cool it all down later in post or in camera.

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If you can't put anything in front or behind the windows, then I suppose you could try to exclude them so they don't appear in shot?

 

...or if you add absolute shed loads of extra light inside the room so the room is a number of stops brighter than the light outside the windows, then the windows will appear dark. A variation on that would be to go with tungsten lights and balance on the camera, then only make the room a couple of stops brighter than outside, this way the light outside the window will appear a dark blue colour as though it's evening.

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The one major drawback to using available light is the potential for a partly cloudy day. Which can mean drastically changing light levels that will go up or down several stops within a take due to clouds passing over the sun.

 

You're best bet is to shoot all of the stuff facing the windows and with windows in the shot first, get those shots out of the way, then black out the windows on the inside and finish the scene in peace using all your own lights so there's consistency to the levels from that point on.

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This sounds rather like an interior day for night shot. The downside is you do need a lot of light to match the exterior light levels. However, since it's only on paper, you don't have to worry about that, although you could ND or scrim the windows. Someone did one of these as their lighting exercise at a lighting workshop I was at.

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