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Phil Rhodes

Tactics for the day interior

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I've spent a few days In New York, and it seems busy here for the film industry. I wandered coincidentally past one rental place (Hand Held Films, I discover, having looked it up) which seemed to contain enough dolly track to replace most of the subway system.

 

But one instance in particular stands out. I'm not sure what the production was - looks like a big TV show or a feature - but they'd taken an approach to the day interior that I don't believe would have been possible anywhere else.

 

Let's suppose we're shooting inside a building and there isn't enough light coming through the windows. The British solution is: tough, crank it up to 6dB and live with the noise and the fact that it looks like someone's home movie.

 

The American solution is to close down half a block's worth of parking, bring in an enormous generator truck, and:

 

post-29-0-94004700-1447362717_thumb.jpg

 

Now that's what I'm talking about!

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Well, that's a pretty standard approach anywhere in the world, even in the UK!

 

Let's put some orientative prices!

 

- A crane that size costs $200 / day delivered.

- Let's imagine that that's a 18K, which is $600 / day.

- Generator - $1000 / day with driver and fuel.

- 2 sparks, $170 / day each.

- Cost of putting the crane there, nobody knows but the production itself.

 

And that's before the line producer calls the different rental houses and manages to put the prices down!

 

It is very very easy to do something like that.

 

Even I did it once here in Ireland on a short - film!

 

And they do it in the UK :P

 

Have a lovely day!

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Actually that's two 18Ks, you can't really see it from that angle (it just showed the setup better overall). The rest of the production stretched down the block behind me.

 

I suspect you could go around London and kiss the backside of everyone who's ever worked on something of that scale and not get chapped lips. Penny Dreadful is not typical.

 

P

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I wonder if in the States they have to bring people on the basket of the crane too as we do in Europe.

 

Regarding UK productions.. you should talk to my friend Sergio Delgado, he is shooting Poldark's 2nd season now and he has done some interesting setups! And fhey involve 18K's :P

 

And Downton Abbey had (and maybe has, I don't know if it is finished) a lot of those setups!

 

Two days ago we had 3 x 18K's, 1 x M40 and 1 x 2.5 plus 2 x balloons to shoot an amazing interior day on Penny.. and wait until they go to Spain next year, the set ups will be amazing!!

 

Have a good day!

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Phil

 

I think it just depends on the budgets.. be it UK/US/Europe (oh yes UK is part of Europe !).. crews in NY without the budget are also cranking up the ISO or shooting silhouette .. and some cities are much more film friendly than others..

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The worst feeling is to know exactly how you want to do something and not be able to do it. I hate lighting day interiors from the inside, but I actually did it last weekend and was pretty satisfied with the result. All I ended up using was a 1.2K booklight and a couple Litepanels. I've done similar things even with Tungsten lights and gels, and still kept it backlit. It's a real pain in the ass when all it'd really take is a rig like that through the window.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to as LED lighting improves is saving on the cost of power. When you're working with LEDs, it takes a lot less to run them, which makes rigs like this more accessible to smaller productions. Even what we have now is awesome, the Astra EP draws 110W at the output of around a soft 575HMI. The Mactech lights are pretty nice too, the 960W model is pretty bright for under 1000W.

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I saw pictures from the "Wolf Hall" U.K. shoot and they were using plenty of condors with HMI's to light those interiors...

 

The thing with NYC is mainly that you can't close a street down easily -- in this case, the condor is in the parking lane, looks like traffic is squeaking by it. I've alway been surprised at how you have to put an entire package out in the curb lane because you can't block the sidewalks there in NYC and you can't block the traffic, so you end up sitting in a tent with the video monitors as cars wiz by you... the trick is to not step out of the tent into the traffic.

 

The main limitations in NYC with condors, besides power lines, is height. Once you get beyond the third floor or so, you can rule out being able to light from the outside unless you get lucky, like having a rooftop across the street that you can light from.

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I've spent a few days In New York, and it seems busy here for the film industry. I wandered coincidentally past one rental place (Hand Held Films, I discover, having looked it up) which seemed to contain enough dolly track to replace most of the subway system.

 

But one instance in particular stands out. I'm not sure what the production was - looks like a big TV show or a feature - but they'd taken an approach to the day interior that I don't believe would have been possible anywhere else.

 

Wow Phil, first it was C-stand envy and now Condor envy? Perhaps you should consider getting some help through the British Health system.

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I wouldn't have has any idea that's what a "condor" looked like if I hadn't heard it here. Best I've seen in London is a cherry picker, which wouldn't go up nearly so high.

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I don't think there is a well-defined difference between a cherry picker and a condor -- condors come in approx. 45', 60', 85', 125' (max) lengths (I'm sure there are others) and then above that you get into construction cranes. Condors can have an articulating arm or a straight arm. I tend to think what defines a "cherry picker" is more the bucket at the end of the arm.

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I think the attraction of the sort of thing I've seen is that they can be obtained fairly straightforwardly from plant hire places and don't really require specialist crew, beyond the same people who would operate them on a construction site who don't tend to charge film crew rates.

 

Much as I personally understand how to make light come out of a big HMI, and as far as I know it would be theoretically insurable for me to do so, I'm not sure I'd feel terrifically confident about rigging two of them overhead on a busy public road like that. The key cost of all this stuff is, as ever, crewing.

 

P

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Actually this kind of thing is quite common in the UK. It's just the scale of it and the shutting down the streets that isn't common.

I've even worked on shoots where they did this.

Just one huge light on a strange telescopic steel thing tho to the first floor. (the one above the ground floor)

The other difference is that in the UK, once they blast the light through the window, then the set is lit and everything is good to go! :)

 

Freya

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I saw pictures from the "Wolf Hall" U.K. shoot and they were using plenty of condors with HMI's to light those interiors...

 

Wow! Wolf Hall! I recently picked up a cheap DVD of this. I was not very impressed.

The first thing I watched was the behind the scenes stuff which had just the most unbelievable bad sound.

It was very strange as it looked like they were making a bit of a half hearted effort with the camera work (well the framing was sort of okay, blown out windows but maybe they wanted that).

 

Wolf Hall has been much criticised for it's dark footage and I have to agree it looked kind of awful. Reminded me of Sony A7S footage only not quite as nice. The bodies of the white candles looked really blown out and glowing. It was a very strange look and I really didn't think it worked. It could be the people making it felt the same way as I notice that these kind of problems became less and less as the series went on.

 

The story was okay but the whole thing was promoted as Britains answer to "Game of Thrones" which seemed way over the top as it seemed like a really cheap TV drama. The story was okay and I sort of liked that aspect and the acting was great too but overall I was unimpressed with the production quality. The Betacam style handheld camera seemed a bit out of place sometimes too. It made it look more like news camera footage than an Alexa cinema style production. Maybe they really wanted to go for that news look to make it seem more "Real" or something.

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black

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Well there you go.. one mans meat is another mans poison .. I thought it looked great.. there was a good interview with the DP .. I think I saw it on this forum actually.. and it certainly wasn't a half hearted attempt at camera work.. the whole candle thing I thought was done very well.. even sticking with single wick sticks.. the main hero was the focus puller and the DP gave him credit by name..

I like the HH look.. we have seen all the dolly/crane,horse and robe shows a million times.. I think thats more PTI film making.. :)

 

But each to their own.. just goes to show.. what ever you make it wont be to everyones taste.. just thought I had to defend it a bit..

Wish I had the link to the DP interview .. very interesting .. and you might have a better impression of the lighting/style .. or t least what they were aiming for..

 

Thanks

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There were definitely bits that worked but you would expect there to be bits that worked as it was being pushed as the flagship production, the british game of thrones at the time.

 

The DVD extras are especially embarrassing.

 

You are in for a treat if you liked it though as I'm expecting much more like this as cameras get faster and people turn the ISO up to 11!

 

Wolf hall is ahead of its time but I'm not looking forward to the new look as I think it looks really odd in a bad way.

 

Freya

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Well there you go.. one mans meat is another mans poison .. I thought it looked great.. there was a good interview with the DP .. I think I saw it on this forum actually.. and it certainly wasn't a half hearted attempt at camera work..

 

Robyn you misread the half hearted bit as I was talking about the DVD extras and I was being polite as they were just beyond the beyond shocking.

 

Freya

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pretty standard way to deal with day interior actually as said, anywhere in the world. If you need daylight coming in a window for a long period of time this is kinda the only way to do it. of course it depends how wide your shot is and what you are seeing in the background but if you have a wide shot where you are seeing other windows in the background and you want sunlight coming into the shot and you need to balance exposure for the BG...well time to order up the condor. I would guess anywhere in the world most productions that are considered "High end" are on this scale and often times mid size stuff gets condors out there too.

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pretty standard way to deal with day interior actually as said, anywhere in the world. If you need daylight coming in a window for a long period of time this is kinda the only way to do it.

 

Depends what you call a long period of time. There is also the sun for instance. ;)

 

Freya

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I would guess anywhere in the world most productions that are considered "High end" are on this scale and often times mid size stuff gets condors out there too.

 

The whole point of my posting this was to emphasise how lucky you folks are over there. Filmmaking is not really done at that level anywhere else, unless the US production industry is financing it and that's naturally very rare.

 

I doubt a setup that big is done once a year here, outside big imported blockbusters.

 

P

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Rented, as Phil notes, from a general plant hire company and not from a specialist film renter at eye-watering expense, nor driven to the set by expensive union labour who spend the rest of the shoot drinking tea whilst being paid £50 a cup for the privilege.

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Well, that's one!

 

(Also, apropos of not much, that's a Genie lift in my lexicon, and they don't go as high).

 

And yes, the phone number on the back suggests they're from (thanks Google) Nationwide Platforms. In terms of the lighting gear and crewing, it's still a swingeingly expensive setup.

 

I wouldn't personally want to do it on the basis that it's frighteningly easy to tip those over simply by snagging a cable, so you would certainly want a real crew.

 

P

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I wouldn't personally want to do it on the basis that it's frighteningly easy to tip those over simply by snagging a cable, so you would certainly want a real crew.

 

P

 

There is a guy who does this out here (crane truck thing not cinema lighting) who has a little truck thing with an arm on the back available for hire. I bet it's not that expensive to hire him and it would be more stable than those and I think the guy comes with it so he would be able to help you.

 

Also its not like you are going to have 18K lights to stick on it anyway. I suspect it would be more useful for doing camera moves than this kind of thing but who knows. I'm sure it could be safe if you used your noodle and had a good talk for a heads up on the head end before you start shooting.

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black

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