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Benedikt Dresen

Lighting for Darkness / Night Interior Stage Lighting

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Hey everyone,

Since this is my first post in here, I'll quickly introduce myself:
My name is Benedikt Dresen, and I'm a Filmstudent / aspiring Cinematographer from Germany. I started out doing music videos, but now I'm getting more and more into narrative work.

Right now I'm in Pre-Production for a 14-minute Shortfilm I'm DoP'ing. The film is set at night, only in one apartment, which will be built on stage.
It's about a woman entering her home, where she find a complete stranger waiting for her, who's intentions remain unknown. The whole story unfolds through dialogue, but the blocking will still be very vivid, so there isn't really any corner of the apartment, that's not in the frame at some point. So directions of the action/camera shift throughout the different scenes.

Also the Lighting will change quite a bit. In the story, the Stranger is in total control of it.
The base-setup I want to do, is basicly like the one in the attached Mood Picture:

A soft, cold, kinda "toppy" ambient light coming from one side of the room + really dim sodium streetlights from afar, only illuminating the windows a bit.

There will be 3 main setups happening in the living room:

1. Like the mood picture, but also with a tiny practical illuminating a small coffee table in the middle of the room
2. The stranger will light some candles and maybe more practicals (warm and cozy feeling, as it seems like he's not a bad guy for a moment)
3. Absolute "darkness" as the Stranger turns out all the lights, while she left the room for a second. So the lighting should basicly mimic total absence of light.

One more thing that's important: As she is our protagonist, she's supposed to be keyed in a not too unflattering way. While the stranger, should only get a back/rimlight most of the time, so we can't see his eyes or facial expressions most of the time, leaving him and is intentions mysterious.

Gear-whise I basicly have a full set of Arri Tungsten Fresnels and some open face units to work with. + CTB of course, and some color gels to match Sodium Vapor Streetlights.
2x 2kW T2 Fresnel (including 1 chimera I believe)
2x 2kW Open Face
2x 1kW Fresnel
6x650W Fresnel
6x300W Fresnel

My approach till now would be:
- Creating this soft, ambient light from the top left corner in the room. Maybe shooting the 2kW through a lot of Diffusion, or creating a large bounce. (from above the walls, as we won't have a ceiling built)
- Aiming the 650W, or maybe only 300W through Sodium Gels to each window that's in frame, trying to keep it a few stops under in order to not make it light up the room to much, as the ambient light should dominate the room.
- Trying my best to flag the ambient light off the top of the walls, to create some kind of gradient/contrast, as seen in the mood picture.


My main concerns about all of this:
- The ambient light should direction-whise always function as a backlight in order to keep that moody, night feel. For the main actress I will need a fill, max. a rembrandt style shape. Should I try to rely on a close soft bounce for this kind of fill (that's basicly her key), or should I introduce an LED through Diffusion? Also would you have this light at the same stop as the backlight, or over/under?

- As the direction in which we're shooting in the room is shifting throughout the scenes, I would basicly need to shift the direction of the ambient light aswell, in order to keep it backlighting the characters. Is this an okay thing to do, Lighting-Continuity whise? I'm thinking of the ambient light not as a "light" that has a source in the story, but as a light, which represents "absence of light" and has no believable source in the story. Does that make any sense at all? Or should I keep the direction of the ambient light locked, and introduce more lights to backlight whenever needed and flag the ambient off the faces, whenever they would be frontlit by it?



Additional info: I'll be shooting on the Sony FS7, paired with the XD-CA unit, recording 4K Cinema DNG RAW through the Atomos Shogun.


This is my biggest project up to now, and there's quite a budget flowing into the stage built, so I'm really trying to do my best in my department and not **(obscenity removed)** up.
I would endlessly appreciate to get some feedback of you more experienced Cinematographers about my general idea and if it does make any sense, and if my approach to lighting it will work, the way I imagine it to do.


Regards and Thank You all,
Benedikt

the-conjuring-2-003.jpg






Edited by Benedikt Dresen

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I think you did great. Colorwise you are pretty much bang on. I think you could have used a tad bit more blue fill and the curtains are a bit hot (though that could still be fixed in the grade). If you compare the two wide shots, your reference has a very clear, crisp look, where your interior seems to fall into darkness quite often. That can be a creative choice, but with these night looks it most of the time looks best if you expose it a bit brighter than you would by eye and correct that in the grade, at least in my experience.

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Hey everyone,

 

Since this is my first post in here, I'll quickly introduce myself:

My name is Benedikt Dresen, and I'm a Filmstudent / aspiring Cinematographer from Germany. I started out doing music videos, but now I'm getting more and more into narrative work.

 

Right now I'm in Pre-Production for a 14-minute Shortfilm I'm DoP'ing. The film is set at night, only in one apartment, which will be built on stage.

It's about a woman entering her home, where she find a complete stranger waiting for her, who's intentions remain unknown. The whole story unfolds through dialogue, but the blocking will still be very vivid, so there isn't really any corner of the apartment, that's not in the frame at some point. So directions of the action/camera shift throughout the different scenes.

 

Also the Lighting will change quite a bit. In the story, the Stranger is in total control of it.

The base-setup I want to do, is basicly like the one in the attached Mood Picture:

 

A soft, cold, kinda "toppy" ambient light coming from one side of the room + really dim sodium streetlights from afar, only illuminating the windows a bit.

 

There will be 3 main setups happening in the living room:

 

1. Like the mood picture, but also with a tiny practical illuminating a small coffee table in the middle of the room

2. The stranger will light some candles and maybe more practicals (warm and cozy feeling, as it seems like he's not a bad guy for a moment)

3. Absolute "darkness" as the Stranger turns out all the lights, while she left the room for a second. So the lighting should basicly mimic total absence of light.

 

One more thing that's important: As she is our protagonist, she's supposed to be keyed in a not too unflattering way. While the stranger, should only get a back/rimlight most of the time, so we can't see his eyes or facial expressions most of the time, leaving him and is intentions mysterious.

 

Gear-whise I basicly have a full set of Arri Tungsten Fresnels and some open face units to work with. + CTB of course, and some color gels to match Sodium Vapor Streetlights.

2x 2kW T2 Fresnel (including 1 chimera I believe)

2x 2kW Open Face

2x 1kW Fresnel

6x650W Fresnel

6x300W Fresnel

 

My approach till now would be:

- Creating this soft, ambient light from the top left corner in the room. Maybe shooting the 2kW through a lot of Diffusion, or creating a large bounce. (from above the walls, as we won't have a ceiling built)

- Aiming the 650W, or maybe only 300W through Sodium Gels to each window that's in frame, trying to keep it a few stops under in order to not make it light up the room to much, as the ambient light should dominate the room.

- Trying my best to flag the ambient light off the top of the walls, to create some kind of gradient/contrast, as seen in the mood picture.

 

 

My main concerns about all of this:

- The ambient light should direction-whise always function as a backlight in order to keep that moody, night feel. For the main actress I will need a fill, max. a rembrandt style shape. Should I try to rely on a close soft bounce for this kind of fill (that's basicly her key), or should I introduce an LED through Diffusion? Also would you have this light at the same stop as the backlight, or over/under?

 

- As the direction in which we're shooting in the room is shifting throughout the scenes, I would basicly need to shift the direction of the ambient light aswell, in order to keep it backlighting the characters. Is this an okay thing to do, Lighting-Continuity whise? I'm thinking of the ambient light not as a "light" that has a source in the story, but as a light, which represents "absence of light" and has no believable source in the story. Does that make any sense at all? Or should I keep the direction of the ambient light locked, and introduce more lights to backlight whenever needed and flag the ambient off the faces, whenever they would be frontlit by it?

 

 

 

Additional info: I'll be shooting on the Sony FS7, paired with the XD-CA unit, recording 4K Cinema DNG RAW through the Atomos Shogun.

 

 

This is my biggest project up to now, and there's quite a budget flowing into the stage built, so I'm really trying to do my best in my department and not **(obscenity removed)** up.

I would endlessly appreciate to get some feedback of you more experienced Cinematographers about my general idea and if it does make any sense, and if my approach to lighting it will work, the way I imagine it to do.

 

 

Regards and Thank You all,

Benedikt

 

the-conjuring-2-003.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious, what genre is this supposed to be?

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Curious, what genre is this supposed to be?

It's supposed to look and feel like Horror/Thriller. In the story there are some rather comical moments, but it's supposed to arouse an eerie feeling where you don't know if you should laugh or not.

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I think you did great. Colorwise you are pretty much bang on. I think you could have used a tad bit more blue fill and the curtains are a bit hot (though that could still be fixed in the grade). If you compare the two wide shots, your reference has a very clear, crisp look, where your interior seems to fall into darkness quite often. That can be a creative choice, but with these night looks it most of the time looks best if you expose it a bit brighter than you would by eye and correct that in the grade, at least in my experience.

Thank you! In fact the curtains are hotter than I wanted them to be, but moving between set-ups during the shoot without a gaffer is tough and some things like dimming the window lights were overlooked.

Also I had only one light for the 2 windows, and if I dimmed it so the first window was right, the second window didn't get any visible light at all.

 

For the wide shot you're right! There are some spots falling into complete darkness. But the director would have wanted it even darker, I already had to fight for it to stay like this, haha.

I

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