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Roman Alaivi

Ideas on how to achieve a saturated red / "emergency" light look

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Hi gents,


I'm wondering what the best approach might be to getting a nicely saturated red look. The scene will be in an underground bunker, in which "red" emergency lights will flip on and everything will be that one tone.

Previously, I have only used red gels like Lee 789 to create strong saturated reds for a background, and it's looked amazing. For talent and main action that I'm focusing on in the foreground saturated red gels seem to introduce so many artifacts (softness / extreme loss of detail etc). I'm wondering... how exactly are most shots lit when everything is red and not just a background effect?

Is it mostly something found in the grade and helped by using in camera filters?


Would lighting everything in magenta give me more to work with in post for sharpness / detail while still being easy enough to make full red in the grade?


Since the red in this scene does not need to contrast against any other illumination or color, I would imagine you could even get a decent look with just white light and doing everything in the grade?


Thanks for any ideas!



Edited by Roman Alaivi

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Worth testing, the sharpness vs. noise differences between red, magenta, and white lighting. Going all white and pushing it to red may create some artifacts depending on your original recording format (it's hard to push an 8-bit compressed Rec.709 recording too far in one direction, for example.) So my tendency would be to go halfway, maybe light in orange or magenta and push it to red in the color-correction.

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Worth mentioning that if you're using a light meter, measure without the gel, then add it, otherwise the colour may be washed out.

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Thank you David!


I'll be doing some tests just like that with a variety of gel options. What do you think about using a camera filter of some kind? This is the one time I might consider using a colored filter to get an effect like this.


Thanks Mark,


Are you saying that you'd let it go underexposed ? I see the logic in trying to maintain contrast, but you don't think the red will play very well exposing for it?

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Saturation is tied to brightness-- if you want it more saturated (a bit) you keep it under, if you expose it at key it will read closer to "white."

Simply give it a try. Meter your red light and look, then close down a stop, and it will start getting redder. Open up and it'll get oranger/pinker/whiter (depending on the red)

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