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Akie Yano

Night lighting for forest scenes and campsite for a horror music video

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Hi! I am currently doing preproduction for a music video. It’s a horror themed music video set to reggae music. Half of the music video takes place at night. There’s a campsite scene with a bonfire and the rest of the night scenes are at the woods where the band members are exploring a creepy dark forest and eventually chased by a monster. I would like to ask for suggestions on how to light certain scenes and shots :)
I did a lot of research on lighting ideas for bonfire set ups and moonlight set ups and there are various ways to do them but I’m not sure which style can work with the limited gear I have.
We’re shooting with a Sony A7SII and prime lenses.
Here is my lighting gear:
1x1 Led Light Bi color with softbox and grid (2) - can be battery operated
1x1 led light (medium sized) (2) - can be battery operated
Led Worklight
Portable led light - battery operated
1 small portable led light
85 watt daylight bulb with china ball
Aputure 120D with light dome and spacelight attachments
25 W Beam video led light (2) - can be battery operated
Par light (Rgbw, 3watts, 50 bulbs per par) (3)
Smoke machine
CTBs, CTOs, 201s, ND gel
5 in 1 reflector
2 large styrofoam
Basically the first part of the night scenes is the campsite with bonfire setup. The 5 member band will be sitting by the bonfire which will be the main key light with moonlight at the side and the back. I might enhance the closeups with a led light with CTO or orange gel with fake flickering in front of them. I’m not to sure how to do the moonlight at their back.
My reference for the lighting is this:
The second part of the night scenes is the band exploring the dark creepy woods with their flashlight and emergency lights. So I’m thinking of having them use strong flashlight so I can bounce the flashlight light with a styrofoam back into their faces while the camera is front of them. And when the camera is from their POV, the strong light of the flashlight would be enough to light the trees (with a focused beam of course) or I can use the the portable beam lights to fake the flashlight light. I haven’t decided yet if the light will only be the flashlight cos I’m thinking I want some faint moonlight in the surroundings as well but I don’t know if it will work.
The coverage for these scenes would be medium of them. They are huddled together as they walk so the light will be only concentrated on them. Then there will be pov or OTS shot of them of each other when they face one another.
My reference for the lighting is:
The third part would be the two last remaining characters dropping their flashlights so the key light would be the moonlight now. The monster (a bloodied haggard-looking woman) would slowly appear to them. The moonlight would be more “visible” or stronger at this point. The last remaining person would run down a hill. I would shoot a shot where the camera peeks through the trees as he runs down. It might be also important to note that the person last standing is half-black. I am planning to have our makeup artist put shimmery makeup on him so the light would reflect his skin.
My reference for the lighting is:
I am not just sure how I will execute the moonlight light as key and background. I’m thinking of using the chinaball with the bulb wrapped in 201 and the ball wrapped in black foil attached to a boom pole and follow him as he walks and runs.

 

I apologize if this is such a long post. If you have any suggestions on how to light the particular scenes and shots I’m not sure on, I would really appreciate it!
Edited by Akie Yano

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None of the links work for me.

Oh crap, wait, I'll update the this post when I wake up later. Thanks for the heads up!

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Half of the music video takes place at night. There’s a campsite scene with a bonfire and the rest of the night scenes are at the woods where the band members are exploring a creepy dark fores... I would like to ask for suggestions on how to light certain scenes and shots :)...
Here is my lighting gear:
1x1 Led Light Bi color with softbox and grid (2) - can be battery operated
1x1 led light (medium sized) (2) - can be battery operated
Led Worklight
Portable led light - battery operated
1 small portable led light
85 watt daylight bulb with china ball
Aputure 120D with light dome and spacelight attachments
25 W Beam video led light (2) - can be battery operated
Par light (Rgbw, 3watts, 50 bulbs per par) (3)
Smoke machine
CTBs, CTOs, 201s, ND gel
5 in 1 reflector
2 large styrofoam
... the bonfire which will be the main key light with moonlight at the side and the back.

 

I would not recommend using the bonfire as your key light. If you expose the band members for the light you will get from the bonfire alone, because of its rapid fall off, the bonfire will be such a hot spot that your camera will be unable to render the contrast range of the scene. Like in the location still below, if you expose for the actors, the fire flames will be overexposed and blow out and lose all detail. And because firelight falls off rapidly, the background behind your talent will block up and lose detail. Like in the location still below, the actor’s bodies will look disembodied like they are floating in a black void.

campfire_poor_contrast.jpg

 

A bonfire scene creates contrast problems that you simply will not be able to address with the lighting package you have listed. What you are missing is the large HMI that will enable you to bring up the background, so that you can stop down to hold detail in the bonfire without losing detail in the shadows of your scene. For example, the location still below used a 6k Par to light the deep background, 1.8 Arrimaxs to key and rim the talent, and quartz to fill the shadows with warm light. Only this amount of light will enable you to stop down to the point that you will have detail in the flames as in the location still below.

 

EB_Gasp_ScreenShot_1.jpg

Campfire scene on the beach powered by a Honda EB10000

 

You can clearly see the subtle differences in color in this fire because the talent and background lights reduce the contrast range of the scene so that it fits in the dynamic range of the camera. Since large HMIs are necessary to hold detail in both the fire flames and the deep background, a large source (like an M18) is required to expose talent. Likewise the lights required to model talent with rim and fill light are larger as well. An assortment of LED panels simply won’t provide the necessary foot-candles for anything but very tight close ups under these circumstances.

 

Getting the production values of the second location still above doesn’t have to be expensive now that you can parallel two Honda EU6500s or EU7000s for 120A output, which is more than enough to power a 4k ARRIMAX and several M18s. Use this link for more details on paralleling portable generators.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston.

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