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Claudio Monni

How to light a dark and low ceiling club

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Hi to everyone, 
I have to shoot in a very dark club, with a low ceiling and narrow space.
In the scene there is a man walking in this club at the opposite direction of attached pictures followed by a dolly with my camera on it. Focal lenght will be the same in this picture (or evene little less wide) and the height of camera point of view will be aproximately the same as in these pictures. I made this test to chose what mood I need for the final shot and I guess the picture called club_02.jpg is what this club is inspiring to me. I'm a little bit confused because the ceiling of this place is really low and the club is narrow so we can't put anything up or at both side because the man has to look around and the camera has to replay the man head movement.
My solution is to put some led bar in the position I've marked in picture called club_01, gelled with CTO (to simulate direction and color temperature of practical light).

What do you guys think, is it a smart solution or have you got some other options?

Thank you in advance,



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Personally, I would add more ambience to the room and perhaps some table lamp practicals, little short lamps with shades to light faces. The ambient could be something large and soft from the back left corner of the room, but if you will see that then perhaps an LED Litemat or Astera tube on the ceiling behind each arch would work. You could also put a plant or stack extras between the light and the lens when the camera pans over the area.

I would also add a small fresnel or Dedolight on a pancake on the floor in the background aimed up at the ceiling to pick out the arches and ceiling texture. And perhaps another one coming thru the French doors in the far background. 

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Its kind of hard to tell what exactly is going on in the left side of the background, is that dark spot where it leads out into the street? You could use that area to have a bit more light as well and kind of have the middle ground (the area where the 3 standing people are located in the picture) silhouetted against that slightly brighter area? However as Satsuki already mentioned, a bit more ambience would probably help. With as spotty practicals as those wall scones, it often looks just underexposed if you try to have those parts correctly exposed and the rest falls into darkness.

Are you planning on using haze or any kind of atmospheric? If not, You could also just tape white bouncecard right behind the columns into the corners and bounce into them from a bit further away with a leko or even a snooted fresnel. Both are very budget friendly solutions. This solution would only work without fog or haze, because the beams of the lights become visible once you add atmosphere into the mix.

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In general, when I’m faced with shooting in a dark club with low ceilings, I find the solution is to place lights ... in the shot.

sometimes this involves placing lights on the walls or bar to simply define the space, without lighting the room. These can be decorative rope lights, Christmas lights, light tubes, and practical table lamps and neon signs.

For back lighting I sometimes use small Dedo lights hung right in the frame. A few weeks ago I used extension sockets to hang small 25w lamps from built in can lights on the ceiling of the location.

For lights to light actors, I try to hide tiny LED lamps where ever I can, and only then, a little fill, if necessary using movie lights from out of frame.

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