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Winter Forest Night Exteriors


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Hey there! 

Right now I am prepping a shoot that has a scene in a snowy winter forest. Originally the budget was available to really light a large section of the forest up with artificial moonlight and call it a day. But now, the shoot has been broken up into 2 units shooting all the snow exteriors on location for a fraction of the budget (Just a little bigger than skeleton crew) and then all the interiors on a stage in a city that has more production resources for that can work with the budget.  

The project is a dark/horror theme with vampires in the forest about to bite a deserving subject out of vengeance. It is a quick beat but the end of the project. 

Simplicity is the goal here. 

CAMERA 

  • Arri Mini LF 
  • Cooke Anamorphics 
  • Arri Raw  

UNITS 

  • M18
  • 2 S60 Skypanels 
  • 6x6 / 8x8 (Ultra Bounce/Silk/Light Grid) 
  • Light Control (Flags, Floppies, skinned frames 250, 216,grid)

PLAN - My mind is telling me to hoist of the 8x8 Frame with an ultra bounce and blast the M18 into it, letting the light fall light moonlight. Then I want to take the Skypanels and paint the background for depth. 

I am interested and open to any suggestions for lighting this scene. I am curious about any tricks I may not know about. I am worried about under lighting the scene, so want to have enough moonlight as key. Thanks for taking the time everyone! 

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18 hours ago, Michael E Patti said:

Hey there! 

Right now I am prepping a shoot that has a scene in a snowy winter forest. Originally the budget was available to really light a large section of the forest up with artificial moonlight and call it a day. But now, the shoot has been broken up into 2 units shooting all the snow exteriors on location for a fraction of the budget (Just a little bigger than skeleton crew) and then all the interiors on a stage in a city that has more production resources for that can work with the budget. .. Simplicity is the goal here. 

UNITS 

  • M18
  • 2 S60 Skypanels 
  • 6x6 / 8x8 (Ultra Bounce/Silk/Light Grid) 
  • Light Control (Flags, Floppies, skinned frames 250, 216,grid)

PLAN - My mind is telling me to hoist of the 8x8 Frame with an ultra bounce and blast the M18 into it, letting the light fall light moonlight. Then I want to take the Skypanels and paint the background for depth. 

I am interested and open to any suggestions for lighting this scene. I am curious about any tricks I may not know about. I am worried about under lighting the scene, so want to have enough moonlight as key. Thanks for taking the time everyone! 

Your biggest challenge will be keeping your light off the snow.  If you don't, it will bloom.  I see two problems with your approach. It will be impossible to cut the bounce light from the overhead 8x off the snow and it will be hard to get the reverse key modeling that a night scene requires from a single large bounce source.  I would suggest that you instead use the M18 to light the deep background from ground level and use the S60s on boom arms to model your talent.  Better yet, I would swap the S60s for a very lightweight fixture like the Litemat 2 that you can arm out on a 20' menace arm to get them into  reverse key positions. Having the fixtures on a menace arm will give you the flexibility to quickly adjust their position to get just the right reverse angle to get the modeling required by a night scene. You can also put egg crates on the Litmats to keep them from spilling onto the snow in shot.

I would use the  M18 on a stand deep in the background to one side to  back light the deep background.  As a  hard source it offers a number of advantages over an S60 in this capacity.  It will project more deeply into the woods. You will be able to cut it off the snow easily, and you will be able to use blades or fat nets to cut it off trees so that it lights the background evenly. As an added touch I would use a dry ice fogger to add ground level fog.

Since working in snow is tantamount to working  in water, you should have ground fault protection on your distro.  With a small package like this you can get by with a Honda EU6500 or EU7000 generator which will be much easier to get into the woods.   A small step-down transformer will provide a 60A 120V circuit  from the Honda's 240v receptacle (plenty of power for both lighting and camera) using the industry standard Bates receptacle. Since the ground and neutral are bonded in the transformer, you  can use film style GFCIs like the LifeGuard,  Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCIs (pictured below) to bring the Hondas into OSHA compliance for use on set (they don't meet OSHA requirements otherwise.) 

ShockStop_Location_Still_Smaller.jpg

From the GFCI you. can run 60A Bates extensions, splitters and breakout boxes  to distribute power  around set (the M18 in the deep background will operate much more reliably if you run 60A Bates extensions to it and then break out to 20A Edison at its ballast rather than running 300' of stingers to it from the generator.) This way you can avoid using the hardware store style 15A GFCI dongles that are prone to nuisance tripping with HMIs and non-pfc LEDs like the Litemats. A single LifeGuard,  Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCI will offer much more reliable ground fault protection (without a propensity to nuisance trip) anywhere downstream of the transformer. An added benefit to using a transformer is that it automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into its secondary over its primary  so you no longer  have to worry about balancing the load on the generator.An added benefit to using a transformer is that it automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into its secondary over its primary  so you no longer  have to worry about balancing the load on the generator.

Good Luck. It sounds like a fun project.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting rental & sales in Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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