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Simon Gulergun

Practical lights in Day for Night scenes

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Realistically, are SFX the only way to have practical lights exposed "properly" in a day for night scene? Exposed as a light should look if actually at night.

I'm shooting on 16mm a few day for night scenes, the character has a tungsten bulb attached to a construction helmet. Due to the volume of shots, I'm concerned about the SFX costs. I'm also not sure what the ballpark cost would be for say about 7 minutes of SFX. Does anyone have suggestions here?

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Oof, practical lights in camera are tough with D4N. Mad Max did a combo of VFX and color grading for their practical lights.

If the helmet light doesn't need to be on the entire time, you could get away with shooting those specific shots during dusk for night.

If you want to imply the practical is actually working regardless, an HMI faking the light source will be your best friend.

You'll have to do some massaging and testing to find the right ratio of practical key light to sunlight. Since you're on 16, you won't get the luxury of checking the look with a LUT. But, because you're on Vision 3 (I assume), you'll have a lot of highlight detail. I'd err on the side of caution and over expose. (Of course, this depends on if you are building the D4N look in the color grade) If you're able to, bring a DSLR that can load up the LUT to take test shots. It won't be a one-to-one match of the look, but it'll give you an idea if the approach is working for when you roll a take on film.

If you want a beam of light, you'll have to do VFX. Thankfully, Aftereffects is getting easier and there are a plethora of tutorials out there. It's all about time and testing. Test test test test test!

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Think of it this way -- real moonlight on a clear night, a full moon, is .01 footcandles.  So a practical spotlight on a boat would be a hundred times brighter in reality... can you think of any practical lamp to use in a day-for-night shot (where the sun stands in for the moon) that is 100X brighter than the sun?

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Sure any light will glow enough if it's just a tracking point for a VFX effect.  Keep in mind that a helmet light in reality would light everything around it in a true moonlit setting.

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