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  1. #5821  
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    Hi David,

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you might approach this really tight situation I encountered recently. Needing to light over eight actors, all in a small rectangular basement (meant to be a dungeon) with a very low ceiling, the camera sees three of the walls, rotating around the actors, while one of the walls has a window that reflects any lights placed on the opposite end. What I did was place a diffused led fresnel from one side of the room that the camera does not see, and fill from the other.

    But I'm wondering if there's a completely different way to address this. Ofcourse, there are other scenes that dictate lighting continuity, but ignoring that for the moment, curious to know what kind of angles of attack are possible here. Low, low budget shoot, with just some LED panels, led fresnels, diffusion, gels, flags, etc. But open to renting specific lights if that could help the situation.

    Not looking for specific solves, just general thoughts on angles of attack. Thanks in advance!

    Nikhil
    Last edited by Nikhil Kamkolkar; 02-04-2019 at 10:05 PM.
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    Nikhil Kamkolkar
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    Latest action short film: "LAILA" https://youtu.be/wq0z8F-LJww
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  2. #5822  
    Senior Member Aaron Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mullen ASC View Post
    What I use for a key partly depends on how close the actors are to the windows where the lights outside might be doing a lot of the work, but when the actors are more in the middle of the room, most of the time I use a Litemat for the key, maybe through a diffusion frame. Sometimes I bounce a tungsten lamp, especially for a ceiling top light effect.
    Thanks. I binged s 1 + 2 and was floored by the photography and design. IMO the most beautiful show on TV. I had to IMDB your name to find out who was the DP. Luckily found this thread. Thanks for your willingness to share.
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  3. #5823  
    It's hard to say how I'd light a space that I haven't seen. You generally have two choices in a situation like that -- one is to light completely from the sources in the frame (like the window), and add a working practical where you need more light. If a source is reflected, then it's a justifiable, real reflection. The other would be to add a flat LED overhead light to the ceiling and hide it from camera, maybe with the help of a fake beam or something.
    David Mullen, ASC
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  4. #5824  
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mullen ASC View Post
    What I use for a key partly depends on how close the actors are to the windows where the lights outside might be doing a lot of the work, but when the actors are more in the middle of the room, most of the time I use a Litemat for the key, maybe through a diffusion frame. Sometimes I bounce a tungsten lamp, especially for a ceiling top light effect.
    So helpful! What do you find is the most flexible/versatile litemat?
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  5. #5825  
    Just depends on the space and the effect / output / softness needed. I probably use the 2L's and the 4's the most often.
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  6. #5826  
    Senior Member Ryan Purcell's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. Interesting that it's still about finding that spine in the script. I feel like I need to dig a little deeper when making some of my early choices. Often it's just "how can I make it look as good as I can, as quickly as I can, with the limited gear and labor I have on hand."
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  7. #5827  
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mullen ASC View Post
    It's hard to say how I'd light a space that I haven't seen. You generally have two choices in a situation like that -- one is to light completely from the sources in the frame (like the window), and add a working practical where you need more light. If a source is reflected, then it's a justifiable, real reflection. The other would be to add a flat LED overhead light to the ceiling and hide it from camera, maybe with the help of a fake beam or something.
    Thanks David! I hadn't thought of hiding the overhead light with a fake beam or something along those lines! Hoping to try this out soon-ish. Thanks for the advice!
    ---
    Nikhil Kamkolkar
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    Latest action short film: "LAILA" https://youtu.be/wq0z8F-LJww
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  8. #5828  
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Purcell View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Interesting that it's still about finding that spine in the script. I feel like I need to dig a little deeper when making some of my early choices. Often it's just "how can I make it look as good as I can, as quickly as I can, with the limited gear and labor I have on hand."
    I started out thinking that way too, I thought filmmaking was about making shots as cool and interesting as possible. Then I got to film school and one of my professors was director Alexander Mackendrick (The Ladykillers, Sweet Smell of Success, The Man in the White Suit) and he impressed on us that every choice as to camera position, movement, lighting, etc. was driven by story and character first -- you had to break down a scene to find which character had the key moment of dramatic change in it that propelled the narrative to the next scene, and then you had to shoot the scene to make that moment clear. It all boiled down to "why is this scene in the script?" Once you understood the intent of the scene, it helped you figure out how to shoot the scene. Of course, there are aesthetic choices involved too that are more about creating mood or making the cast look good, but even those decisions were usually in service of the story.

    Unfortunately once I got out of film school, I shot any number of movies that were badly written so that scenes existed that had no point, or just had exposition with no drama, etc. Then you end up just trying to make them look "cool" in the hopes that eye candy would make up for the dramatic deficits. Not ideal and you end up with a lot of bad habits in terms of creating style for style's sake. Sometimes the director would say "this scene is boring, we have to shoot it in an exciting way" and I'd wonder why we didn't first rewrite the scene so that it wasn't boring!
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  9. #5829  
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    Hi David, can you discuss how you work lighting for specific ratios or highlight/shadow exposures, in relation to recording raw or log? Are you still able to meter for this or are you more likely to use a waveform on the LUT?

    and again, immense thanks to you for giving so much to the filmmaker community.
    Last edited by JB Earl; 02-18-2019 at 10:30 AM.
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  10. #5830  
    Senior Member Hugh Scully's Avatar
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    David, forgive my interjection, but I just want to follow up your post about MacKendrick to recommend his book: “On Making Film - An introduction to the Craft of the Director.” I have read it countless times. In fact the post above prompted me to take it out and read it again. It is full of insight. It must have been a real pleasure to study with him.
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