Better Lighting

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    • #37145

      Hi again everyone.

      Well, I am knee-deep into the production phase of my film trailer (first mentioned about 2 months back when I was trying to find better lenses and such). One aspect of the process I’m still kind of weak on is lighting. I’m filming with a Panasonic PV-GS250 which has a fairly small LCD screen that doesn’t give a very accurate representation of shadows and light. Unfortunately I don’t have an external monitor (and in many cases I wouldn’t have power for one anyway).

      I’ve done a number of wedding videos but as I’m sure most of you know, lighting a film is rather different and I’m not terribly sure the best way to proceed.

      I have 2 sets of those dual-headed halogen work lamps, plus one smaller hologen lamp and one more that throws a much softer light. I’ve attached a picture which is a still lifted right from footage I shot yesterday. The bathroom we were in was small – extremely small. It had a single fluroescent light, which I turned off (don’t have a flur. filter, didn’t want to deal with it). So the room is lit basically by one of the dual-headed halogen work light sets. This of course threw severe, sharp shadows against the back wall. I tried to cut back on those by mounting one of my softer halogen lamps higher up and shining it down, but that didn’t seem to work. In the end I settled for aiming the lights higher up where they wouldn’t cast such shadows. Unfortunately that resulted in poor general lighting conditions and excessive grain in the darker portions of the shot.

      Poor Lighting

      I fear I didn’t have much of a choice in these tight conditions — there really was nowhere else to physically put any more lights. Still I’m curious what someone with more experience would have done to light the scene. (The lighting calls for the scene to be moody; mostly dark, kind of scary.) I certainly realize there are limitations to what I can achieve with this particular gear (including the aging camera, which has a poor lux rating to begin with) but I’d really like to improve upon my lighting techniques. I’m open to good articles and tutorials but those are kind of hard to find on film lighting… typically it’s for video or television interviews or things like that.


    • #164596

      I’d grab a couple coat hangars, clothes pins, and some fibreglass matt (automotive repair isle) and rig a diffuser to my main lights. set my exposure off a greycard, measured at the subject.

      then work to achieve the mood by adjusting brightness and contrast in post.

    • #164597

      For moody lighting, try having most of the light come from the side or slightly behind the actors (but not DIRECTLY behind). I would not aim the light at the actors, but rather bounce it off a large white posterboard. That will soften the light. For the shot you’ve provided to us, I’d put the light and poster board to camera left, sort of behind the actors. If there’s room, I might put another white posterboard at the far right, to provide a little fill. If this is susposed to be an extremely dramatic moment, you could skip the second posterboard.

      As for judging the exposure, I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe you could do some tests at different exposures, and learn what brightness to look for in your viewfinder.

      Good luck!

      Ken Hull

    • #164598

      I find those halogen lights to be too yellow and used to have all sorts of problems when I used them. I now use 5400K flourescent softboxes up front and an open one bounced off the matt white ceiling (not always possible but it helps), as well as a small backlight I can attach gels to, and a home made one of these to add a bit of atmosphere to the wall behind:

      This setup gives me a good clean light that can be adjusted well in post as required.

      Lots of useful lighting info here, of course:

    • #164599

      Thanks a lot for the advice and the links. It was really helpful to see what could have been improved upon in the shot above as well. We’re outside shooting this week, but for our next indoor scene I will be sure to put these techniques to good use.

    • #164600

      Like What Ken Said, you can put a lamp behind the actors,or to the side of them, and have the light bounce off of a wall or something white, the reflection of the light lights the room better. Also if there is a mirror in the Bathroom You could point the Lamp (not Directly) at the mirror which would cause lots of Reflection and Defusion

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