Lighting Technique Pincus and Ascher

Lighting Technique Pincus and Ascher - 326 THE...

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Unformatted text preview: 326 THE FILMMAKER‘S HANDBOOK Often the full (2TB cuts out too much light, and a 3/4 or V: CTB is used instead, al- lowing a tungsten source to appear slightly yellow compared to daylight. Gels are available in many other colors besides orange and blue. Sometimes the light from an HJVII lamp seems slightly too blue; a his straw gel or a pale yellow may be used to “take the curse off” and warm the light a bit. There is a wide range of other colors for creating more theatrical effects. Gels are also available in combination with neutral density (ND; see p. 160) or diffusion material. Blue Frost converts tungsten to daylight while adding diffu- sion—having both effects in one gel may prevent unneeded loss of light. Gels should be replaced when heat from the lamp causes the center of the gel to become paler. Gels and the more rigid rmyficfilmzr are often attached to windows to filter daylight (see Mixed Color Temperature Lighting, p. 341). Fig. 1 1-19- Lowel Solo Kit. Location package includes two OInni-lights (650-watt maxir mum open-faced spots) and four Tom—lights [lOOO-wart maximum broads). Accessories in- clude stands, flags with flexible stems, scrims, door/wall brackets, clamps, gel frames. reflector and umbrellas. Everything fits into the carrying case. (Lowel Light Mfg, Inc.) Mounting Lights Safely In close quarters a hot, falling light can do serious damage. Spread light—stand legs wide for maximum stability. Tape down light stands with gr: er’t tape (a gray LIGHTING 327 fabric tape sold in equipment houses) or weigh them down with mud or owner bags. Tape all p0wer cables neatly to the floor or put mats over them in high traffic areas so no one will trip on them. Use plenty of good—quality gaffer’s tape when you at— tach lights to a wall, and ifyou can, place lights where they will not strike anyone if they fall. Remember that tape loses its stickiness when hot. I-Vhen possible, “safety” a hanging light by attaching a piece ofmsb cord or chain to a fixed point to catch the light if it drops off its mount. Gaffer’s tape will often remove paint and wallpaper, so peel the tape back 510w1y as soon as possible after shooting to mini— mize damage. LIGHTING TECHNIQUE LIGHTING STYLES Before beginning any movie that involves controlled lighting, decide on the lighting style you hope to achieve. The DP and director can look at movies, photographs and paintings for ideas. Like everything else, lighting styles have evolved Over the years. Black—and- white feature films ofthe 1930s and I940}; were usually lit in a highly stylized way. The goal was not “realistic” lighting, but something that would heighten the drama and the glamour. These films were shot on studio sets that often had no ceiling and only two or three walls. Lights mOunted outside the set on overhead grids and elsewhere struck the actors from directions that would be impossible in a normal building interior. In many feature films today, lighting is intended to be more “naturalistic”w that is, like the kind oflight one would find in the real world. Many lights may be used, but the intent is to simulate the light that might normally occur in the film— ing space, whether it be from sunlight or man—made fixtures. One way to help give lighting a natural feel is to make sure that the chief light sources seem “moti— vated.” Motivated lights are ones that seem to come from a logical source. For ex— ample, actual window light may be used for illumination, or lighting instruments may be set up near the windows to give the illusion that the light comes from the windows. Often a few household fixtures are placed in a scene as practicals. These may actually light the subject or merely act as motivation for light from professional lighting instruments. Even ifthe goal is naturalistic lighting, usually liberties can be taken to improve the lighting offaces or achieve particular Of course, many movies do not Seek realism at all, and lighting is used to create a dramatic, expressive ambience. _ The sensitin'ty of film stocks and video cameras has improved, and it is increas— lngly possible to shoot indoors entirely with available light without introducing any special lighting equipment. This can be a real boon for documentaries {see below). For fiction films, ironically, it sometimes takes a lot of light to make a scene look really imijr, the way it does to the naked eye. For example, you may be able to shoot an interior scene with just window light, but this may result in the 328 THE FILMMAKER’S HANDBOOK windows being overexposed and the people appearing somewhat underexposed (see Fig. 4—23). To get a natural balance between the interior and exterior may require gels on the windows and/or a significant amount oflight from inside (see Mixed Color Temperature Lighting, p. 341). Documentary Lighting Lighting a documentary can be tricky. You have to balance your desire for a certain style or look with the typical constraints of small crews, small lighting packages and short shooting schedules. interviews can be lit fairly fast, but provid— ing good lighting for an uncontrolled scene in which people move around a large space, either at work or at home, often takes more time and equipment. Some— times large spaces are lit with a few lights bounced off the ceiling. This may give you enough light for exposure and is fairly even. However, this kind of light is flat and tends to be “toppy”—that is1 coming from above and causing dark shadows in the eye sockets. \«Vhen shooting unscripted scenes of people living their lives, consider the ef- fect the lights have on your subjects. If you are filming intimate scenes of family life and other potentially delicate moments, you want to do everything you can to minimize the disruption caused by the film crew. Bright lights can create an “on— the—set” feeling, and people under the lights may feel like they should “perform” when the lights go on. Also, since it’s hard to light an entire house or location, the use oflights transforms some areas into filming spaces while others remain living space. All of this may disrupt the natural flow of life that you hope to capture. Sometimes you can mount a few lights on the wall or ceiling and basically leave them in place for the duration ofa shoot, turning them on when needed. The less light you use, the more mobile and unobtrusive you can be. But this may come at some sacrifice to the image quality. For every scene, you must balance these concerns. POSITIONING LIGHTS A Basic Lighting Setup A classic lighting technique is sometimes called three—point lighting because three basic lights are used to illuminate the subject: the key, fill and backlight. Each light has a particular function. Even if many lights are used to cover a large set, each light plays one of these three roles. KEY LIGHT. The key is the brightest light and casts the primary shadows, giving a sense of directionality to the lighting. The key may be hard or soft; the harder the light, the holder or harsher its shadows will be. The key‘s shadows must be watched carefully for the way they interact with the subject. The key light is usu— ally placed somewhat off the camera—to—subject axis, high enough up so that the shadow of the subject’s nose does not fall across the check but downward instead. This height helps ensure that body shadows will fall on the floor and not on nearby walls where they may be distracting. LIGHTING 329 liil Fig. 11-20. 'I‘hree-point lighting. (i) Key light only. in this shot, the key is quite far to the side. (ii) Key plus backlight. The back- light separates the man from the dark back- ground and brings out texture in his coat and hair. (iii) Adding fill light front near the cam— era on the opposite side from the key brings up the light level primarily on the dark side of his face, making the shadows less severe. (Stephen iklcCarthy) (iii) FILL LIGHT. The main function ofthe fill light is to fill in the shadows produced by the key without casting distinct shadows of its own. Fill lighting is almOSt al— ways softer than the key; it is usually created with a soft light fixture or a bounced spotlight. lf the fill light emanates from a point close to the camera’s lens and at the same level, its shadows will not be visible to the camera. The fill is generally placed on the opposite side of the camera from the key. Sometimes light is bounced offthe wall or ceiling to provide fiat, even fill over a broad area. BACKLIGHT. Backlights (variants are called hair, rim or edge lights) are placed on the opposite side of the subject from the camera, high enough to be out of view. Backlight should generally be fairly hard, to produce highlights on the subject’s hair. if a backlight is at about the same level as the subject and somewhat off to the side, it is called a kicker. Kickers illuminate the shoulders and the side of the face more than hair lights do. All backlights are used to give a bright outline to the sub- ject, helping to separate the subject from the background and define shape. 330 THE FILMMAKER‘S HANDBOOK Back light ——Fi|l light Fig. 1 1-21 . A three-point lighting setup, similar to the one used for Fig. 1 1-20. (Robert Brun) SET LIGHT. In some situations, the key and fill lights adequately light the back— ground. In others, a fourth basic type of light, the set light, is used to illuminate the background and selected objects. Sometimes parts of the set need to be given their own key, fill and/or backlights. Lighting Faces In medium and close shots that include people, the lighting on faces is ex— tremely important. \Vhen lighting a set or location, if you know there will be sig- nificant close shots of people, the overall lighting should be designed to provide good facial lighting (even so, the lighting for wide shots will generally be tweaked or cheated somewhat when it comes time for close—ups). For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume you’re lighting a single subject in a chair. LIGHTING 331 Fig. 1 1-22. Frontal facial lighting. Key is slightly offset to provide some modeling. Nose shadow falls near the “smile line" from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth. Though the lighting is fairly flat, the background is dimly lit, and thus pr0vides strong con- trast with the foreground figure. (Portrait quarqun Louis Leblanc by Ingres, The Metropoli— tan Museum ofArt, Purchase, W’oife Fund, 1918) Start by positioning the key light alone, paying close attention to the shadows of the subject’s nose and eye sockets. Every face is different; people with deep-set eyes and prominent noses will have more shadowing than those with flatter faces. The closer the key light is to the camera, the less shadowing there will be. Televi- sion news programs are often done with very frontal, flat lighting (see Fig. 1 l—2i). This is a functional lighting approach, and minimizes possibly objectionable shad- 0ws, but may be dull. If the key is brought around somewhat to the side (three quarter light). the face takes on more dimensionality (see Fig. 11—22). About 45° from the camera is considered fairly standard for the key position. In Fig. 11-301 the key is positioned quite far to the side (almost 90") for a dramatic look. In this case, it is also fairly high to avoid reflections in the man’s glasses. Pay close attention to the way the eyes are lit. As the poet tells us, eyes are the windows to the soul. ‘When you can’t see the eyes, sometimes you feel like you can’t see into the person. Generally, subjects face one side of the camera or the other. Often the lighting looks best ifthe subject is looking toward the light (thus. 334 THE FILMMAKEH’S HANDBOOK Fig. 1 1-25. "\deow—lit” scene. A lighting setup that might be used to simulate the light in Fig. 11-24. Key light is bounced for a soft look. Fill lighting is provided by a white card just out of frame to the right. A set light provides the sun effect on the back wall. Flags and/or a cookie might be needed to create the desired effects on the walls. (Robert Emil).- Backlights should be placed high enough to avoid lens flare in the camera and angled down so that they don’t strike the tip of the subject’s nose. Ifa backlight causes flare or casts a noticeable shadow in front of subject, flag it off with the barndoors or a gobo. In Fig. Il-2iv, the backlight is positioned quite far to the side, Functioning as a kicker to illuminate the side 0fthe face and the shoulder. The fill light is used to bring up the light level in the shadows cast by the key or the backlight. Put the fill light close enough to the camera so that it doesn’t create a second set of shadows of its own. The difference in brightness between the shad- ows and the highlights is the lighting contrast. The contrast plays a big part both in how details will be reproduced in the film or video image and in the mood ofthe lighting. See Lighting Contrast, p. 309 for more. Sometimes, fill lighting is provided not by a separate lighting unit, but by a re fiecting surface. In Fig. 11—24, the wall on the right side ofthe room reflects back the sunlight, filling the shadows on the dark side of the man’s face. In Fig. “‘25, a piece of white foamcore is used to simulate the same effect. A flexfill or other re— flector (see Soft Lights and Reflectors, p. 318) may be used outdoors to do the same thing. Often, a white reflector needs to be quite close to the subject to provide sig- nificant fill. LIGHTING 335 There are various other techniques and tricks used to improve facial lighting. A low—powered eye light is sometimes used to add a little sparkle to the eyes.1 giving the subject an alert or alluring look. An eye light should not be so bright that it washes the face out with flat fill. Sometimes nets are used to delicately shade the top and bottom of the face, focusing attention on the eyes and mouth. A timber 5gb: may be used to bring up the illumination on particularly dark or absorptive clothing. As discussed in Chapter 8, facial shine can be very distracting and can be avoided with a basic application of powder (see p. 243). Lighting Wide Shots 'Wide shots or long shots that show a large part of a set or location can be harder to light than close-ups because of the greater area to be covered and the problem of hiding lights and light stands. “ride shots often involve people moving from one place to another, which adds the challenge of providing good light in several different parts of the set. Generally, wide shots should be lit to establish mood and to c0ver the actors’ blocking (movements). Proper facial lighting is a lower priority. Keep in mind that the eye is naturally drawn to light areas of the frame. Thus, the area in which the actors n10ve is normally lit slightly brighter than the background or extreme fore— ground. Flags or nets can be used to diminish the light falling on unimportant areas such as broad expanses of wall. Much of the mood of the shot is established by the relation between the brighter action area and the darker background. Try to maintain this balance when you change camera position or lighting. When you light any scene, it is usually more interesting to have pools of light and areas that are relatively dark than to have fiat, even illumination throughout the frame. Pools of light also create a greater feeling of depth; a corridor, for ex— ample, seems longer if bright and dark areas alternate. Use fill light to provide il- lumination between the brighter areas. When subjects move closer and farther from a light, the illumination falling on them can change significantly (see Lighting Fixtures and Light Intensity, p. 310). Sometimes a half scrim or other material can be used to even out the light (see Lighting Accessories, p. 322). In general, using a brighter, harder light from far- ther away will result in more even illumination than a softer unit closer to the sub- ject. Sometimes a very bright light positioned outside a window or on the far side of the room is the best way to keep interior action evenly lit. For a naturalistic look, every location needs to be examined for appropriate “motivating” sources for the lighting. MOSt daytime scenes include light coming through a window. Actual window light can often be used, but it must sometimes be simulated because it changes during the course of filming. If the window itself 15 not visible, you can position the light source wherever seems plausible. You can bounce light off a large white card for an overcast or “north light” look or use a large, focused spotlight or PAR light to simulate sunlight streaming in. ‘When Simulating sunlight, a warming gel (CTO; see Colored Filters and Gels, p. 325) is Sometimes used over the light. If tungsten light is mixed with actual window light, some filtering must be done (see A'Iixed Color Temperature Lighting, p. 341). 336 THE FILMMAKER'S HANDBOOK If household fixtures are being used as pracricals in a scene, sometimes they can provide significant illumination. You can replace the bulb with a photoflood or a scret r—in halogen bulb. Or, you may be able to get away with using just a bright household tungsten bulb, but the color may read too red/yellow on film or video. Many practicals, however, can’t handle this much heat or electricity, and often a bright bulb makes the practical look too bright on camera. The shade may overex- pose, looking burned out. To look natural, the lampshade of the practical should read about two to three stops brighter than the faces of nearby actors. This varies, of course, with the type of shade and fixture. Often, the opposite approach is taken with practicals. Instead of trying to light the subject with them, they are treated simply as set dressing. Sometimes a low— intensity bulb or a screw—in dimmer is used to keep the light subtle. Neutral den» sity gels or diffusion material (see p. 318) can be hidden in the lampshade to dim down the shade or the spill coming out of the light. Then a professional lighting instrument is aimed in from off screen to simulate the light mat would come from the practical. Be sure the instrument is flagged off so it does not shine rm the prac— tical and cast a shadow—a dead giveaway. Frequently, one light can be used to accomplish several functions. Iftwo peeple are talking across a table, a light can key one person while it backlights the other. This is called cross lighting (see Fig. 11—26). When an actor moves through his blocking, a given light may change from a key light to a backlight. Cinematographer Nestor Alemandros (Days qucrrvm) prided himselfon being able to light a scene with as little as one or two lights. Many scenes require more lighting fixtures, but often, the fewer the sources, the cleaner the image looks. When there are many lights, you run the risk of many distracting shadows falling in different directions. To minimize this, keep actors away from walls, place them against dark rather than light walls, position furniture or props to break up the shadows and use diffusion to soften secondary lights. MOving a light closer to a person will diffuse the shadow he casts. Bright, shiny surfaces in the frame attract the eye and are usually undesirable. Glints or kicks can be diminished by repositioning a shiny object or by applying washable dullin g spray or even soap. Sometimes you can get rid of the reflection of a light .in a surface by raising or lowering the camera a few inches or wedging a lit— tle tape behind a picture frame to angle it away from the camera. Reflections from smooth, nonmetal surfaces such as plastic, glass and water can be reduced by putting a polarizer filter on the camera. Avoid shooting glass or mirrors that will pick up the lights or the camera. Ifyou have to film against white walls, take care not to overlight them. Usually, broad expanses of wall are broken up with pictures or furniture. When a scene is to be filmed with both long shots and medium or close—up shots, it is typical to determine the blocking, set the lighting and shoot the long shots first. Then, as the camera is positioned closer to the subject, the lights can be cheated (mm'ed) to maintain the general sense ofthe long shot while providing more desir- able facial lighting. Close—ups are usually lit with slightly lower contrast lighting than long shots are so that facial detail will be clear. \Vhen the camera angle changes sig- nificantly, you can make many changes in the light withOut the audience noticing. LIGHTING 337 Fig. 1 1-26. Cross lighting. Each spotlight keys one subject and backlights the other. Lights are used in part to simulate practical illumination from the table lamp and are thus flagged offofit. Fill light is placed near the camera. (Carol Keller) When shooting video, watching the image in a monitor can help you light, but beware of small and poor—quality monitors. On film shoots, often Polaroid pic— tures are taken to see how the light will look (although the motion picture film may respond differently) and to aid in relighting in case the scene needs to be reshot. (Polaroids are also very helpful for continuity purposes to record how props were arranged and how actors were dressed.) Before you shoot, scrutinize the frame to make sure no light stands or cables are visible. Be sure no lights are producing Hate in the lens (stand next to the cam— era and look at the front of the lens; ifyou see any light sources in the glass, try to flag them off). Rehearse the shot to check that movements of the crew and esptl Cially the microphone boom do not produce visible shadows. Setting Lighting Contrast As discussed in Chapters 4 and 7, both film and video systems have a limited ability to capture the range of brightness that the eye can see. \Vhen lighting a Scene, you must pay close attention the lighting (mums! (see Lighting Contrast, p. 309). To the eye, scenes always have less contrast than they do as rendered on film or video. Shadows that look natural to the eye may be rendered as black and 338 THE FILMMAKER‘S HANDBOOK without detail. Bright highlights can easily Overexpose and be rendered as areas of featureless white. When shooting film, experienced DPs may judge the lighting contrast just by the way it looks or by measuring individual light sources with a light meter. ‘vVhen shooting video, it is possible to use a light meter, but often DPs on video shoots don’t have one.2 A good monitor can help you judge how the contrast looks on video, but a bad monitor may be worse than none at all. In general, video is less forgiving of high lightin g contrast than film is. If you have a light meter, measuring the lighting romp-arr 7min can help you de— termine the proper lighting contrast. This is the ratio of key plus fill lights to fill light alone (K + F : F). For a typical close-up, the lighting contrast is measured by reading the light on the bright side of the face (which comes from both the key and fill lights) and comparing it to the light in the facial shadmvs (which comes from the fill light alone). The measurements are most easily taken with an incident light meter, blocking or turning off the key l.ight(s) to take the second reading. Some DPs prefer to use the incident meter’s flat—disc diffuser when doing this to make it easier to isolate the light coming from individual sources. If the bright side of the face is one stop lighter than the facial shadow, the ratio is 2:1. Two stops would be 4:]; three stops, 8:1. To the eye, 2:1 and 3:1 look quite flat, but this lighting contrast is considered “normal” by Kodak. This is a conser— vative standard. Kodak recommends that contrasts of 4:1 or higher be used for special lighting effects only, but it is common for filmmakers to work with these contrast levels. Low—key scenes, nighttime effects and many outdoor sunlit scenes are shot at ratios much higher than 4:]. For either film or video, you should use lighting contrast to create the mood and look that you want. If you choose a high lighting contrast, bear in mind that you may lose detail in shadow or highlight areas. How much you lose depends on the film stock or video format, the exposure and how the project is handled during postproduction and distribution. As noted above, video cameras have a more lim— ited exposure range than most film stocks (see p. 188), so lighting contrast must generally be kept lower for video than film shoots. As a rule of thumb, a film or video image will generally pint up contrast through the various stages of processing the footage and copying it. So if you start with a somewhat 10wer contrast, you may find the image has gotten “snappier” without you doing anything. You can often meme-r the contrast later if you find the image too flat, but ifit is originally shot with too much contrast, it may be difficult or im— possible to recapture the lost detail. 2To use a meter with a video camera, you need to find the "exposure index” (El) for the camera (as though it had .In ASA/ISO number). Cinematographer [Iarry Mathias suggests this technique: using a waveform monitor and a standard chip chart, point the camera at the chart and open the iris until the brightest white chip (peak white) reads 100 IRE units on the waveform (the middle gray “crossover” chip should read about 55). Then hold the inci- dent meter at the chart (pointed toward the camera) and fiddle with the meter’s E1 or ASA setting until the meter indicates the f—stop the lens is set at. You will need to rccalibmtc if you change lens'es or the shutter or the gain setting. LIGHTING 339 If the contrast seems too high, the fill light can be moved closer to the subject or a brighter instrument can be used. Alternately, the key light could be dimmed with a scrim or moved back. Lighting contrast should be evaluated with respect to all parts of the frame, not just the light and shadOw on faces. ‘Walk around the set or location with an incident or reflected meter, or point a video camera at various parts of the set to get a sense of the range of exposure in the scene. If the back— ground is in deep shadow, it may need additional light to keep the overall contrast down. Or, ifa “indo'w is too bright it may need an ND gel to darken it up a bit. A bright wall can be made darker by flagging the light offit, or using a net to gradu— ally shade the light (often you want keep the light on the actors and darken the upper part of the wall above them). Actors or subjects may be asked not to wear very bright or very dark clothing, high—contrast props can be replaced or set walls repainted in medium shades (see p. 243). In general, it is less disturbing if some areas of the frame are underexposed than if large or important areas are signifi— candy overexposed. LIGHTING CONTRAST IN DAYLIGHT. On a sunny day outside, the direct sunlight usually acts as the “key light,” skylight—and, to a lesser extent, reflections from buildings, objects and clothing—act as fill. On a bright day, the lighting contrast is often too great for film or video. If you expose properly for the bright areas, the shadows end up looking very deep and harsh. A classic problem is shooting people at midday under a bright sun; the eye shadows may make it almost impossible to see their eyes. That is why hazy or lightly overcast days, with their lower lighting contrast, are often ideal for shooting people outdoors. There are a number of solutions to the problem of shooting in sun. For an inter— view or close shot, you can use a white card or a small reflector such as a fiexfill to help fill the shadOws. For a larger scene, a bigger reflector such as a sway board with a silver or gold surface can also be used. Daylight—balanced lighting in- struments can also be used, but it takes a lot of intensity to match the sun on a bright day. Another approach is to try to diminish or soften the direct sunlight. An overhead rat is a large frame that can be placed over the action to hold either a silk to diffuse the light, a net to cut down the light without diffusing it or a solid to block the light altogether. Overheads must be used carefially so that the shadow of the frame doesn’t shew in the shot, and neither does the brightly (and more harshly) lit back- ground. The overhead must be held down securely when the wind blows. If sun- light is diffused in this way, it is easier to maintain consistency in the light over a day’s shooting, since the material can be removed if a light cloud passes. Whether or not you have reflectors or lights, try to use the angle of the sun to your advantage. When possible, put your subject in gentle shade near a building or by a tree. Don’t shoot against a hot (bright) background like a bright sky or a White wall. Sometimes it’s best to avoid shooting in the middle of the day when sun light is the harshest. When shooting in direct sun, if the sun is not directly overhead, changing the position of the camera and/or the subject will have a big effect on the contrast. If the sun comes from behind the Camera (front lighting), contrast will be fairly low, 340 THE FILMMAKEH's HANDBOOK but the subject may have to squint. Alternately, if the subject has her back to the sun, contrast will be fairly low on her face (all indirect light), but there may be a large contrast betiveen her face and the background. If you now bring in a reflec— tor from the camera—side ofthe subject, it will pick up the sun nicely and boost the illumination on her face. When you shoot in cars or near windows, lighting contrast can be extremely high between the darker foreground interior and the brightly lit exterior (see Fig. 4723). You might choose to add light to the interior or put neutral density gel on the windows. Vfithout these steps, a compromise exposure is normally used. CONTRAST VIEWING GLASSES. Some DPs set their lighting with the use of contrast viewing glrmes, which are smoked glass monocles that cause the scene to appear to have higher contrast, more like the way it will appear on film or video. These glasses must be held to the eye only briefly, since the eye gradually adjusts, lowering the apparent contrast. It takes some experience to use these properly. Color Contrast Differences in color between two objects (their ruler ream-rm) help us to tell them apart and determine their position relative to each other. In black—and- white, however, a red bug and a green leaf may be indistinguishable because their tonal values are the same (they reflect the same amount of light). Thus, when shooting in black-and—white it is usually necessary to use slightly higher lighting contrast than you would in color and to make sure that there is adequate shad- ing and/or backlighting to differentiate various objects from each other. it is also possible to use color contrast filters on the camera to separate tonally similar areas (see Chapter 5). ‘ Color contrast is also important when shooting in color because the shades and intensities of colors play a large part in setting the mood of a scene. The color scheme in a movie can be controlled in wardrobe planning, set design and choice film stocks or the setup of a video camera. To make colors appear more pastel or desaturated, you can use camera filters such as a diffusion or low—contrast filter. Underexposure and Overexposure also affect color saturation (see Chapter 4). During video postproduction (and/or film-toevicleo transfer) you can make many adjustments both to color saturation and the reproduction of individual tones (see Chapters Hand 17'). Lighting and Exposure “(hen setting lights, the question arises: How brightly should a scene be lit? On a feature film. many DPS try to work at a givenf-stop consistently through— out the movie, which helps them judge lighting setups by eye. Lens sharpness can be maximized by shooting at apertures two or three stops closed down from wide open (on anfl}! lens, sh00t between approximately f/4 and f/5.6). Higher or lowerf—stops may be used to increase or decrease depth of field. As a rule. the discomfort of both crew and actors, or documentary subjects, rises with the amount oflight. LIGHTING 341 Mixed Color Temperature Lighting Before reading this section, please see the discussion of color temperature and filters for film and video systems in Chapter 5. A color video camera can render colors naturally in daylight or in tungsten light if it is properly white balanced (see p. WI). Similarly, with the proper filters, color film stocks can be used in either daylight or tungsten light and produce a pleasing color rendition (see p. 156). However, no video or film camera can shoot a scene that contains both daylight and tungsten light without rendering the for— mer blue or the latter yellow/red relative to the other. To take a typical example, you‘re trying to shoot an interior scene using win— dow light, but there’s not enough light for exposure, so you set up some tungsten m0vie lights to boost the light on your subject. lfyou balance the video camefa for the tungsten light (or shoot tungsten film without a filter), the daylight from the windows will look very blue by comparison. If you balance the video camera for daylight (or use an 85 filter with tungsten film), the tungsten light will look much too warm (orange). There are a few ways to deal with this problem. One is to make the tungsten light bluer, to better match daylight. This can be done with dichroic filters or full CTB (blue) gels on the lights (see Colored Filters and Gels, p. 325). However, this will reduce the lights’ output by half or more. Also, when shooting tungsten— balanced film—and with some video cameras—an 85 camera filter is generally used for daylight, which cuts down the light intensity almost in half again.3 This may not leave enough light to shoot. L In this situation, sometimes instead of usinga full CTB gel on the lights, only a 3/4 or V2 CTB is used. This lets more light through and results in the tungsten light appearing slightly yellow compared to the daylight. Also, if you’re shooting fihn, you Could use a daylight-balanced stock that requires no 85 filter. Another approach is to balance the video camera for the tungsten light (or use no filter with nmgsten—balanced film), and filter the window light with orange gel or acrylic sheets. Gel comes in large rolls and is easy to transport. Tape it carefully to the windows or it will show in shots that include the windows. Gels crease easily, will reflect the lights if mounted sloppily and are noisy in windy locations. Acrylic sheets, on the other hand, are inconvenient to carry, but they are good for mounting outside the window where they will not show. They are also opticallv Sharper for shots that involve shooting throng]: the window. . 3 A fun 85 or 3/4 CTO (orange) gel can be used to warm up 5500°K daylight to 200 K tungsten balance. For dimming overly bright windows it can be verv help— filkto haye some combination CT O/neutral—density gels (for example, fiS N6, ‘f‘hlcli brings down the color temperature and cuts an additional two stops of hght; see p.‘160). While a 3/4 CTO gel will make daylight match the color oftunge “€311, sometimes you want the window to look a little blue by comparison, to main- tall! some of the natural difference between the interior and exterior light. In this Case, use a paler gel, such as a 1/2 or 1/4 CTO, on the windows. 3W . « 85 m tit homocolor negantc stocks 1. 011 can get away Wltl'l shooung 1n daylight without an Hit, and tlus is one Instance Where you I'I'L'J'v need to. 342 THE FILMMAKER'S HANDBOOK Ifa location has large windows and is illuminated primarily with daylight, or when you are shooting outside, often the best solution is to use an 1-13le (see HMI Bulbs, p. 313) or daylight—balanced FAY light (see Nonfocusing Lightsa p. 316) which will give you plenty oflight output and requires no filter to match daylight. However, if window light is insignificant in a scene, it is often easiest to block the daylight out altogether (using curtains, sound blankets or show cards) and then light completely with tungsten. MIXED FLUORESCENT LIGHT. See Fluorescents for Film and Video, p. 314 for dis cussion of fluorescent lighting. Ideally, anytime you are shooting with floures~ cent light, you should use Kino Flo or other true tungsten— or daylight—balanced tubes. I-lowever, if you are forced to shoot with conventional fluorescent tubes and plan to mix in daylight or tungsten sources, filtration is usually called for. Un— fortunately, conventional fluorescents come in a variety of colors. Some fluores— cents can be thought of as daylight with a green spectral element. Thus, windOw light can be filtered with Rosco’s \Vindowgreen to match “cool white" or “day— light” fluorescean better; HMIs can be filtered with Tough Plusgreen and tung- sten sources can be filtered with Tough Plusgteen 50. Alternatively, the fluorescent tubes themselves can be filtered with h‘linusgteen to match daylight better or Fluorfilter to convert to 32 00°K tungsten. The latter comes in sleeves that can be fitted Over the fluorescent tubes, which reduce the green halo effect that sometimes occurs when fluorescent units are iisible in a shot. If filtration is not possible, fluorescent lighting fixtures, such as the Moles— cent unit by Mole, can be brought in for additional light. A'Iixing conventional fluorescent light with other sources and mixing various types of fluorescent tubes can be very tticky. A three—color color temperature meter helps (see Fig. 5—5). Special Lighting Effects NIGHT-FOR-NIGHT. Sometimes you can shoot at night without supplementary lighting, particularly on city streets. However, often you need to augment what— ever existing light there is. l-Vhen using lights to simulate a nighttime effect (such as moonlight or Streetlight), use hard lighting futures in an extremely high—contrast, low-key lighting scheme. Lights should be used to produce sharp highlights or rim lighting with very little fill. Shadows should be crisp and not diffused. Create pools oflightmnot flat, even illumination. When the light level is low, the eye is less sensitive to color. If you go out on a moonlit night, the landscape seems desaturated and slightly bluish. Often, light- ing fixtures on movies are gelled blue to simulate moonlight. A pale grayish—blue often looks more natural than an intense, saturated blue. Some DPS like to wet down streets and surfaces at night so that they reflect highlights. Since night scenes can require many lights, especially for a wide shot, it is often better to shoot at the magic limo“ just before sunrise or just after sunset when there’s enough light to get exposure on buildings and the landscape but it is suffi- ciently dark that car headlights and interior lights show up clearly. Although beau- LIGHTING 343 [111"], the magic hour is fleeting, often lasting only about 20 minutes, depending on the time of year and your location. Rehearse and be ready to go as soon as the light fades. It helps to have some supplementary light on hand for additional fill in the waning moments and for shooting close—ups when it gets darker. XVI-ten you shoot magic hour scenes with tungsten—balanced color film, an 85 filter should not be used. In general, avoid shooting the sky during the magic hour because it will photograph too bright, or use a graduated filter (see Fig. 5—6). DAY-FOFI-NIGHT. Hollywood invented the technique of shooting night scenes during the day, using filters and underexposure to simulate a night effect (the French call this “American night"). Day-for—night often looks fake. It‘s easier in black—and—white where a red or yellow filter can be used to darken a blue sky (see Chapter 5). For color work, a graduated filter can be used. Ironically, day-for— night works best on bright, sunny days. Shoot early or late in the day when distinct sidelight or backlight casts long shadOws that will seem like moonlight. Avoid shooting the sky and use intense lights in windows to make interior lights look bright relative to the exterior. Underexpose by two or three stops while shooting (after making the normal compensations for any filters). \Vhen shooting film, do not rely on trying to print down a normally exposed negative. RAIN, SMOKE AND FIRE. In order to be visible on film or video, rain, smoke and fog should be lit from behind. Aim the lighting instruments as close to the camera as possible but flag them off so that no light shines directly in the lens and causes flare. Sometimes firelight is simulated by placing an amber gel over the light and jige gling strips of paper or cloth suspended from a horizontal bar in front of the light. Even better, get a flicker bar, which is an electronic device that allows you to dial up different rates of flicker. Sometimes DPs make fire effects (or simulate the light from a television) with very intense flickering and virtually no fill light, making the scene seesaw between very bright and very dark. In real life, that kind of flicker generally only happens if there’s no other light in the room. For a typical fireplace or TV watching environment, usually people have a least stir/NC other light on, and the flicker on people’s faces from a fire or TV is often fairly subtle. Sometimes, the most convincing effects are done with two or more lights that can be flickered alternately. LOCATION LIGHTING The Location Whenever possible, scout locations prior to filmin g to assess lighting needs, the availability of electric power and to formulate a shooting plan (see p. 21 I). TWhen scouting an interior location, bring a light meter and to estimate the natural light at various times of day. Bring a camera or a director’s finder to block out acr tors’ movements and camera angles. Determine what lighting package yon need. If any windows need to be gelled, will you need a ladder to reach them? A day at a 344 THE FILMMAKER'S HANDBOOK cramped location helps you appreciate why many mOvies are made in studios with high ceilings, overhead lighting grids, tnoveable walls and plenty of work space. Movie crews on location often break furniture and mat walls with lighting gear. You can save a lot of time by coming prepared with paint and repair supplies. Electric Power Lights for moviemaking consume a great deal of electric current. Before you shoot, try to determine if the location has enOugh power for your needs; other— wise, fuses or circuit breakers may blow, the production could be shut down or a fire could erupt. To estimate your pOwer needs, use the formula: volts X amps : watts. You want to find the number of amps your lights will use, since this is what overloads circuits and causes fuses or breakers to blow when too many lights are put on one circuit. Standard household current in the United States is delivered at about 110 volts, which can be rounded off here to 100. Every lamp is rated by the number of watts it consumes. In the home, a TS—watt bulb is typical, while, for filming, 1000 watts (1K) is more common. If you simply read the bulb’s wattage and divide by 100, you get the number of amps the lamp requires (this formula includes a safety margin). A typical home circuit can handle 15 (or 20) amps, which is thus enough to run three (or four) SOD—watt bulbs. Using any more lights will trip the circuit breaker or bl0w the fuse. To determine h0w much power is available at the location, examine the cir— Cuit breakers 0r fuse box (often found in the basement). Count how many circuits there are and the maximum amperage of each one (amps are indicated with a num— ber followed by “A”). Circuit breakers, which can be reset by flipping a switch when they are tripped, are found in most houses with newer wiring, but keep a few spare fuses in your lighting kit. Never replace a fuse with one of higher amperage, since the fuse is designed to blow before the wiring in the wall catches fire. Often, circuits are labeled as to which rooms they are connected to. If not, plug lights into various wall outlets and turn the breakers off one at a time and see which lights go out. Extension cables can be run to distant outlets to distribute the load. Do not use thin, home extension cords, as they increase the load and may melt. \Vhen too many lights or overly long cables are used, the voltage may drop (the equivalent to sununertime brownouts), which lowers the color temperature of the lights. A lO-volt drop in supply lowers tungsten lights about 100°K. If there is no window light and all light sources are on the same supply, this color change is usu- ally correctable. To get around this and other typical problems of location power supplies, pro— fessionals usually tie iii to the electric supply as it enters the house and use their own set ofcircuit breakers and electrical distribution cabling. This should only be done by a trained electrician; in some places, a permit must be obtained and the electrician must also be licensed. In outdoor locations, a generator (“genny”) or a set of car batteries can be used for pewer. Honda makes a portable, low—cost, fairly noisy generator that puts out 45 amps (5500 watts). There are also large truck—mounted generators that are much more powerful and quiet. Ten lZ—volt car batteries (“wet-cells”) wired in se- LIGHTING 345 fies can run regular tungsten lights at normal color temperature. As the batteries weaken, the color temperature and light output drop. OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. Household power in the United States is supplied at 110 to 120 volts. It is alternating current (AC)—that is, it pulsates back and forth; it does so sixty times a second (60 Hz). In some countries, power is supplied at 220 to 240 volts at 60Hz. In most other parts of the world, the power is 220a240V, alternating at a frequency of 50 Hz. Most AC equipment works equally well at frequencies of 50 or 60 Hz. How: ever, cloaks, some battery chargers and other equipment will not run properly it the frequency of the current is incorrect. Tungsten lights work fine with either sysrem, but AC discharge lamps, including HiVIIs and fluorescents, may be incom— patible with the camera speed or shutter (see HNII Bulbs, p. 313). ‘ ‘ Virtually all equipment should only be used with the voltage it was designed for. Tungsten fixtures can be converted from one voltage to another Simply by using a different set of bulbs. Some equipment may have a switch to select 110 or 220 volt use. Other equipment requires a voltage—changing device, of which there are two types. The til-{informer is relatively heavy for the amount of power (wattage) it can handle. It can be used with any equipment, but should. not be overloaded. Transformers do not affect the frequency of the current. Diedc—typr voltage changers are extremely light (usually a few ounces) and, for their size, can handle much more power than transformers. They should only be used for lights. Since these work by converting AC current to DC, they should not be used with anything that is frequency dependent. Check with a technician on the require— ments of your equipment. While typical electric plugs in the United States use two flat blades and some- times a round grounding pin, outlets found outside the United States have a different configuration. Other systems use plugs with two or three round pins or angled blades. Adaptors are available to convert from one type to the other or you can replace the plugs on your equipment if needed. ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/22/2009 for the course VIS 262 taught by Professor Keithj.sanborn during the Spring '08 term at Princeton.

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Lighting Technique Pincus and Ascher - 326 THE...

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