Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lighting 101



The above video is an exercise we had to do in film school. I was required to shoot something in the daytime, and make it look like night time. My professor liked the results, but I didn't like the beginning of the film. Naturally I used hard lighting to give the picture some defined shadows, but what I should have done is light the background a bit. My friend Jim is lite, but the background falls into darkness. I shot it with a film stock called 7294. Kodak has discontinued the stock, but the stock that comes close to it today would be KODAK VISION2 500T - 7218. I rated the stock at 400 ISO, and I overexposed the negative by a stop and 1/2. Negative film likes saturation. Don't underexpose, or you'll get mud. I've actually overexposed footage three stops and gotten a good picture, but I'd only do that on a night time shoot. Most of the times I've exposed one and half stops, and I've always come out with a nice rich negative that the lab can play with. I should have placed a light on a dresser in the background or better yet a practical in the shot. I would have gotten separation of the background, and I think the shot would have worked better.

I did this later when you see the thief (me) entering the window. I put a practical with a special bulb in it, and lite it from the side. All windows were blacked out. I used a black tarp on most of the windows, and the doorway. It was a fun little exercise, and it taught me a little more about faking a shot.

When shooting film watch you're latitude. That's what screwed me in the beginning shot. If you have a scene and the foreground is let's say F4, and you're background is 1.4 there is going to be a drop off into darkness in you're scene. Light the background a bit. A cheap way is to put a practical in the shot too. Get a lamp that burns at the same temperature as you're lights off camera or you'll have a hard time with color temperature. I've sometimes cheated when I didn't have a proper bulb for the practical, and the color timer at the lab fixes it for me. It's a cheat, but one worth knowing. If you do this have a color chart before you're scene, so the timer can correct properly. Another exercises was shooting day-for-night scenes, and I never liked the results of shooting a day-for-night scene, but it can be done if you need to.

I shot Deadly Obsessions with Vision 2 Kodak 320T, and liked what I got on that. We actually lite the scenes with both practicals, and Arri lights. Check my kgbproductions.com for the details if you like. Hope this helps.

*The above video was taken from the workprint and has a bit of a greenish tint. The original footage does not, and if I was going directly from the negative you wouldn't get that grain or that greenish tint. In fact that would make an interesting experiment now. I may just do that. I just need to find the negative.

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