Can you offer advice on creating moonlight coming in a window? For one scene the window will be covered with translucent white curtains. We're shooting all tungsten and I was thinking of just taping a silk over that window and throwing a light through it with maybe 1/2 CTB. For another scene the windows are uncovered but the neighboring house is close so I was thinking of throwing some light on the wall of the house that is viewable. Again maybe tungsten with 1/2CTB. If another color gel would work better I'm all ears. Any thoughts/examples greatly appreciated.
The visual style is a collaboration with the director, and also the production designer, costume designer, etc. so you bat a lot of ideas around to see what excites people; to some extent, my job is to be an idea generator, so I try not to just come up with one way to do something, I need a variety of options to present the director, but often one choice inspires the next one, etc. It's a mix of an intellectual process and an instinctual one, going for what "feels" right but based on experience, personal taste. Some directors make it more intellectual, more formalistic, than others. Now sometimes you can suggest something only to have the director reject it because you've come to very different ideas about what the particular scene is about, you may be thinking "the scene is about this person's fear" but the director is thinking "but how can I make this person's fear look humorous, how do I find the comedy in the drama?" while you were looking for the drama in the comedy. So at some point, you have to drop what you were thinking and follow the director's interpretation.
I`ve posted the same question on the Roger Deakins forum, but I hope that two different awnsers will give more clarity on the matter:
I`m currently in the middle of the pre production of a short film I`ll be the cinematographer.
The movie is 100% Day exterior and the director and I are going for a cool overcast day look, so I have a few questions if you don`t mind.
In case we have to shoot on a bright sunny day, i`m bringing up a 4x4 butterflys to cover the actors, for the mediun and close shots, but If I expose for the actors, the background would become overexposed. How do you think it is the best way to compensate for this? I do have afew Ideas, but it would be nice to know the aprouch of a (so much) more experienced DP.
Also, how do you plan your shooting on day exteriors acording to the time, location and sun position? Are you (or anyone here) aware of any software that help to predict the sun position/direction on location at the time and day of the year? I`ve heard that google has an app for this, but i didn`t findi it. I plan to use the architecutre of the city, to help me with he look we are after.
Last, in many movies, there are shots when the weather was overcast that are intercut very well with shots where there is direct sun light, so that almost nobody notice this some times. So I assume that it is easy (or at least possible) to match an overcast day shot with a direct sun shot, and make the overcast day, look like a sunny day in post. But what about the oposite, do you think that it could be possible to give a sunny day, a cool overcast day look in the DI?
Thanks a lot in advancement.
4x4 is a bit small other than for a close-up if the actor doesn't move. I usually carry Half Soft Frost (similar to Opal) and Silk for frames to soften sunlight... You only lose a half stop under Half Soft Frost so the background doesn't look much brighter, it's just going to be more subtle in terms of the softening, which is why I still use Silk when I want more softening. One trick is to frame darker things in the background, particularly greenery like trees. I also clip leafy branches to the frame to break-up the edge shadow of the frames, especially if the actor has to pass through that shadow. I usually use a 12x12 for medium shots of actors, a 6x6 for close-ups.
Rodrigo, I shot a feature a couple summers back that was mostly day exteriors. We shot during an insane bout of weather and had crazy issues with maintaining continuity, but lessons were learned. I wrote a terminally boring article based on the experience; send me a PM if you're curious. It's poorly written and a slog (to the extent that I was asked to write it for a blog, but then it was never published; yeah it's that bad), but I go over all the techniques (butterflies, reflectors, polarizers, grad filters, ultracons, color correction, etc.) that we used and what worked and what didn't for a micro-budget. It's really, really in depth.
Fwiw, a 4x4 butterfly is way too small to do anything. Go with a 12x12 minimum but make sure you have the crew to set it up and keep moving it around as needed. In the wind they will become sails and that can be dangerous. David is right that half or quarter stop silks are diffuse enough for virtually any purposes and don't lose much stop. Fwiw, I generally find butterflies darken the area below them less than one would think, and the solution to brightening the foreground up is easy: use a 4x4 or larger beadboard just off camera and low to fill the talent's eyes (you can get unpleasant eye shadows with overheads) and this will also brighten the face up by as much as a stop, maybe more. I generally use the white side; shiny boards are very directional and their use can be obvious. You can get nice eyelights this way, too. White bedsheets work, too. For action shots or whatever just lay white bedsheets on the ground, have your talent walk over them, and you'll significantly reduce your key:fill ratio.
You can get away with a lot without butterflies. Keep the talent backlit, cheat as necesary to maintain backlights, and just use bead board to fill. Butterflies can be tricky since suddenly the light has gone from hard to soft, which is why I prefer to avoid them and if I'm going to use one go with less aggressive diffusion so the sun retains its directional look. Back in the days of video with like five or so stops of latitude shiny board was all the rage. It still works incredibly well, but I think it's come to be associated with a bit of a cheesy low-budget look. Even with a dSLR you're getting three or four stops above 18% gray, which is two or three more than with miniDV or such. If you're shooting film you can worry even less.
Last edited by Matt W.; 04-24-2011 at 01:46 PM.
Unfortunatley, we have a very restricted budget, both for butterflys and for crew to handle it and I don`t think I can have more them a 6x6...
Now i`m starting to worry...
Thanks a lot David and Matt.
Thank you again for the massive amount of value here on this thread.
I was wondering if you had ever worked with this new accessory for the beloved Joker Bug, and what you thought of it and its potential uses:
No, haven't seen that one, looks interesting -- I like K5600 products...
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