Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

class="style1">Nightime Exterior Moving Shots

>Published : 27th June 2007

>Hello everyone,

>I have a little challenge ahead. I am shooting a S16 feature and I am using 7218 as my stock for night time exteriors. The lighting package I am using is fairly reasonable. So I will be able to light most of my night exteriors to a F/4.

>My challenge is that there is one scene where there is a fight between the lead actor and actress. We will be shooting on a highway. The lead actress is going to be outside a slow moving car, while the actor will be driving slowly along side of her. We will be following the action on a dolly.

>The argument goes on for about 2 pages as she is walking down the highway. So my key light will be the head lights from the car and additional cars that will be driving by in the scene. I will be able to rig lights to the car serve as the headlights. However, I am worried about my background (which will be trees along the highway). I don't mind if it becomes a 'black hole'. In fact, I want it to be a black hole. However, I am more concerned with any dancing grain that might occur in my non-exposed background.

>I have never been able to test the 18 stock to see how well it holds in situations like this, and I am not crazy about the ideal of pushing the film, but I will if I have to. I've never pushed the 18 stock, so I don't know what the results would be.

>I am sure there are many of you that have had to shoot similar scenes.

>Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

>Thanks in advance,

>Tarina Reed
DoP, Los Angeles


class="style2">>>However, I am more concerned with any dancing grain that might >>occur in my non-exposed background.

>Do you need the f/4 for DOF/contrast or can you bump it up a half stop and not have the AC hate you? A bit of overexposure will give you the room to keep DMin at bay. Plus, you're doing a digital finish, I have to assume from S16, so you'll have access to grain reduction tools.

>P.S. I'd loved to have hung around with the cast of Split

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>With a few hot highlights you'll have something bright to attract the eye - one physiological way of doing 'grain reduction'

>And if your key exposures are sufficient to print at a decent lights / transfer without need to dig into shadows you can make this work.

>Sam Wells
film/../nj


>Tarina M. Reed wrote :

class="style2">>>However, I am worried about my background (which will be trees >>along the highway). I don't mind if it becomes a 'black hole'.

>You need to be careful -- if it's too much of a "black hole" and it will look like it was shot on a set and will feel fake. I'd try to find something in the deep background that is either lit (street sign, street lamp, billboard?) or can be lit just a bit, to raise it above the d-min floor, and then expose so that you can print down a bit and therefore the blacks will be cleaner and less grainy because you've consigned them to blackness -- whereas if your exposure is a bit low, you'd be using a lower printer light, and revealing more noise in the blacks in order to print the highlights properly.

>One trick to avoiding the appearance of grain is to have something in the background that is bright -- even if it's just a tiny point of light -- it's a reference, and if you expose correctly you'll see even less grain because that bright spot fools the mind a bit, or so some say. Perhaps a few cars coming towards the camera with headlights on, in addition to the others?

>Jeff "and what's wrong with grain?" Kreines


class="style2">>>I have a little challenge ahead. I am shooting a S16 feature and I am >>using 7218 as my stock for night time exteriors. The lighting package I >>am using is fairly reasonable. So I will be able to light most of my >>night exteriors to a F/4.

>Tarina,

>I've shot 5218 at night at F 1.3 here in Mexico City and it holds well.

You should not have a problem finding nice bright backgrounds in LA to even shoot at a F2.

Jaime Reynoso, AMC
Cinefotógrafo
México


>Some overexposure would be the key here for me--something hot somewhere, headlights, an edge light, car kicks, something

>Hope this helps

>Byron Shah
DP Los Angeles


>Whatcha need is a big old daylight source up high to kick across the background and give you a little moonlight base.

>Maybe up on Tahquitz Peak...

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>Tim Sassoon wrote:

>>>Whatcha need is a big old daylight source up high to kick across the >>background and give you a little moonlight base. Maybe up on >>Tahquitz Peak.

Tarina,

I've found for dark country exteriors, that lighting balloons are the best tools for creating an ambiance that feels as source-less as you can get. You can use tungsten if you just want to up exposure, or to augment streetlights, or you can use daylight balloons for moonlight, and if you like blue night (I don't in many cases.) Just be aware the tungsten of course start getting warm when you dim them which can be a deal breaker for night exteriors in a lot of cases. The 8K balloons have two "harnesses" with separate groupings of bulbs that are independently dimmable. So being able to turn half off instead of dimming from the get-go gives you more control. Theoretically, you can even go half tungsten and half HMI, though I would check with your balloon supplier on that.

>The only way to make that blend to a uniform (ballpark 4300 degree) source is to get it really high (impractical in any wind at all) otherwise it can look like you have two slightly different colours coming out each side of the balloon. If anyone else has done this successfully, please share your experience. The 8K balloons I speak of are hot dog shaped, which are the only ones I remember that take two different harnesses.

>Another thing about the colour temp of the balloons is some manufactures "skins" are naturally warmer than others. Some of the material I've seen is as warm as unbleached muslin.

>Jendra "balloon lover" Jarnagin, DP NYC
www.floatingcamera.com


>Thanks everyone!

>I feel a little more at easy about the situation, since I do plan on seeing some part of a headlight during the scene. Unfortunately, or fortunately we are shooting in the mountains of Idllywild, beautiful, no LA lights to kick off from.

>Tim, I don't know if you would have enjoyed hanging out with the Split crew after day 14, that's when the van started to produce a strange odour.

>Thanks to all!

>Tarina Reed
DoP, Los Angeles