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class="style5" Shooting With Available Light

>Published : 16th June 2005

>I've been drafted in to shoot a short film on 16mm in mid-March in the Midlands area of England. I'm discussing with the director which stock would be appropriate (definitely Fuji - 50% student discount) but he's seen their showreel and was impressed with the vibrant colours on the F-64D demo, whereas I'm thinking we only have available light, so we might need a faster stock.

>Locations are mainly outdoors, in a park, but there will be interiors shot in a police station and house. Mainly daytime, but night for the house. I've been told we may not get any lights.

>I'm just starting out with film (shot on video to date), so want to get the advice of more experienced people, and having read this forum off and on for some time I know I'm in the right place!

>So :

>What stock would you suggest, based upon your experience? I'm leaning more toward the F-500 at the moment.

>Would you mix stocks? I'm trying to avoid it to maintain consistency, but does it sound like it would be necessary?

>Thank you very much,

>Mark Tracey


>You can use a slower stock outdoors and a faster stock indoors; the change in setting hides a lot of the change in film stock. Plus grain is more visible in flat areas of mid-tones, which you get more of outdoors particularly in overcast weather, while a low-key interior with more shadows will hide some of the grain. You mainly want to avoid changing stocks in mid-scene.

>If you are really worried about dark overcast weather, you could use 250 ASA daylight-balanced stock outdoors and use 500 ASA stock indoors, although if they are small interiors, you could probably light them for 250 ASA film as well.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>What stock would you suggest, based upon your experience. I'm >leaning more toward the F-500 at the moment.

class="Paragraph">> Would you mix stocks? I'm trying to avoid it to maintain consistency, >but does it sound like it would be necessary?

>If you can, use slower stock outside and 250 or 500 stock inside. 64 ISO inside is not easy especially if you have limited lighting resources.

>On the other hand mixing stocks on a small production can leave you with too many short ends and/or loading/unloading or simply the wrong stock and the wrong time, knowing it, or worst not knowing it and all the consequences that it entails.

>Personally I would go with a keep it simple approach and a middle of the road single stock ie 250 iso daylight.

>Good luck

>Daniel Villeneuve, c.s.c.
Directeur-Photo/Director of Photography
Montréal, Canada
demo à / at: http://dvdp.ca


class="Paragraph">> ...mixing stocks on a small production can leave you with too many >short ends and/or loading/unloading or simply the wrong stock and the >wrong time...

>That's what I've done on the majority of the ultra low budget features I've shot, and this approach works well for me. I will normally use Kodak's '46 (handles mixed light sources well) though the last feature I shot we used the newer '05 (the Vision 2 250D film).

>Shooting with available light may not be as limiting as you think, esp. of the director is cooperative and allows blocking to be set to take advantage of the light that's available. Also, don't overlook the benefits of a well placed Chinese lantern.

>I hope this is helpful.

>Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net


class="Paragraph">>What stock would you suggest, based upon your experience. I'm >leaning more toward the F-500 at the moment.

>I'd suggest staying away from the F-500 for two reasons: (1) Unless you're shooting Kodak's new Vision2 EI 500 stock (7218) you can't rate a 16mm stock that fast without getting a horrendous storm of grain. (2) Fuji tends towards the grainier side unless you overexpose it by at least 1/3 of a stop, preferably 2/3.

>If you were going to shoot F-500 I'd rate it no faster than 250, which would help you with contrast control if you're going to telecine. Up until 7218 I've always rated EI 500 16mm stock at 250 (or 7298 at 320 with a good lab doing the processing) and had good results. Anything faster and the grain is quite unpleasant, at least to my eye. (I shot 7218 rated at EI 400 just because I couldn't bring myself to rate it any faster... and I was amazed at the lack of grain.)

>It would be better, though, if you went with their F-250 stock and rated it at 200, or even 160. The stock is probably a little contrastier than the F-500 but the grain will be much better.

>Have you ordered Fuji's film demo DVD? That would be a great way to research the look you want to achieve. I believe all the examples are 35mm but you can get an idea of what each stock will do. Just make sure you overexpose them a bit to help with the grain.

>Since you're shooting 16mm you'll be able to shoot with wider apertures than you would if you were shooting 35mm without working at a dramatically reduced depth of field. A stop of f1.4 in 16mm will give you the same depth of field as f2.8 in 35mm, so you can shoot with a slower stock and a wider aperture without sacrificing depth of field. This will come in handy when shooting with natural light since, in theory, if you shot an EI 250 stock indoors at T1.3 you'd need only ten footcandles of light or so for a decent exposure. That's not very much. Get the best set of Zeiss Super Speeds that you can and check them to see how they do wide open.

>If you're mixing daylight and fluorescents in the police station you might pick F-250D for your exterior stock. Fuji says the F-250D and F-500D both handle mixed lighting with fluorescents very well. I haven't tried this myself but I know people who have used the F-500D in those situations and were quite surprised at how well it did. I'd suggest sticking to F-250D if you can and rate it no faster than EI 200, or maybe EI 160 if possible.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
Local resources : http://www.artadams.net/local


class="Paragraph">>many short ends and/or loading/unloading or simply the wrong stock >and the wrong time... Personally I would go with a keep it simple >approach and a middle of the road single stock ie 250 ISO daylight.

>Wow, thank you all for your replies! I'm all for the KISS approach; my first 'film' film so I've plenty to think about.

>I wonder - having checked Fuji's site their 250 daylight film rates at 64 under tungsten light, so am I right in thinking you'd shoot interiors (both mixed light scenes and purely practical-lit) without correction filters (thereby remaining at 250)?

>May have misunderstood, in which case chastise me most vigorously.

>Thanks,
Mark Tracey


class="Paragraph">>May have misunderstood, in which case chastise me most vigorously.

>No need for castigation, there's plenty of that on CML already.

>If you were going to pick one stock to shoot both indoors and outdoors you'd probably want the 250 tungsten. I'm not sure where you got the 64 number unless you're looking at using 250-D (as in daylight) indoors, which would be a huge mistake. You'd have to add an 80A, which is a blue filter that costs you two stops. You're not shooting anything indoors with natural light unless you're shooting in a reactor core and something has gone horribly wrong.

>The only time you'd shoot 250-D indoors is if you're in a mixed light situation, which is why I asked you if your police station was a combination of daylight and fluorescent. If you're shooting under tungsten light you'd be better using a tungsten stock and adding filtration for outdoors, where you can afford to lose a bit of stop.

>You'd want to use the 250 tungsten (regular old F-250) indoors unfiltered, and then use it with an 85 or 85B outdoors and open up 2/3's of a stop (rate it at 160). Or you can use an LLD outside and still rate it at 250, but the 85 or 85B will probably give you better color.

>As always with Fuji stock I'd recommend you rate it a little slower, so personally I'd rate it indoors at EI 200 and outdoors with an 85 at EI 125.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


class="Paragraph">> I wonder - having checked Fuji's site their 250 daylight film rates at 64 >under tungsten light, so am I right in thinking you'd shoot interiors (both >mixed light scenes and purely practical-lit) without correction filters .(thereby remaining at 250)?

>Well, no one would probably use the blue 80A filter on F-250D to shoot in tungsten (because you'd only have an effective 64 ASA) -- they'd probably use F-250T instead.

class="Paragraph">>The only time you'd shoot 250-D indoors is if you're in a mixed light >situation, which is why I asked you if your police station was a >combination of daylight and fluorescent.

>250D stocks are used a lot for interior scenes lit with all-5500K lighting (HMI's, Kino 55's, natural daylight, etc.), not just for mixed color temperature situations. I use Fuji F-250D or Kodak Vision 250D a lot for day interiors.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>Excellent, I assumed it wouldn't be a case of filtering the daylight stock for tungsten lights...glad I checked though.

>Just looking at my lightmeter, my skin is reading at F0.5+2/3 for ISO 250 at 24 frames/sec (nearest shutter speed is 1/60 sec hence my choice of fps). It's night and there's just a 100W bulb in the room, similar to how I imagine a particular scene's location will be. This makes me wonder if I'll need a faster stock (assuming extra lighting isn't available).

>Once again, thanks to all for your help...I know I'm in good hands with you guys!...& ladies.

>Mark Tracey


class="Paragraph">>It's night and there's just a 100W bulb in the room, similar to how I >imagine a particular scene's location will be. This makes me wonder if >I'll need a faster stock (assuming extra lighting isn't available).

>Remember, you can always replace that 100 watt bulb with a brighter bulb, or better, a 3400 degree high wattage bulb from a good photo store. You might even use a photo flood bulb, which would direct more of the light downwards.

>Steven Bradford
Collins College
Phoenix Arizona


class="Paragraph">>I use Fuji F-250D or Kodak Vision 250D a lot for day interiors.

>I'm just curious... why would you pick those stocks over 5218? Just for the color balance, or is there another reason?

class="Paragraph">>This makes me wonder if I'll need a faster stock (assuming extra >lighting isn't available).

>If you're using only one bulb... you'll need a bigger bulb. I'd hesitate to tell you to use a faster stock in 16mm unless you like grain. You might want to go to an expendable supply store and buy a 250w or 500w bulb with a porcelain screw-in socket.

>(You don't want to melt a regular light socket. Just screw the porcelain socket into the regular socket and screw the bulb into the porcelain socket.)

>Maybe you should think about how you'll stage the action around the lighting. For example, if you don't mind playing part of the scene in silhouette you could have a lamp or a light bulb lighting enough of the background that you can tell there's a person in front of it. If you only have one light available... well, make it the brightest light you can. You'll have to make some creative decisions about what your exposure will be and how bright and how dark you can let the action go.

>Just remember, you may not need to see everything all the time, just as long you have a sense of where things and people are. Think of it in layers : if you put your subject in front of something bright you'll still see them if you let them go dark. Use a Chinese lantern up close for close-ups as they drop off quickly. You can also hide them behind objects
and create enough light to see what's going on in the background without things looking too lit.

>My advice, though, is not to shoot any 16mm film stock faster than 250 unless it's 7218 or 7229.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>I'll take a contrarian approach, but it depends on what sort of film you are shooting.

>For cinema-verite shooting, I always want to be loaded with one universal stock that lets me shoot anywhere. My favourite for a film with a lot of low-light situations (and I mean really low-light) is push-one 7250, which, sadly, you can't get anymore.

>You'd have consistent grain, one stock, no splitting of rolls... and all you need is an 85 filter and maybe an 85N6. You can walk from a dark house into the sunlight.

>7218 would probably be an effective replacement. A 250 stock is too slow for available light interiors, in most cases.

>But I shoot a lot in near darkness.

>Jeff Kreines


class="Paragraph">>7218 would probably be an effective replacement.

>It would be ideal! But Mark says he has to stick with Fuji...

class="Paragraph">>A 250 stock is too slow for available light interiors, in most cases.

>Even at T1.3?

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


class="Paragraph">>A 250 stock is too slow for available light interiors, in most cases.

class="Paragraph">> Even at T1.3?

>Actually, the OPPOSITE seems to be the case. I shot a feature with all interiors on 7246, using Optar Illuminas SuperSpeeds. The only light manipulation was 2 15" Kinos for the eyes, everything else was practical

>The extended shadow range of the Vision stocks allows for shooting in interiors with naturalistic lighting.

>Obviously, day interiors are a lot easier than night interiors. The director should be a little flexible when it comes blocking in certain situation, too.

>Duraid Munajim
DP, Toronto


class="Paragraph">>I use Fuji F-250D or Kodak Vision 250D a lot for day interiors.
> I'm just curious... why would you pick those stocks over 5218? Just for >the color balance, or is there another reason?

>Because 250 ASA stocks are finer-grained than 500 ASA stocks (especially now that we have Vision-2 250D) and I don't like the idea of having to use a filter indoors just to get a normal color balance while getting less effective speed at the same time. However, if I had to use fewer stocks, then I'd probably stick to tungsten stocks and filter for daylight.

class="Paragraph">>Just looking at my lightmeter, my skin is reading at F0.5+2/3 for ISO >250 at 24 frames/sec (nearest shutter speed is 1/60 sec hence my >choice of fps).

>Just because your meter goes to f/0.5 doesn't mean your lens does. In general, it's a good idea to get to f/2.0 at least, if not f/2.8, to increase your lens choice options plus shoot at a more optimal f-stop for better resolution optically. While you can shoot with a Super-Speed at f/1.4, I find that wider than f/2.0, you see a drop in sharpness.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>Art Adams writes :

class="Paragraph">>I'd suggest staying away from the F-500 for two reasons : (1) Unless >you're shooting Kodak's new Vision2 EI 500 stock (7218) you can't rate >a 16mm stock that fast without getting a horrendous storm of grain.

>You may want to change that comment after trying the new F-500...

>I'd also say that in the UK in March you should forget 64D, unless you can manage a very short shooting day and have an ace AC, and concentrate on the 200 daylight balance stock.

>Of course if you can persuade Fuji to do the deal for you on the new 500 then you could use it for everything just filtering the exteriors when appropriate.

>This is the Eterna stock that I'm talking about.

>Art Adams writes :

class="Paragraph">>If you're using only one bulb... you'll need a bigger bulb. I'd hesitate to >tell you to use a faster stock in 16mm unless you like grain.

>That's US specific advice in the UK you'll probably want to look at Photoflood's.

>These will fit a normal BC bulb holder, they only last for a few hours but are well worth it if you're pushed for light.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


>Mark Tracey writes:

class="Paragraph">>I'm just starting out with film (shot on video to date)]

>I think you'll be very pleased with how film captures available-light situations compared to video, as long as your basic exposure is OK.

>Remember that with negative film your shadow areas are the LEAST forgiving. Expose so you get enough shadow detail and don't worry too much about your highlights blowing out objectionably.

>You may wish to take Jessica's advice about using a Chinese ball lantern -- placing it where it'll open up your shadows in the most critical parts of your frame. This can give you a cleaner look while not taking a whole lot of setup time or violating the naturalness of the scene.

>Someone makes a rigid frame for Chinese lanterns (someone please help me with the name!) which allows you to set it up directly on top of a stand so it's rigid and doesn't swing. Makes it easy, quick and safe to move around.

>Good luck!

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>http://www.lanternlock.com/

>Chinese lanterns that are stand-mountable. TERRIFIC!

>Henry Gretzinger,
NYC
Director of Photographicasmitality


>Henry Gretzinger writes :

>>http://www.lanternlock.com/

>Chinese lanterns that are stand-mountable. TERRIFIC!

Thanks, Henry.

>I just noticed that the LanternLock is designed to be gripped by a C-stand clamp. If you just want to pop one onto the top of a regular 5/8" lighting stand you'll have to come up with some kind of adaptor, or maybe just gaffer tape it to the stand.

>Strange... you'd think they'd make a lanternlock with a 5/8" female fitting...

>I've mounted Chinese lanterns on stands by attaching the bulb socket to the stand itself -- about 7" from the top -- and hanging the paper ball from the top of the stand (holding the top and bottom of the frame in place with dabs of gaffer tape) -- so the end result resembles a lollipop. It's amazingly neat and convenient that way. No swinging or swaying.

>I also slip a soft reflector (made from Reflectix insulation) inside my lanterns, which doubles their light output in one direction and darkens the other side, which also provides a means of "dimming" -- by simply rotating the lantern away from the subject. Obviously this should be done with care, so hot bulbs don't come into direct contact with the Reflectix. One could do the same with alimin(i)um foil, taking care not to touch the foil to the electrically hot sleeve of a bulb base.

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>For optimum image structure (best sharpness, least graininess), it's generally best to match the film stock to the light, i.e. use a tungsten balance film for tungsten lighting, a daylight balance film for daylight or HMI. If you have to filter, the better trade-off is to use a tungsten balance film and 85 or CTO to correct the daylight, than using a daylight balance film and having to use a blue filter that eats up 2 stops of light.

>As you continue to explore your film options, talk to your local Kodak representative.

>John Pytlak
Eastman Kodak Company
http://www.kodak.com/go/motion


class="Paragraph">>For optimum image structure (best sharpness, least graininess)

>John- could you describe what happens to sharpness and graininess when you use a film stock in a different overall color temperature than that for which it was designed?

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>A tungsten film has the relative speeds of the red, green, and blue sensitivities matched for 3200K tungsten illumination. The neutral tone scale illuminated by this light will have "curve placement" that is fairly matched on the red, green, and blue characteristic curves of the film. Likewise, a daylight balance film will have matched "curve placement" of the neutral tone scale under daylight illumination.

>In very simple terms, for color negative film, each of the film emulsions are a blend of various sized silver halide grains, with larger grains being faster than smaller grains. The various speed grains may be blended, or coated as separate layers. The mix of grain sizes and grain sensitivities are precisely controlled to produce a sensitometric characteristic that has a very long "straight line" (where most of the scene information is placed), a "toe" (deep shadows) and a "shoulder" (extreme highlights). Underexposure puts more of the scene information lower on the curve, or onto the "toe", which uses more of the faster (and larger) grains. So underexposure usually increases the apparent graininess of the image.

>When you use a tungsten film under daylight illumination, the curve placement on the red, green and blue is not balanced, as daylight has relatively more blue light and less red light than a tungsten source. So with underexposure, the red information will suffer the most from the underexposure - usually apparent as an increase in graininess, and some contrast mismatch.

>A daylight film exposed to uncorrected tungsten illumination will have relatively more exposure in the red, but the blue record will be the first to become underexposed, again resulting in an increase in graininess, and some contrast mismatch.

>The Kodak website has a much more detailed discussion :

>http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/support/h1/structure.shtml

>http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/support/h1/exposure.shtml

>John Pytlak
Eastman Kodak Company
http://www.kodak.com/go/motion


>Thanks again to everyone for your help. Definitely looking into that new Fuji stock!

>I'll let you know how we get on.

Cheers,


Mark Tracey