Easter Passion Play By Candlelight
Published : 26th May 2005
I've got a shoot coming up that requires me to shoot the Last Supper on HD. My kit includes 2 1k soft boxes and 2 650w and 1 300w Arri lights. I'll have access to quite a few candles as well. This is for a small production of an Easter Passion Play for a local church. What's the latest, greatest gel trick to simulate the
candlelight. I have CTO and some straw to use but could get others if needed.
I know that this is sort of a personnel preference type of situation as most are but could use some expert advice on different options and what some of you use.
We probably won't have any flicker generators but may try some old school tricks with stuff in front of the sources to create a sort of flicker.
I think the best candlelight comes from candles. There are double-wick candles available if you need more light.
I know the Varicam is sensitive enough for the job and I would imagine the CineAlta can do it as well. At least it's easy and cheap to test!
I believe Stanley shot a lot of Barry Lyndon with candlelight back when film stocks were not so fast. As I remember, he had a still camera Canon .95 lens modified, but you can use the superb fast DigiPrimes.
This is a candlelit shot from Barry Lyndon :
The most easy and home made effect a have use to go for was creating a sort or sheet from CTO some warm gel you want, size depending the size of the source. This sheet is cut into 1 inches pieces in order to get a sort of hairy Dracula (like a curtain but 90degress turned)...use this in front of light with soft movements generally left-right... you can also leave free spaces in the sheet or combine different gels
>I know the VariCam is sensitive enough for the job and I would imagine >the CineAlta can do it as well. At least it's easy and cheap to test!
What I've always done when shooting candles in electronic formats is to stop down far enough that the candles don't totally blow out but still have some effect on nearby objects, and then add a subtle base of fill from the camera or from the direction of the candles (whichever looks more appropriate) from a big bounce with full CTO on it. You'll have some interaction from the candles and that soft ambient glow that the brain thinks of as the light from many candles.
By stopping down you'll preserve some of the warmth and detail in the candles, something that was lacking in shots from Barry Lyndon. Barry Lyndon was quite beautiful but you won't be able to get that same look using an electronic medium without large areas of clipped highlights in the frame.
Last but not least you could use big pieces of Reflectix mounted on bead board to reflect the candles' own light back onto the subjects, flickers and all. I haven't tried that but it might work.
Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
James A. Spear, Jr wrote :
>I've got a shoot coming up that requires me to shoot the Last Supper on >HD.
So far there have been some great suggestions. I remember when "Interview With A Vampire" shot by Phillipe Rousselet was shooting in the French Quarter here in New Orleans. I had wondered how he would light the exteriors. One word "china balls", lots of them combined with gas lanterns. It was really beautiful and warm. This would work, no gas lanterns for safety, if you can hang one or two above the table along with practical candles. If you balance your exposure with the candles I would not worry too much with flickering lights.
If I where shooting this I would go with a kind of directionless low key style. Not flat mind you just not source. Sort of light from heaven stuff. I would want single clean catch lights in the Christ figures eyes for close-ups. Since it's video or HD you might think about a blue moonlight/or warm rim from a invisible window off stage to add some snap. You would need to be very careful with the rim and not overdue it. I have not seen "The Passion". That might be a good place to start. I hear Caleb Deschanel's photography is nothing but stunning.
Take a look at some of the great paintings of "The Last Supper" Da Vinci's is my personal favourite.
New Orleans, La
I would like to add to the learned opinions that have been put forward so far in this subject that it probably isn't a very good idea to try to recreate candlelight flicker because in a multiple candle set the flickers tend to cancel (attenuate?) one another; only in a single candle set the flicker is a major concern.
The last supper was a Pessakh (Passover) ceremony attended by 13, there were probably many candles.
Victor Lefelman. Gaffer.
May I suggest u have the wrong package to begin.
If you are indeed shooting HD BetaCam, you will probably get away with your candles alone.
Can I refer you to this page on CML...
Australian List Moderator - Cinematography Mailing List
Thanks David - I read that one and have some ideas.
James Spear, Jr.
Art Adams writes:
>you could use big pieces of Reflectix mounted on bead board to reflect >the candles' own light back onto the subjects, flickers and all. I haven't >tried that but it might work.
A variation on that might be to cut a small window in the centre of a piece of Reflectix and shoot through it, which should give you fairly nondirectional fill.
Nice thing about Reflectix -- you can cut it with scissors, but it's stiff enough to support itself. Add the beadboard for real flatness and support, though.
Marin County, CA
Victor Lefelman writes:
>it probably isn't a very good idea to try to recreate candlelight flicker >because in a multiple candle set the flickers tend to cancel (attenuate?) >one another
The more candles in a room, the more they'll average each other out overall, but the closer you get to a given candle the more pronounced the flicker becomes.
Actually, candle flicker has two components :
1) Actual flicker (rapid, pulsing rise and fall in light output) and...
2) Variations in the light cast on very close objects as the flame is blown around by local breezes.
Marin County, CA
Thanks for all the good ideas and options. That's why I love the CML!
James Spear Jr.