Keeping It Sunny
Published : 3rd January 2004
Gaffing on independent productions, when it comes to exerting control of day exteriors with a need for a sunny day, the best to be done is to wait for the sun to come back out from the clouds.
I was wondering how the Commercial Pros feel about exerting sunlight on scenes where you can't count on a clear sky. . . ie: is it always a mixture of juggling an 18k, silks, natural sunlight with said shot (frame)?
What's the magic recipe?
Any examples would be helpful...!!!
class="style9">>Gaffing on independent productions, when it comes to exerting control >of day exteriors with a need for a sunny day, the best to be done is to >wait for the sun to come back out from the clouds
I know on many productions --not just small independent features, we can't afford to wait for the sun to pop out again after we shot our "Sunny Master". A couple of things I try besides replacing the relatively hard light on the actor, is creating a strong highlight somewhere in the background of the frame, usually quite a bit hotter than key. Another important factor is to note, and re-create, your ratios and contrast to
Make note of what the ratios were while the sun was out if possible, notice how the highlights from the direct sun are hitting greens and objects in the background. This will give you ideas of what tools to use when you punch in. Also note the direct suns color temperature and try to match your artificial light as close as you can.
Brent Marrale wrote :
>>is it always a mixture of juggling an 18k, silks, natural sunlight with said >shot (frame)? What's the magic recipe?
One philosophy is to "bring the studio outdoors": use large black solids to block out top, front and side light (creating a virtual dark studio), and introduce your own lights from artificial sources. That way you maintain consistency of light on the subject throughout the day. HMIs are great for this method, 18Ks and a couple of 12's or 6's.
Of course, depending on the location you'll have to think about how to maintain light consistency in the background. (Sometimes you'll need to use large nets to knock down the background light.)
Also, when it starts to rain, and you have to make the scene look like a sunny day, you have to be careful to avoid causing the rain show up because of your backlight.
(My commercial cinematography mentor, who taught me this way of working, is known for being able to create sunny scenes outdoors even when the weather's bordering on stormy. :D Ecstatic ad agency people are always good for one's reputation.)
Brent Marrale wrote :
>>I was wondering how the Commercial Pros feel about exerting sunlight >on scenes where you can't count on a clear sky.
I think the most important thing is to shoot the big shots when you have sun -- it may sound blindingly obvious, but that's the trick. As long as you have lights and a director who understands the limitations of light etc., you can match the tight shots to the wide ones, even if it means making them tighter than you or the director may have wanted.
Then, it's just a matter of taking your lights and matching the feel of the wide shots, either from notes, the monitor, or memory.
Just as you would in the studio. No trick at all, really.
Rob Lindsay Productions
>>Of course, depending on the location you'll have to think about how to >maintain light consistency in the background.
Or try to shoot predominantly south. I shot a series of wrap-arounds for a food show outdoors in a vineyard and needed to keep the backgrounds looking mostly the same all day long. I had the grips rig a 12x12 solid overhead and made sure I shot facing south.
No matter where the sun was in its travels it always hit the trees and the grapes from a rear-ward angle. The highlights may have moved from one side to another but the overall look stayed exactly the same.
Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"