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Mixed Light Interiors

Published : 11th October 2007

While this is a question I should know the answer to, but I haven't had to solve the problem in real life. I'm shooting an interior scene with lots of practicals ( halogen fixtures and tungsten lamps) in the shot, with a large bay window as the background that has sunlight streaming in.

Is the best solution to shoot tungsten stock and gel the windows with CTO, or should I let them go? Should I shoot daylight stock and kill the practicals? The interior is very tight and the scene is a party so there isn't much room for anything other than a bank or 2 of Kinos. I have 1 1200 watt HMI which I am pumping through the window to guarantee my backlight, and 1 daylight and 1 tungsten bank of kinos for my interior. Suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Andre Morton
Student/DP
NYC


Do you need to correct everything?

It could be nice to use an 81EF filter on your lens, or possibly something warmer still, then possibly cool your tungsten units 1/4 blue.

You will have blue window light, and warm interior light, which is natural. Gelling windows is a real problem, and costly.

Dan Freene
Director of Photography
Advertising Advantage


>>I'm shooting an interior scene with lots of practicals ( halogen fixtures >>and tungsten lamps) in the shot, with a large bay window as the >>background that has sunlight streaming in.

I might try to kill the halogen and re-lamp the tungsten lights with daylight fluorescents. (make sure you get daylight...not the "slightly above tungsten colour temp daylight" bulbs.) It's helpful if the store has a display with the bulbs powered on so you can see the colour temps...

It's worked with video anyway. I'm not sure if the hardware store variety screw in fluorescent bulbs would flicker on film or not.

Someone with more experience might want to comment on that.

Tim Kolb
Director/Consultant
Neenah, WI, USA


Tim Kolb writes:

>>I'm not sure if the hardware store variety screw in fluorescent bulbs >>would flicker on film or not.

Almost all compact fluorescent bulbs use high-frequency (flicker-free) ballasts. If in doubt, test.

But they also vary considerably in their Colour Rendition Index. Video will generally be more forgiving of low CRI than film, but only a test will tell you if a given CF will be in your ballpark.

FWIW, I've used high-wattage CF's in china balls with adequate results, shooting DV in a documentary context -- they tend to be safer in paper lanterns than incandescent. (For narrative work I'd use encapsulated halogen bulbs -- you don't want to use bare quartz-halogen bulbs in a paper lantern! -- and even then you should exercise due caution.)

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


Andre,

Surely your questions are best answered by your intentions. Shoot tungsten in daylight and your window and all daylight sources look bluish. Shoot daylight and tungsten sources look warm. What are you shooting and how do you want it to look? What time of day or night is it?

You mention a party scene so I imagine it is at night? Black out the window with a dark fabric and you can do what you wish! More fabric and you have a tent area to light from too.

Don't want that? Mixed lighting can look cool too, but suit the colours to the mood of the scene. Balance the stock for daylight and put 1/2 ctb on the practicals for a warm interior.

There is a difference between coping with a lighting set-up and realising a pre-visualised set-up.

Mike Costelloe
DoP UK


Andre wrote:

>> I'm shooting an interior scene with lots of practicals (halogen fixtures >>and tungsten lamps) in the shot, with a large bay window as the >>background that has sunlight streaming in.

In this situation, what I would do is let the window motivate the lighting. Augment with larger HMI's outside the window, and use daylight balanced Kino’s inside to fill where needed. Use small HMI's or Fresnels with some blue gel inside to add highlights wherever appropriate...

For practicals, I would replace the normal incandescent bulbs with BCA's which are bulbs with a blue tint. The colour balance is around 4700 Kelvin. There are BCA-1's which are 250 watts and then BCA-2's which are 500w. These mix nicely with daylight and look great on film. BCA's burn out quickly, though, I think one bulb is good for about 5-6 hours of burn time. Also make sure that the practical fixture is rated for the bulb or else you'll have a fire hazard.

The real issue, in my mind, is controlling the streaming sunlight, and keeping that level consistent throughout your shooting day.

Toby Birney
D.P./ Camera Operator
Lithuania


I recently shot an interview using only natural light from a window, plus fill from a bounce screen. It looked fine on the video monitor but terrible on the computer afterwards. The face was slightly underlit, but more than that, there were a lot of details of facial flaws, lines, etc plus a certain deadness to the whole image. The window was facing West, at 1:00 pm, overlooking the San Francisco bay in the distance. No direct sunlight. It was a double-paned glass, which I think filters out UV light (and therefore maybe some blue and green?). Would that have caused this problem?

It no doubt resulted in some diffusion. I expected that the nature of the ambient light would have provided enough diffusion to soften the image much more. Is ambient sunlight spectral or diffuse?

When I do colour correction in Final Cut it makes it more yellow, moving the dot toward 10 o'clock.
I am a confused student.

Rich Wells
Student
Oakland, CA


Rich Wells :

>>I recently shot an interview using only natural light from a window, plus >>fill from a bounce screen. It looked fine on the video monitor but terrible >>on the computer afterwards.

Are you viewing the shot on an external video monitor, or the computer monitor? The shot may still be fine as the computer monitor may not be representing it in the same way a video monitor would. However, there is also a possibility that you field video monitor wasn't calibrated properly as well.

I would take a look at the footage on a properly set up video monitor and see what your waveform monitor tells you about the footage before deciding what and how much needs to be done...

Tim Kolb
Director/Editor
Neenah WI USA


I think the key possible problems have already been touched upon :

(1) Was your field monitor calibrated to bars?

(2) Is your computer monitor calibrated? If you have Photoshop it has a built utility to help you do that. If not, you can get some items fairly cheaply to help you out. I use a Spyder 2 Pro from Pantone. Video monitors and computer monitors utilize different gamma settings, which means that the computer monitor will usually show your footage as being darker than it really is. Also, colours don't track the same unless you've really critically calibrated your computer monitor.

I had a client who "corrected" some scenes in Final Cut Pro that he thought I'd shot too dark. He judged the footage on his computer monitor, which wasn't calibrated and had a different gamma from video monitors. He blew the whole thing out, pushing flesh tones way off the charts. It looked great on his computer but horrible on the huge screen the project was projected on during his company's all-hands meeting.

Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video
San Jose, CA, USA
www.artadams.net



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