Empire of Light – Tight Tricky Location to light

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  • #206216
    Max A.

      Hello Mr. Deakins and all the Dp’s over the forum! I hope you Mr. Deakins and Mrs. James are well.
      I really loved your lighting breakdown for ‘Empire of Light’ on the ‘looking at lighting’ page, since I always love your process I hope to see some BTS pictures of the movie in the future.

      Regarding ‘EoL’, I would like to ask you, if it is possible, what did you use in the projection booth for this scene (I did the same post a few weeks ago with some frames attached, but I think I committed a mistake attaching those since the post did not pass the moderation process). I think it was a tricky location cause it is so small, with tall visual elements that can cover and block light, with also light-painted walls, and there are quite enough cuts and angles in the scene.

      I suppose that the “main” motivation for the light comes from above, from the florescent fixtures, which seem around 4000k, but depending on the angles seems to me that you adjust things to have the “right” shape.
      The “practical” fixtures appear not so high from the floor (I suppose around 2.50 mt.) so the falloff should be quite drastic.
      When you moved inside the room (the angle behind ‘Stephen’ after passing the doorway of the projection booth) did you adjust the fixtures to have a soft “pool” behind the two projectors? It seems to me that light “washes” a bit more walls in that cut/angle and gives shape to the subject in the shadowed foreground; furthermore seems to me that you raised up the fixtures a bit.

      Did you used also some Astera tubes on the floor to wrap faces and mimic the shape of the ceiling fixtures in some situations, like when they talk through the projector or when they do the ending part of the dialogue? Or maybe some bounce surface to catch existing light and shape the faces?

      Whatever you’ve done, it’s all invisible in a very small location full of surfaces where as soon as you turn something on it starts bouncing everywhere and being visible. And all with superb continuity.
      Small locations are my nightmare 😅.

      I want to thank you first of all for your availability and for your time. I’m sorry if sometimes I’m so specific but I like to impersonate myself as Dp when I look at a scene, and that location with all those cuts would have confused me a bit. I have the big privilege of being able to ask you how you managed the scene and learn from your words.
      Last summer, I had a scene with a similar location (smaller still actually) but it had dark walls and fewer angles to “accommodate” and to maintain continuity.
      I apologize for my bad English. Thank you again, Mr. Deakins.

      ps. I attach a link to a youtube piece of the scene, unfortunately, there is not the first part of the scene.

      I wish you a peaceful day.

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    • #206220
      Max A.
        Roger Deakins

          This particular scene was lit by the overhead florescent tubes as you suggest. The idea of this kind of lighting came from a location we scouted before we built the set. I did add an extra 2′ tube to soften the light from these fixtures depending on the camera angle but that was all. In fact, I did use some small squares of black cloth to reduce the natural bounce off the set walls.

          The small conical shades, and the paper hanging off them, that are the main source of light when the projectors are in operation, were also a mirror of the way the lighting was rigged in another working location that we scouted.

          Max A.

            Thank you so much Mr. Deakins for your reply! It’s always fantastic reading from you!

            The beauty of “simplicity”.

            I wish you a peaceful day.

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