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Gels vs. Nets - Pros & Cons (2 replies and 1 comment)

a.kozel
3 months ago
a.kozel 3 months ago

This is more of a grip question but as it relates directly to lighting I'm posting here.When it comes to reducing daylight for INT. DAY scenes, what are your preferences between the two? They both have a visual impact but also have strengths and weaknesses regarding time/money. For larger budget films, I would generally think gel is the preferred option as there generally is more pre-pro, available lighting units/power, and man-power to negate the extra time need to properly gel a window.

In my experience I have found:

GEL:

Pro - Clean image regardless of density level

Pro - Wide selection of densities (.3-1.2+)

Pro - No risk of seeing grippage in frame

 

Con - Expensive

Con - Longer setup time (worsens if there are multiple windows to gel)

Con - Potential for specular hot spots

Con - Much slower adjustment (removing/adding stops)

 

NET:

Pro - Faster setup.

Pro - Much faster adjustment (removing/adding stops)

Pro - Cover larger area much faster

Pro - Cheap

 

Con - Limited level of stop reduction (.5-2 stops generally)

Con - Artifacts in the image from seeing the netting

Con - More grippage

 

 

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

Well, you lay out the pros and cons very well. I will use a net if I know that an area will not be in focus. If I am shooting in a location with windows that I will see on multiple occasions and I would also like to see exterior detail beyond, then I will ask for gels. Now, if I feel the need to adjust the density of ND on a window during a shooting day, I will ask for hard gel and have a selection cut to size and ready to swap out as necessary. Such choices depend on the location as well as the scene or scenes being shot in that location. Budget and time always come into the equation so, maybe, framing to size a series of soft ND gels is a more practical way to go.

a.kozel
3 months ago

Thank you Roger for your reply. If using hard gels, you've likely already realized your need to swap density throughout the day before you get on set and have planned accordingly. Assuming hard gels are more expensive than a regular soft gel? Do you have a preference between the two if budget isn't a concern?

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

Hard gels are easier to swap out but you do sometimes get a reflection problem if the gel is separated from the window glass. I like using soft gels if I see no need to change them during the day. A one time change is OK but more than that can be painful.

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