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How to make a "white" scene look dark? (2 replies)

Anton Koschak
3 months ago
Anton Koschak 3 months ago

Hi everyone,

I am currently working on my first narrative project with a serious budget and a key scene in it plays in a chiropractic center, to be precise in one of the practicing rooms. We are going for a deliberately sterile and empty look. It's a Thriller and in comparison to all the other dark scenes this is the only "bright" location, so we try to invert the dark look of the movie here. But I have serious concerns about how to NOT make this scene flat and dull looking. The killer is present in the scene, meaning some dark aspects in the frame are a must. Anyone have any ideas to keep a sterile and white look but getting some shades and shadows in?

Mr. Roger, have you ever been a similar situation? How do you generally deal with sterile locations?

We are pretty early in production, so any general tips would be helpful already. We could build a set but for our moderate budget to shoot in a smaller chiropractic on a rest day would probably be cheaper, so it would be nice to get some ideas what we are looking for. All 'out of the box' ideas welcome 😉

It's ironic how all "dark" or sophisticated lighting setups are pretty clear to me already on how to get right and not flat, but this one is really difficult. Just putting negative fill next to the faces for example is something we've tested and felt unnatural in relation to the environment, so that solution (alone) doesn't really work for us.

Thanks in advance.


The Byre
3 months ago
The Byre 3 months ago

The obvious answer here is to embrace the whiteness.  Make it a key scene in the film.  Suck the colour out of the scene naturally.  Make sure the players wear tones of grey and then hit the viewer with some starting colour such as blood or vomit - or whatever the story calls for.

The alternative would be to just have one practical source of light such as a single tungsten light bulb dimmed down and keep the scene dim and orange with large shadows of the players on the walls.  Blank out the windows of course - or put some funky filter gels over them that can have the lights of passing cars flash by, accompanied by suitable car sounds to add atmosphere.

3 months ago
dmullenasc 3 months ago

You could try letting the light only fall on the background white wall and shooting characters in semi-silhouette against that.

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