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Lighting a club scene without showing the space (3 replies)

2 months ago
Vigsod 2 months ago

In two months we're going to film our last film in film school and I'm planning some lighting at the moment. I did a camera test yesterday and I'm pondering a bit about what's missing. Because of corona we can't have too many extras which is a bit counter-intuitive because it's taking place at a club. I still think it works, the story is very subjective so I think the feeling can be a bit heightened. As such we need to film this in the school studio so I did a camera test yesterday. Generally I think it can be done but there's something about the lighting that I can't really place what's wrong with it. I'll post two pictures below.


The one with the blue lighting, I like how the colors work with each other but the quality of the blue and red are so strong that I feel it doesn't really feel like a club. The one with the green lighting I kind of like more, but there's something missing in the scene. I wondered if a china ball with a more neutral tone would do the trick? I didn't have that at my disposal at the time so I couldn't try it. I was just posting if someone had any ideas of things to try out?»

Jacob W.
2 months ago
Jacob W. 2 months ago

Hey Vigsod, some not quite professional thoughts for you if you will --

Perhaps, your lighting is too 'soft'? So for instance from being in clubs, and also watching club scenes in movies, normally the lighting is very hard and focused right? You have those strobing beams going everywhere, so maybe look into trying to harden the beams of light to get a more rigid feel with it all.

Also don't be afraid to see the light sources in the background. Club scenes seem to capture that bokeh of the light sources themselves in the background.


Also having people in the BG help with the club feel, and try and place them in layers, some closer will take up more screen. Your BG in the first frame felt a little flat, like a straight line across the screen. 

But lighting wise, all I could note is maybe try for a that harder light? I don't know your set up, perhaps' I'm way off, but the color looked like the right tone for a club, just felt too soft to me. 

Take a look at a few of those John Wick club sequences, those are quite well done and seem to parallel the vibe you're aiming for. Maybe you'll see something in those that will spark an idea?

I hope some of the technically savvy members jump in and give you some great advice.

Best of luck!

2 months ago
G.C. 2 months ago

The test looks good. Maybe you’re just missing some sort of practical light in shot to give you a highlight and some depth. It can be a spotlight, a Titan tube (yikes), or maybe a table lamp in the VIP area of the club. Anything like that would give you brighter values in your image, and help your eye perceive the rest as less ‘muddy’.

2 months ago
Myron 2 months ago

Even Christmas lights could add some practical club/bar ambience. I've used them on a film project and it worked well. The frame grabs look awesome. though.

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