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Lighting through small window (10 replies and 10 comments)

alberto
4 weeks ago
alberto 4 weeks ago

Hello Roger,

I have a scene where i have to shoot in a room with a small window. I would like to have a realistic approach. So try as much as possible to light from outside, so thorugh the window.

Can you, please give me some tips?

Another question is that, I read in other forums, that sometimes you add a light diffusion filter to a window in order to blowning it out, and also to spread a little the light that is comming through the window, if i understood correctly. If this was the case, with a digital camera, let's say an Arri Alexa, would you let, that window be red on the false color? i mean totally overexposed, in order to avoid the room to be dark? When i let a window to be red on the false color at the end of the post  i always think that looks like...it doesn't look good enough. Like loosing the quality.

Thank you so much

 

Roger Deakins
4 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 4 weeks ago

What technique you choose obviously depends on the situation. How many shots have you in the set? Will you look directly at the window? Does it matter if the exterior is blown out? What color are the walls? Is the sun shining? And more. I don't use the false color readout so I don't know if 'my' windows would be in the red zone. At times I am sure they are.

Diffusion directly on a window will always spread the light inside a room whatever the strength of that diffusion. A heavy diffusion will make the entire window your light source, almost as if it were a bounce on the wall of the room. Obviously, in that case it would feel like the light was coming from the wall and not through the window, which might not look right at all. But it all depends on your shot. If you don't see the window and you are shooting a close up that might work. By cutting this softer light off the wall behind the character you could match it with a harder look in a wide shot.

Vanniyan
4 weeks ago

Master roger what is the relationships between wall color and shoot against window light.

alberto
3 weeks ago

Thank you sooo much Roger for your answer!!
The thing is that i will see the window, and i can blown out the window a bit, but in my experience when i clip too much a big part of the frame, looks to me a bit...digital? like it's not so beautiful like to overexpose with film.
Then if i don't want to over expose too much the window, a small one. It isdifficult to compensate the interior.
I read once , that for shawshank redemption, you had a very small window and you used a lot of light to light compensate the interior? I guess like bouncing lots of light to lots of butterflies,...? could you please explain it a little bit more?
And last question, if you are not using the false color to expose digital , how you expose it?
Again, thank you so much

Roger Deakins
4 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 4 weeks ago

Well, think what a white wall might do as opposed to a dark one.

Vanniyan
4 weeks ago

Yes, white wall reflects more light than dark wall. If I want narrow straight window light what diffusion should i use on window. I don't want spread the window light on wall.

Max A.
4 weeks ago

I'm not Mr Deakins (for sure) but I think if you want to a rapid fall-off of your light from your windows you have to use dense diffusion on those so that windows becomes the source.

But maybe I'm wrong and Mr. Deakins can clarify for sure better than me.

Have a nice day,
Max.

Roger Deakins
4 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 4 weeks ago

If you want a narrow beam of light and don't want any spread outside of that beam then you shouldn't use diffusion, or a Hampshire Frost at the very least.

Vanniyan
4 weeks ago

Master roger did you use Hampshire frost in 'True grit' court room scene.

Vanniyan
4 weeks ago

For instance my camera want to see the window straight angle. What diffusion should i use?

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

The diffusion affects the light so you choose which is right for the look you want. I used a Hampshire for the courtroom scene in 'True Grit' as I wanted to maintain a sharp 'ish beam of light but also not see any detail through the window.

Vanniyan
3 weeks ago

Yes master. You use the diffusion depends the situation. I assume you use 216 diffusion for 'TMWWT court room. I saw That window light spread all over the court room. Right?

Vanniyan
3 weeks ago
Vanniyan 3 weeks ago

 The true grit courtroom window shape seems vertical. How Did you refer photometric chart before light this window. Did you measure the window size and then calculate the lamp beam diameter?. 

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/IMG_20210930_233901.jpg
Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

I didn't use a photometric chart in this case, just experience.

Vanniyan
3 weeks ago

Master roger your experience is price less. Suppose if a new cinematographer like me going to do sort of shaft lighting how to do some maths which lamp is the fit for x size of the window and relatives size of the beam diameter. At which point you decide 18k par without lens would fill that size of vertical windows. By the way how did you control the contrast while using smile in set.

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

You just need to practice with different lamps and materials. You don't have to have an 18K, any small lamp will do to give you a sense of how light works. Try using a white bed sheet as a reflective wall and then swap that out for a black as look at the difference. There is no way for me to say exactly how you should choose a lamp or how to use it in every circumstance. You really have to learn for yourself!

Vanniyan
3 weeks ago

Thanks for your valuable advice master. But I was purely talking about technical challenges. Can't i figure out what lamp i have to choose for larger window through some maths calculation. That's what I want to know. I don't know how most of the peoples figure out that maths!

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

You could find a way to do that but, to me, that would not be productive. You can illuminate but you can't 'light' using a calculator.

Vanniyan
3 weeks ago

Not every time calculation method. I am wondering You also do use same calculation method for large exteriors and some interiors set also. I want you to ask one more thing will you light the 'True grit' window on 2x 6k HMI par lamp for the same size of the window?

dmullenasc
3 weeks ago
dmullenasc 3 weeks ago

Vanniyan,

Keep in mind that on a feature film and a TV series, you have a basic equipment package of lights -- since you usually have day interior scenes on location, you carry HMI's and a generator, and if your budget allows, perhaps you have one big lamp all the time, maybe it's an 18K HMI, maybe it's a 9K or 6K, and you make that lamp work for all your big needs in different locations and maybe for night exteriors as well.  So it's not like for every location and set, you are always calculating the size and spread of the lamp and the footcandles needed, etc.  A more typical day interior in a house, you just put your biggest HMI out the window if you need to create sunlight.  Of course there are times when you have unusually large windows or a large area at night where you have to figure out if the equipment you are carrying can do what you want, or if you need to "day play" a special lamp for that scene.  But working with the same package for the bulk of a feature teaches you over time what works and what doesn't work so well, so that on your next feature, you say "maybe I should carry two 6K HMI's instead of one 9K HMI", etc. 

I started out shooting student films using household power so nothing was brighter than 20amps (2K tungstens, 1.2K HMI's, etc.) Then I had a bigger budget for a generator and got a 6K HMI and learned what that could do and not do.  Then on the next project I got a 12K HMI, and a 5K and 10K tungsten.  I learned what they could do and couldn't do.  You never stop learning.  I was working on HBO's "Westworld" and the gaffer suggested putting two 18K Arrimax's on a condor behind the old western street building to simulate sunlight in overcast or when the light dropped. So I tried it... and learned that two 18K Arrimax's on a condor at full spot barely show up in bright overcast weather -- they can't replicate real sunlight. But as soon as it became dusk on the street, I could light it for sunlight with that condor for another half-hour or so, allowing us to keep shooting. They matched the late afternoon sun very well, they just couldn't overpower bright overcast light earlier.  So I learned something.

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

2 x 6K HMI lamps would not produce the same result as a single lamp. I wanted a single sharp beam of light and two lamps would not have given me the same result unless, maybe, I had used a mirror of some sort.

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