Night Interior Lighting Suggestions (5 replies and 10 comments)
I'm shooting a scene this weekend that takes place at night in a bedroom. It's a very dramatic scene in which a man, Ford, appears in another man, Donovan's bedroom in the middle of the night to quietly kill him and has to do so all while Donovan's wife is asleep in their bed. I'd like the scene to feel very dark and eerie. I've been going through all my options to light the scene, but I'm just not sure what to do, so I figured I'd reach out to this community to get some suggestions, maybe even from Roger or David. I've attached some pictures of my location to give you a better idea of the space I'm working with.
For equipment, I'm shooting on an Alexa Mini, ArriRaw 3.4k Open Gate with Master Prime lenses. I have access to an M18, an Arri fresnel kit (300w, 2x 650w, 750w open face), Joker 800, some CTO and CTB, a 4x4 bounce board, 8x8 unbleached and bleached muslin, 8x8 ultrabounce, 1/2 grid, 1/4 silk, high roller stands, and various other grip/lighting gear.
I had originally thought to bounce the M18 (perhaps with some CTB) off the ultrabounce on the balcony and sticking the bounce up to punch through the higher window, but I discovered that there is an awning that disables me from putting either of those high enough to do that. I could do that same thing through the bottom window but I thought that would look fake considering moonlight typically would come from above. Another thought I had would be to put a 4x4 bounce board up on a high roller stand to point through the higher window and bounce the M18 off of that, but I'm not sure if I can get the board high enough considering the angle of the house's walls and windows. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to scout the location so I don't know how high the windows actually are. Another thought I had was to ditch the "window moonlight" idea and just bounce a light off the ceiling/walls inside the room to give a very subtle and soft ambient light in the room that would be enough for the audience to be able to see the action while still feeling like dark nighttime.
If you might have some ideas for this particular situation, it'd be much appreciated. Thank you all!
Couldn't the light be as if it were coming from a street light outside and therefore lower than what you consider right for moonlight? A hard sodium look could be interesting. Look at all the great B&W noir films that used a hard source through a window. Why is always about naturalism as opposed to realism? By that I mean a shot can be lit in a way that appears to be realistic but in fact it is not. There are so many ways to light a set that an audience will accept if it is done with confidence.
Thanks so much for your thoughts Roger! I love the idea that the audience will accept something if it's done with confidence, definitely something I needed to hear. I like the idea of the sodium look, but many of the other scenes in the film have been warm so the director specifically mentioned that he wanted a cooler look for this scene. Given that, do you have any other suggestions?
A streetlamp could be cool instead of warm, as if it were an LED streetlamp or an old metal halide / mercury vapor one.
Exactly! Any color other than a neutral daylight could read as some sort of artificial exterior light source.
Wow I suppose you're right, I guess I didn't think of it that way, but that does sound like it would work! Thank you both so much for your suggestions, it's an honor to be receiving advice from two legends of the craft!
I noticed the lamp on the patio in the 5th picture. Is there anyway to use that to inform the light that may be coming in? I would imagine it would be quite warm so maybe that would not fall in line with the director's desire for this particular scene as you mentioned. Either way, it would be awesome to hear back from you about what you end up doing with this scene.
Oh wow, I actually hadn't noticed that until you pointed it out. That could definitely help with some motivation. Thanks so much, I'll share some results after we shoot!
I look forward!
Hey all, I figured I'd give an update on the result. We ended up putting an M18 on the balcony and bouncing off an 8x8 ultrabounce, then through 1/2 grid on the windows. Keep in mind this was my first time shooting this type of scene (and only my 2nd weekend using an Alexa Mini), but I think the shots came out ok! Since it was my first time shooting this dark on the Alexa, I was a bit hesitant about exposure on set, so there's some work to do in the DI. I think maybe making the images darker, and of course adjusting for consistency, but I'm pretty happy with how they came out with a just a simple LUT. I would've loved to have had more light so as to move the light back further from the window to decrease the falloff a bit and maybe make the source a bit softer, but we made do with what we had!
Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!
Quick footnote - I shot at 3200k, Raw 3.4k Open Gate, at 800 ISO. There were a few shots I added .6 ND to get a bit more shallow depth of field. There was originally a 1/4 CTB on the light, but it was a bit too blue so we took it off to gain more light. All shots were on a 32mm besides the on closeup which was on a 50mm.
Super interesting for beginners like me!
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for circling back to share! I think the overall softness/falloff is great for what you were working with. Quick question: is the m18 being bounced back through the same window that it is firing from or is it bounced back down through the upper window? Couldn't tell exactly from the photos. Great job btw.
Thanks so much, I appreciate that! It's bouncing back through the same window it's firing from (the lower one). The 8x8 was as at max height so that's all we could do, but I'm still happy with the results.
Ah, I can see that now. Looks like you also may have been limited by that overhang on the patio even if you could get the 8x8 up higher. Again, kudos. Looks great and I appreciate you following up with us!