Practical Lighting for Apartment Room (1 reply and 1 comment)

9 months ago
koocra 9 months ago

Hello Roger, 

I'm in the pre-production phase for my first short film as a dp and would like to ask your advice on practical lighting solutions (or rather, lighting solutions for practicals).

The entire short takes place in three different rooms within the same apartment: respectively, the living room, bathroom, and bedroom. The story follows a relationship throughout the day, from morning until sunset. In the morning, the relationship appears to be ending (in the living room). But by sunset, the relationship looks salvageable albeit with enough ambiguity to make the audience unsure (bedroom). 

I'll be shooting with an older set of Zeiss cine lenses around T2 and a digital film camera, likely the Sony fs7 or the BlackMagic 4k production camera.

I'd like to use only natural light and practicals and to also have the color temperature lower throughout the story--starting cool and working into a warm sunset glow.

Living Room
My biggest issue right now is that the windows in the living room face west. So in the morning and mid-day the room is rather dark/in the shade. I need to pump a decent amount of light into the room for a bright, morning-feel exposure. Within the room, there's a ceiling fixture that holds four Edison screw bulbs and one lamp in a corner, though more lamps can be added.

Given that digital cameras are daylight balanced and the room isn't getting much natural light, what bulbs would you recommend for these fixtures? 

Around mid-day, we'll be inside the bathroom, which is unusually long and has window facing east at the furthest point away from the scene we'll be filming. Most of the light will be coming from a bathroom mirror with three lights, in front of which two characters will be standing.

The lighting should be getting warmer at this point. What would you recommend? 

A large window faces east, directly into the setting sun. This will provide the key for a scene in which the two characters lay on a bed. I'd like to pop a small accent light using an white, plastic ikea lamp on a nightstand behind them. I was thinking a frosted incandescent (2700k). Thoughts? 

I apologize for the long message. I wanted to be sure you had all the information you may need! Thanks you so much for your time and consideration.


Roger Deakins
9 months ago
Roger Deakins 9 months ago

Firstly, it might be wise to schedule the scenes you are shooting to take utmost advantage of the way natural light in each room.

Secondly, if you want the color of the practicals to appear different in relationship to the natural daylight you either need to gel the windows or choose specifically colored practical bulbs.

To gel the windows might be a problem if you see more than one room at a time and you want that variation you talk of in the color of the lamps but not the daylight.

So the choice of practical bulb becomes key and you do need to consider if the variation between natural daylight and a tungsten practical bulb, optimally 5500K against 3200K, is too great or if you need to choose specific bulbs that are cooler. 2,700K against daylight will be quite a contrast in color and probably a little extreme but as natural daylight is always changing that contrast will depend on the time of day as well as the weather conditions. There are plenty of options and I would suggest you test some with a digital stills camera. Many might be a little too green for what you are after and you might need to add some magenta to them.

9 months ago

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for your reply.

I'm going shop for a variety of light bulbs today to test them with a digital camera.

I think I'll use tungsten practical bulbs in the bathroom, which has nearly no natural light, as well as the bedroom scene, which will be taking place at sunset. I'm also going to look for daylight bulbs with a high cri rating to ensure more accurate colors to use in the living room. This will be the coldest of the three scenes.

Thanks again for your help. I hope to share a link to the final short once it's done.


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