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Filming at night! Any tips?

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Milan Grmusa
Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 29, 2015 at 1:54:51 pm

Hello!
I am a year 12 media student and as part of my assessment I have to create a short film. Part of it will be filmed at night/low light near in a remote area so lighting is an issue since the only power I will have is my car. I was wondering what are some things I can do to get good visibility? The camera I am using is a Nikon D3200 which may not be the best for filming but its what I have access to! Do I need to purchase a new lense or a type light that runs on a battery that wont ruin the shot? And what the best settings for low light are? I am clueless with this stuff so every bit of help is appreciated! Thanks :)


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Steve Crow
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 29, 2015 at 6:11:40 pm
Last Edited By Steve Crow on Jul 30, 2015 at 1:06:08 am

It's hard to give specific advice without knowing exactly what you are going to be filming and where. A few general ideas:

A lens with more open aperture, saying something in the 2.4 area, will let more of whatever light is present hit your sensor but that brings it's own challenges, like your depth of field will be very shallow and can make keeping things in focus a problem. Look into renting.

As I said, It all depends on what you are trying to light but certainly some external lights that you can attach to batteries is a solution I have used in the past but now you are talking about a lot of money. Those you can rent too.

I am wondering if you could you use your car headlights in some way - I would think about maybe bouncing the light from the headlight using some sort of bounce board or reflective material, that would be a much softer, less direct light and way cheaper too - the cost would be some very cheap bounce boards and stands - but you could rent the correct c-stands to hold a bounce board and save yourself from purchasing. Don't run the car engine because it will make a mess of your sound but at the same time be very careful about not draining your car battery :-)

Steve Crow



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Blaise Douros
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 29, 2015 at 9:17:18 pm

If this is a narrative film, think about creative ways to use the car's headlights in the scene. You can get a very cool, noir-ish look by using them as practical lights. Bring a spare battery though, or another car in case you need to jump it :)

If it's not a narrative film, sharing details of what the scene will involve might help us to make suggestions as to how to stage and light the scene.


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Milan Grmusa
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 12:45:15 am

Cheers for the replies,
Yes it is a narrative film so the headlights sound like a good idea since it is supposed to be a horror film. My concern was the same as yours that the lighting might be too concentrated if I use headlights but the bounce boards should solve that (My school should have a few I can use). I'll be filming at a campground and the grounds are all unpowered. I have an inverter for the cigarette lighter in my car so I may be able to run a couple of low power lights, I'll test it in the coming nights and figure it out. Also could you give me any examples of lenses with a higher aperture? Is it even better if the aperture is higher than you have suggested? There are heaps of places in Melbourne that offer lenses for rental for like $10 a week so that's not an issue.
Cheers again for the help!


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Steve Crow
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 12:55:46 am
Last Edited By Steve Crow on Jul 30, 2015 at 1:06:49 am

Regarding lens aperture, remember what you are looking for are ones with the LOWER numbers (as in F2 is more open than an F4) lower aperture numbers represent bigger/wider openings through which more light can pass

My old stand by is a Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens but because my camera has an APS-C sized sensor (as does your most likely, I'd have to double check that) the lens actually gives the approximate image that an 80mm would on a full frame camera. But I deal with it simply by moving the camera back a few more feet. So if you have an APS-C sized sensor too and can afford the rental price, see if you can find something like a 35MM or 24mm prime lens (ideally) with an aperture of 2.8 or lower - again lower means more open.

ps I just checked and your Nikon has a "DX" sized sensor which is equivalent to an APS-C


http://photoseek.com/2013/compare-digital-camera-sensor-sizes-full-frame-35...


You could go with a zoom lens too and there are some excellent ones in the 24-70mm range - it's up to your individual artistic preference, shooting style, budget etc. I'd be very careful about lenses that are that cheap to rent, they may be old manual lenses which can still technically work with your camera but the you'll have to set the aperture and focus rings manually and some other functions might not work. Many people love to work with these old lenses because of the look but they also have lots of experience and it sounds like you are not yet in their shoes

Steve Crow


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Milan Grmusa
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 1:55:26 am

Thanks for the fast reply!
Would lenses such as these be suitable?

Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S
http://melbourne.camerarental.biz/equipment/Nikon.aspx?LensId=32

Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED FX
http://melbourne.camerarental.biz/Equipment/Nikon.aspx?LensId=5

Thanks again for your help!


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Steve Crow
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 4:02:54 am

I tend towards the prime, since you are in complete control of the set you can easily move the camera closer and further away at your convenience between shots. I'd double check with the rental house to make sure the lens is compatible with the DX sensor size in your camera but more than likely it is.

Steve Crow


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 3:25:04 pm

A fairly fast lens helps, but it won't make up for a lack of light. Not sure on your camera, but try to find a reasonably noisy ISO (it won't be noiseless, but there are levels of noise that can be less obtrusive). If you have a Harbor Freight or other cheap hardware supplier, look for a cheap power inverter that will do around 250-300W (or more) from a car battery and then run LEDs and Compact Fluorescents as they are low-wattage and put out decent light. You can use your car's headlights, but don't run the battery down or you're staying there (get AAA?). There are also lots of LED panels out there that run on batteries. If there are sodium vapor lamps (the big orange ones), don't be tempted to use them - the light is impossible to re-color and a giant pain to balance (once balanced it looks terrible anyway).

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Steve Crow
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 30, 2015 at 4:57:25 pm

oh one last thing to consider if you can afford it, ditch the Nikon as your "A" camera and rent a Sony A7s and lens kit, that thing can shoot in a cave at night and still come up with a reasonable image. The GH4 is also said to be a great camera in low light.

Steve Crow


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:44:56 pm
Last Edited By Jason Jenkins on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:45:18 pm

[Steve Crow] "The GH4 is also said to be a great camera in low light."

FYI, the GH4 is not a good low light camera.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Aaron Star
Re: Filming at night! Any tips?
on Jul 31, 2015 at 2:24:18 pm
Last Edited By Aaron Star on Jul 31, 2015 at 2:29:07 pm

D3200 is not a bad camera. You might look into seeing if there is a hack firmware on Nikonhacker to up the bitrate. If there is a bitrate upgrade, you will need a faster card like PNY elite, or San Disk Extreme Pro or Plus to maintain the write speed. Depending on the stock firmware, the hack can keep the camera fully manual in Live View mode, and keep it from auto gaining the sensor to a very noisy state.

If you can afford to rent the Nikon N series lenes, get a prime set like 24,35,50,85,135. The N series has a major sharpness upgrade over normal DX lens.

You can Ebay Nikon F3 prime lens sets of the same 24,35,50,85,135. These are older generation lenses that are on par in sharpness with the N series, but totally manual. Normally the F3 lenes were F1.8 to 2, so they have a large amount of light gathering ability, however, I would stay in the 2.8-4 range for sharpness. The focus rings have a large rotation radius, and have room for puller marking tape to set marks. You can get a pulling clamp that will allow for easier AC work.


Lighting your exterior with LED panels or light ballons will help to minimize the compression noise in your blacks. Even if you over light your night shots, you can generally control contrast after the fact and bring shots down for richer blacks. Having a couple balloons allows you to vary the distance of each balloon to easily control contrast. Then use light panels for backlights, or backlight with a strong balloon close in, and another front lighting but set back fill in the shadow to meet stop.

Use LED panels to side-backlight objects and trees in the background, and create a light dark light pattern. The balloons will fall off pretty fast, so you generally need to light your background.

Get a incident light meter to make setting your stop easier.

With the D3200, if you cannot get an decent image at ISO400-640 at 2.8, you need more light



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