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Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene

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Al Johnson
Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:35:21 pm

I'm planning on shooting a short (2-3) interior night car scene. Unfortunately, I don't have access to any real lights. I have two lantern locks (1k and 500w) and I could possible get some Omnis. The whole scene is a conversation between two people sitting in the front seat of the car. I'd love some advice on getting some simple, but effective lighting for this scene.


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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:55:12 pm

Is the car moving?

Are there street lights? Passing cars? "Moonlight"?

What camera positions?

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:00:57 pm

Is this supposed to be realistic, or cinematical?

The only practical light sources in the car are the dashboard and dome lights, plus any streetlights near the car and the stray beams washing past from other cars. I'm a big fan of letting the scene go pretty dark and having key dialog come into view thru incidental practical lights like passing headlights in front or reflected from the rear-view mirror. Those lights are of course all run by stagehands off camera.

It is pretty common to throw down an LED or fluorescent stick light in the dash area, if only to just set a base level of light.


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Bob Cole
Re: Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene
on Jul 15, 2010 at 7:44:37 pm

Not that this will help Al, because he describes a pretty minimal set of tools, but what is the "right way" to do this? Is this the car-on-a-platform situation, complete with lights on outriggers to simulate oncoming headlights, passing streetlights, etc.?

I'd be curious also as to what the experts here think would help Al, with basically no instruments and perhaps not enough budget to do it the "right way." -- because that sorta describes me. My meager advice, Al, is that you should turn your lack of lights into a "naturalistic" asset -- set a minimal level and let it go at that. Perhaps shoot at late-dusk or early-dawn so the outside has some detail.


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John Fishback
Re: Lighting a nighttime, interior car scene
on Jul 18, 2010 at 4:43:51 pm

Years ago, we shot an interior in a moving car. We used a small, gelled & diffused incandescent auto work light plugged into the cigarette lighter (they had those back then). A car followed behind with its headlights on high to provide backlight. We drove under streetlights which added periodic brightening. The biggest challenge was monitoring the video from the chase car.

John

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