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Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?

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Todd Terry
Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:40:51 pm

Forgive the duplication, but I will post this in Cinematography as well...

I'm trying to decide if I am crazy with this lighting plot...

I have a commercial shoot with talent walking down a long hallway (a college dorm hall), dollying backwards in front of him as he speaks to camera. The entire :30 spot is one continuous shot with talent also interacting with passersby coming in and out of the rooms.

The only way I can think of to light this (and get the look that I want) is with a big boom pole attached to the dolly suspending a Chinese lantern with a big flo bulb in it as key and ambient light, and even possibly extending the boom far enough to get a small backlight (which I think would really be helpful). This would require mounting a junior receiver on the dolly (Fisher10, would have to use studio wheels since track would show) sturdy enough to hold the whole thing up. I'm trying to limit the crew as much as possible as the quarters are tight. I could even put a boom mic on the pole, I don't really want to use a radio mic and quarters are too tight for a boom operator.

It would look something like this (sizes and proportions aren't even close)....



I also have a daylight fluorescent ring light that can go around the lens for a little more kick, but it has a rather odd glamor look when used alone as a key. Shoot is 35mm, haven't 100% decided on the stock yet but will probably use Kodak 5207... possibly 5219 but I would rather stay with slower and daylight-balanced.

Is this crazy? Anyone have any better ideas? Most grateful for any suggestions.



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:50:57 pm

Todd, I love your rig. However, possibly you are over complicating things. There must be a lot of doorways along the hall. Light as well as people can come from doorways. There is probably some soft of overheads working -- can you use them and balance them to the color temp of the doorways? As you know well, going in and out of light works great. A small kino on the dolly above or below the camera to add a base/fill, and you might be good. Design the walk so at the end the guy ends up in good lighting.

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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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:33:46 pm

You are definitely right, Rick, I DO tend to over-complicate things. One of the running jokes around here is that when I try to describe a setup, one of the resident smartasses will say "Will there be a complicated system of winches and pulleys?" Which sadly sometimes tends to be true.

One of the problems is that I haven't seen the location yet; there are actually two possibilities. Neither of them is a real college dorm and I'm not 100% sure of the possibility of lighting from within adjacent rooms so I'm trying to hedge my bets. That's a good idea, and I'd like to do that, if it works... which it might with one of the locations. The other hallway, at least from the pics that I've seen, looks GREAT (cinderblock walks, staircase in deep background, just a great look), but it does NOT have many real doors in it... we would have to dress that hallway with fake doorfaces for many of the dorm rooms, so no lighting could come from those closed "doors."

Nothing is easy, is it?


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 10:10:52 pm

I can picture the hallway shot in my mind, these are always fun, the folks that pop into frame fromt he doorways could eb all kinds of characters with all kinds of interesting lines, not that different from the bits they sued to do on "Laugh-In" with the little doors.

To make it easier, I would only shoot the full-body head to toe shot as an establisher for the first few seconds, then the rest would be done in medium shots.

How about two vertical tube lights on the corners of the dolly, pointing in at the talent at 45 degrees or thereabouts?

I worry that the backlight/kicker is going to wobble on that long boom, and constantly get into your shot, unless you camera angle is pertty high up. If the shot is not full-body, I think I would try a shorter boom along the floor, from one side corner of the dolly. It could be mounted on an extension of the dolly, something like a skateboard, with a mounting pin on it for the light. The front of the skateboard has a screw eye embedded in it. A length of dowel rod or 2x4 with matching screw-in cup hooks connects the skateboard to the main dolly, and carries the power cord. Pull the dolly back, the skateboard maintains a set distance from it.

I just like building weird stuff. That it may work for your lighting needs is only a happy coincidence. :-)


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Bill Davis
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 10:59:47 pm

Todd,

Maybe not crazy but difficult.

I agree with Mark that with a pole that long, the stability will be in question. I think the sucker will act like a long fishing pole with a big fat lead weight on the end and will NEVER settle down and be still.

My bigger concern, however, is ceiling height verses camera shot geomertry. Unless the hallway has a HUGE overhead space available, the camera's lens angle (particularly the skyward axis) is going to pretty much REQUIRE you to put the camera high and shoot down if you don't want to see the pole and lighting rig in the shot.

One thing people always forget when thinking about light placement is that if you place a camera lens at eye height, the further away from the camera you go the more space it will "see" in ALL directions. Left right, UP and DOWN. To cut down seeing any lights or rig, you'd need to tilt the camera pretty significantly such that the upper plane of the shot would stay below the ceiling and that's a pretty radical shot.

I think your "rig" is going to need at least 20 feet of vertical clearance to pull off if you want a "normal" looking shot.

Just my guess, anyway.

FWIW.



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Alan Lloyd
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 11:26:57 pm

I tend to agree with those who are concerned with the bounce of the rim light. If you can get enough kick from the China ball to avoid the "raccoon mask" look, can you do something with the overheads to provide hair/rim light?

That said, it's looking a lot like a fun, crazy shot to pull off, and I hope once you do you'll post a followup on how it went - and a production still or two!


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 13, 2010 at 5:37:02 am

Thanks for the opinions, guys.

I think I'm in agreement that a mounted back light might be pretty hard due to the length of the boom. My thoughts were that it might not be too bouncy if our final location has a slick enough floor. On a perfectly smooth/flat floor the Fisher on studio wheels is just about smooth as glass and I thought that might let me get away with a long non-bouncy boom... but perhaps not.

I don't think mounting a single instrument like a China ball or maybe even a Diva would be a problem. I've used almost that exact same setup to mount a boom mic several times with no issues. A couple of them were exteriors so the mic was in shock cradle, blimp, and dead cat fur windjammer and it was still pretty rock stable. Although that was on tracks and even the fully rigged mic is not as heavy as a lighting instrument... so obviously the whole thing bears testing.

Interesting suggestions, i.e., "Laugh In," etc. Sock it to me! In this case though the people interacting with the principal talent will mostly be passers-by in the hall, not "pop outs"... the directoral decisions are pretty firm in my head, but still in flux about the lighting. I do know all the angles will work with no worries, some posters expressed concerns about that but that's not a concern... don't go by the angle/positions of my drawing. Shot will probably be middish... I anticipate shooting with either a 50mm or a 35mm depending on what the final blocking looks like... no cuts, one continuous shot.

I'll post the final outcome if we pull this off. The client still has to sign off on the script and we'll need killer casting to boot.... but don't want to concept something that we can't do, so trying to plan ahead.

Thanks all!


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark D'Agostino
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 14, 2010 at 8:45:16 pm

I've done a few hallway dolly shots with the China Ball/Softlight mounted to the dolly. For back lights I've rigged several small lights with Lowell ceiling tile clamps along the center length of the hall. In one case I lined the hotter overlaps with the doorways and it made a nice natural movement of back light. Of course, this works if you have drop ceilings and can rig the stingers out of the way or use battery powered lights and the whole shot needs to be tight enough to never see the ceiling in the far background. My last one was a knees up shot over a 20 foot run and I stayed slightly above eye line for the camera height. (Maybe little mirrors taped at an angle on the ceiling with a grip holding a light that hits the mirrors while riding the dolly:)) Your rig is way cooler though.

Mark D'Agostino
http://www.synergeticproductions.com


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Bob Cole
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 15, 2010 at 6:43:27 pm

I love this thread. Certainly, the china ball sounds beautiful. And in the spirit of your long boom... a low cart attached with outriggers to your dolly, following the person and carrying a low backlight; or just shoot it in the studio against greenscreen and composite.

I wish someone could find this: I think I saw a production still for the (1st?) movie of "Sex and the City" of the four gorgeous women striding along a Manhattan sidewalk. Lights/scrims/reflectors the length of the block - or am I misremembering?

Bob C


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 19, 2010 at 6:44:00 pm

Nothing is easy... grrrr.

I think I have this lighting plot all set and the rig seems to work... and AARRRGGGHH. I'm having trouble getting a dolly.

We have a bigass McAlister crab dolly, but I was hoping to get something a lot smaller and more nimble like a Fisher 10 or 11. EVERY SINGLE DOLLY within a 200 mile radius of us is already booked on our shoot day. Yes, I know, I should have reserved earlier... but we've never had an equipment booking problem before with any of the grip houses we use. Never.

Planning to punt now... not sure what to do. We have a deck dolly with 16 skateboard wheels which is actually smooth as glass... except this is a very long directly-backwards-tracking shot, so ergo...the track would show. I may have to just try to use a doorway dolly, which certainly wouldn't be as nice as the Fisher but might have to do.

I could Steadicam, but frankly I'm too old/tired/worn out to stay in a big rig all day and guarantee great results... our Steadicam hasn't been out of it's case in two years because frankly it just makes me tired to look at it. That, and I had a back injury about a month ago. I'm 47, and that's a young man's toy. I didn't really want a Steadicam look, anyway.

Nothing's easy, is it?


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Amundson
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 19, 2010 at 7:12:34 pm

Terry,

If you are near the Des Moines area I have a Fisher 11 you can rent otherwise I would think a doorway dolly would work since you will have the weight of a 35 package, etc. I like the idea of letting the overhead flos being the back lights so the talent walks in and out of them, more realistic. Using the china ball or Diva as your key shouldn't too difficult to rig.

Look forward to seeing the stills.

Best of luck!

Rick Amundson
Producer/Director/DP
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment
http://www.screenscapestudios.com
http://www.bravoromeo.com
http://www.indeliblemovie.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 19, 2010 at 7:45:23 pm

Thanks Rick... but sadly no, I'm in Huntsville Alabama.... Rocket City, USA.

We are two hours south of Nashville, and usually easily get any grip equipment that we don't already own there... since there is a pretty substantial film industry there (and they crank out big-budget music videos like crazy). Production must be good there these days, since the inventory is dry. Our next closest choice is Atlanta... but that's double the distance and some of the Nashville grip companies had even been trying to get Fishers out of Atlanta but finding inventories bare there, too.

We'll probably go with doorway, or just a platform dolly we have. The weight will help. We're not going to be shooting 35mm anymore since a couple of computers have been added as working props in the scene and my 35mm camera doesn't have a variable shutter to deal with the likely strobing. So I'm going HD with our P+S Technik converter so I can shoot clearscan. But on the upside, that rig is even heavier than my 35mm camera, so we'll have some ballast. Or, do like David Lynch and pile on as many sandbags as the thing will hold.

Thanks.......


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting for dolly shot... is this crazy?
on Jul 30, 2010 at 5:01:54 pm

I promised an update, you'll find it above in a new post/thread...

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/47/858156

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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