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How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.

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Jon Gianelli
How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Nov 18, 2012 at 5:26:21 am

I was watching Back to the Future the other day and noticed that in this scene:



in the diner everything is perfectly exposed in the diner as well as outside. If I was shooting this everything outside on a sunny day would be lit up beyond recognition. Are they throwing a ton of light inside so they can both be exposed? Is there and ISO I can use that would allow for more consistent exposure? Is it the lens? the aperture? Why is it that whenever I shoot indoors on a sunny day the windows all appear white and washed out?

Thanks for your advice. By the way, here's the latest movie I shot if you're interested. You'll see what I'm talking about.






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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Nov 18, 2012 at 6:13:25 am

This is a Universal Studios set. You'll notice at 32 seconds that the glass in the door is blown out. This leads me to believe that the set was built with tinted windows to cut light or ND gel was use temporarily against the windows.

Angelo Lorenzo

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Todd Terry
Re: How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Nov 18, 2012 at 6:32:57 am

[Angelo Lorenzo] "This is a Universal Studios set."

Or rather (and sadly), it was a Universal Studios set. Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire in 1990. That malt-shop set was one of the more often-photographed standing sets, on the Universal courthouse square. It appeared in tons of different movies and TV shows. It was right on the corner, right across from the courthouse and right next to a gas station set that was also seen in tons of movies. I last saw it in, oh, around 1988 I guess... it happened to be dressed as a bar then... I believe it was called the "Twilight Lounge" or something like that that day. Most of the sets on that block were mostly facades that had interiors only a few feet deep, but the malt shot was a practical set that had a full interior. I know the courthouse was rebuilt after the fire, but I'm not sure about that particular set.

Ah, completely off-track trivia...

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Nov 18, 2012 at 6:20:31 am

This has been discussed countless times on the COW (probably second only to "How can I get a shallow depth of field?")... a few searches will probably give you a lot more detailed answers.

The Back to the Future scene was done by using a combination of two different things. Firstly, yes, there was a ton of light on the scene... a lot more than you might imagine. For most scenes with exposed bright exterior windows that usually means HMI lighting, which is about 5-6 times times brighter than tungsten lighting (per watt).

Secondly, all of the windows have been darkened. Usually one would use neutral-density gel, or on a standing set like that it might have had a more permanent ND film applied to the windows. We can tell that the windows are much darker than you might imagine because when Biff enters you can see that the exterior through the open door is much much brighter (by at least a few stops) than the adjacent windows.

I'd say in most of the time that we shoot interiors with exposed daylight windows I usually use that combo of both those techniques... I'll light with HMIs and either gel or screen with windows. Sometimes just one or the other is enough, but more often than not it is both.

When you do that, you'll want to still keep the windows about one to two stops brighter than the interiors. The windows should look a bit brighter... if the exposure is the same, it can look very weird and unnatural. No disrespect to cinematographer Dean Cundey who was the D.P. on "Back to the Future," but some people would probably argue that the interiors and exteriors on that scene are a little too even, giving the scene a bit of an unnatural look. Cundey is a master D.P. though and I'm sure that was completely by design, to purposely give the scene a bit of a surreal look since it was time travel and all.

T2

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



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david braman
Re: How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Nov 27, 2012 at 5:31:39 pm

Point of interest; check out the change in exterior exposure between the next to last shot and the final shot that starts with McFly Sr. riding by on his bike. A good 1-2 stops deeper, and it's moved into magic hour. Must have been a lot of takes in between.


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Bob Cole
Re: How do I get proper exterior exposure when shooting an interior daytime scene.
on Dec 12, 2012 at 2:51:06 pm

[david braman] "check out the change in exterior exposure between the next to last shot and the final shot "

Great catch! I never noticed that before. It's not that jarring to me, I guess because of the slight change of angle and the cut to a pan. I wonder whether they blocked the scene this way because they realized that the exteriors wouldn't match.


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