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Lighting a Scene with multiple people?

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Amber Sanders
Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 9:31:00 am

Hi guys,

I've got to light a scene on the weekend that has 7 people in, there are 3 main camera angles A B and C.

A wil probably have people 1 to 4/5 in shot
B will have 4 to 7 in shot
C would be 1 and 5/6

They will all be sat on the sofa for the majority apart from 7 who will stand throughout. They are watching something on the TV, stopping and starting it and having dialogue in-between.

4 is the hero

I'll be picking up some of this on singles, doubles etc.

The windows are blacked out as its evening.

I've attached a rough diagram and a couple of photos.

Was wondering if anyone can think of an interesting way to light it. Im not used to lighting a scene with so many people all in shot. My first thoughts are to use a big Poly bounce board where the TV is and shift it around as needed and then put an uplight behind the sofa under the shelves (behind people 2 and 3).

Im not sure how interesting that would be? What do people think?

Thanks in advance and apologies for the drawing!

Amber







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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 2:42:17 pm

My first step personally would be to put up a couple of wall to wall Auto-poles across the ceiling. then I can hang lights off those to cross-key the two parts of the L-shaped couch. One side's key is the other side's fill. I might go with soft boxes, if they aren't so big they'd show up in the wide shots. Long fluorescent banks might work here, too. The autopole could also carry the backlight for your "hero" stand-up person. The Hero light would be floor-stand-mounted beside and behind the "C" camera.


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Amber Sanders
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:47:26 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your message, thats very kind. Annoyingly i don't think i will be able to rig poles up so it will have to be done from stands.

Do you think it would work to key from the ends of the sofa and then try and fill with bounce from around where the tv is?

Thanks again,

Amber


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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:12:43 pm

I'd begin by asking myself, where do I want it to appear the light is coming from? What motivates it? Are the couch potatoes all looking at some TV? Might there be one or two floor lamps in the wider shot, perhaps at each end of the couch? What about the alcove on the left? Possibly 3 or 4 snooted small units pointed nearly straight down?

If they are watching the TV, don't we need to see it in some establishing shot? What's playing on it? Action, a talking head? Each would motivate a different flicker from an off-camera bluish light(s).

The floor lamps can be "wrapped" with another small unit to the side that mimics the quality and color but spreads the light farther than the lamp can.

If the alcove is lit up, it motivates back light of a similar color.

Suppose you black out the curtains screen right just down to a slightly visible hot slit, and then on the outside scrim down the light's intensity so it remains just below clip? That could motivate yet another lighting approach and bring some snap into the image.

Etc.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:19:21 pm

Take the excellent advice from Mark and Rick...

Also... is this a multi-camera shoot? I'm guessing/betting not... even though you have multiple camera positions, I'm assuming you are shooting single camera.

If that's the case, remember you are not going to get lighting that is perfect on every actor for every position... but that's the beauty of single camera, you don't have to keep the lighting exactly the same all the time. Yes, you'll create an overall lighting plot that is good for a wide/master shot, but then you'll light each camera setup individually after that... and when you are, for example, moving in for closeups on a particular talent or pair, you can really concentrate on great lighting only on them, and also have the freedom and the ability to move your instruments in and put them in places that would be physically impossible in a wide shot.

If your goal is to get perfect lighting where everyone looks great in both a master and closeups without changing anything, that will just never happen. And if you did get it to that point, it would look like a soap opera.

T2

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



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Amber Sanders
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:28:35 pm

Hi Todd,

Exactly your dead right, it will be single camera so i can re set and relight. Being the first time I've lit something this big, my concern was that it would look odd if the lighting was slightly different on someone when we see them in a wide to seeing them in a CU?

Do you think then that as long as i keep the lighting direction and motivation the same, i should not worry too much about this?

Thanks again Todd, thats really appreciated

Amber


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:54:19 pm

[Amber Sanders] "my concern was that it would look odd if the lighting was slightly different on someone when we see them in a wide to seeing them in a CU?"

That happens a thousand times in every movie... you don't even notice it unless you watch specifically for it.

The one I watch for a lot is backlighting... you'll see a two shot where the main subject has a back or side light... and then cut to the reverse featuring the other subject, and now suddenly the backlight on the original subject is gone... and now there's a new backlight on the new guy.

It happens tons in exteriors too. You'll see an extreme wide shot of people out in the sun with hard and direct lighting... then cut to a close up and the sun is nice and diffused.

This happens all the time and is just accepted. As I said, it's not even noticed unless the change is wildly dramatic... so don't sweat that too much. Don't make radical radical changes, but as long as you are in the ballpark you don't have to fret over an exact match. Better to have your talent look exactly as you would like them to look in a closeup, than to look poor in a closeup because that perfectly matches the master.

T2

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



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Amber Sanders
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 6:01:03 pm

Ah great, thanks Todd that is a huge help to know that. It will definitely make like a lot easier!

Do you think my side of bouncing light from by the tv is good or should i just try and get a big keno flow or something and put it infront of the tv?

Thank you! :)


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Amber Sanders
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:22:53 pm

Hi Rick,

Thats great thanks, yes we will see the screen in some of the shots but probable only with the actor at 7 so i could relight for that.

I was thinking that for light coming from the TV i could use a red head and a bounce board to throw some soft light back on to the couch potatoes.

I was going to put an up lighting in the alcove on the left behind the sofa to lift that a bit. but could use 2/3 dedos to try and break it up a bit?

For the blacked out windows, do you mean make it look like street lighting coming through? I may have mis understood?

Thank you so much for your advice, it really does help a lot!

Amber


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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:44:32 pm
Last Edited By Rick Wise on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:46:41 pm

"For the blacked out windows, do you mean make it look like street lighting coming through?"


Yes. Just a slit. For another light source motivation. But it may not fit your scene. Just one of several ideas.

"I was going to put an up lighting in the alcove on the left behind the sofa to lift that a bit. but could use 2/3 dedos to try and break it up a bit?"


Yes. Having hot spots and darker ones usually makes for a more interesting image. As opposed to something lit evenly.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Amber Sanders
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 9, 2015 at 7:31:03 am

Rick thank you, that is enormously helpful, and very much appreciated :)


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Aaron Star
Re: Lighting a Scene with multiple people?
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:56:30 am
Last Edited By Aaron Star on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:13:43 am

Everyone has a different way of doing things. I prefer large soft sources.

I would move the couch out away from the wall a bit more.

Possibly change the blocking and have 7 sit leaning up against the coffee table as the odd man out. Maybe change the coffee table. Have 7 give lines as need to the TV or turn around.

I prefer to have my coverage with people taking at each other, instead of looking sideways on camera. So I would move the cameras around to get some OTS shots, possibly with shoulders on both sides of the frame. This style of shooting allows for backlighting of all subjects, and less direct lighting. Obviously some characters would need to give lines sideways to camera if you keep the original placements. Without knowing the lines its hard to say how the coverage would really work.

One wider shot OTS of the TV, or TV back in the foreground would allow for a nice establishing shot. characters 1-3 could also give their lines from this angle if they are not as important. Then a reverse OTS of some angle such that it includes the image on the TV, if we need to see it.

I do not recall seeing whether the scene is Day or Night Interior.

If Day interior. I sort of like the light that is coming from the window. Put a 6 or 12K outside that window, and use the light curtain fabric to soften it up. Add a cookaloris of some design to break up the window, if you do not like the blown out window source. Then use some 6x6 or 8x8 Grifs to bounce back for fill. Even a couple large china balls could be used at various distances to control the fill. Use cutters/floppys to control the flare and foreground subjects. Floppys also to create negative fill for the #1-3 angle. Floppy can also be used for the #1-3 angle to darken the background, so they have more of a side light with negative fill on the other.

Moving the couch out will give a better backlight and provide a better background.

Someone smoking might be interesting too on the right camera angles, possibly #7 or 5.


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