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Lighting a workshop

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James Woodman
Lighting a workshop
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:34:15 pm

Hi, everyone. This is my first post here.

I'm due to film a sculptor in his workshop later this month. I went to take a look at the location yesterday and am now trying to come up with a lighting plan.

The workshop is a low-ceilinged shed with small windows along one side. There are three or four fluorescent tubes fixed to the ceiling, which give a very uneven light. There's a big contrast between the lit and unlit areas because the tubes are only barely above head height. There will be some daylight from the windows.

I'd like him to be able to move around the workshop as much as he needs to whilst I'm filming without me needing to spend a lot of time re-rigging lights. I'll be working alone.

I've lit a lot of interviews with people, but I have very little experience of lighting larger areas. I don't want to spend too much time on the day trying to make this work, so I'm starting to plan now. Do you have any suggestions for what I could try, please?

I have access to:
  • a nice soft circular LED panel (which I use for interviews)

  • a basic square LED panel

  • 1kW + 500W tungsten soft boxes

  • one 150W tungsten DedoLight

My instinct is to switch off the fluorescent lights and then use the more portable kit (daylight LEDs on batteries + DedoLight with blue gel) to light the area he's working in, moving them if necessary. But that won't give a lot of light. I can't take the obvious option of bouncing the 1kW light off the ceiling because the ceiling isn't white.

I should also mention that he's bald and that highlights could be a challenge!

Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can offer.

James


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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting a workshop
on Dec 9, 2017 at 1:03:16 am

If you want to bounce light off the ceiling, you can tape with gaffer's tape some reflective material there. White foamcore or for a harder bounce, space blankets crinkled up first. You could also possibly hang those on a side will and create a large side bounce.

Clearly you are limited by your lights and the situation, but it's amazing what a bit of ingenuity can dream up. Let your sculptor move in and out of "good" light. Avoid light coming from close to the camera. Think too of his wardrobe. If he wears all black your job is much tougher than if he's wearing light-colored clothes.

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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James Woodman
Re: Lighting a workshop
on Dec 9, 2017 at 10:08:22 pm

Thanks, Rick. Your advice about letting him move in and out of the light is good.

Fixing something to the ceiling could work, too. Do you have any thoughts about which of my lights would be a good choice as the one(s) to bounce off it?

I had another idea today: rig a couple of lights outside the windows (which are all along one wall), with something along the interior wall facing them to bounce the light back the other way. It'd be interesting to try, but I have no idea what the results would be with the lights I've got. If I had to add CTB gel to the softboxes then they might not be bright enough.

I think I'll have to take all the options I can think of and see what works on the day. Luckily this is a personal project, not one I'm being paid for -- so I can afford to experiment a bit.

If anyone else has any thoughts then I'm open to more suggestions.

Thanks again.

James


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