Category 5 – Low Light Levels in Large Areas

I’ve had quite a few inquiries on this set up on my Instagram page, so I’d thought I’d get a little more in depth here… and also include the lighting rendering that I gave the Grip/Electric department. I’m always amazed by how the Arri Alexa accepts light. To me, it’s very different lighting with that camera as compared to film. I remember the first stage interior I shot with that camera… the crew was working on assembling the body and so I started working on lighting the set, film style, with my meter. It was a simple day interior set in a NY apartment and I had a mix of HMI and tungsten lighting units creating the look I wanted. I balanced the levels as I would with film and got the set up and together as a whole. By then, the camera crew had the Alexa together and I framed the first shot and was shocked by what I saw on the monitor. What I had lit as a soft low-key day shot looked like a horribly over-lit amateurish parody of a bad soap opera. I was completely stunned and went about eying only the monitor and making balance corrections according to the monitor image and waveform. Throw in a double here, a flag there etc. When I got the scene rebalanced, I raised my head from the monitor and could barely see anything. The levels were far lower than what I would set on film, but the image looked fine. So, I had to chalk that up to a futurC54e of learning about digital and the best way to transition that format into the movies that might require that medium. That said, digital cameras are a tool and a good one. Now I can plan my lighting based on the Alexa’s sensitivity… particularly in mixed light (HMI and Tungsten) situations. Case in point, a large interior space in Bulgaria where our main characters seek refuge and ultimate (and extremely creative) escape from those in pursuit. Here we have the amazing Maggie Grace and Toby Kebbell cutting silhouettes and doing a great job of showing themselves in scale with their surroundings. Placing characters in a shot like this reminds me that all the technical learning and transition to a digital world is really only background… and a gaining of familiarity with tools with which to tell a story in the best possible way. Add two amazing actors, and a talented and energetic Director and suddenly the technical distractions vanish… and I’m left with the same fun storytelling task that excites every filmmaker.

Below is the lighting diagram with notes on all 4 of the Mall’s levels as well as rooftop and exterior street level lighting placements through sky lights. This rendering was also accompanied by two location visits where we walked the riggers through every light placement and hanging rig to be used. Since most of the lights were seen by camera, the hanging rigging needed to be low-key. The large central skylight will be replaced with a VFX skylight with hurricane clouds and lightning seen through clear glass. Interactive falling water on glass was created with LED projection of an image of water falling water on the windows in our production office.


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