Filming in the Dark?

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Filming in the Dark?

Postby Rytackle on Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:02 pm

Hey guys, really need some advice.

I've got a scene I'm planning to film where my character's are in a basement and it is pitch black, except for their flashlights. The character then flicks a light switch and it turns on for a split second before going out. My question is how do I film the dark part? I have Adobe After Effects so my original plan was to go back after and adjust the curves and contrast to make it look dark. But the problem is in order to do that in the basement I would have to have it be lighted anyway, but I don't want to use the overhead light. Im trying to figure out a lighting technique that will work for this. Another option is to film it with the lights off, but then I won't be able to see the characters. So some tips would be nice please. Thank you

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Re: Filming in the Dark?

Postby NITROfilm on Sun May 16, 2010 10:47 pm


There are a couple of ways of doing this. I'm assuming you don't have a red and full set of lenses ... so...

In a setup like this you want to see what you're doing, reduce grain/artifacting, and keep good sharp torchlight.

Give the room some ambient lighting for a start. shine a couple of 250watt halos into straight into corners from a meter away, and out of shot. This should give you a good base light without creating any shadows or hotspots. Because you're reflecting off the rooms natural colour, you shouldn't get much shift in colour anyway. The normal hardware store halos will tend to yellow which you want if at all.

For the torches, swap out the weak filament bulbs for a good array of very bright LEDs - you'll get about 3 times the lumens for the same battery power. This will make the torches relatively brighter than ambient light again.

Same goes for the light you're going to blow out. put a 200 or 250 in instead of a 'normal' bulb

The end result of all this is you can now shoot with a bit of light and then just do an overall grade down in post, smoothing any artifacting and have more data to play with in the edit. When you pull the overall light back the torchlight will come back to normal and the room light will not appear too much brighter than a 100watt bulb.

The key to all this is to think in terms of available data to for your editor to work with, rather than trying to get it all perfect on set, because you won't. Capture a clean image by scaling all brightness up

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