In our last short film, four scenes out of
six were shot without adding any lighting at all.
So how can we make the most of the light that we already have? On the first day of the shoot, we arrived
at the Red Rose Tandoori take away, all set to rig a bunch of lights for the scene.
But, JP our cinematographer noticed there was a light fixture that actually was in a
really good position for a keylight, so he suggested that we could actually shoot the
scene using available light. So that’s exactly what we decided to do, but
there was still a lot of work to be done. First we got the windows blocked off using
black card, since they were completely flooding the room with light.
Then we tried out some different gels on the light to make the foreground warmer than the
background, more orange. After changing the white balance on the camera
to match the gelled light, that cancelled out the orange, and also meant that the background
(which was daylight) turned quite blue. Then we removed one of the fluorescent lights in
the kitchen, which meant that (except for a couple of hotspots) the background was now
darker and bluer than the foreground. Separating the foreground or the background
through color or brightness is just one of the many ways we can add depth to an image.
But what if we wanted to go even simpler, what if we didn’t want to change anything
at all with the lighting? For this scene, we made use of the natural
sunlight on a cloudy day. If the sun had been in a different position,
then this whole section could have been way too bright, or maybe this whole area over
here would have been too dark, meaning that we might have needed to rotate the whole scene
around and film from a different direction, depending on where the sun was.
You can actually find out exactly where the sun will be by typing the location into google
earth, and it’ll show you the direction of the sun at the exact time of your shoot.
You can even find out what time golden hour will be, when the sun is low in the sky and
everything looks kind of magical. But I personally don’t think that the sunset
look suits every scene – in my opinion, it’s best used for that kind of summer’s evening,
relaxed, playful, beer commerical kind of vibe.
And this scene was not about any of those things – it’s about a warning, which is
why I felt like I would have been a mistake to shoot this with a nice kind of sunset in
the background. But that’s just my preference, of course there
are no rules at all when it comes to this kind of stuff. Scene four was similar, the sun position was
good, providing a nice keylight for our main character, and again I wanted that cloudy,
muted look. But of course shooting in natural light – nature
doesn’t have to follow your shooting schedule, it can change at any point.
So we kept having problems, where the sun would come out from behind the clouds.
We’d wait fifteen minutes, and then have a mad rush to try and get a take in before
the sun came out again. It was really slowing us down, and the sky
was only getting clearer and clearer. The pressure was rising because we had another
scene to shoot straight after this, so we really couldn’t afford to waste time waiting for clouds.
Then, Anton, our production assistant, which is the lowest ranking job on the set, he suggested
why don’t we just move the shoot over a couple of metres that way?
And I was like – sorry Anton, we’re actually in the middle of.. And then I realised where
he was pointing – it was a very similar area, but the difference was a massive building
that was actually creating a permanent shadow from the sun.
If we moved over there, we wouldn’t have to wait for cloud cover, we could shoot no
matter what. So we went with his idea, and we all moved
over a couple of feet. And there were two things I learned from that:
Firstly, you never know where a good idea is gonna come from.
And secondly, it’s so easy to get bogged down by a problem and trying to fix it, but sometimes
the best solution is just to step back, look at your options, and just completely avoid
it. Completely avoid the problem. My name’s Simon Cade, this has been DSLRguide
and i’ll see you next week.