Lighting - the stuff you do not see


Tama Berkeljon TV-Bay Magazine
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Lighting is the stuff you don't see that makes a difference in what you do see. How the audience feels about a character and whether the scene is scary, tense or upbeat are communicated by the quality and placement of light. Lighting can take the drama to a whole new level - think about film noir with all those shadows on the wall.

So called "natural light" - the image or video exactly as it is, without any bias - is considered by some to be the default lighting option for cinematographers. A cinematographer may add an additional layer of meaning to the shot by combining ambient, flood, spot, soft and reflective lighting options. This gives the filmmaker control over the colours cast onto the image with different types of lights producing slightly different coloured glows. Coloured filters can produce an obvious mood effect to the scene. To create a scene that looks "natural" to the audience may require a lot of lighting work behind the scenes.

Jess Hall, BSC created a new level of visual sophistication to the feature film Ghost in the Shell. He created a 28-colour palette derived from Masamune Shirow's original anime Ghost in the Shell franchise. To mimic the hazy look humid Hong Kong at night, he put these individual colours in a number of Creamsource Sky units. "I was able to call up any one of my unique pre-designed 28 colours instantly. Using this system, I could create Hong Kong 2029 exactly as we had envisioned and designed it," said Hall.

"The interactive light in the film's gunfight sequences feature the Creamsource Doppios in a very specific way; to successfully simulate the muzzle flash of the weapons. However, for one scene I wanted to use the Doppios as the only light source. This presented some significant technical challenges but I overcame these by using the Doppios combined with the Outsight FlashBandit to sync the lights precisely to the Alexa 65's frame rate, therefore avoiding torn frames." FlashBandit allows synchronisation of the Creamsource built-in flicker effects with the camera's frame rate and shutter through a video signal from the camera.
On The Fate of the Furious cinematographer Stephen F. Windon, ASC, ACS, collaborated with Gaffer Michael Ambrose for a lighting scheme that pushes the drama of the scenes and intensifies the audience's emotions. Ambrose describes one memorable situation. "Vin Diesel's Dodge Charger is hit by a big explosion and has to tumble through fire. We rigged the Charger on a 360-degree rotary rig in Atlanta and used 36 Creamsource Sky's set to theatrical mode for the fire effect. This produced absolutely stunning lighting inside the car - you could swear you were seeing flames reflected off Diesel's face and the car's interior." This lighting set up contributed strongly in bringing the audience to the edge of their seats.

As technology evolves across production, cinematographers are increasingly looking for LED lighting solutions that offer excellent light quality but are robust and durable enough for challenging set-ups. Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS, required an all-weather lighting solution for Lucasfilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. "We had the Creamsource Sky rigged in the ceiling for weeks while it was 'raining'. It's just amazing that we can do that!" said Fraser.

Cinematographers frequently confront space constraints for lighting on set. On the pre-arranged camera and lighting set-up for Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale had the challenge of creating shadows to make it look like the trucks were moving and lighting conditions outside were changing, in spite of the fact that the trucks were static. "This was where the Creamsource+ lights really came to the fore. With multiple cameras and a small set, space was extremely limited," he said. "The Creamsource lights had plenty of power and were actually well-suited to the set situation, since they were small and lightweight enough to be held by hand or squeezed between cameras."

Explosive or intimate - lighting and the talent of Cinematographer and Gaffer - can be what makes the scene unique. Creamsource lights are designed to give them the most flexible, advanced, rugged, high quality tools to do the job. You don't see them on the screen but they are a key part of the stuff that scenes are made of.


Tags: iss126 | outsight | ghost in the shell | led lighting | Tama Berkeljon
Contributing Author Tama Berkeljon

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