Lighting Experimentation - Thoughts from Zac Page

Light and story are interdependent, like air to lungs.
— Cassidy Bisher

The influence that variable forms of light and shadow have on our subconscious and emotions can be spellbinding. Take a look around you next time you're at a museum, a caf, a brewery or the forest. Take it in and pay special attention to light sources in those locations. Observe the direction of the light and consider how it impacts the tone of the space. How would you put it to words? How would moving the source of the light change your feeling of the space? Or change the words you would use to describe it? 

These questions, among many others, we ask often at DropDrop Studios. Each project deserves the time and forethought to properly craft each lighting setup. Rushing this process is a fatal mistake, especially considering the fortitude of your colleagues who have labored over production design, performance, blocking, and so on. To put an elaborate set or location, with unbelievably talented actors, and a knock out script under flat or conventional lighting is a sad, but common story. It can demolish the countless hours put into every other aspect of a given project, just to save a few dollars. 

"Acceptable" is not art, and the audience feels it. 

However, when given a discretely proper amount of time to craft and paint with light, it can be breathtaking. Consider beginning with a color palette, exploring the full range of the color spectrum and how it affects us psychologically or spiritually. Discovering the overall tone of the story, script or message and pairing that with a fresh vision all its own. Being innovative with how certain scenes may benefit from variations in exposure and contrast, to touch on the full variegation of human emotion.

We could wax poetic for many more pages, but we'd rather just share an example. Take a look at this lighting exercise we recently drummed up. We encourage you to be cognizant of how every light, the influence on each color in every moment, is planned and intentional. Time and control is art's playground and will yield greater results on your investment, every time. 

The Final Product - EL AMANTE DEL CIGARRO

The Story

Director Cassidy Bisher, Cinematographer Craig Harmer, 1st AC Quinton Rodriguez and Camera Intern Alicia Kent took a trip down to Grand River Cigar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The owners graciously let us come in and capture some footage on our Red Epic using the Red Pro 18-85mm T2.9 Zoom Lens, a popular rental here at DropDrop Studios. 


Behind the Scenes Photos

My job is to translate the writer’s words into a visual story, and a focused understanding of the script
— Craig Harmer

The Lighting Set Up

Pretty simple 2-light approach.  Our key was a 1k open-face tungsten chimera through an additional 4x4 full silk frame.  This was further brought down on a dimmer to warm up the subject a little more.  The 2nd light was a 750w open-face tungsten on a c-boom with a 12"x18" silk, again also on a dimmer to warm as needed.  Couple of extra flags on the 750 to get the cut a little more focused. 

The practicals in the space were adjusted a lot as well to get the contrast ratio where we wanted it, then we waited a while as the sun was setting to get the light through the windows just right. The footage was mastered to 4K in resolve to give it a look that would feel a bit more intimate, with a slight bit of a slide film color approach.

Directed by Cassidy Bisher
Cinematography & Color Grade by Craig Harmer
1st AC Quinton Rodriguez
Camera Intern: Alicia Kent
Talent: Teddy Bodien
Location: Grand River Cigar facebook.com/GrandRiverCigar

The thoughts and ideas from this New Perspectives blog entry were inspired from the book Film Lighting.

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