Lighting Experimentation

How does the light help tell the story better?
— Cassidy Bisher

The influence that different types of light have on our subconscious and emotions is something we are certainly aware of. For me, it almost becomes 2nd nature. When I’m in a museum, a café, a brewery or the forest, I try to take it in and remember those locations. How the light reacts to the surrounding items it illuminates. Not just out of curiosity, but because someday we will need to design the same type of scenario with lighting tools.

It’s something that you have to take seriously. Your light can make others who’ve worked so hard to create the costumes, sets and make up look bad. We don’t want to weaken all their labors! We must mutually understand what the visual look of the film is before shooting.

We have a light palette that we use to paint the setting.  There are so many ways that light can descend on a scene. But which way will help tell the story better? It can create so many moods. What angle is the light placed? How intense is it? Is it hard or soft? Do you use gels to give it some color? Let’s not forget the shadows. They are one and the same. Darkness exists to inspire the imagination.

Finding the right frame, ambiance, style, visual understanding, structure and premise is key before you strike. There are so many ways to interpret reality. Finding the right one to serve the story is the most critical. Using our intuition usually works best because the aesthetic taste that you feel in the moment is more often than not the right taste. Trust your intuition after you have a concrete understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.  

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 at 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. 

We shot this short video for a lens & lighting test to show the quality of this lens for an example because our zoom gets rented quite a bit. So we lit the subject properly then smoked down!


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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