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  • Paul Del Vecchio

"Two Days" - Lighting Diagrams Part 3

Today we’re going to be breaking down these shot.

This shot is one of my favorite in the movie as it represents the mood and style that I love in horror movies. We were at a drive-in movie theater but only bought out one screen so this posed some unique problems that we had to solve. Nothing difficult to overcome, but issues you wouldn’t normally think of when you’re just lighting a scene.

To start, we did a wide shot that night and moved in for CUs. I’ll cover the wide shots later. Let’s start of the lighting diagram.

There are a bunch of things going on, so let’s start with the M18’s. The M18’s were placed off to the side of the actor. The actor was facing the large Theater Screen. The M18’s were half spot and diffused, allowing the light of the M18 closest to the Theater Screen to spill on to the metal wall under the screen. While lighting, there wasn’t enough light on the metal wall below the screen, so I had my guys move the light/diffuse it in order to get just a hair of spill so we could just dig out a tiny bit of detail on that metal wall. If we didn’t do this, there would be no detail under the screen and it would be just straight deep black underneath. That’s no good because then the Theater Screen would appear to be floating in blackness. I wanted to dig out just a little detail. This is the reverse angle of the image, so you don’t see that metal wall. I’ll post that image in another breakdown.

We had the M18’s pretty low - maybe about 6ft high in order to get those long shadows that streaked across the entire length of land from screen left to right. We also had to set up 4x4 floppies in order to block the spill light from contaminating other theater screens since we only bought out one screen and the other screens were up and running. So stuff you don’t really realize until you have to do it!

We also added a Beadboard Bounce in order to bring up her down side. The down side of her face was too dark, so we brought it up slightly… again, to dig out some more detail and see her eyes. She’s supposed to be scared and freaking out in this scene so I wanted to see the fear on her face and in her eyes. She really did an amazing job in this scene.

The reason why we diffused the M18s was because the shadows (to my eye) were just too harsh. The edge of the shadows were too crisp and I wanted to soften them. That’s personal taste, but that’s what looks good to my eye.

The lights behind here were just street lights and lights on the Projection Booth over on the camera right side. In the diagram, you can also see we had a long run of tubing that contained our fog. We needed a long run in order to disperse the fog evenly over the entire length of land between the Projection Booth and the Theater Screen.

Here’s a behind the scenes photo of the setup:

You can see the 4x4 floppies set up to control the spill of light on to the other theater screens. You can also see the long shadows I was talking about. The diffusion in front of the lights helps make the edges of those shadow just a little bit softer so they’re not harsh. When emulating moonlight, I feel that just looks better. Again, that’s my personal taste.

That’s basically it for this setup. Just 2 lights (although, powerful lights), bounce, fog, and a great location, and you can come up with some pretty awesome shots!

*** A few notes: These are ungraded stills taken directly from my SmallHD 502 monitor which I used HEAVILY everyday on set. I switched between swing out monitor mode and EVF mode, which was possible with the Sidefinder attachment. It was invaluable throughout this entire production and it made my work better because of all the monitoring and metering features.

SmallHD's OS3 had JUST been released so I was able to use my own custom FALSE COLOR setup as well as other necessary features like zebras, focus peaking, and LUT support, which is INVALUABLE on set with the flat log image you get out of today's cinema cameras. I used my own custom designed LUT for on set monitoring both in camera and on the SmallHD 502. I highly recommend you download and use OS3 if you haven't already!

I also sent out the LUT to the Flanders Scientific monitor we had on set, which we also used heavily. This monitor is amazing and definitely helped with exposure, especially on this particular scene where we are pushing the limits (into darkness). If you go too far, you won’t see enough detail, but if you bring up the darkness too much, you lose the creep factor of the scene.

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