Neil OsemanRen


Fire and Ashes

Last week I looked at some watery lighting created for one of the fantasy scenes in Sophie’s short, Ashes. Today let’s look at another of the film’s fantasy scenes and another element: fire.

Sophie wanted a 1940s Hollywood look to this romantic scene set in a room full of candles. Shane Hurlbut recently posted a great blog about building an artificial firelight source, but given the size and layout of the room I didn’t feel this was going to work for us. When I lit the Wasteland trailer last autumn I used domestic 100W clip-lights to represent candlelight, and this is what I chose to go for again.

Sarah Lamesch and Adam Lannon in the "Hollywood" scene

Sarah Lamesch and Adam Lannon in the “Hollywood” scene

There are about half a dozen 100W bulbs hidden on the floor behind the bed, and another half dozen on a boom arm out the top of frame, again behind the actors. There are no other light sources but the candles themselves. To give a little bit of movement to the light, my righthand man Col is wobbling a reflector just off camera. More movement would have been nice – some dimmers perhaps, or someone lying behind the bed wiggling the bulbs a bit – but given that it was a closed set I felt it was better to keep things simple.

Col tapes the tights to a filter tray

Col tapes the tights to a filter tray

I was so focused on the lighting of this scene that it was only the day before the shoot that I realised the key to the forties look was going to be diffusion. By this point it was too late to add any Promist filters to our package, so I consulted Shane’s blogs on diffusion for other methods of softening the image. AD Chris was subsequently dispatched to buy some tights.

In an ideal world you get hold of some very fine silk stockings and tape a piece to the back of your lens. We were stuck with bog-standard 15 denier, and the design of the EF-S lens mount makes it impossible to put anything over the rear element, so it had to go on the front. Col stretched the piece of fabric across one of my Pro-aim shoulder rig’s 4×4″ filter trays. Putting the tights on the front rather than the back makes the effect much less subtle, but fortunately Sophie really liked it. You can see it in action on the still above, but I’ll leave you with a side-by-side comparison from a quick test we did on lead actress Sarah Lamesch:

Sarah Lamesch with (right) and without (left) the stocking filter

Sarah Lamesch with (right) and without (left) the stocking filter

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