Continuing the story of lensing the sci-fi feature Synced’s Japanese scenes earlier this month. In part 1 I looked at the prep, and part 2 covered an interior scene.
Next up, after dark, was a street scene with the beautiful Himeji Castle visible in the distance. The castle was already lit up by spotlights, but while the street had a fair bit of existing lighting, that wasn’t bright enough to shoot under. The scene was a slow chase in which the trio of heroes, one of them wounded, is slowly but menacingly pursued by the limping villain. This would be captured primarily in tracking shots, filmed from the back of a small pick-up truck pushed by the crew to avoid engine noise spoiling the soundtrack.
Employing my standard approach to night exteriors, I had the crew set up the 575W HMI as backlight, tucked around a corner. When we came to do the reverse shot, the HMI was moved to the opposite end of the street. It glared horrendously off some windows and shiny tiling, but with the time and equipment available I could see no way to remedy this. The lamp really needed more height, but I hadn’t hired a double wind-up stand because it wouldn’t have fitted in the car.
Three of the LitePanels were spaced along the street as sidelights, suggesting additional off-camera streetlamps. The furthest one, illuminating the villain on his first appearance, I gelled with Light Straw to separate him from the heroes.
The fourth LitePanel, with diffusion and egg crate fitted, was mounted on the pick-up truck behind the camera, providing a constant low level of fill.
Keisuke’s little LED panel was gelled red and wedged into a shop doorway to lend a sinister tone to a key moment in the scene.
The scene ends with two of the heroes entering a building. There was some existing practical lighting around this doorway which I asked to be turned on, and this proved sufficient to illuminate the characters as they approached and entered the door.
The final scene of the night took place in a quaint little alleyway. Cool blue streetlamps contrasted nicely with a halogen security light, but the former were too frontal and flat, while the latter was triggered by an infrared sensor – meaning it could go on and off annoyingly during takes.
So we flagged the main streetlamp and disabled the security light by gaffering the sensor, and I recreated the colour contrast of that lighting using our own lamps.
The houses on either side had convenient ledges above the windows, perfect for placing LitePanels on. So two panels became 3/4 quarter backlights from either side, set to 5,600K.
The third panel, set to 3,200K, was hidden behind a gate to light some of the background and edge the actors a little before they got in front of the other backlights. (I left the existing practicals to light the deep background.)
The fourth and final panel, set to 4,500K and gelled with Light Straw, blasted out of the door the actors came out of, matching to the light in the last part of the kitchen scene.
Near the end of the scene, the master shot becomes a two-shot of Ollie and Daisy, and the two 3/4 quarter backlights serve as a classic cross-backlighting set-up.
For Daisy’s close-up, since she was quite close to the wall and therefore quite dark, I tweaked the lights heavily. I brought one of the backlight panels much closer, bouncing it off the cream-coloured wall next to Ollie to serve as her key, and switched the second backlight to the opposite side of camera to balance it out. I also added a ‘health bounce’ reflector, ensuring she had a nice big eyelight to underline her vulnerability in the scene.
In the fourth and final part I’ll be looking at the day exterior scene we shot in the grounds of Himeji Castle.