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Filming darkness.


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#1 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 08:50 AM

During the priest's homily at mass yesterday -- which, of course, I was listening to ultra-carefully -- I had a vision. From that vision is coming a new film that I'm going to start in the next few weeks, a film tentatively called "A Week of Prayers." (I promise “A Week of Prayers” will be less boring than the title makes it sound.) (Not that prayers are boring, of course.) (Because they aren't.) (Yeah.)

My problem: Part of this short involves the protag -- a college-age (or slightly older) woman who hopefully can speak a second language well -- laying in bed, awake, with the lights off. How does one light a room such that it's clear that it's nighttime yet not so dark that the image doesn't come out clear?

This film will be my first under the auspices of Dogme '02, except perhaps not statute #5 depending on mike_h's official interpretation of that tenet.

Dale

#2 mike_h

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 08:58 AM

How does one light a room such that it's clear that it's nighttime yet not so dark that the image doesn't come out clear?



Are you shooting on film or video, if the latter, what format? Are you looking for a realistic or stylistic look? Video is very unforgiving in low light, the worse the format, the worse the image, but if you crank the gain in low-light, you can almost get a look that says "I meant to do that" (which is my own personal filmmaking mantra). If genuine low light is too murky for you, there's always sticking a blue gel over the lens.

And which rule is #5, I forget?

#3 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 09:22 AM

Rule five: "There can be no music with lyrics. Use of song lyrics to spell out the "message" of the story shows disrespect to the truth of character and setting — not to mention the intelligence of the audience."

Let me post for open discussion the e-mail I sent you:

As I mentioned somewhere on the P'tory Forum, my second-to-next film, "A Week of Prayers," will be filmed under the auspices of Flickerings Dogma. (My next film -- tentatively titled ";" -- won't break any Dogma rules, but it doesn't even marginally touch on Christianity, so.) My current outline for "A Week of Prayers" may break rule #5, however, so before I start pre-production, I need to see if one of my ideas needs to be ditched before it starts.

In short: Does rule five only cover non-diagetic music -- i.e. there's no source for the music evident onscreen, nor any other "rational" explanation for the sound -- or is worded music in any form not allowed? Worded a different way: If the music with lyrics follows Dogme 95 rule #2 -- "The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa" -- is it still banned under Dogma 02?
Dale

#4 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 09:29 AM

mike_h:

Are you shooting on film or video, if the latter, what format?
Right now, the plan is to do "Prayers" on MiniDV, and alas my MiniDV camera is ho-hum in even average indoor lighting. (I massively overlit my face in "Ernest" to compensate.)

Are you looking for a realistic or stylistic look?
Realistic, alas, although I did consider...

...but if you crank the gain in low-light, you can almost get a look that says "I meant to do that[.]"
I also've considered shooting it in decent light, then moving the brightness level way down in post-production. But that might look very, very strange.

Dale

#5 LoneTomato

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:06 PM

If genuine low light is too murky for you, there's always sticking a blue gel over the lens.



This technique works great but having a dim night light or a glowing clock that has a warm color somewhere in the frame can keep the scene from looking too blue and one dimensional.

#6 mike_h

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 05:40 PM

In short: Does rule five only cover non-diagetic music -- i.e. there's no source for the music evident onscreen, nor any other "rational" explanation for the sound -- or is worded music in any form not allowed? Worded a different way: If the music with lyrics follows Dogme 95 rule #2 -- "The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa" -- is it still banned under Dogma 02


Prins, this is why Von Trier & Co. got out of the Dogma business! Remember: the letter kills: the Spirit gives life! That is to say, Don't get too carried away with all this. Indeed, after consulting with one of my Flickerings-Dogma Brothers, we hereby add this new rule, which will be referred to hereafter as Rule #00, and that is this: "JUST MAKE YOUR FILM!" The main thing is not to break that rule. Rule #5 was created to prevent cheesy CCM music from mega-phoning the film's "message" to the message-impaired, so I'm guessing (assuming, hoping) your music won't be of this sort. Just keep the cheese to a minimum and we'll give you the Official Flickerings Dogma Sticker. (Also, it looks like you're combining the real Dogma with the Flickerings rule in the above paragraph -- we aren't authorized to issue stickers for that. You'll have to start your own sticker-granting authority if you want to combine the two "vows".)

Meanwhile, I'm suddenly wondering if this thought passed through Lars Von Trier's head: "Wow, we had no idea anybody would take us seriously on this stuff..."

#7 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:26 PM

: Prins, this is why Von Trier & Co. got out of the Dogma
: business! Remember: the letter kills: the Spirit gives life!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But the Spirit ain't got the ability to certify my film Dogma '02.

Anyway, I'm the type that likes structure. There's a reason "Eileen" and "A Week of Prayers" both have very transparent skeletons.

: Rule #5 was created to prevent cheesy CCM music from mega-phoning
: the film's "message" to the message-impaired, so I'm guessing
: (assuming, hoping) your music won't be of this sort.

Yes on the cheesy CCM music part, but I'm subverting the (self-written) song in an unusual and supposedly humorous way -- somewhat like what I did in "Elijah is Coming" in "12 Stories About Eileen," except less clever and more strictly funny. And the thesis of the film has absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics. (In fact, the scene with the song is largely a comic aside; "A Week of Prayers" wouldn't suffer a mortal blow if it were lost. That's why I thought to ask about le rule.)

: (Also, it looks like you're combining the real Dogma with the Flickerings
: rule in the above paragraph -- we aren't authorized to issue stickers for
: that. You'll have to start your own sticker-granting authority if you want
: to combine the two "vows".)

Who was it at Cornerstone who said they were going to direct the first film that was doubly Dogma-certified? Regardless, I'm disobeying at least three Dogme '95 tenets, so ah well.

Dale

#8 NClarke

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:24 PM

Here's a suggestion that I am not positive if it will work, but it's worth a try.

Sunlight tends to be very orange while the less intense lights (except florescent sp? which is green) give a blue tint. Your camera has an automatic white balance which is supposed to take care of changes in light making white white in all situations. So one possibility is to light your subject with a decent amount of light (boosting the gain only makes it grainy which in my opinion is the worst option b/c it will stand out so clearly from your other footage.) Turn off the automatic white balance and then white balance your camera with out any gel on the light. (White balance by zooming in on a white card under your light and then push the white balance button.) Keep the auto white balance off and then put a blue gel on the light and it will give your video a nice blue tint. If you just use a key light that is isolated on the subject and then a minimum ambient light it should also give a good feeling of darkness - your subject will jump out but the background will fade out into darkness.
You also might want to turn off the auto iris for this - it should help out a lot as well.

#9 Thom

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 08:39 AM

Okay, so I am a bit late to this party but this part of the forum needs a good kick in the pants every now and again.

M. Dale Prins - Did you finish A Week of Prayers? If so, how did the lighting turn out? I would be interested to see it.

mike_h (who I don't think hangs out here too much anymore) - are you still stickering the Flickerings Dogme '02 films?

Nate - In the lighthing/camera setup you suggested above, would it be possible to simply light the scene and white balance the camera with a blue or light blue card in order to get the same effect?

#10 NClarke

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:11 AM

Man this is a blast for the past.

Thom - I believe you should actually balance off an orange card this telling the camera to remove orange hues from the light.
In the past we have used warm balance cards which are white balance cards with just a little bit of blue tint on them. By white balancing off of them you actually warm up your image.
If I was to recommend this now, especially with DSLRs, I would say just shoot at night and introduce a little bit of ambient light until you get enough to give yourself the definition you need. Perhaps a China Ball on a dimmer in the corner of the room - fade it up.
I would then tweak in post.

nate