As promised, I’ve documented the setup for Scene 14, which is the one following the Amelie-like shot of Sabela looking out the window. Here we see her from the other side of that very same window. What started out as a simple 7-second shot somehow turned into a mammoth lighting and dolly setup that took about 2 weeks to design and build.
I’ve made a video and some panorama collages of the setup, in the attempt to explain what’s happening there lighting-wise. The info is second hand from Marcus, remembered and repeated with 90% accuracy, guaranteed 🙂
It’s 10 minutes long, but be sure to watch til the end, where I show a little timelapse of the lights turning on sequentially to light the scene, so you can see what each one is doing.
We used a total of 11 lights on the scene. Three Dedos, eight Arris — all 150 Watts.
The Breakdown (more or less in order of how they were added to the setup):
1. The Main Light: Dedo with barn doors, orange gel. This is the warm side light to illuminate Sabela and the window wall. The light bounces off a large white foam core card: the card is the light source here. (Bouncing lights off cards helps to soften them in such a small, delicate set.) The light is flagged by four pieces of foam core, which help crop the light into a vignette on the wall, and limit the light on Sabela’s legs, so that they fall off into darkness at their base. (We will have to bring back this vignette effect in post, as some of it was lost when lights #9 and 10 were added at the end… Those two bounce cards spilled a lot of light everywhere, which you can see happening in the timelapse at the end of the video above.)
2. Special Dedo. This light has a projection lens and iris unit, which allows us to have a precise spotlight on Sabela’s face. The light is filtered through a diffusion gel to soften its edges, as well as a pinkish-orange gel, as her face was looking a little sickly green without it. (Maybe because of the green hue to the glass?)
3. Blue Gel Arri from Below. This one shines up onto a piece of white foam core on the outside of the wall, opposite to the orange foam core of the main light. This bounces to create a soft blue moonlight on the outer wall, as well as a 3/4 backlight to Sabela’s face. It also helps fill the shadows created by the Main Light.
4. Back Blue Gel Arri. A light shining through a flicker rig, as well as diffusion paper-backed black wrap. The black wrap has been punctured with strategically-placed and -sized holes, creating a small starfield in the window.
5. Far-Away Dedo. This orange-gelled light has barn doors that are open about 1mm, just creating a soft-edge highlight on the red theatre curtain, which is reflected in the window.
6. Line of 4 LEDs. These are lined up at the back of the theatre set, out of sight. They are placed about 5 cm from the back wall of the theatre, and cast a gradated glow there. Since LEDs tend to be cooler than incandescents, we’ve added orange gels to them.
7&8. Pair of Arris with snoots. These are placed at a sharp angle above the extra theatre wall to create two scalloped beams scraping down the side of this wall.
9&10. Two foam core bounce cards (lit by another pair of Arris). These fill in the details of the wall that weren’t lit by the scallops: the wood below the chair rail of the wall, and the wallpaper detail to the right of the scalloped lights.
11. Hair Light Arri. This was brought in at the end of the lighting design process: the finishing touch. The back of Sabela’s head was getting lost in shadow; it seemed like she needed a highlight in her hair to add some dimension to her head. The light is flagged to avoid spillage onto the window frames.
The Star Field (& Apparatus):
To animate Sabela more easily, and — particularly — to add and remove her eyelids when she blinks, Marcus suggested using a piano hinge to rig up the window wall. This way the wall can lift up between shots, making Sabela more accessible. The hinged wall locks into place with rare earth magnets at the base, ensuring that it lands in the exact same place every time.
High fives to Marcus for his awesome lighting job on this one!!!
Now to tear it all down…
*Edit* — Here is the shot itself, pre-post FX.