Preparing to shoot interiors is always a gamble when you don’t work closely with the production team. During this shoot day on Into The Badlands, I made sure to communicate my needs with the assistant director and unit production manager on when I wanted to shoot due to the sun.
You never want to rely on the sun and its availability throughout the day. No matter what, it’s going to change and shift, rendering different results. Even though we could get this scene done in a 4 hour window, it’s better to play it safe and utilize the proper lighting to lock in the vision.
In this scene, I wanted to create that mid-day tone (white, crisp color levels) and I needed to manipulate that by crafting the light myself. First thing you need to do is figure out the sun’s location and how you can use that to your benefit. On the day, I wanted to shoot on the opposite side of the house. This way, I had maximum control and I wouldn’t need to tent the windows due to light shift.
Understanding your sun’s path throughout the day will help you establish what tools you need to get the job done. Right off the bat, I knew that I was going to need (3) LTM 18Ks to get the job done and maintain those light levels for day interiors. Utilizing Long John Silver stands, I cranked the lights high up into the sky so it felt like midday light beaming in. In addition, I utilized (3) Arri M90s pumping into 12’x20’ Matthbounce for the ambience fill.
My main goal was to create these subtle shafts of light coming in through the windows. I didn’t want it to call attention to itself and for it to take the audience out of the show. I set the camera to 5600K and my light was coming in at 5600K to create that extreme clean, white light that I wanted.
For this next setup, my goal was to drive this very soft, ambient light through the doorways. I wanted to “feel” the light spilling into the house as our characters navigate through the hallway and into the room. We did this by placing (1) LTM 18K in Jade’s room and (1) LTM 18K in Ryder’s room. To soften up the light, I employed a 4’x8’ frame with Full Grid on it.
We wanted to replicate and light the scene very much the same way that the light spilled into those rooms. Using the exterior daylight ambience helped add in that kiss of “fill” for the interiors. This also helps illuminate our characters and pull them out from the background. It’s essentially mimicking a bounce light and creating a soft fill.
Always remember that you don’t want to fight the sun. It costs a lot of money to block it out, work against it, and ultimately change how it affects your scene. Try making the sun a part of your crew and utilizing its benefits to tell your story. If you can manage the sun, then it won’t manage you.
Now get out there!
Here’s what we learned:
- Know your limits with the sun:
- The sun can be your ally if you understand the path and how it’s going to affect you throughout the day, but never rely on it.
- The sun can’t be relied on. You’ve got scenes to shoot and it’s not stopping. You MUST re create your own sun.
- Use your own lights to key with and only utilizing the sun as ambience will allow you to keep your lighting consistent enough to get the amount of coverage and takes you want.
- Imagine that you are lighting from the exteriors to the interiors. Pick a point in which the sunlight is supposed to enter and build from there.
- Plan with your production to shoot during the best time of day:
- I always work with the production team (assistant director, production manager, producer) to secure the proper time of day to shoot. It’s a collaborative effort and they want to make sure you have everything you need to get the best possible image.
- Do your research so you can provide the assistant director with the right information to lock in the schedule.
- Utilizing the right tools will always help get the shot:
- Employing the LTM 18k and Arri M90 is the perfect fit for replicating the sun’s power.
- Understand how you want the sun to feel and how you’ll need to shape it.
- When replicating the sun’s ambient light, utilize a bounce source to soften up it’s spill into the inside.
- Using the various features the lights have to offer to knock it down a few stops–i.e. scrims and even diffusion in front of the light.
- Consider what the scene is calling for:
- You always want to make sure that you have a clear vision of what you want going into the shoot.
- Study the script and decide what will “look” and “work” best for the final product. This is where you can estimate how stylized you want the lighting to be.
- Make sure to always location scout the property beforehand – that way you can understand what you’re up against.