Outdoor Lighting Solutions

I have already identified issues with filming outdoors and am prepared to work with a combination of flags, diffusion panels and reflectors in order to maintain a consistent look. I personally feel this can add depth and highlight the subject better than relying purely on available light, this also gives opportunities to control the light for consistency throughout the day.

I have previous looked into generators to hire as part of ‘The World Of The Willows’, and generally the cost is expensive, they are heavy and difficult to manoeuvre and loud. If you try to get a silent generator you find a dramatic increase in size, weight and price. To get an idea of price Brandon Tool Hire offer a 3.5KV generator (suitable for one 2K light plus another) costing £73.26 +VAT for one days hire. This generator won’t be silent so it makes sound recording near impossible. I have previously mentioned this to Sam (Producer), Kurt (Writer/Director) and Jack (DP), we all came to the verdict that utilising available light would probably be the best way forward.

The suggestion here is to use a diffusion panel to spread the sunlight as a key light source, using its strength but removing the effect of squinting eyes. In addition introducing a reflector to fill the face or act as a back light for dynamism. This is great for static setups but won’t be as easy to use for shots with high movement.

This builds upon the sun as a key light with the addition of a reflector; however to counteract the squint effect is is recommend to position the subject so the sun is coming in at an angle. By doing this is adds shape to the face and on brighter days the harsh shadows can be filled out with a reflector.

The second method I feel is much more suited to my style of lighting, using the sun as a prominent back light to pop the subject out of the frame. A reflector is then introduced as a form of key light to illuminate their face from shadow, a second can also be added as a form of fill light.

I am confident utilising the available light with this equipment will be perfect for stationary outdoor shots or some with very little movement – can fill an area or move with reflector. Consideration for making the most of any available light when on location will be a key factor (i.e. street lights), or locating alternate power sources. Approaching production I am prepared to purely rely on reflectors, diffusers and flags for the exterior shots and confident I can keep consistency. For moving shots we may have to accept using natural light, but then again even in Hollywood pictures outdoor action packed sequences still rely on the light from the real world rather than rigging entire cities!

Lighting Plan

Jack (DP) and I finished talking about the lighting requirements and have identified the requirement for utilising natural light due to majority of outdoor filming. The idea of a generator could be a possibility but seems an unnecessary cost when you consider the overall natural light look of 80s B-Movies (i.e. Commando, 1985). 

I have broken down the lighting in relation to each filming location: Shoddy Apartment, Secret Location 1, Secret Location 2, The Street, Dowdy Man’s House, Postal Striker’s HQ, The Final Street [Dusk].


  • ARRI 2K through window – dominant light
  • Dark with practical lights
  • Smokey (if possible)
  • Hallway Walking
    • Scattered beams from Dedo that protagonist can walk through cutting illumination pattern
    • 2K at front door to blast at character and exaggerate light of the real world – represents his detachment
    • Laser Pointers to replicate guns

Secret Locations

  • Inspired by Escape From New York (1981)
  • More stylistic than rest of film
  • Spotlight above table, similar lighting to trailer

The Street

  • Utilise natural light
  • Reflectors & black flags
  • LED panels acting as small softbox to highlight features
  • Be cautious of low light at the time of year

Dowdy House

  • Natural light

Postal HQ

  • Strong light emitted from monitor of CCTV screen
  • Heavy back and side light, background generally lost into darkness
  • Light to single out Bennett as the antagonist

Final Street [Dusk]

  • Considering two 2K ARRI high up for an overall fill
  • Create an artificial dusk look if possible – dependent on location
  • Dial down exposure on camera for an overall darker and warmer image, lighting adjusted to accommodate for this

Varsity Promo Memorial Stadium

Minty (Producer), Mike (Camera), Craig (Camera), and I went down to the Memorial Stadium to shoot a short promotional video to kick off Varsity 2015. I originally came along to scout out the studio, hoping to assess what lighting will be needed and feed back measurements of the space to Lewys (Set Design). Unfortunately I was unable to view the space today, so whilst I was there I took the chance to have a scout around the venue and assist with filming. I acted as sound recordist for the few lines of dialogue, other than that I acted as camera assistant helping to balance and mount the steadicam along with being a general additional hand. Hopefully Minty can arrange another opportunity to scout out the studio space soon, it is the one part of lighting design for the entire project I am unsure about. I know how I physically want to light it but I have no idea of the space I will be working within as that will effect my equipment choices.


The Clash – Lost In The Supermarket

I came across this song today when I was listening to my iTunes library; Lost In The Supermarket is a song by The Clash from London Calling in 1979. The supermarket in the song is ‘The International’, located at 471-473 Kins Road, just around the corner from where Joe Strummer lived with his girlfriend and her family.

The song addresses someone struggling to cope with the growing consumerization an commercialised world that surrounds them. This goes beyond the themes of the script, but on a purely denotational level this goes alongside the narrative and setting perfectly. It can make the sound work parallel to the mise-en-scene.

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

The song was covered by Ben Folds and used in Over The Hedge (2006). It featured purely on a denotative level as it heightened the desire that the characters have for food, and the idea that the human world gives them so much to shop from.

I know this isn’t my department for the film, but I felt it was a useful reference and something worth bringing up with sound. I have mentioned it to Will (Sound Recordist) and Dan (Sound Designer) and they love the idea of using the soundtrack or finding some way to reference it. The basic riff for the song runs the chord patter E, Cm7, A, E; a potential idea is to recreate this riff in the background of the supermarket as a reference to the song. Sadly the idea of physically using the song may not be a possibility as it would limit distribution due to copyright.

Escape From New York Office Sequence

The ‘Secret Location’ in the script is aimed to be a direct reference of Escape From New York (1981) in terms of visual style. The scene in question is the office where Snake is called up, the timecode 17.16 – 20.07.

The lighting for the scene centralises around the main desk, with a strong spotlight drawing the entire focus to this object. This means the characters surrounding it become partly illuminated whilst the rest of their bodies remain in darkness for a form of high contrast lighting. There are various practical lights scattered amongst the darkness to highlight particular features (i.e. American Flag) adding depth to the entire scene. The nature of the lighting removes any shadows from being cast against the wall, keeping a general wash over faces, using the dark areas to create the tension.

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In the sequence you often find the protagonist (Snake) has less light and often resides in the darkness, reflecting his reluctance to be included in the situation. However as the sequence progresses and he becomes further involved he gradually leaks further and further into the light. The other character spends all of his time in the light as he has the power and is fully involved. The high contrast lighting does provide a device in which to visually represent the power balance as the characters shift positions between being fully illuminated and residing mostly in darkness.

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Jumping back to the beginning of this sequence when Snake is first introduced he is almost fully in darkness. This adds a sense of mystery to the character along with adding the theory that he is fully distanced from the situation that is about to be discussed.

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Applying this idea to the script we can use a desk as the central object in the scene to light around. I can use a fresnel light to focus on the specific desk area causing harsher patterns of illumination to allow the effect of characters cutting in and out of darkness. This then gives the opportunity for Jack to move in and out of the light to reflect his involvement with the plan as the situation is revealed to him.

I can then use a variety of practical lights to illuminate objects around the scene that relate to the mise-en-scene, this will all become dependent on what set design dictates. Any practical lights can be further emphasised with LED panels and preferable Dedo lights due to their portability and slider control.




Identifying Colour Palettes

I have gone through the latest draft of Implication in its entirety in order to identify colour palettes that are apparent throughout the film. As the palette is every changing between sequences I want to try and group similar colours together to have a stronger overall hue that underlies the dramatic palette changes. Through reading and identifying these palettes I can then build upon Tom’s (Director/Writer) creative vision and offer my creative contributions.

1st Palette


The opening shot is an extreme close up of Ingrid’s face. The hues and colour palette of everything we see on screen is shades of warm orange, dark yellow, browns and gold. Soft lighting emphasises the contours and wrinkles of her face, but not in an ugly way. The general image is stark and intimate, uncomfortably close and melancholy.

  • Brown and gold
  • Higher contrast
  • Emphasis on shadows to create darker detailed lines

2nd Palette


The youngest son, DANIEL, a boy of around seven or eight is sat at the table eating cereal, whilst his father LEON leans against the kitchen counter, starting at a cup of tea as the steam spirals up from it……The light is crisp now, with an azure blue tint, accents of white and grey.

  • High contrast – crisp
  • Highlights – push to white, slightly overexpose
  • Mids – brighter blues
  • Clinical washed but detail maintained through contrast

3rd Palette (Continued From 2nd)

MARIA scowls at him and exits through the kitchen door. INGRID is saying something else but it sounds muted, as if she is speaking underwater. The colour becomes more bleached and whited out, the static sound rises steadily again until it reaches its optimum point, the focal point being LEON’S face.

  • Dynamic nodes
  • Increase white intensity until washes out completely

4th Palette


….everything appears to be desaturated, a mixture of greys, dark blues and off white, the concrete mirrors this. LEON sits on the bonnet of his car and massages his temples, he walks over to a nearby wall and leans against it nonchalantly, like a teenager, hanging around. The wall is large and blue.

  • Push all to blue
  • Subtle desaturation to achieve grey tones
  • Darker & depressive
  • Light Lindsay more tungsten so when everything is pulled blue she’ll be pulled back to nature light and stand out/emphasise

5th Palette (Continued From 4th)

….she [LINDSAY] goes to leave, awkwardly, but he offers her his cigarette. As she nods and tries to take it from him he forgets himself and turns the cigarette around, and holds it up to her lips so that she can take a pull. The blues and greys bleed to purple and black, the contrast increases and the red, pinks, mauves become saturated, vivid. Taken back, she obliges. Their eyes meet and they both become silent.

  • Dynamic node
  • Push blue towards purple & increase contrast
  • Introduce pinkish wash as two become closer, maybe in the form of a vignette
  • Possible recurring pink wash for intimate moments

6th Palette


LINDSAY and LEON are sat opposite each other. LINDSAY sits with her chin in the butts of her hands, looking upwards into LEON’S face, almost childlike. The colours are a mixture of browns and bronzes, with accents of green and gold. Soft focusing makes the room seem steamy and warm, a welcome retreat from the weather outside.

  • Warm/sepia style
  • Replication of opening shot but softer and inviting
  • Push green details to accommodate for the yellow/gold palette shift

7th Palette (Inter-Changing Sequences)

…as LINDSAY laughs and continues to speak, edging closer to LEON, touching his arm occasionally, biting her lip, the static sound returns gradually, and we focus more and more on LEON’s face. He’s smiling serenely. For a split second, frames of INGRID flash across the screen. She appears to be shouting or arguing with the camera, with LEON. The shot is grey and dark yellow, very grim.

  • LINDSAY – recurring pink wash for intimacy
  • INGRID – push to yellow, desaturate slightly, higher contrast, uncomfortable colour cast what doesn’t feel natural

8th Palette 


A close up of a bunch of pink flowers, on the windowsill of the kitchen. The colours of this scene are pinks and off white, with accents of angry red.

  • Almost dreamy pink acts contrapuntal to graphic imagery
  • Exaggerate red hues

9th Palette


The blood has been cleaned up and INGRID’s wound dressed. There are two steaming cups of tea on the table but they are both untouched, neither make any attempts at drink from their cup. INGRID stares a little vacantly, MARIA looks extremely concerned. She is grasping INGRID’s good hand, the bandaged one is clutched to INGRID’s chest

  • Suggested palette shift – grey [depress], pink [dream], gold [warm] or natural

10th Palette

LEON begins walking away from the platform. Confused, LINDSAY starts to say something and realising she is out of ear shot, follows him to a narrow passage way between the end of the platform and the road. He stops suddenly and LINDSAY bumps into him. He turns suddenly, grasps LINDSAY and begins kissing her passionately. She responds according and he spins around, pressing her against the wall of the passage – maybe a profile shot of LINDAY’s face – she looks excited and she does not stop him as he begins (as far as we can tell) pulling down her jeans and pressing himself against her, she gasps. As the scene unfolds micro-seconds of the previous sex scene between INGRID and LEON is edited in, the camera dolly tracks horizontally through the wall and into the kitchen, where INGRID sits to attention, as if she knows.

  • Need to identify colour palette
  • Grey/coldness and increase pink hues as passion heats up

11th Palette


The interior of the shot is lit with grey, clinical lighting that makes her face look hagard and old. A close up of her face, until the sound of the door is heard and LINDSAY enters.

  • Desaturate
  • Blue hue shift
  • Detailed blacks but generally washed out

12th Palette


Quickly staggered shots follow of mundane situations – making packed lunches, putting ready meals in the oven, assisting with home work, etc are shown to give the feeling of routine and time passing. These are mixed with clues to show us that LEON is gradually distancing himself – arriving home late and getting straight into bed, himself and INGRID sat opposite ends of the sofa together watching television, both lying in bed next to each other, as far apart as they can get, LEON leaving early for work without saying goodbye – something is clearly up.

Towards the end of the montage new shots of LINDSAY and LEON are shown – walking together, entwined together in bed, reading to each other, laughing  – until the scene settles upon LINDSAY and LEON together on the couch of LINDSAY’S flat. The scene is framed, graded and lit exactly the same as the scene between Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in ‘A Single Man’ when they spend the night together in Colin Firths sitting room.

LINDSAY and LEON are sat close on LINDSAY’S couch. The light is all shades of orange, brown and gold. LINDSAY has her hair up and wears a tangerine coloured dress. She has winged eye-liner on and a joint in her hand. She looks beautiful. LEON sits beside her in a suit, but this time, it is neatly composed and of a far better quality than his normal work attire. He also wears horn-rimmed spectacles. Debussy (or any other light piano piece) plays softly in the background. The apartment is bright and cosy, it is tastefully decorated with a lot of books and a few posters. Signs of motherhood are dotted around; toys, a high chair, a play mat, etc – not a typical student let. Both LEON and LINDSAY look happy and comfortable with each other.

  • Begin with natural light, but coldness increases as Ingrid and Leo’s relationship falls apart
  • In parallel increased warmth to Lindsay and Leo
  • The colour in both shots mimics the emotional transition
  • Reference ‘A Single Man’ – sitting room night scene

13th Palette


LINDSAY enters, an almost identical scene plays out in which she buys the same packet of cigarettes, until LEON enters. LINDSAY has her back to him, and LEON does not recognise her from behind as she is wearing a large winter coat. As INGRID sees LEON she visibly blanches, as if she is sensing something.

  • Continued shop palette

14th Palette


The shot opens with a close up of the kitchen table onto which an official looking letter with the crest of a high school printed in the top right corner lands, roughly. Cut to the kitchen, LEON is sat at the table, reading a copy of ‘A Single Man’, INGRID stands over him, almost like a general.

The colours of this scene are pale blue, brilliant white, accents of red in the mise-en-scene.

  • Soft light
  • Emphasise on complementary colours

15th Palette


There is a brief moment of calm in which all we see is INGRID standing at the counter, but from the far end of the shop. The line of the isle is distorted and inconceivably long, and appears to be moving like in a house of mirrors. The music distorts and shifts in keeping with this to create a sickening effect, the colour draining steadily, until the sounds of the door is heard.

The colours of this scene are burnt yellow, off white, several shades of grey and a putrid green, all unpleasant, muddy colours. Accents of red.

  • Start with shop palette
  • Drain/desaturate and introduce new palette on saturation return
  • Mids – Yellow
  • Highs – Red
  • Black definition
  • Desaturation and washed out

16th Palette


INGRID is washing the dishes but this time we are viewing her from the outside of the house, through the window. She stares blankly outwards, there is a packet of Benson & Hedges on the counter top beside her – the colours of which are saturated and vivid against the rest of the scene. The colours are desaturated, greys and whites, accents of blue.

  • Recurring cold house palette

Lighting Notes

Kurt (Writer/Director), Jack (DP), Dipo (Colourist), and I have had a good opportunity to discuss the visual style to the film over the past few days. As expected we are approaching this with the intent of filming an 80s B-Movie, this will be replicated through the style, lighting, grain, alongside the acting and exaggerated sound. The entire piece is to be lit with a general warmness, but still remaining within natural light and tungsten tones, nothing over the top stylised such as the Grindhouse movies.

Kurt drew two key influences for the visual style – Escape From New York (1981) and Commando (1985). The office scenes in Escape From New York are the direct influence for the office scenes in the script, almost a direct nod to the movie. I will look at this scene and we can consider replicating it precisely as a tribute to the inspiration, or if not expand upon it as a minimum.

Looking at Commando there is an additional warmness to the skin tones, almost making the character appear red. This is more of a colourist role but worth considering when lighting the scene.
Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 11.43.22
Another note for the lighting is an emphasise on side light, hitting the muscles to define them and further add strength to the protagonist. From the sequences I have viewed today I would suggest the majority of the external sequences are natural light (or lit as natural), then additional lights aimed at the side of the protagonist to provide this definition.
Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 11.41.02

Shot List

Jack and Kurt have now progressed onto the shot list, once they have constructed this I will talk through the lighting and blocking with Jack for each scene. Judging by the nature of the script it seems like we will be lighting locations and then making subtle amendments for each shot, as opposed to lighting each shot. Talking through the opening sequence we are both agreed on a smokey, dark environment where the protagonist continues to remain anonymous initially as they are lost in shadow.

This can be created with a powerful light (i.e. ARRI 2K) being shone directly through the window from behind to create one dominant source of light. Acting as a natural light helps to intrude on the dark environment the protagonist has chosen to remain in. If required we can then introduce subtle fill light onto objects or the protagonist to ensure nothing is lost fully in shadow. Thankfully by shooting on the RED One in RAW we will have greater dynamic range.



Trailer Lighting

Next week we are shooting a short sequence to act as the teaser trailer for the film. Jack (DP) and I sat down to go through the shot list:

  • Extreme Close Up Parcel
  • Extreme Close Up Bag Buckle
  • Close Up Rising With Gun Raise
  • Close Up Gun Loaded In Front Of Character
  • Close Up Gun Cocked Held Against Chest
  • Mid Shot Character Stood Still Then Walks To Camera

The lighting in this sequence will be heavily stylised unlike the lighting for the film. The whole sequence is to create a sense of mystery about who the protagonist is, inciting the audience to follow the action and view the final film.

All of these shots will be heavily lit from behind and side with white light (tungsten can be white balanced). This way it creates a silhouette effect around the protagonist establishing this sense of mystery. I will introduce subtle fill light by bringing the side lights around for the extreme close ups if we lose detail of the various items in the shadow.

The fresnel dexel studio lights will definitely work for the trailer, they are focusable meaning a harsher beam can be created for high contrast between the lit areas and surrounding shadows. As you can see from the blocking diagram below the light directly behind the subject will be the most intense, with two additional lights being introduced to pull everything out of the darkness. If there becomes any issues with lighting these can be pulled around further or another introduced alongside the camera, the important factor to remember throughout is to keep it high contrast and keep the protagonist
anonymous in shadow.

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