Lighting in the forest

MarkGT Website User Posts: 12

Hello, I have been on the forum quite some time now, but my questions were related to my problems with HitFilm, but they are solved now. Today I have a new question about filmmaking. So anyway I will soon be shooting an action film, and there will be some scenes in the forest. At night. So I was wondering how can I set up the lights since there is no electricity. Any tips how to deal with this?


  • tddavis
    tddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,527 Moderator
    edited April 2017

    @MarkGT  By far the easiest thing for the situation would be the day for night effect in Hitfilm.  If you plan to shoot on a really cloudy day would definitely help and to remember to minimize incidentally catching the sky in the shot which is the usual giveaway for the effect; that and those bright hard sunlight spots through the trees which is why I recommended cloudy day.  But if you absolutely have to do it full dark you could hide battery operated LED lights behind tree trunks for lighting actors standing near the tree but a few steps back to catch the light there, I think.  Hope some of the suggestions strike a chord for you.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,970 Ambassador

    tddavis called it while my phone wasn't letting me post the longer post I just abandoned.

    You have three choices.

    1) Get battery powered lights. You'll need a lot if you want any hope of scene depth.

    2) Shoot day for night. This is really your best option. Hitfilm has a lot of color grading tools that can transform a bright day shot into gloomy night.

    3) Shoot on a Sony A7s or A7sii--the best lowlight cameras around.

    If your actors are required to be using flashlights in the scene day for night is still probably the best option, although this will require tracking and animating masks to "draw in" the areas where the flashlights illuminate.

  • BobDiMarzio
    BobDiMarzio Website User Posts: 632 Just Starting Out

    Would it be possible to rent or borrow a small generator?


  • StephansBilderwelt
    StephansBilderwelt Website User Posts: 523
    edited April 2017

    Of course this would be possible as well at most hardware stores I would say. But then you would have to deal with the noise they are making. If you rent one, be sure to check the power outlet

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Website User Posts: 1,472 Enthusiast

    Battery power inverter would be another option. 120$ or so for 1500 watts...40$ for 500 watts

  • MarkGT
    MarkGT Website User Posts: 12

    So I have tried the day for night technique, and it works great for that kind of film. But what if I am doing a lightsaber short. If I wanted too shoot in the day the problem would be that the environment is going to be really bright. And when I an my effect and grade wouldn't it look rather weird ( BTW sorry for the a bit late reply, I was busy for the past two days)? 

  • tddavis
    tddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,527 Moderator

    @MarkGT If you want to add a lightsaber blade and glow to a day-for-night scene, I would think you grade your forest to get the night time like you want then add your light saber above that grade so it appears bright and lit like you want then remember to use a feathery mask around the area of the blade on your grade layer to make it appear that lightsaber is casting light around it when really it'll just be the daylight scene's natural light bleeding through.  You will want to adjust the opacity of the mask to get the exact look and amount of light cast off you're looking for though, and you may want to adjust the hues a bit to better match your lightsaber beam color.  But, I am NO expert here, just riffing on how I would approach it.  I'm sure there are better and probably more correct ways to do this.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,970 Ambassador

    @tddavis nope you're pretty spot on with the approach. Only slight correction is you wouldn't use a mask to bring back daylight colors. Mark will need a copy (copies?) of the daytime footage tinted to the colors of the lightsaber blades so cast light is the correct color. 

    Hand-roto for the spill light areas is still the way to go. 

  • tddavis
    tddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,527 Moderator

    @Triem23 I knew I missed something there.  It actually crossed my mind after I posted though.

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 928 Enthusiast

    Shooting day for night either on a cloudy day or using a big, honkin' silk is by far your best bet.

    You'd need some major lighting equipment to light even a small swath of forest, especially for a light saber duel. A silk in a forest is fairly easy; get some grey tarps and study techniques for rigging ultralight backpacking shelters using either flat or cat-cut rectangular tarps, specifically a lean-to. Since you won't care about weight, you don't have to spend the extra bux on lightweight tarps, just neutral ones.

    Use that to diffuse the lighting in the region you're shooting, and then add in lights using some battery powered LEDs to add contrast to the characters. Then color grade a day for night look, and Bob's your uncle.

    That way you don't need a specialized low light camera that will compromise your grading and compositing, and you don't have to rent an 18K light and two generator trucks to create a virtual moon. :)



  • solosamuraiwhatchef
    solosamuraiwhatchef Website User Posts: 175 Enthusiast
    edited April 2017

    My led lights have a battery option. One light might be enough, you don't need to light the whole area, just  key parts, the viewers imagination fills in the blanks. 

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