Turn Out Those Lights!!!

In Notes From the Set by Rod Santiano1 Comment

Split days are when you start later in the day so you can work into the night.  This is usually done so that night exterior shots can be done along with whatever else might be scheduled during the day. Today we were shooting all night interior and exterior scenes.  We, of course, couldn’t shoot outside until it actually got dark.  Here in Utah at this time of the year, it doesn’t get dark until about 8:30pm or so.  While we were shooting the last few shots inside the house, my key grip and gaffer were working on lighting the street outside the front door according to what we had talked about.  They got the 1200 HMI lighting the house(s) across the street, another HMI bouncing into a 4×8 foamcore for fill and another tungsten unit across the street acting as a rim light to supplement the street light outside.

It looked great and was ready for shooting, but before we could even get out there, the cops came by and shut us down because of neighbor complaints.  I’m telling you, I’ve never been to a more ridiculous street in my life.  Many of the residents will come and ask us to move a car that is in front of their house because it’s their space.  Mind you that the street parking situation maintains about a 15% capacity throughout the day and night.  I digress. This whole thing could’ve been avoided had we bothered to get a permit, but alas, we didn’t.  So we took down all the lights and I told our crew that we would just light the street background by shooting light from the windows of the house, making sure it didn’t hit any neighbor’s windows, and any other lights we might need would remain on the property and, again, not get into any windows.  It turned out alright.  It looked way better when it was lit the way we planned, but we got the job done.  I did have to crank the ISO a little to 1600 to expose the street background a little better and lower the light levels of the lights for the talent, but the Red footage held up pretty well.

The shot above is of the talent at the front door with the street lit up from one of the bedrooms of the house. There was a 1K spotted down firing into the street and it was flagged off from neighbors windows.  His key light is from a tungsten unit bounced off of a show card taped to the wall.  A 150W pepper was used as the rim light, scrimmed way down and barn-doored down onto his shoulders and some of his hair.  It’s amazing that we can even shoot at these light levels.  I was shooting at an f/2.8, 1600 ISO and still getting a good image.  His key light seemed so dim, I never would’ve imagined shooting at such low levels, but it looked great!

This is the reverse shot that we did before the above shot while it was still daytime.

We tented off the front porch and lit it for night. A 4-foot 4-bank KinoFlo through a 4×4 216 diffusion frame is just behind the wall on the left.  The kitchen is lit with the florescent unit in the ceiling with KinoFlo tubes installed in it.  Another KinoFlo is right above camera with a single tube on for fill.  This was shot at the native ISO of the Mysterium X sensor, which is 800 (amazing).

With very few exceptions, I have been shooting at 800, even during the day exteriors—using NDs of course.

Here are some shots from the first setups we did of the day:

I am really enjoying working on this project, this camera and this crew/talent as well.  I just looked at the clock and have decided that it is definitely time to go to sleep.

P.S. If you’re trying to figure out why the title of this post sounds so familiar, watch the following Tweety Bird cartoon from way back:


  1. Rod,
    Come back home… you can shoot on my street as much as you’d like! We’ve beautiful trees lining the street, delightful street lamps, and even a few chickens heading home to roost.
    Not only that, you’re welcome to use the inside of our home whenever you’d like.
    ~ Carla

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