04 How to Light Urban Night Car Chases: Illumination Experience

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON:  30 Minutes of Instructional Video

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:  How do you light a night chase scene where the cars are driving for 5 to 6 miles?  This is the question I was asked by Scotty Waugh the director of Need for Speed.  This in depth Lesson goes into how I did it with a DIY approach to night street lighting. Understanding that you can work with less is what this is all about – lighting profile shots so that you can feel the speed, DIY lights to create depth and dimension as well as cost effective ways to expand your scope.  The power of this lesson is that this can be done on a very limited budget.  See the techniques and get in there and plan your next night action sequence.

  • Lighting night car interiors
  • Lighting to create depth and dimension
  • Power of taking light away and then adding it
  • The power of taking light away with Hollywood and DIY solutions
We are directing all comments and questions to our New Forum, please find the related course in the forum’s categories to submit.

gene sung 5 days ago

Hi Shane, super useful and I loved your impersonation of Bill and Ted, the city light guys! For the night stuff, did you shoot at 180 shutter angle or did you open up to 360 shutter angle for an extra stop of light? Thanks again!

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    5 days ago

      @gene sung Hi Gene, I shot all 180 deg shutter, we did not need extra light because the C500 owns the night. Super sensitive camera.

David Verwey 17 days ago

Hey Shane, the action in this sequence is just brilliant! How many takes did you do with the actors in side the cars and how did you communicate with the operaiotrs on when to pan to the actor and when pan to the road etc. Or was it all choreographed? Al in terms of shot scheduliing for the actors. did you first shoot the whole section from the one side and then start again from the other side. For example, when did you do the hostess tray shots. Obviously you could not have done them with the operators inside the cars. I would love to see the shot list for this sequence! Its work of art! fianlly whern the actos drove did they drive a little slower and further apart for safety?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    16 days ago

      @David Verwey Hi David, thank you so much for your kind words. We worked totally to the path of the sun. So I treated everything as either back lit or side lit, we ended up having to go with some full frontal sun when we were falling behind but overall I feel it turned out amazing. One day can you imagine. This is why prep is so important. I broke down all the areas that we had to shoot, I put them into zones. We would shoot out a zone in the direction that was best for the sun, then move on to the next zone and complete that, yes, we had to go back and forth a couple times based on the light but I felt it was important to set the stage in the beginning. So the set up I shot at the perfect timing and went back to that zone when the light was the best. Once we got into the action of him running after them and shooting others this wanted to be more confusing and I wanted the light to change directions, as well as the camera jumping the line many times to create audience confusion so that you could feel just Like O2. We had two vehicles on this film and we were able to hard rig the second car while shooting with the first car. I like to get my grips in there in 2 days ahead of time. We picked all the lenses and the height and camera placement of all these and the rigging team configured these before we started shooting so they were ready to deploy when the fit into our sun schedule. Yes the actors were towed and the actors that were driving the convertible was a stunt man who acts, that way we could get all that cool coverage of them driving and swerving at high speeds.

    • David Verwey    10 days ago

      @David Verwey HI Shane, my question is actually about the video in the main body of the lesson. This shows the race in Need for speed. For some reason the "Shooting Action" video is at the top of lesson, maybe that's an error? Anyway, I had a similar question to the Waist Deep sequence so this answers that one. Would you mind elaborating on the shot sequence in detail for Need for Speed?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    9 days ago

      @David Verwey HI David, yes, that demo video got in their by mistake, so sorry about that. Ok, on Need for Speed we had duplicate cars as well so we would warm the stuntmen up first. We would shoot all the Russian Arm pulling them and pushing them and see what the stuntmen did to enhance the action. The race we broke up into sections. The beginning of the race starting with the train was a section, which was set in Social Circle, GA. We had to travel there to get a working train that we could control. It was a personal rail line. Then we went to Macon, GA to shoot the rest of the race. Yes, we would start a section with warming up the stuntmen, then we would shoot drive by's, then aerial coverage while we were getting the camera ops loaded into the cars along with the actors. Then we would shoot the actors out last. The main reason for this was that our director Scotty wanted to see where the stuntmen would take the race and also what he defined in all the Russian Arm coverage would then educate what the actors were to do. Please reach out to me on the map, I am in Los Angeles, and I will send you the whole breakdown on this sequence. How about that???