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Moonlight Blue: The Location Scout (Sample)

  • March 26, 2019
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Moonlight Blue: The Location Scout (Sample)

 

Our theme for this next two weeks is MOONLIGHT  so we want to share with you a couple of samples of our lessons that relate to that theme. Here’s a great sample of Moonlight Blue – the location scout. For the rest of this series on HurlbutAcademy.com.

Many of you have asked how I light at night, so in this How to Light Night Exteriors series, I want to show you my style of night lighting. We are going to say this is a horror film with two girls who run down the hillside, come up to camera looking terrified, and then they exit frame. I’m going to create simulated moonlight, add in a nice bounce light, and fog up the place to make it nice and moody.

I’ve done this on many of the feature films that I’ve lit, but we’re going to do this DIY style using our DIY metal halide 1500 watt sports fixtures. We picked this location because of the elevation. It has a hill, which gives me another twelve feet to elevate my light. So if I don’t have a Condor or a very tall stand, I can use the twelve feet on the hillside to get the light higher so it won’t flare the lens and it will look like moonlight.

Notice the higher ground
Notice the higher ground

They’re going to run from up top where we will place our “moonlight,” into the foreground, where there will be a little fill light. I’m thinking a bounce so when they come to a close up by the camera, we can see the fear in their eyes. Then they will exit frame.

We’re going to backlight the trees and get some smoke up in the scene in the foreground, so we get bits and pieces of light shafts. The backlight will come from the camera right side (over the talent’s left side), and the fill light will come from the camera right side (the talent’s left side).

Top down schematic of basic blocking and lighting
Top down schematic of basic blocking and lighting

Scouting the Areas around our Lights – Close Up, Bounced Floodlight Position:

In this scene, we need to create moon ambience with a bounce and one of our 1500 watt halide floodlight sports fixtures close to our camera, so when the girls step into the close up, we can see their terrified expressions.

The 1500 watt halide sports fixture we’re using today is called a Lithonia Metal Halide light. You can buy it at Light Mart, and these lights are inexpensive. Today we’re going to use the floodlights, but these lights come as spots as well. The Lithonia Metal Halide floodlights pack a wallop of an 1800 watt par.

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Lithonia Metal Halide Flood Light
Lithonia Metal Halide Floodlight
Lithonia Metal Halide Spot Light
Lithonia Metal Halide Spotlight

Scouting the Area around our Backlight Floodlight:

Up on our hill, we will have our other metal halide flood source. The light will give them a nice backlight, and there are trees blocking the way so we will get nice shadow dapple on the ground. There’s also a hole where there are no trees, so we can get a beam of light to reach where the girls will end up at the close up shot. The ground is also level, and there are not any obstructions above this area so we can really raise that light up if we need to.

Notice the ground is level on the hill and that there’s lots of room above so we can use our taller stands.
Notice the ground is level on the hill and that there’s lots of room above so we can use our taller stands.

Setup Time for Night Exteriors:

I don’t like to light night exteriors when it’s dark because it’s dangerous. There are hazards, holes, crew members running around, and it’s hard to see when there is no light in the sky. You’re going to want to start setting up before the sun is completely gone to set yourself up for success. Your crew is going to move very quickly when they can see.

Conclusion:

Here are a some things to remember:

  • If you don’t have a Condor, use a hillside for your light for elevation.
  • Set yourself and your crew up for success by setting up for your night exterior shots while there’s still light outside.
  • Lithonia metal halide lights make great DIY blue moonlight.

 

This has been a sample of the Moonlight series available on Hurlbutacademy.com – the rest of the series is just as good, if not, better.  

Technical Specs:

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