Filmmaking & Photography

Crimson Engine Blog

Cinematographer's secret weapon: the Prelight

So how did we shoot 22 pages in 2 days only on Neon Noir?

We had five locations to go to, Each of which was about a 30-minute drive from one another so we were going to lose at least 90 minutes over the weekend in just travel time.

The secret for us was the prelight. The prelight is when you visit a location ahead of time to set up the lights so that you can start shooting as soon as possible when you arrive on a day of the shooting.

we use this to great effect on sunday, the final day of shooting. We had a scene that takes place in a Gangster's Warehouse. It was 6 pages long and we weren't going to get a chance to rehearse it ahead of time.

I wanted a very Noir, stylistic light setup that I knew was going to take quite a few lights and quite a bit of time - more time than we had on the day.

Film Gear were kind enough to let us use their warehouse in east LA and give us access to their lights to shoot the scene with, that's still left us with the problem of not having ample set up time.

We solved this by going to the location the Thursday before, and setting up the lights as near to how we wanted them. This took around 3 hours and meant that on the day of the shoot all we needed to do was tweak the set up a camera.

In this case, because we were shooting on my c200, we were able to bring the camera along as well, Shoot the same as we did it then take that footage back to the office and try a different grades and post.

We saved three hours on the day of the shoot, when everyone is waiting around, and we were able to get right into the meat of shooting

We lit this scene with a 4 tube overhead fluorescent Bank. this acted as the primary key. Under this we put a table to give bounce back into the actors faces. for some close-ups we added a white card to the table to get it give even more reflection.

We then added a 3/4 scratch to both actors with these lights that we gelled blue for some color contrast. The final stroke of light was to add some powerful LED for nails in the Deep background to illuminate the warehouse shelves and give the shots some depth.

Thank you again to filmgear for letting us use their space and then lights they make some really good stuff at good prices so check out that website in the links below

neon Noir he's coming along and we almost have Final Cut after that we have to get our music and mix done but we should have something ready to show before Christmas fingers crossed.

Rubidium Wu