Monday, March 9, 2009

The Problem of White Walls.

I was Gaffing on set this last weekend on a set for a short film which was filled with dream sequences. For one of the scenes the character wonders into a room to find his now dead friend waiting there for him. The room we had to shoot in was a small square room which was completely empty with white walls. Upon first glance I was terrified to shoot in such a room! Then I was given one of my favorite instructions of all time "Light this however the **** you want, and don't let it make since" After looking back at the white walled room I pictured it as a blank canvas waiting to be painted and went to grab my things.

There are a few reasons why white walls can be monsters to deal with on set. The biggest being that they are uninteresting and very flat. When you are shooting a film or taking a picture you are creating a world. Everything within your world has to go together to make it believable, or people will reject the matrix which you created. Another big issue with white walls is that they can overexpose very easily making it hard to get good separation between your characters and your background.

To fix my white wall problem was easy. Since it was a dream sequence I could get away with a very easy trick to fix the wall. I simply started by changing the color of the wall all together by using a Fresnel light with a magenta gel. I then decided to break up the color by cutting a cookie and shining a green gelled light at the wall. Green is the contrasting color to magenta so it provided and interesting mix.I also shined a moving water light, which changed colors, into a mirror which bounced into the corner of the wall providing some extra jazz. Finally I lit the actor with a separate white light to bring exposure to his face. Top it off with a keep out sign and some zombie make up from the art director and you got yourself a pretty interesting scene!

Bad Dream

The lighting was a big hit among the crew and the room got tagged the name "70s Dance Room". Now wasn't that more interesting then a white wall?


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