Hey all, was wondering if anyone has any experience or thoughts on setting up lights when you are shooting in a small room, but your set is pretty big.  I'm not sure if it's going to be possible for me to shoot in my studio because it's 10'x10' and my set is 8'x4'.  It's all outdoor desert-like scenery so pretty even lighting, well lit.  Has anyone attached lights to walls and ceiling?  What kind of semi professional lights would anyone recommend? I don't have much experience with lighting and this is my first serious effort with stop-motion animation.

I would really hope to find a way to make it work because it's very costly to rent a larger art studio where I live in Austin, TX.  Also, if anyone lives in the area has any ideas where to find a larger space to shoot on the cheap or for free/barter?

Thanks so much! :) 

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Hi, i have a wooden frame structure around and over my large animation set, and i use workmans lights, as it's strongest, can get hot, but works, if that helps? :)

Thanks for your help Ian!  Just wondering where the placement of your lights are or what you find works best? Like do you have a light overhead and a light on each side? or are the lights more like angled in front of the set?  Do you use umbrellas or similar and/or other light effect attachments like gels with workman lights?

I do own a budget studio light kit that has 2 lights with stands and umbrellas. And I also have a couple cheap clip lights. I will look into workman light to see if that's a better option.  I like your idea about building a frame around the set.

 

What color are the walls and ceiling? If they're white you might consider aiming those lights up at the ceiling (without the umbrellas in place), or maybe tilted sort of toward the corners of the ceiling, so you get a nice even diffused bounce light coming down off the white surfaces. It would mean needing to use a fairly long exposure time to get enough light into the camera. Of course it would work best if your lights are pretty powerful. 

It might work even better to place one light like I said, and use the other as a direct light source to imitate the sun. This way you would put the second light (the one bouncing off the ceiling, or diffused through the umbrella) somewhere opposite the first one (the sun). This way the secondary bounce light would fill in shadows and give an effect of a lot more light bouncing all around, as you'd have in a brightly lit desert scene. 

If I picture the desert, I imagine a clear blue sky most of the time, and a strong sun which will cast hard shadows. (You know how it looks when you take photos of someone in strong sun, the highlights go really bright, and the shadows go black? You actually don't want it as harsh as that, it's too hard to see people properly, but that is the look of the sun in the desert.) That needs one bright key light to be the sun, as far away as you can get it. That will be very difficult in a width of just 3 metres (10 ft). To be honest, I've never shot an outdoor scene with a wide view of the landscape in such a small space.
The angle is up to you - I prefer my key light to the side and above, and a little bit from the front (but not too much in front, like a rabbit in the headlights). But if I am cutting to different angles, sometimes it might be a bit more in front, or further around to the side and even from a bit little behind.
There could also be some soft ambient light, like you would get from all the rest of the blue sky. That could be done by bouncing light off the ceiling, if it is white or a pale colour. If not, a big white card or piece of polystyrene can act as a reflector board. (In feature films set in the desert, there is almost always a reflector placed out of sight to lighten up the shadows on the actors - basically a softer light, from the opposite side from the sun, and maybe even low down bouncing light back up.) I've also turned on the fluoro tube lights in the ceiling for a very soft overall light. Sometimes I wrap them in blue lighting gel - 1/2 Colour Temperature Blue - to make them bluish, so the shadows created by the sun will be a bit blue. You can also put more of this bluish light hitting the back of the set, to give it a bit of atmosphere. Sometimes the fluoro lights are naturally a cool bluish light already, compared to the warmer halogen light I am using for the sun. I have a 300 watt halogen PAR light to be the sun. If it is a wide set, I may need a couple of smaller lights to fill in where the "sun" light starts to fall off. That is especially likely if you can't get it very far back so it covers the whole set, the side nearest it will look much brighter than the parts of the set furthest away and will probably need a boost.
If it is a cloudy day you want a much softer light overall, so bouncing lights off the ceiling is a good way to go.

I usually have separate lights for the sky backcloth (or the greenscreen if you will key the sky in), and a gap of 2 feet or more between the back of the set and the backcloth if possible. The lights for the background should be high up on the wall/ceiling behind the camera, so there is less chance of trees or puppets on the set casting a shadow on the sky. That can make the top of the sky brighter, so for some shots I put a couple of 4 ft long fluoro tubes on the back of the set, just out of sight and aiming at the backdrop, so they brighten up the horizon. I put coloured gels on them if I want a sunrise or sunset effect. In my current shoot I have so much soft light bouncing around to get a cloudy day effect like the background footage, I don't even need a light for the greenscreen background, it picks up enough light anyway.
This was a desert set, but in a space 4 metres (12 ft) deep x 8 metres (24 ft) wide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biQZTD3Mexg

Thanks for the advice! my walls and ceiling are white so I can try bouncing the light around and see what happens. I may not be at this stage for a little while since I am still building everything. But I wanted some constructed advice on lighting ahead of time because I already knew the size of the room would be a big issue.  After what Nick said I'm sort of hoping a miracle will happen and I'll be able to move to a larger space.

Strider said:

What color are the walls and ceiling? If they're white you might consider aiming those lights up at the ceiling (without the umbrellas in place), or maybe tilted sort of toward the corners of the ceiling, so you get a nice even diffused bounce light coming down off the white surfaces. It would mean needing to use a fairly long exposure time to get enough light into the camera. Of course it would work best if your lights are pretty powerful. 

It might work even better to place one light like I said, and use the other as a direct light source to imitate the sun. This way you would put the second light (the one bouncing off the ceiling, or diffused through the umbrella) somewhere opposite the first one (the sun). This way the secondary bounce light would fill in shadows and give an effect of a lot more light bouncing all around, as you'd have in a brightly lit desert scene. 


Thanks for all your help Nick! From what you suggested and from what it appears in your video it really seems like I need a larger space to shoot in which is what I've feared all along.

Also, just wondering if you often use a wide angle lens to shoot?

StopmoNick said:

If I picture the desert, I imagine a clear blue sky most of the time, and a strong sun which will cast hard shadows. (You know how it looks when you take photos of someone in strong sun, the highlights go really bright, and the shadows go black? You actually don't want it as harsh as that, it's too hard to see people properly, but that is the look of the sun in the desert.) That needs one bright key light to be the sun, as far away as you can get it. That will be very difficult in a width of just 3 metres (10 ft). To be honest, I've never shot an outdoor scene with a wide view of the landscape in such a small space.
The angle is up to you - I prefer my key light to the side and above, and a little bit from the front (but not too much in front, like a rabbit in the headlights). But if I am cutting to different angles, sometimes it might be a bit more in front, or further around to the side and even from a bit little behind.
There could also be some soft ambient light, like you would get from all the rest of the blue sky. That could be done by bouncing light off the ceiling, if it is white or a pale colour. If not, a big white card or piece of polystyrene can act as a reflector board. (In feature films set in the desert, there is almost always a reflector placed out of sight to lighten up the shadows on the actors - basically a softer light, from the opposite side from the sun, and maybe even low down bouncing light back up.) I've also turned on the fluoro tube lights in the ceiling for a very soft overall light. Sometimes I wrap them in blue lighting gel - 1/2 Colour Temperature Blue - to make them bluish, so the shadows created by the sun will be a bit blue. You can also put more of this bluish light hitting the back of the set, to give it a bit of atmosphere. Sometimes the fluoro lights are naturally a cool bluish light already, compared to the warmer halogen light I am using for the sun. I have a 300 watt halogen PAR light to be the sun. If it is a wide set, I may need a couple of smaller lights to fill in where the "sun" light starts to fall off. That is especially likely if you can't get it very far back so it covers the whole set, the side nearest it will look much brighter than the parts of the set furthest away and will probably need a boost.
If it is a cloudy day you want a much softer light overall, so bouncing lights off the ceiling is a good way to go.

I usually have separate lights for the sky backcloth (or the greenscreen if you will key the sky in), and a gap of 2 feet or more between the back of the set and the backcloth if possible. The lights for the background should be high up on the wall/ceiling behind the camera, so there is less chance of trees or puppets on the set casting a shadow on the sky. That can make the top of the sky brighter, so for some shots I put a couple of 4 ft long fluoro tubes on the back of the set, just out of sight and aiming at the backdrop, so they brighten up the horizon. I put coloured gels on them if I want a sunrise or sunset effect. In my current shoot I have so much soft light bouncing around to get a cloudy day effect like the background footage, I don't even need a light for the greenscreen background, it picks up enough light anyway.
This was a desert set, but in a space 4 metres (12 ft) deep x 8 metres (24 ft) wide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biQZTD3Mexg

Hi Leah, I tend to have the lights centered or moved but they can be angled differently. As ordinary lamps flicker so not good to use!

Magic arms and clamps are good for attaching lamps. I use wardrobe rail for overhead bars.


thanks never heard of magic arms before, I will look it! 


Simon Tytherleigh said:

Magic arms and clamps are good for attaching lamps. I use wardrobe rail for overhead bars.

thanks for the tip!

Ian Harding said:

Hi Leah, I tend to have the lights centered or moved but they can be angled differently. As ordinary lamps flicker so not good to use!

Magic arms are these things. Useful and quite cheap.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/11-Inch-Articulating-Magic-Arm-Super-Clam...

The clamps are particularly effective.


thanks, they look really great!


Simon Tytherleigh said:

Magic arms are these things. Useful and quite cheap.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/11-Inch-Articulating-Magic-Arm-Super-Clam...

The clamps are particularly effective.

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