LIGHTING DIAGRAM #36 – ISHTAR

            This’s the final entry in my series of Ishtar lighting charts, beloved relics of my days as an assistant cameraman.  I don’t quite know what I’ll be posting next in this department…but I promise it will be exciting and educational.

            The Emir’s palace…and yet another scene between two people across a flat surface.  At least this time it’s a day\interior.  And as always, Storaro did a few things worth pointing out.

            Regardless of the film, this scene is memorable to me on a very personal level.  It was shot on January 28, 1986, the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take off.  I recall one of the grips rushing onto set with the news but no one took him seriously at first.  I knew it was for real a moment later when I saw one of the Teamsters quietly sobbing in a corner of the stage.  It was a tough blow for everyone and indeed cast a pall over everything we did.  Rather than pack it in, the crew elected to carry on working.  We all felt it would be better to stay busy and distracted as the sadness sunk in.  And we believed the astronauts would’ve insisted we do that as well.  It’s now over thirty five years later and I still get a sick feeling when I think about that day.

            Find this passage at the 00:51:50 mark…

            The lab instructions on the slate called for a “Morning” effect.  If so, it must’ve been an overcast day when the exterior was shot in Morocco because this was a set built on stage at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, NY.  Though the key light is indeed directional as it pours through the windows on camera right, it’s very soft and bereft of any hard-light, early or late-day sun feeling.

            This in no way detracts from the overall look, however.  It’s luscious.  This was a very large space and the diagrams show that quite a few large units were needed to sell the effect.  Rather than call on his vaunted 650W 9-light fays, Storaro brought in heavier artillery – 9-light Maxi Brutes (a similarly configured unit that puts out a great deal more illumination) and 10K fresnels to do much of the heavy lifting.  Some of them are diffused by muslin, silk or 4’x4′ frames of Lee 216; with the windows already covered in 216, the doubly-softened light fills the room in an even glow that feels organic and is pleasing to the eye.

            A white silk was strung across the entire top of the set, 25′ high.  This provided some additional sourceless fill and was sometimes used as a bounce source for the 10K’s mounted at the top of the flats.

            The first still shows the view from the A-camera’s 18mm position.  On a lighter note, one of the palace guards at the far end of the room by the door was played by longtime assistant cameraman Bobby Brown.  He did a terrific job!

A second position used the 35mm lens.

100mm for Grodin’s CU.

            85mm for the Emir’s CU.  In each case lights were moved in closer and fine adjustments were made to get the best out of the angle.

4.2.2021

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