LIGHTING DIAGRAM #57 – SWAT

            Night\Exterior in a cemetery.  A bit of trivia: we shot this scene on the evening of Halloween…

            Once again, an exercise in less-is-more.  The challenge – as with many Night\ Exteriors – was in lighting broad, open spaces quickly and easily without making them seem like they were lit.  Moments like these make us thankful some Condors were on hand for use as lighting platforms.  Borrowed from the construction industry, these devices consist of a small bucket (usually in the 3’x6′ or 4’x8′ range) fastened to the end of an extendable arm.  The most commonly used lengths vary from 80′ to 120′. Some of these arms will travel only in a straight line while others have articulating capabilities; this makes them especially helpful for placing the light in the precise spot it needs to be.

            In this instance, a 20K tungsten fresnel was rigged in the basket.  A number of 1K PAR cans were also arrayed on its rails for use on specific parts of the frame.  In order to spread the light and remove some of its harshness, the 20K was fired through a 4’x4′ frame of Lee 216 diffusion.

            The opening of the clip features the show’s stars (Shemar Moore and Jay Harrington) observing the action taking place in front of a mausoleum.  The main lighting in front of the building was effected by the 20K.  The Condor provided the height that allowed for a soft wash that filled the building area and left everything else in silhouette.

            In close on the actors, a 2’x3′ LED flat panel was used; it appreciably underexposed their faces.  Since they were watching most of the action through the optics mounted on their gun barrels, I had to be careful in setting the height of this lamp; place it too low and their faces would be deeply shadowed.  Speaking of shadows, notice that they fall toward the lens, not the other way around.  While I just happen to like the feeling this evokes, it also helps sell the night effect, however subtly.

            The high-powered flashlights the cops use also worked to our advantage.  One of them was directed to aim his beam directly into the lens for the low, long-lens shot in which they begin their run into the tombstones.

            For the wide high, shot that booms down toward the end of the clip, the Condor-mounted 20K once again filled the bill.  It provided a nice, defining source at an almost 90˚ angle to the lens.  Smart original placement of the Condor then allowed us to quickly transition to the ground and use it as a back light for the Steadicam shot that pulls Shemar back on the run.

            And this points to my best advice about using Condors.  Though they’re part of a motorized unit, they can take a lot of time and care to move around – and those are always at a premium in TV production.  During prep or pre-light, always take special care when deciding where to place them.  Seek out a spot that will allow you to use it quickly and easily for the greatest number of shots while exerting the least amount of bother.

8.27.2021

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