This scene – an exchange between star Matt Dillon and his family in their living room – is representative of most of The Flamingo Kid.  Classically staged and photographed with an unobtrusive camera, it gives the actors room to move around and helps create the warm, familial atmosphere of a time gone by.

            The movie was shot on two different negatives, both manufactured by Eastman Kodak.  For daytime exteriors we used 5247 (ASA 125 under tungsten light; ASA 80 with an 85 filter in daylight); interiors and night exteriors called on 5294 (ASA 400 under tungsten; ASA 320 in daylight with an 85).  The second stock was relatively new at the time and we all thought it was an incredible leap forward in terms of speed.  Little did we know what marvels of light sensitivity digital sensors would be bringing in just a few short years…

            Nonetheless, cinematographer James A. Contner does an outstanding job of making it seem like the practical fixtures dotting the set were doing all the work.  I assure you, they were not.  We tackled quite a few scenes in this space and each time he made a painstaking effort to create the proper mood.  For the most part, he leaned toward harder sources – fresnels fired through some sort of light diffusion – and used nets and flags to control and shape the light.  That’s not an easy thing to do and has become something of a forgotten art.  The result is wonderful, especially as it’s witnessed within the context of this upbeat comedy.

            Note well: The lighting diagram does not match what you see in the clip; instead it illustrates a similar lighting scheme from another scene on the same set.


4 thoughts on “LIGHTING DIAGRAM #73 – THE FLAMINGO KID (1984)”

  1. Hi Richard, it’s nice to think about and pay attention to the grain structure of film. Still has a wonderful feel. These days, cries would come from certain quarters about sensor noise. Personally, I like a bit of grit. Question on the soft spun; do you recall if your were using it purely as diffusion? Perhaps a bounce source? Both? The ambient light levels really play nice with the practicals, lending a lovely, soft overall glow to the set. It’s very consistent as well no matter where the camera is pointing.

    A master class in one scene.

  2. Guy – I very much agree with you about the grain issue. Lack of grain\texture is my major complaint as to why many digital images look so artificial. As for the soft spun, as I recall cinematographer James Contner used it only for diffusion.

  3. Very cool and to think your a relative of mine from my mother’s side your good and im happy to see an accomplished crudo.

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