No budget short film tips
March 23, 2007 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I need tips and suggestions for shooting a short film on DV at night, mostly in a car.

I'm using a Canon XL1 and am primarily concerned with getting good contrast. I'll be shooting at night without access to electrical outlets and mostly in a car. I've found flourescent and LED lights that run on batteries and car lighters. What filters, manual settings, etc. would help me achieve good contrast and a somewhat film look?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you can rent batteries and lights. they good ones are expensive and heavy.

ive never used the xl1 in particular, but i hear its good in low light conditions. but the basic idea is you need to slow your shutter speed as much as possible (the denominator as small as possible), and if you have an 'iris', open that as much as possible. filters aren't a good idea (they will inevitable block light).

a lot of times, car scenes are shot with two lights in the footwells of the driver and passenger. the degree to which you use lights may create an intended/unintended comical/horrifying effect.

i assume you're going to try this shot in a densely populated urban city with lots of street and store lights. i'd suggest you give it a trial run.
posted by phaedon at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2007

having said that, if you're low budget and you find yourself needing a light, you need to go with some on-board. and lots of on-board lights are pretty sucky.

if you can find this a frezzi light, i recommend it. these look good, but i've never used them.
posted by phaedon at 12:12 PM on March 23, 2007

Best answer: If you're renting, you want Kino Flo Mini Flo or Micro Flo system.

Ah, I remember when I was a Gaffer...
posted by nathancaswell at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2007

As far as filters go, maybe a Black ProMist or something, but honestly you might as well just do some post-filtration in After Effects or something.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:24 PM on March 23, 2007

Get an inverter for the cigarette lighter. Then you can run any AC light.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:35 PM on March 23, 2007

Best answer: Here's a forum on in car lighting. I would also recommend getting an external car mount - you will get great shots of your characters through the windshield of the car. If you stay inside the car the entire time it will look like, well, you know, you're just sitting inside a car with a camera. You can search "car mount" "xl1" to try to find what you need, or talk to a person at a rental house. They may have some sort of suction cup system that will work well with a small, lightweight camera like the XL1.
posted by billysumday at 1:20 PM on March 23, 2007

Best answer: Look, light the crap out of it. DV is notoriously poor in low lighting (noisy, all DV is compressed.) It'd be easier to get the lighting right (visible, no noise) and adjust it a bit in post (crushing blacks, desat a bit, pulling down overall brightness, but not too much. Adding some blues + magentas)

Make sure you white balance, be careful with the flourescent lights and any other sort of light you use (color temperature). Do as little as possible to 'film look' the process and instead shoot it in post.

You can put a prime lens and utilize shorter depth of fields (with the XL 1 you can do this.)

Found this with a quick google search. Check out too.
posted by filmgeek at 8:55 PM on March 23, 2007

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