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    Advice for Small NYC Apartment
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    Question
    Hi everyone! I'm DPing a micro budget short in a couple weeks and the space we're working with is a pretty small NYC apartment (all white walls, of course). I've included a couple photos and a simple floor plan. Any tips or advice for lighting a space like this? The tricky thing is that it takes place in a new apartment that the characters are just moving into, so it's supposed to look pretty bare and bland. We're going for a soft daylight look similar to the reference also included below. Most of the action takes place in the middle of the living room area, and the director would like to shoot toward the loft, meaning that the (south facing) window would be right behind camera. How might you go about this? Black out the window and cheat it so it looks less frontal? Advocate for different coverage altogether? It's on the 6th floor, so pushing units through the window isn't an option for our budget. At the very least I'll have a sheer on the window to soften the natural daylight, but I'm most concerned about control as the sun moves. The loft will likely be less of a challenge, as I'm thinking I'll hide a small LED tube to augment a lamp or other practical.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts! I've never shot in a location like this before, so I'm really trying to wrap my head around making a daytime blank white apartment look good. Not ideal but have to make the best of it!

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    6f314d0064cace9c82ea9da95275e8f4.jpg


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    #2
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    My two cents, light the ceiling, it is a big reflection screen.
    Peter Bosman


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    Oh, man. Creating depth will be tricky. And you have pretty much zero space for staging gear.

    The building outside is like a giant beadboard, which means that your light will be soft from the get go. Does it ever get direct sun? If not, I wouldn't worry too much about the exposure levels shifting noticeably. Just compensate for any lighting shifts in camera. I think bouncing off of the ceiling for fill is a good strategy. Assuming that the actors will be facing each other perpendicular to the windows, use the windows as your key and fly in some negative fill on the kitchen side for the OTS shots. I probably wouldn't recommend doing much more than that in a space this small.
    Last edited by QuickHitRecord; 04-12-2021 at 12:13 PM.


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    So where in this apartment are the cool photos - where would you place someone to take a photo?

    Basically 'up hill' and 'down hill'

    Camera facing the window or camera facing the kitchen square.

    The left and right (white walls) are a bit boring unless you pattern them from 'sunlight through the windoe' but you cant get lights outside so that is hard.

    I think blocking and scheduling make a lot of this..

    Observations.

    People will look cool in front of the big window.

    Scenes through the kitchen gap might be nice.

    Shooting through that gap might be nice

    Keeping it motivated like by the big window might be hard.

    That big window will make nice sidelight

    Some of the film could happen at night to give a variation (and stretch the scedule)

    you could place fixtures on the Mezz and then you wont get stands in shot.

    Ceiling is indeed good for bounce .. and risk panda eyes so are the walls and they might look cooler.

    Knowing nothing of the script /schedule/ story /blocking those observations may be completely irrelevant.


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    Depending on what you can get in there and how much time you have, doing anything to black out as much of the off-camera walls as you can would go a long way in helping create dimension so it's not a totally reflective box. I'm not a fan of shooting downstage lighting even if it is a soft source, but depending on the story/framing and background, it could work.

    You might also be able to create a faux sunlight effect on one of the walls using a hard light and mirror. Since the walls are flat and empty it should read well no matter how you angle them. Just figure out if you can keep the setup consistent during all the coverage and other shots in the scene that might see it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Publimix View Post
    My two cents, light the ceiling, it is a big reflection screen.
    Good suggestion. Thanks!


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    Quote Originally Posted by QuickHitRecord View Post
    Oh, man. Creating depth will be tricky. And you have pretty much zero space for staging gear.

    The building outside is like a giant beadboard, which means that your light will be soft from the get go. Does it ever get direct sun? If not, I wouldn't worry too much about the exposure levels shifting noticeably. Just compensate for any lighting shifts in camera. I think bouncing off of the ceiling for fill is a good strategy. Assuming that the actors will be facing each other perpendicular to the windows, use the windows as your key and fly in some negative fill on the kitchen side for the OTS shots. I probably wouldn't recommend doing much more than that in a space this small.
    True, I don't think the building across the street ever gets direct sunlight. Thanks for your suggestions!


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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    So where in this apartment are the cool photos - where would you place someone to take a photo?

    Basically 'up hill' and 'down hill'

    Camera facing the window or camera facing the kitchen square.

    The left and right (white walls) are a bit boring unless you pattern them from 'sunlight through the windoe' but you cant get lights outside so that is hard.

    I think blocking and scheduling make a lot of this..

    Observations.

    People will look cool in front of the big window.

    Scenes through the kitchen gap might be nice.

    Shooting through that gap might be nice

    Keeping it motivated like by the big window might be hard.

    That big window will make nice sidelight

    Some of the film could happen at night to give a variation (and stretch the scedule)

    you could place fixtures on the Mezz and then you wont get stands in shot.

    Ceiling is indeed good for bounce .. and risk panda eyes so are the walls and they might look cooler.

    Knowing nothing of the script /schedule/ story /blocking those observations may be completely irrelevant.
    This is all very helpful! Thanks for your insight.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PeopleCanFly View Post
    Depending on what you can get in there and how much time you have, doing anything to black out as much of the off-camera walls as you can would go a long way in helping create dimension so it's not a totally reflective box. I'm not a fan of shooting downstage lighting even if it is a soft source, but depending on the story/framing and background, it could work.

    You might also be able to create a faux sunlight effect on one of the walls using a hard light and mirror. Since the walls are flat and empty it should read well no matter how you angle them. Just figure out if you can keep the setup consistent during all the coverage and other shots in the scene that might see it.
    Yeah, I agree with you about the downstage lighting. I'll have a conversation with the director and see what we can figure out. It would definitely be good to make use of those walls for bounce. Thanks for your ideas!


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    #10
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    The audio looks challenging.


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