White Walls

K

kaos1000

Guest
Mr. Mullen,

I just recently started shooting on a short (One of my first projects as a filmmaker). I shot in a kitchen with white walls. Yuck. The shots looked so flat .....even with a bit of background lighting. I decided to review a few DVD's in my collection and see what technique was used when dealling with white walls.

Apparently the secret to dealing with white walls is to not deal with them at all!.......even hospital scenes were done with green or blue.

White walls are very common in real life and seem to be rarely used on film..............and I think I am beginning to see why.

Could you comment on this and explain how you handle white rooms?


Thanks much,

kaos
 
K

Kevin_Zanit

Guest
There has been some conversation about this in the past.

Tomorrow (read 6 hours from now) I will be shooting the next two days of my current feature in a tiny white walled, ugly apartment. It is so small the AD refers to it as "the closet".

I will post details, etc about how I tried to make it look interesting (hopefully I will).

In the meantime, I am sure David has plenty of good advice (the short answer will be - paint the walls).


Kevin Zanit
 
K

kaos1000

Guest
Thanks so much Kevin.........

I would love any insight you could provide.





kaos
 
Paint the walls.

Honestly, paint is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of adding production value, plus it immediately brings up the second issue: what color? And this allows you new ways to express yourself creatively.

White rooms are the curse of the low-budget filmmaker -- especially if you are shooting in video. Only occasionally does it make sense creatively (the starkness.)

I get into more arguments with line producers over painting locations. Even on my last movie, with a six million dollar budget, the line producer told the production designer, director, and myself that we could not afford to paint a living room inside a small house in the movie where the main character lives. Our production designer had to promise him that it could be done for the budget. I couldn't believe it because I've painted rooms on movies with 1/10th of that budget.

How to deal with white walls? Dress out as much of the white as you can, get the actors as far away from the walls as possible so you can flag the light off of the walls. Shoot angles away from the biggest areas of flat white wall -- shoot towards open doors, windows, etc. -- anything to add depth.
 
K

Kevin_Zanit

Guest
Well I just got home from a long day of shooting in a disgustingly small white location (with one more day to go). The room was so small we had trouble using wall spreaders because even trying to get them into the room was a challenge.

Painting was not an option because the walls are very old and textured in such a way that the production designer did not feel he would be able to paint them back properly.

This location was originally supposed to be on a stage, but at the last minute money changed and we were stuck here.

It actually went much better than I expected, and was much less trouble than it should have been.

The biggest factor was that the art department was able to really dress the walls with old grungy cardboard, thus darkening the surroundings (the character is a weird artist).

I have some pictures, but none are particularly interesting, or helpful.

It was a day scene, and the room has two large windows. I lit essentially only from these windows, with very soft light with a fast fall off to help keep it off the walls. I put light diffusion on the windows, and then some light diffusion on the actual units. I used two units, hitting different areas of the room. Then I took a 2x4 Kino on wall spreaders in the middle of the room pointing fairly downward.

This arrangement worked for most of the coverage, but when I needed some tweaking for close ups I used a 4x4 Kino with Opal on it.

It worked pretty well. I think the key was breaking up the walls, having the lights fall off quickly, and properly cutting them.

I expect to use negative fill in situations such as this one, but I actually did not need to today. I think it was the cardboard.


Kevin Zanit
 
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