December 8, 2015 at 9:43AM

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Lighting for Film Noir?

So I'm making a film noir short in order to generate interest in a possible web series, and I need proper lighting in order to generate the film noir look. I'm looking into Arri Fresnel lights to get those hard shadows and brightness contrasts, but I noticed that the tungsten ones are much cheaper. ($600 for four fresnels, 150, 300, 650, and 1000 Watts, all with barndoors and stands) I've been looking all over the internet, but I can't find any consensus on using tungsten on a film noir shoot that will be edited into black and white.
Does anyone have any suggestions?

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First, recall that correcting tungsten to daylight is the equivalent of shooting through a CTB filter, which is about a 2-stop blue filter, and that shooting daylight to tungsten is the equivalent of shooting through a CTO filter, which is about a 2-stop orange filter. If you have shot black-and-white through filters (typically yellow, orange, red, but occasionally green and sometimes blue), you know how these filters can dramatically change the values and contrast of the scene.

With that out of the way, tungsten light may actually be beneficial to your actors, because most skin tones are similar in hue to the spectral peak of tungsten light. By using a light whose color is already in agreement with flesh tones, the contrast within that tonal range will be reduced, making the skin look smoother.

One thing you will definitely have to test before you shoot is how the colors of lipstick react to your lighting and your monochrome process. Some red lipsticks might look too light under tungsten lighting, but would read much bolder (darker) under daylight lighting.

You will definitely want to test your wardrobe colors before you shoot for real. But tungsten should be a fine source for your purposes.

December 8, 2015 at 5:10PM, Edited December 8, 5:10PM

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