Film Noir is both a look and an approach to filmmaking. As an approach, it has it’s roots in the 1940’s and 1950’s and portrays life as a bit brutal and stark. As a look, it is black and white and the lighting is harsh and features pools of light and dark. We set out to create a Film Noir look for this adventure of Ellie Adder, PI set in the 2020 pandemic but with a 1950’s vibe.

Small, very inexpensive and awfully effective LED spot lights with remote controller

First, we set the digital cinema camera to record in a specific digital picture profile where the color level was set to B&W and the contrast was increased to give deeper shadows. That way we would always be looking at the image we wanted to create. In addition, we used several ISO settings depending on the shot (1000, 1200, 1600).

Second, the lighting was approached in a very selective way. There were to be three seating locations for the three actors and their chairs each had a lamp. The light bulbs were replaced by 7.5 watt lamps.  Small LED spot lights (see photo on right) were placed inside the lamp shades and projected a strong light on the actor. The overall ambiance of the room was set by a tree of LED lamps that had a digital controller (See photo below). These lights were aimed at various parts of the ceiling to give reflected fill light were needed. Other small LED spot lamps were used as needed.

Jason is pointing out the LED lights and controller

Lighting test with Jason in Ellie’s spot