American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 36

*|*

Practical Lighting Approach

Lighting the Destroyer
According to European gaffer
Helmut Prein, the most apt example of
Dunkirk's need for period light aboard
the film's on-screen ships involved a
420' decommissioned French destroyer,
now used as a museum vessel, called the
Maillé-Brézé. The ship required the
painstaking installation of generators,
the rewiring of the power system and
existing practical lights, the sealing of
the electrical installation against
humidity and saltwater, and the addition of more lighting fixtures that could
blend in with the ship's originals.
"The existing electrical installation was in very poor condition, and
there wasn't any engine producing electrical power on board, so we had to
place two 150-kilowatt generators in
the back of the ship with an auto crane,"
Prein says. "The generators were
camouflaged by set decoration. We also
had to rewire 78 existing practicals [due
to porous original cabling], as we couldn't simply feed in 230 volts/50 hertz.
Then set decoration added some 48
additional practicals, ending up with 63
practicals on each side of the ship -
three different styles of housings. All
fixtures were running on separate
dimmer channels and controlled by a
GrandMA2 dimmer board.
"To get a more spiky light characteristic out of the practicals," Prein
adds, "we decided to use a special halogen light bulb in a retro pear shape.
They looked period to camera, but had
a much higher luminance output. To get
a more yellowish period color, we pulled
in the practicals to about 50 to 60
percent on the dimmer board."
Prein reports that he found a
variety of specialized lighting instruments along the way that helped for
specific nighttime looks. "I did some
investigation to find unobtrusive lights
to integrate into the vessel's structure,"
he says. "In a Paris rental house, deep
back in the shelves, I found an old 5K
DeSisti Renoir fixture - an open-face,

36

August 2017

bare-bulb light in a [nondescript] black
housing, which was perfect to hide. We
spread out a dozen of those into the
ship, producing a raw and punchy
downlight on the lower decks. We also
installed three 10K Molebeams as
searchlights for certain shots, dimmed
down to a period color.
"Then, to reach deeper down to
the water surface," he continues, "we
stuck out two 16K Dinos on outriggers
to reach out over the ship's bow. Our
riggers built a movable truss-boom
system, which could be wheeled in and
out as needed, with [grips] securing the
rig against the movement of the waves.
We also used 250K Lightning Strikes
rigged just above the waterline to simulate a torpedo impact into the boat."

"Each period and
specialty lamp had
to withstand the
explosion and
capsizing over
and over."
Water-Tank Illumination
Particularly complex lighting rigs
were employed for Dunkirk's watertank work, shot on Stage 16 at Warner
Bros. in Los Angeles, where key scenes
aboard a trawler were shot. As
American gaffer Adam Chambers
explains, for the interior of the trawler,
below deck, the intent was to light from
the exterior to allow director
Christopher Nolan; cinematographer
Hoyte van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC;
and the actors to work without restriction within the vessel. "It was quite dark
inside, due to the fact that the trawler
had few portholes or hatches,"
Chambers explains. "Therefore, we

American Cinematographer

*|*

pushed as much light as possible
through the existing and available
openings."
Rather than manufacture light
with no believable source, the filmmakers left the interior unlit, and simply
"pushed daylight HMIs through every
nook and cranny," Chambers continues. "The only instrument used within
the trawler was a 2-by-2 poly - beadboard - bounce card. We would periodically adjust lights to shoot
directionally through the hatches or
portholes toward either the bow or
stern, accordingly. The trawler sat
within the tank, and was surrounded by
either box truss or I-beams saddled
with trolleys that carried Arrimax
18Ks, M90s or M18s."
Chambers' team also rigged a
20x40 soft box filled with 60 Arri
Skypanel S60-Cs over the top of the
trawler within the tank, for overall
ambiance. Those were the only LEDs
used on the show, due to the production's mandate to adhere to period light,
as Chambers explains. But the toughest
lighting work with the trawler, he adds,
involved complex setups to film the
sinking of the ship in the water tank.
"Each period and specialty lamp
had to withstand the explosion and
capsizing [which were accomplished
practically] over and over throughout
the day, and night as well," Chambers
says. "Each piece of Socapex [electrical
cable] had to be rerun from the edge of
the tank, underwater and through set
walls - 175 feet to the ship - to the
underwater set following each day that
was shot, due to the fact that it would
be compromised by constant immersion in the water. We had quite a few
practicals, as well as open-face lights,
working in the shot - all on a dimmer
and controllable. The flicker effect on
the boat and the foreground were
created with eight 24-light MaxiBrutes with VNSP globes."
-Michael Goldman



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - August 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Intro
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 8
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 9
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 10
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 11
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 12
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 13
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 14
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 15
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 16
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 17
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 18
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 19
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 20
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 21
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 22
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 23
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 24
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 25
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 26
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 27
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 28
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 29
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 30
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 31
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32a
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32b
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32c
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32d
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 33
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 34
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 35
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 36
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 37
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 38
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 39
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 43
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 44
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 45
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 46
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 47
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 48
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 49
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 50
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 51
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 52
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 53
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 54
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 55
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 56
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 57
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 58
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 59
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 60
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 61
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 62
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 63
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 64
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 65
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 66
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 67
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 68
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 69
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 70
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 71
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 72
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 73
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 74
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 75
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 76
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 77
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 78
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 79
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 80
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0519
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0419
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0319
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0219_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0219
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0119_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0119
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1218
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1118
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0918
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0818
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0718
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0618
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0518
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0418
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0318
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0218
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0118
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1217
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1117
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0917
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0817
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0717
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0617
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0517
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0417
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0317
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0217
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0117
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1216
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1116
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1016
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0916
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0816
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0716
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0616
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0516
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0416
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0316
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0216
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0116
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1215
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1115
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac1015
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0915
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0815
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0715
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0615
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0515
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0415
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0315
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0215
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ac/ac0115
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com