Bill Pope: Large Sets and Par Cans

Australian Gaffer Reg Garside, working with Bill Pope, ASC on the film The Matrix, discusses the lighting needs for the Matrix highspeed shooting sequences.

"The high speed lighting requirements were a big concern, because on the big sets-- such as the subway and the government building exterior and lobby-- we needed a massive amount of light to be able to shoot between Bill's T2.8 base and the T16 needed for high-speed filming. On some stages, in fact, we had to rig more than 1,000 Par cans in the permanents [to produce the needed levels of light]. I used Par cans a lot because I could easily control the ambeince from T2.8 to T16 just by turning additional units on and off.

Also, Par cans are much cheaper than Maxi-Brutes, adn although they use the same sort of bulb [a Par 64], I've found that I can rig them in much more weird or difficult places than I can put a Maxi. Having 1,000 Par cans is actually like having 80 Maxis, but we don't even have 80 Maxi-Brutes in Australia!

For speed and maximum control, every single light ran through a dimmer rack, so if Bill told me tol give him a T8, I could give him a T8 by adjusting a lever on the controls. For a T2.8, you may only use one lamp, but for a T16 you may need 32 lamps. You're really dealing with an exponential doubling up effect to get the extra stops. Bill actually used a lot of over-head lights through light grid cloth diffusion to create an ambiance. So I had [rigging gaffer] Craig Bryant pre-rig Par cans in the roof for an ambiance that could get me up to a T16. We then had to build a lot of custom overhead cloths, which we call sails, and virtually hand-fit them into position on the sets."

-Red Garside

"We shot most of this movie with tungsten lights. Also, by using Par cans, we could change the light level without changing the color temperature, simply by turning units on or off. However, I do like to use Kino Flos on faces for interiors. In fact, I prefer to have Kinos around the actors, because they're a lot cooler. We used truckloads of Wall-O-Lites and 4' by 4' Kinos on this film."

-Bill Pope, ASC

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