Emmanuel Lubezki: Artificial Sky

From American Cinematographer, Galloping Ghost by Stephen Pizzello (December 1999)

"One day we had a big meeting with everyone, and we talked about building everything at Leavesden Studios. When we went to England on the first scouting trip, they showed me the sets on the stages, and I thought they were joking-- all of the stage ceilings were really low, and the sets were less than 20' high. That created some big limitations, and as a result, I had to throw out my initial plans for the lighting. My first idea had been to employ huge sources, most of which would come from the back to create silhouettes, and to use very little fill light. However, the approach I eventually adopted worked out much better: I decided to create a huge toplight, which I had never done before. The stage ceilings were so low that we couldn't really hide lights in the greenbeds. Instead, we created a huge sense of sky for the exteriors shot in the stages. We installed over 500 space lights up in the ceiling, very close to each other, and then pumped smoke into the rafters to create a false sky and obscure the fixtures. That was, all of the light would seem to be coming from the sky, as it would in reality. Being low helped me because I was getting the stop I wanted, and it was easier to control the smoke."

- Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC

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