Constantine Makris: Windows & Shafts of Light

From American Cinematographer, Legal Eagle by Eric Rudolph (October 1998)

Makris's basic lighting approach for day interiors is to bring the key light in through a window and then fill around the actors.

"If the window is approachable on a location, that's usually where we start. However, if the location is more than a few stories up and there is only one scene, we'll try to avoid putting the window in the frame, or else gel it with ND. But if I've got three scenes to do, we'll put up a Condor and light through the window. We routinely block and light windows that are 40 to 70 feet up! On our studio sets, shining the key through the window is very common. It's not a rule, but I think the window light suits the somber tone of our stories.

If there is something interesting on somebody's desk, in their wardrobe or on their face, I'll often hit it with a shaft of light. I have mixed feelings about doing that, because I feel as if I'm 'lighting' when I do it. So I'll stop doing it for a while, and then I'll see a strong shaft of light in real life and say 'Well, maybe it's okay. These tight, strong shafts of light happen in New York City, where you will get the ambient window light and then a small, oddly shaped shaft from a reflection off another building... We use Fresnels, HMI Pars and mirrors to make our shafts. We'll cut a Fresnel or Par with diffusion or a flag, and we have different sizes of mirrors which we use to make really tight beams of light. Sometimes, in the interrogation room, we'll hit a subject with a shaft from a mirror if they have an interesting face or a tattoo. We just try to make sure it doesn't look like a spotlight!"

- Constantine Makris, ASC

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