Lighting a film exactly the way you want it is incredibly difficult, even with digital technology. Shortcomings are inevitable. Fortunately, there are powerful digital tools that can help remedy certain lighting issues.
My color correctionist, Gavin Fisher, works on a system called DaVinci Resolve. The sheer breadth of what he is able to do with it is stunning.
For instance, we intentionally shot most of Girlfriend 19 with the intent of desaturating and darkening the image during post-production. My directorial aim is to create a drab, lifeless place within which the main character dwells. Take a look at the first two images below, taken from Gavin’s DaVinci screen. The first is what the camera captured, and the second is how we manipulated it.
As you can see, the second image is highly desaturated and slightly darker. However, a bit more was needed aesthetically: Gavin suggested “adding light” on the left side of the bed. He did just that using the DaVinci system as pictured below.
With the concentric ovals gone, you can clearly see the lightness added on the left side of the bed, which looks like natural window light coming in from the windows that exist off-screen left.
Gavin and I joked about what it would entail to create this light on the bed during production. Basically, it would cost hundreds of dollars. First, because we were shooting during the day, we would need a huge daylight called an HMI. Then we would need a generator to power it. And because of that, we would need to pay a fire marshal hourly to monitor our use of such equipment.
A giant mirror reflecting sunlight through the windows is also an option, but I don’t even want to consider how difficult and dangerous it would be to secure such a mirror!
In other words, for no added cost and in literally 45-seconds, Gavin was able to create “light” on the bed. Amazing!