In the Dark

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The Sun does not rise in this series until the Season 3 Finale. So, naturally, we will have some lighting challenges throughout the first 3 Seasons of the show. Season 2 will have the Two Trees for all the Valinor scenes, but the Trees are killed in the end of the 2nd Season.

So Season 3 is limited to starlight and firelight and lamplight for pretty much its entirety. The entire season is set 'at night' with no moonlight.

Obviously, nighttime and dark on a movie set are rather relative terms - that tends to just mean everything has a bit of a blue cast to it. But I do think it is a challenge to get through an entire Season with no Treelight, Lamplight or Moonlight, let alone Sunlight.

Here are a bunch of scenes from the first Season of Supernatural that were meant to take place at night/in the dark. Since the premise of their show is essentially hunting ghosts, they have a lot of night shoots. But of course they also have moonlight and flashlights and streetlamps to help with the ambient lighting, and the majority of the episodes still take place in daylight.
The same show also makes use of lighting to designate scenes that take place in the realm of Purgatory. Purgatory is, apparently, rather sepia-toned.

The surprisingly brightly lit Shelob's lair, which does not seem any darker than the Stairs of Cirith Ungol outside:

We can definitely cheat. Just light the scene off camera, and not specify where the light is coming from. But I think we want the audience to feel that it is dark, and it is night, and that outside the reach of the torchlight, the world is a dark and scary place.

At least we can still use rain and ice to reflect whatever light sources we do have in many scenes (like this example from Road to Perdition):
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I definitely remember thinking of Henneth Annun when I first saw that scene!


This is yet another example of 'where is the light coming from?' on film. The torches light things up nicely, but that cave is a lot brighter than you'd expect if all that is lighting the scene with dialogue is moonlight through a wall of water!

Cheating is always allowed. But if you can craft a scene without cheating (much) it can make for some pretty impressive cinematography.


I also imagine the film Revenant would be good for inspiration with snow scenes and what not.
 
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I've been wondering about the round earth theory with respect to the awakening of Men: if they awakened with the Sun and the Moon, is it possible that they dreamed everything before, or that other factors come to bear on the reality besides what we are told in the Silmarillion? could an adaptation reflect that possibility somehow? like the dreams of Elves, the dreams of Men may not be entirely fantasy, but may incorporate other kinds of truths than merely physical ones... those clues could be left anywhere, maybe even after the rising of the Sun and the Moon, but as long as we haven't got around to that yet, it could be something to consider.

something strange, I think I've seen a couple references now that indicate the stars move in the opposite direction from the Sun, which isn't normally the case... from rise until set, they ought to move from east to west, for the same reason the Sun does. does anyone know anything more about this? like that I have those references wrong, hopefully? stars would be the thing that mark the passage of time, at any rate - both of the day, and of the year.

I'm sure the stars could be shown more brightly than we're accustomed to seeing them (those of us who live in the city, anyway), being that they're the only thing to see up there... the way they might look from a tall mountaintop, or outer space, maybe - more stars than you can count. but as far as lighting goes, rather than making things look dark, we might consider playing up the light of the stars a bit, using shades of blue or teal, white or gold even - maybe tinged a bit to reflect the hour, or the season? thoughts?

the night scenes of Avatar might make for a really good example of a world before Sun or Moon, both in terms of lighting, and early types of bioluminescent flora and fauna. as common or even essential as bioluminescence is in the deep, where darkness is permanent, it's common enough on the surface too, even considering the abundance of celestial light: how much more common would it be without? surely the Trees weren't the only thing giving off their own light in those "days". remember that the Lamps were filled with naturally-occurring light gathered from all over Arda... a lot of that light probably would have been incorporated into the physiology of many creatures, or perhaps even harvested by them, and there would have been quite a few of those creatures left in the world for a while still to come, even if their bioluminescence, or the creatures themselves, eventually faded. assuming that was all literal of course, but even if it wasn't, the presence of things that could lend themselves to that interpretation could also lend themselves to another...

I almost got drawn into a ramble here, but the light of the stars should probably be brighter than normal, is the gist of what I meant to say. like something between full moon and twilight, maybe? it would be cool to see light everywhere, to compensate for the absence of the Sun and the Moon - even if it's only the world as seen through the eyes of Elves.
 
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I'm having trouble finding those references again, if anyone else happens to spot what I was referring to? I'll post again when I find it... I feel like I might be delirious
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I definitely remember thinking of Henneth Annun when I first saw that scene!


This is yet another example of 'where is the light coming from?' on film. The torches light things up nicely, but that cave is a lot brighter than you'd expect if all that is lighting the scene with dialogue is moonlight through a wall of water!

Cheating is always allowed. But if you can craft a scene without cheating (much) it can make for some pretty impressive cinematography.


I also imagine the film Revenant would be good for inspiration with snow scenes and what not.
I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the "I will find you" part of the scene, where there's no torches.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, I agree that we almost definitely will be allowing the stars to light up a scene as if there were a full moon. Just...because. Filming is boring when everything is too dark to see!

I have certainly seen night skies far from civilization, and the stars are brilliantly bright - you can see so many of them, and the Milky Way is a band across the sky. The best night skies are when you're surrounded by dark water on all sides, and when the air is cold and clear and dry. Where I grew up was rural enough to see the Milky Way - a little valley of a hundred acres of cornfields in a small town. And I've seen the night sky at the end of Cape Cod and the bottom of Zion Canyon. But. The reason you can see the stars shining so brightly is because it is SO DARK on the ground. Can't-see-a-few-feet-in-front-of-you dark. A bit scary to wander around in that much darkness without a flashlight. And even worse if you're in the woods, as they are even darker.

So, yes, let's do a lot of starlight-that-looks-like-moonlight scenes, and have torches and lanterns for the rest, and just make do. Because there is no way we can *actually* show it as dark as it should be, so why not just have really bright galaxies of stars lighting up the sky?

As for the movement of stars...with no round earth, the stars should be fixed in place, not moving at all. Or, I mean, who knows what would happen with stars and a flat earth, because that's kinda impossible.

I'm not sure if this is what you're thinking of, but the first time the sun and moon rise, they rise in the West, because they are coming from Valinor. Obviously, they eventually settle on an east-to-west pathway across the sky.
 
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As for the movement of stars...with no round earth, the stars should be fixed in place, not moving at all. Or, I mean, who knows what would happen with stars and a flat earth, because that's kinda impossible.

I'm not sure if this is what you're thinking of, but the first time the sun and moon rise, they rise in the West, because they are coming from Valinor. Obviously, they eventually settle on an east-to-west pathway across the sky.
if the stars don't move, there's absolutely no way of telling time...

I was sure that I read recently, both in the book and somewhere online, that the stars moved from west to east while the sun and moon moved east to west. still trying to find where that was, but this is not the way it should be

the stars move east to west for the same reason the sun, moon and planets do, because of the west to east, counterclockwise rotation of the earth (north up).

if you factor out earth's rotation, or rather make it heliosynchronized, the stars still move east to west relative to the sun, because of the counterclockwise revolution of the earth around the sun, while the sun migrates between north and south due to the earth's tilt, but otherwise stays in place.

the only sense in which the stars move west to east is over the course of years, due to axial precession - the slow wobble of the earth's tilt (like the wobble of a spinning top). every year, the stars move slightly to the east, while our calendar adds an extra day every fourth year (the leap year), setting them back almost to where they started, but not quite. it takes almost 25,800 years for them to make a full circle.

unless the description is a mistake, a random fictional device, or a figment of my imagination, it could seemingly only be referring to incredibly long spans of time, or some former reality yet to be reconciled (which is how I'm tempted to interpret it, but I need more details).

as for the account of the first rising, I'm not sure at the moment how detailed it is
 
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Melkor's assault on Arien directly parallels the story of Phaethon though, which is interesting

this world has built-in cataclysms...
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I wondered if the Na'vi weren't also capable of seeing things that humans couldn't, just from how spectacular the night scenes were.

what are thoughts on bioluminescence?
I do like this 'elves can see better in the dark' excuse for lighting up scenes that (should) appear nearly pitch black. :)

Bioluminescence is beautiful and ethereal and unearthly and really cool. I would love to use it!

I have seen glowworms in Great Smokey Mountains national park (which might be one of my experiences with hiking in woods at night), and of course deep sea creatures use it in their darkened world. Oh, and then there's the glowing tides caused by bioluminescent plankton....


And New Zealand's glowworm caves:
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I think the stars themselves could have been brighter, when the world was young and the air was clearer and purer ... or some similar excuse. This idea is at least hinted at in the Unfinished Tales story of the Elessar.

Also, Calaquendi themselves shine faintly in the dark. They aren't lanterns, but they add a little shimmer to any scene they're in.

When the Moon rises, it will be whiter and brighter than the real moon, with no dark regions.


I think the stars did move, though. Varda set the Sickle to "swing" in the sky as a warning to Morgoth, and she also arranged an awful lot of constellations that wouldn't be visible from the underside of Arda, if they never moved. She could have done it for fun, or for practice, but that seems silly*. I don't think the Valar engage in major demiurgic makings needlessly.

That isn't to say the sidereal day was originally the same length as a solar day -- they might not have become nearly-equal until the Change of the World.


*
"Aule," Varda began, "Why has thou made the Earth rotate?"
"To allow all of Arda to see all thy works, of course."
"No, no," the Kindler shook her head" I don't want anyone looking at my early constellations. I... I kind of hate the way they look now."
 
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