Knock it Down

A key element of cinematography is understanding how the image will appear in the final cut. To achieve the desired look, gaffers, directors of photography, and cinematographers will sometimes use unusual and innovative means to render the shot as needed.

Some Highlights

One such method is to ‘knock it down’: to make something appear dimmer or less new than it is. In lighting, this can involve applying various materials to lights, windows, and bounce curtains (the reflective surfaces used to distribute light in a shot). Hairsprays such as Streaks ‘n’ Tips, an inexpensive spray which leaves a layer of dull colour, can be used on hot bulbs to create both the tone and intensity of the light desired for a shot, for example, to backlight liquid. Spraying such substances, or otherwise obscuring glass or positioning it counterintuitively, can help to knock it down, causing the set to appear odd in person, but creating the perfect light for the finished product.

Streaks ‘N Tips Temporary Color Highlight Spray

For example, in the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, a colourist was needed in the post-production stage to knock down the lighting used in the New York Subway scenes in order to make it look more like the diffused blue-green sodium vapour light one can see on trains in tunnels.

The phrase can also mean, in a similar vein, to dull anything from the colour of an actor’s hair to taking the sheen off a reflective surface such as a car bonnet, often by using the aforementioned product.
Applying Streaks ‘n’ Tips to hot lighting

Applying Streaks ‘n’ Tips to hot lighting

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