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Finding a way around soft lighting problems


Using Space lights
Billy Williams Film-maker
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The space lights were developed by… well I think it was Ozzie Morris who first asked for that kind of soft lighting on Oliver, and a chap called… a wonderful electrician called Bill Chitty designed them and it was like a giant dustbin with five or six quartz bulbs shooting downwards and you had like a… a silk in a shape of a dustbin with silk underneath, so no hard light escaped. So you had rows and rows of these hanging space lights, which could give you a good exposure and also a very soft light, shadow-less light. But I didn't very often use those… you wouldn't normally use those in a smaller set because they'd be too overwhelming. They were best used when you had like a street scene to do or if you were trying to create a garden and you've got sort of soft daylight; they were wonderful for re-creating soft daylight, shadow-less. But they came a little bit after… after I'd done Billion Dollar Brain, but they were a wonderful development and I used them later on, on many occasions.

Billy Williams, London-born cinematographer Billy Williams gained his first two Oscar nominations for the acclaimed “Women in Love” and “On Golden Pond”. His third nomination, which was successful, was for the epic “Gandhi”. He was President of the British Society of Cinematographers, and was awarded the Camera Image Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Listeners: Neil Binney

Neil Binney began working as a 'clapper boy' in 1946 on spin-off films from steam radio such as "Dick Barton". Between 1948-1950 he served as a Royal Air Force photographer. From 1950 he was a Technicolor assistant technician working on films such as John Ford's "Mogambo" (photographed by Freddie Young), Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (Bob Burke), and Visconti's "Senso" (G.R. Aldo/B. Cracker). As a camera assistant he worked on "Mind Benders", "Billy Liar" and "This Sporting Life". Niel Binney became a camera operator in 1963 and worked with, among others, Jack Cardiff, Fred Tammes and Billy Williams. He was elected associate member of the British Society of Cinematographers in 1981 and his most recent credits include "A Fish Called Wanda" and "Fierce Creatures".

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008