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View Full Version : Bad Astronomy in "Lonesome Dove"



Russ
2002-Jan-03, 09:56 PM
We watched a couple of installments of "Lonesome Dove" over the holidays and this jumped out at me for the first time after several watchings over the years.

Early in the first episode, Call, McCrae & the crew are going over to Mexico to steal horses. A setup shot shows the very new crescent Moon, just a sliver mind you, behind whispy clouds. The very next shot shows the crew riding their horses through bright Moonlight worthy only of a full Moon on a clear night. It stays that way for the rest of that night.

I haven't scanned the show for any more flubs but thought this one worthy of note in this forum.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Jan-04, 10:38 AM
And, of course, a thin crescent moon either soon sets, or is shortly followed by daybreak. Perhaps they were riding in dawn?

Russ
2002-Jan-04, 06:10 PM
On 2002-01-04 05:38, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
And, of course, a thin crescent moon either soon sets, or is shortly followed by daybreak. Perhaps they were riding in dawn?

I had not thought of that but now that you mention it, this happened early in the evening so the Moon should have set during the horse stealing. They were in bright Moonlight all night.

They didn't get back to the river until early the next morning, so it was BA for all of those scenes.

Anybody else seen Lonsome Dove? Notice any other BA in the show?

EckJerome
2002-Jan-04, 09:14 PM
On 2002-01-03 16:56, Russ wrote:
A setup shot shows the very new crescent Moon, just a sliver mind you, behind whispy clouds. The very next shot shows the crew riding their horses through bright Moonlight worthy only of a full Moon on a clear night. It stays that way for the rest of that night.


While it is certainly bad astronomy, movies and television shows shot in complete darkness are not always interesting.

Has the BA ever brought up this subject? Virtually all "night scenes" on film and video are lit up like a full moon. Presumably this is so we can actually see the action.

What I find a hoot is some of those old westerns, where night scenes were obviously filmed during the day and then darkened.

Eric

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Jan-04, 09:20 PM
Not just "old" westerns. I think that is a common technique. Wasn't there a trailer of Cast Away that showed a daylight scene that appeared in the movie as a nighttime scene?

Yep, found it at Cast Away goofs (http://us.imdb.com/Goofs?0162222) at the IMDB, under the first "revealing mistakes".

<font size=-1>[Added imdb.com info]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: GrapesOfWrath on 2002-01-04 16:24 ]</font>

Russ
2002-Jan-04, 09:43 PM
As I understand it there are several ways to shoot night scenes.
1) Actually film at night, with fast lenses.
2) Film at night with lighting that looks like regular night sky glow
3) Film during the day with filters that expose the film in such a way as to look like night.
4) Film during the day and process the film (called pulling X stops) so it looks like night.

The last two are usually pretty easy to detect as the actors have to squint a little in the daylight.

It's all interesting stuff.

Donnie B.
2002-Jan-05, 12:35 AM
And since most actors and film crews prefer to work days and sleep nights... most night scenes other than setup shots are filmed in daylight.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Jan-05, 04:12 AM
I think we have to grant them artistic license on this one. How many would watch a movie where all the "action" takes place in the dark. That would get old fast, no?

Still, it can cause confusion. In the recent version of Titanic (spoiler alert: the ship sank), the lifeboats do little to help the passengers floating in the water. Although that is probably true to life, it is not as callous as it seems--the actual night was moonless, and without ship lights, probably pitch dark. Perhaps the would-be rescuers just couldn't see?