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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old May 1st, 2012, 12:11 PM   #1
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Revenge of the plastic skin!

Howdy, all. I know it's been brought up before, but I am still struggling with skin tones while shooting with a T2i and T3i.

Below, you will find two talking head videos, shot with largely the same gear and lighting setup. In the first one, the pretty young lady's skin looks very odd to me. The second video features an equally-gorgeous Asian girl, and her skin looks much better to my eyes.

I guess the question I have is, why do the skin tones in the first video seem strange? Is it more the fault of the camera and lighting setup? Or is it down to the skin of the young lady being filmed? Would appropriate video/film makeup help? I'm afraid I don't know anything about that area of production

Both were shot on a T3i and a Sigma 24-70mm lens. The lighting set up on the first video: The key is a Mickey Mole with a chimera soft-box. The fill is provided by a big reflector (gold shiny side). Backlight was an Arri 650 Fresnel, and the cool background lighting was provided by a big kino-flo with daylight bulbs. The lighting set up on the 2nd video is very similar, but it was only the key and background light used in the first video.

Password is "bob"- Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


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Old May 1st, 2012, 01:35 PM   #2
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

What I'm seeing...

In the first clip of the caucasian girl:
Her skin is very shiny. Flatter makeup does help with this.
At camera left, depending on how she turns her head, we see a blue shine from the background or background light on her cheek and jawline. This is very uncomplimentary.
She is lit quite flat, with just the suggestion of a shadow from her nose. Presumably from a soft fill that is almost equal in intensity to the key.
Nice backlight shine on her hair, but her shoulders are quite hot.
To eye, she is slightly overexposed, or perhaps, overlit.
Wider shot shows more of the ugly background, which is more in-focus. It is also lit from below, a very artificial look.

Second clip of the asian girl:
Lit with areas of shadow on her face - much more dimensionality. It looks more like a soft key, but could be key plus fill with the fill of much lower intensity than the first clip.
Face is not as shiny, by far.
There is no blue leakage onto her face.
She seems well exposed to slightly underexposed, a much better look from the camera.
Tighter shot is more intimate, less background is shown, background focus is softer.

Most of the differences I see are lighting, which is where I'd start.
I don't have much experience with makeup either, but understand that mattes and powder help.
Beware of over-lit and over-exposed; it's a mighty short step to unattractive video.
That's a pretty big ugly background element in the first clip, and with the lighting she's pretty flat to it.
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Old May 1st, 2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

I agree with what Seth points out.

The first girl is overexposed. The dSLRs don't do well with highlights on skin. You want to avoid anything over 80 IRE for sure. I would aim for a limit closer to 70-75 personally. Some matte powder would help with the highlights significantly.

The blue light looks good in the background but you have to keep it off her skin.

I would consider reducing the fill at least a stop. Give her face more definition.

Flag that hair light off her shoulders. That is WAY too much. Consider adding a bit of CTO gel to the hair light. It will stand out better against the blue background at a lower intensity.
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Old May 1st, 2012, 03:20 PM   #4
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

It must be the reflector that's doing it, I guess, but the first girl looks like she's lit from an on camera light. Ring light even. It's seemingly dead centre, so you get that funny effect where all the prominences of her face are pointing inwards almost (bottom of her cheeks, tip of her nose, top of her chin). I could be several things doing that actually. As others point out, that would mean the key and fill are roughly the same brightness as well as being a bit harsh.

Is the reflector reflecting the backlight? Hence the need for gold? If so, try using the key light instead and using the diffuse neutral side (if the shot will allow it). That way it'll be opposed and dimmer pretty much right away. Could be talking out of my posterior.
Otherwise, you makeup person should be able to handle a bit of shine removal (or the talent can usually handle it too).
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Old May 1st, 2012, 03:36 PM   #5
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

It was the shine that bothered me most about the first - and you can only do so much with the limited detail of a dslr.

Go to Target and stumble around the make-up section until some kind associate spots you and feels sorry for you. Ask nicely about where the powder is and pick out 2 or 3 shades from light to dark. Grab a soft powder brush, a few travel size kleenex and wet wipe packets and then find a nice little plastic bin it all fits in. $20 and youll be set for anything.

This certainly doesn't replace a makeup/hair person for those big important shoots, but I've found it to give me a dramatic increase in the quality of my video since I've stared using it. Many women do their makeup every day, and to extent far better than I could ever hope to achieve, however, sometimes it can wear thin, and you might get some shine. It doesn't take much to remedy this, and from my experience, most women (and men!) are more than happy to let you make them look good!

Find a kind spouse or co-worker for a few practice runs, and you'll be set. Hope this helps!
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 04:26 PM   #6
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

Above is what I saw.

Here's what I'd try in the same circumstances with the available lights:

White balance camera for the kino.
Use the kinoflo as a soft key, balanced daylight if those are the only bulbs for it.
Use a matte white relector minimally as fill, if needed.
Keep the Arri 650 fresnel as a back light. Let it go warm. Use a LOT less of it. Grids/wire screens are inexpensive. The 650 can also be lamped down. Full CTB gel loses a lot of light, corrects to daylight, and costs $7.
Use the mickey mole, with chimera, as a background light. Let it go warm. Background should not compete in luminance, should not be lit from below, don't need much here.

I'd much rather see a warm backlight and background than the cool colors...

Makeup, powder - yes!
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 03:27 AM   #7
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Re: Revenge of the plastic skin!

What I see is that there is some light that is hitting her face from below. There is a reason why scary faces are lit from below, it's unflattering. Is there a reflector that is bouncing light upwards onto her face? Especially on the right side. The reflector should be beside the talent, not below. It also seems when she turns her head she picks up more and less of this uplight, which serves to highlight it more. As far as her actually skin, there is a bit of shine, but not an amount that bothers me.
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