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Old January 1st, 2009, 12:57 PM   #1
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Advice for lighting a small room?

I am brand new to DV. I just bought a Canon HG20 and am looking to record myself playing guitar for an instructional video. The room is 12x12 with 9' ceiling. Since I will be recording for long stretches of time, I don't want overpowering lights that will noticeably raise the room temp. Anyway, I was hoping someone could recommend some products suitable for my project.

thanks,

brian
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Old January 1st, 2009, 01:28 PM   #2
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Should be pretty simple. What's your budget? Fluorescent is going to get it done but now it's just a matter of the right one for your budget and needs.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 02:51 PM   #3
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My budget is around $450 ish. Not sure if I really need 3 lights. What do you think? Is the lit from behind look really that critical? I mean I do want decent results, but just trying to figure out minimal setup to get good results.

thanks,

brian
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:21 PM   #4
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You might start with a fluorescent softbox, like the one from coollights.biz that uses a single big fluorescent bulb, or one of the multi-bulb units from skaeser.com. I have one of the latter with six 85 watt daylight bulbs. A bit of a pain to set up, but if you don't have to tear it down and move a lot, it's nice. An even, broad soft light. Put it at about a 3/4 angle and if you need fill on the other side, try propping up a piece of 4x8' white foamcore (about 20 bucks from an art supply house), or anything white. Keep it simple at first and see what you're getting. Then spend more money if necessary.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Brian Huether View Post
Is the lit from behind look really that critical?
In my opinion, the separation from the background that back or "rim" lighting gives you is more important than using a fixture for fill. If you only have two lights, use one for key, a bounce card (such as the previously mentioned foamcore) and a smaller wattage open face (even one of those silver clamp lights from the hardware store if budget requires it) for backlight.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 04:26 PM   #6
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Ok, this is starting to sound doable. I want to make sure I am understanding. Here is a diagram of my room and how I envision things being placed:

http://www.guitar-dreams.com/misc/video.jpg

Is that about right? (Just hit Save As if that link doesn't work)

Any recommendations on the small wattage open face (i.e. product from particular website or ebay)? About how many watts? For the key, sounds like fluorescent softbox is the way to go - what wattage should I get for that?

thanks a ton,

brian
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Old January 1st, 2009, 05:51 PM   #7
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I'd have to strongly suggest some sort of back light. Here's one suggestion that could help separate you from your background. Let's say you're going to shoot with dark(or unlit)surroundings. Try taking a small light of some sort, and place it under the chair you'll be sitting in. Then take a piece of cardboard and cut holes or shapes into it. Any pattern will do, as long as it looks good and allows some light to pass through. Then find a way to set it up in front of the light(not too close otherwise it will start to singe), experimenting with distance from the light itself. You will find that this projects a pattern onto the wall behind where you are sitting, and some of that should bounce back to light you as well. You would still use your key and fill light(or bounce the light off of a white sheet or piece of bristol board), but it makes for a great effect. You can also try using coloured gels attached to the cardboard(not the light or you'll melt it!) to change the effect.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:18 PM   #8
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You can get away with almost any kind of inexpensive directional light unit if you bounce if off something and make it indirectional or softly directional...amateur portrait lights (think Smith-Victor), work lights from Home Depot with 3200K replacement lamps, cheap floodlights...if you bounce them off umbrellas, foam core, the ceiling (assuming it's white), etc.

If the light is soft, directional and not colored by bouncing off an off-color reflector (not red velvet walls, for example!) --AND if softer but directional light is appropriate for your piece...you can get off cheap. Where lights get expensive is where you need direct light and then you need fixtures that give you the quality you need -- fresnels, softboxes, whatever. Thumbs up on the backlight, however. It gives separation and third-dimension to the image. If you want to buy a ready-assembled kit, look at the Lowell kits that include a Rifa (softbox, comes in various sizes) and a Pro-Light (small quasi-fresnel). You can use the Rifa direct or bounced, and the Pro-light give a good back light, accent light, or you can bounce it off a small umbrella for fill. We do a lot of interview stuff with just these two lights in our work, and most of our folks find the two-light kit adequate for most of what we do. / Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:42 PM   #9
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When you talk about bouncing, do you mean use a directional light as the key (in my case I am leaning toasrds fluorescent) and then accomplish the fill by bouncing?

Also, I am trying to figure out how to do the back lighting. I will be sitting in front of a guitar amp which in turn is in front of a wall. The guitar amp is taller than me when I am sitting. How high above my head should the backlight be? If it is behind me at an angle would that be odd?

thanks!

brian
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 03:46 PM   #10
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Disclaimer: I do news and feature interviews for a news site, so natural looking light --as opposed to theatrical or dramatic light, which you might want ---are what I'm usually after.
I often use single broad source -- sometimes use my Rifa66 direct for more contrast, but often take the front diffuser off and bounce it off light-colored walls and ceilings, or bounce a Lowell v-light the same way, to make the room lighting look as natural as possible.

For studio interviews I use a large single soft source --- softbox, umbrella, whatever, between 45 degrees and 90 degrees to the subject, with a backlight that is what the portrait photograpers call a "kicker"---to the rear, above the subject and off to one side so there is a highlight drawn in the hair and down the back side of the face. It is usually about half again brighter than the key light. Usually, there is no fill when using very broad or bounced sources, because none is needed, and because it would tend to flatten the light ratios to the point that the sense of shape or 3-dimensionality is lost.

Resist the urge to over-light. This is a problem with direct lighting, because you get highlights and shadows that have to be managed and that call more attention to the lighting than the subject. You got to have key light then fill light to modify the key light and on and on..... The advantage to what I'm saying here is: natural looking light, easy to reproduce technically because it seldom gets out of the dynamic range of your camera, quick and simple to set up and flexible if the subject moves around. Hope this is some help, my two cents, I'm sure there are as many approaches as there are videographers...B Vaughan
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 05:00 PM   #11
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Actually, I am not after a theatrical look so I am very interested in your approach. Would I get similar results using a fluorescent softbox?

I am still a little confused about the bouncing geometry. Is your key light pointed at the subject and in addition you have reflectors placed or do you sometimes not point the key at the subject and instead point at a reflector which then bounces on the subject to act as key? For some reason I thought what you were getting at before was that the key points at the subject and then a reflector at the same time picks up light from the key and acts as a fill.

I really appreciate your patience. I feel like I am pretty damn close to understanding exactly what you are envisioning.

thanks,

brian
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 05:28 PM   #12
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Light provides luminance based on the distance it's travelled (the photons emitted spread out like a shotgun blast and fewer of them hit the subject the farther away their point of emission is from the destination [the subject + the distance to the lens])

Every non-darkening reflection (white for the purposes of this conversation) simply increases the distance from source to lens. It also becomes the new "light emission source" as far as the camera lens is concerned.

The "Inverse Square Law" states that as the distance from source to destination doubles, the luminance provided quarters... inversely, if you halve the distance, the illumination quadruples.

Using a single light source knowing these pieces of data allows you to point your key light at any reflective surface to get it to your subject (the angle at which the light hits the surface is the same as the angle at which it will leave the surface) giving a softer light as the bounce surface now becomes the new light emission source... (Larger light sources in relation to the subject gives softer light on the subject - small light sources in relation...i.e. the sun and moon...give hard shadows to the light).

By catching the first light on a wall as bounce, you can bounce directly at the subject creating a Key... you can then bounce that light spilling around your subject back at the opposite side off the subject to act as fill... since the light has travelled farther, it will be less intense. I've seen tutorials online that have you start with the hair light up and behind, bounce that for key with a reflector (less diffusion of the light) and bounce with a white card (more diffusion of the light - so less leight hitting subject) to fill. This would give a single light source, 3 point lighting scheme.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 08:55 PM   #13
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Ok, so the key is being accomplished via an angled bounce as well as the fill, both using a separate reflector. If I use a key light softbox would that weaken the light enough so that pointing the key right at the subject would be a good approach?

I have searched for online tutorials but haven't found good ones dealing with bouncing methods. If you could point me the tutorial you refer to that would be great.

thanks,

brian
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Ratelle View Post
I'd have to strongly suggest some sort of back light.

====

You will find that this projects a pattern onto the wall behind where you are sitting, and some of that should bounce back to light you as well
Matt, what you are describing here is a backGROUND light and should be referred to as one instead of as a back light (also known as a hairlight) which projects onto the back of the subject for foreground to background separation. And the pattern etched device, for those that care, is called a cukaloris or "cookie".
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:12 AM   #15
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[QUOTE=Brian Huether;987912If I use a key light softbox would that weaken the light enough so that pointing the key right at the subject would be a good approach?[/QUOTE]

Softboxes are to be used CLOSE to the subject and directly. Don't use a softbox intentionally to bounce.
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