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Old December 17th, 2010, 01:18 PM   #1
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ND filters for the background...

Looking for a way of darkening the background to keep natural light on the foreground in situations where I have to hand carry everything. Backpack, tripod bag, and something-to-wear bag.

Imagine the situation: you're doing a quick voxpop or mini-interview. Inside is dull as dishwater, outside is looking interesting, but quite frankly, the sunlight is so bright, and the view so skewed, your interviewee is an inky blob against a bright background. So you bounce the sun back into the interviewee, but that makes for an uncomfortable subject looking all squinty.

If I remember correctly, you can get netting that you can string between two stands (lets say a couple of lamp stands and a mic boom pole in an emergency.

Having checked, California Sunbounce has something, but the site doesn't seem to shout about it other than in connection with their light-proof tent.

All I want is a bolt of sheer cloth that I can string up behind an interviewee so the ultra bright background/surroundings (think snow, sand) doesn't burn out and I don't dazzle them with shiny reflectors.

Anyone worked with this stuff?
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Old December 17th, 2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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Vist your local fabric store.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 03:33 PM   #3
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I occasionally watch the local TV weather guys do their thing here, with Sydney harbour as background.

On bright days, a junior holds up a net in a small frame, I suppose you'd call it a scrim, to block the sun from the presenter .. just out of frame.

Junior stands on a Pelican case without a care in the world.

Cheers.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 05:40 AM   #4
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Matt -- would you have any assistance or just be you shooting it with the talent?
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Old December 18th, 2010, 06:20 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback, folks!

There would be me and a producer, pretty far off the beaten track. It's got to be self supporting.

I'm somewhat tickled by the idea of just finding the right sort of haberdashery shop, then finding a way of knocking up a framework using two lighting stands and a boom pole that can hide in the tripod bag.

It will be an EX1 on the shoot, so thinking about moire - and the further back the scrim goes to avoid it, the bigger it has to get.

Quite frankly, the other crazy alternative may be to bring a chromakey pop-up and film the background separately. But dirt/dust, wind, mud, snow - nah....
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Old December 18th, 2010, 09:09 AM   #6
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Except that it will crackle, rattle and roll loudly in any wind, be reflective in the wrong places unless really strapped tight and become injured if folded up instead of being rolled, will eventually scratch and become grubby, a large piece of Lee ND6 lighting gel sheet behind the talent might do the job for you.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #7
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"Except that it will crackle, rattle and roll loudly in any wind, be reflective in the wrong places unless really strapped tight and become injured if folded up instead of being rolled, will eventually scratch and become grubby...."

LOL, Sounds like a glowing endorsement to me!
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Old December 19th, 2010, 03:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss View Post
Thanks for the feedback, folks!

There would be me and a producer, pretty far off the beaten track. It's got to be self supporting.

I'm somewhat tickled by the idea of just finding the right sort of haberdashery shop, then finding a way of knocking up a framework using two lighting stands and a boom pole that can hide in the tripod bag.

It will be an EX1 on the shoot, so thinking about moire - and the further back the scrim goes to avoid it, the bigger it has to get.

Quite frankly, the other crazy alternative may be to bring a chromakey pop-up and film the background separately. But dirt/dust, wind, mud, snow - nah....
Actually not quite as crazy as you might think, but in a differnt way - how about shooting a double segment, one with just the background, properly exposed, then the segment with the talent - I'm presuming you're on tripod, and if you're in the wild, might not have a lot of activity in the background? I'm thinking you could re-combine in post with a bit of tweaking - think "HDR" (high dynamic range) - I'm not sure exactly how you do it, but have been seeing it done, so might be worth considering... Heck, my cheap Sony P&S cameras do it automatically for stills...
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Old December 19th, 2010, 04:44 PM   #9
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I'm a solo shooter most of the time, so no extra hands to hold reflectors or rig netting if I'm outdoors, and no lights. My priority is always proper exposure/lighting of subject first, then worry about background. I've experimented with the black netting you're talking about and yes it does work but the rigging problems and time involved to do it right have discouraged me from using it. Especially when you throw wind into the equation. Always the wind to mess things up.
If I have limited options on a sunny day with bright backgrounds, there's not much I can control. So all I can do is set the person up so that the sun is in the same spot/angle as a keylight would be indoors. Then I add a reflector if possible, or use a translucent lite-disc to reduce harshness of the sun. I think the best thing you can do is just use natural light as best you can to get a good exposure on the face, then back the camera off to get a soft background. That makes a bright background less distracting. I find I can usually scout around and find something that's not too bad for background.
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