Interview w/Black Background - How? at

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Old March 14th, 2007, 10:44 AM   #1
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Interview w/Black Background - How?


Quick question. I noticed a show the other night on National Geographic, during the onscreen interviews the background was a dark, rich black.

WHats the best way to do this? How do they do it?

Using a green/blue screen and than key in the black?

Or use a Black velvet background?

Mike A.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:02 AM   #2
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Shoot in a dark room. I do this all the time. Light the subject (and only the subject) properly and expose properly and the background will be a flat black.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:10 AM   #3
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I always had my best results with ANY kind of background in the portrait studio if I had 6 feet of separation between my subject and background. That left me enough room to light my subject almost anyway I wanted, using either large barndoors or gobo's to block spill light from the mainlight from affecting the background. With softbox mainlight you have to insure you are not using so much light on the subject that the lighting falloff from the softbox still leaves enough light on the background to effectively light it too much. Lower lighting intensity and close and tight working distance helps with adequate control.

Then I had total freedom to light (or not light) the background anyway I wanted for specific background effect.

Using black paper or black velvet will not give a crisp rich deep black if you do not or cannot prevent your other lights from reaching the background with enough intensity to light the surface with highlights.

One other consideration with trying to duplicate what you saw is to use very effective accent and separation hightlight lighting to give your subject a 3 dimensional look that really makes them stand out from your black background. But again you need that 6 feet of space between the subject and background to make it all work well.

Dean Collins once demonstrated that you could cause a white background to photograph as black by totally not lighting it. And he demonstrated how a black background could be photographed as extremely light with enough light on it. I used to use black paper and a background light with colored gels to get a super deep rich colored highlight area around the head and shoulders in some styles of portrait.

Hope this helps.

Bruce Foreman
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Old March 14th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #4
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Bruce's suggestions are excellent. Make sure you consider the subject's skin, hair, and clothing color, too. Wardrobe choices that complement your background will help to bring out your subject more and emphasize the "richness" of the black. Nothing too bright that will take away the focus from the subject's face, and nothing too dark that will make the subject look like a floating head.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 03:31 AM   #5
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We usually use a chroma key for this (blue or green screen) as you suggested. Then you can light the subject from practically any angle you want and key it out to a perfect black while still maintainging your subject lighting.
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