Soft, Daylight Balanced High Key Lighting For Sitcom at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 4th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
Soft, Daylight Balanced High Key Lighting For Sitcom

Hello,

I'm working on a little indie sitcom set in a house. I'd like to sort-of flood the house with soft light that blends well with window light. I don't have any lighting fixtures yet and I'd have to travel far to get one, so i decided to ask you guys before getting one:

What's the best way to flood a house with soft, high-key, sitcom-type lighting for video?
- Professional soft-boxes with the usual powerful tungsten lamps?
- Many Daylight-balanced fluorescent lamps installed all over the walls?
- Daylight-balanced incandescent-lamps installed in a similar manner?

Why do I want something daylight-balanced and soft? Well, I noticed that indoor lighting in many Hollywood movies blends so well with natural light that one never even realizes that there's any lighting involved. I like that.

And I really want to know whether daylight-balanced incandescents will look better than daylight-balanced fluorescent lamps on video. Standard fluorescents look rather horrible even when properly white balanced.
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 03:50 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 204
By "daylight-balanced incandescent," do you mean those blue coated household bulbs? If so, don't do it.

I don't really see what the problem is with daylight-balanced flos. They're slightly more affordable than HMIs and they're inherently soft. Throw some diffusion over the fixtures and I think you could get the soft non-artificial effect you want.

Another thing you can do is get a bunch of really big bounce cards and keep them just off camera. This is probably going to be the cheapest way to do it, but you're going to lose some control as you will be depending HEAVILY on the sun. But it's an option if you've got a very low budget.

There's another option that will take some time to prepare but may save your wallet when it comes to getting lights. Gel the windows with some CTO. If you're working in the same space for the whole shoot, you do it once and then your set. Once this is done, you can use some good ol' tungsten sources (at full power since you won't need any CTB to match them) and shoot them through frames, softboxes or bounce them.

Then of course, there are HMIs. If you can afford them, these will also do the trick, and can be controlled in the same ways listed above for the tungsten fixtures.

One thing, just remember that whatever you use for the lighting, make sure your ratios are consistent. If you want things to all seem motivated by the sunlight, that window side should always be hotter than the fill side (though not too much since you want things kind of high key and flat).

Of course, whatever you do greatly depends on how you're shooting. A traditional sitcom 3-camera setup would require more fixtures (or much bigger ones) and a more complicated setup. You can get away with less in a single camera production because you're only dealing with one angle at a time.

Hope this helps.

~~Dave
Dave Dodds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
Thanks, Dave. What's wrong with blue-coated household bulbs? I feel incandescent bulbs may be much brighter and far cheaper.

The flos I've used seem to be only a little brighter than incandescents of similar wattage on video, once I white balance them. And I've read that daylight-balanced flo lights are even less bright than ordinary ones...
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 06:17 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
Second the idea of using gels on the windows - they used to do that all the time on Hollywood films.

I remember one story about how the characters had to walk out the door of a building and they built a structure that stuck out onto the sidewalk and used gels on it - must have been like a tent about 10 or 20 feet long.

And then switched to daylight film to continue the shots outside.

Not sure you'd get away with this given the relatively great depth of field of a camcorder compared to a 35mm or 70mm movie camera.

I used to read American Cinematographer when I was in college 50 years ago, and was always impressed with the tricks that they used in the major films.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 06:25 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 204
The blue coated bulbs don't hold their color very long and they're not that bright. They also don't have a very long life span. I've even heard that they're rendered inaffective within 8 hours. Also, they burn a lot hotter than regular incandescent bulbs. You are right about one thing, though. They will typically be cheaper, but not brighter.

What kind of flos are you talking about? As was recently confirmed by Richard of Cool Lights, the average output of a compact fluorescent (those self-ballasted bulbs that fit into regular sockets) is 3 times the output of a similar wattage of tungsten. The pro stuff, like Kino Flo, Lowel Caselite and Richard's products are a good 4 times the output. I carry around daylight balanced CFLs a lot, to swap in practicals and they are fantastic (not to mention, they give equivalent brightness for a lot less power - leaving enough amps left for other fixtures). For example (I looked this up at Bulbs.com, if you want to check around) and a 26w CFL puts out 1700 lumens of light. A 25W Incandescent puts out around 220.

All of that said, I don't think daylight CFLs or daylight-balanced incandescents are good ways to go. I mean, where are you going to put them? If you put them in existing fixtures (table, ceiling or otherwise), you're going to loose the effect of all natural light.

By the way, regarding my previous post, will it be a single or multi-camera shoot?

~~Dave
Dave Dodds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
The 'daylight' incandescents are out of the picture now for the reasons you've mentioned (plus, at 4800K, they are much warmer than daylight)

I've been experimenting with normal 36W CFLs for a while. After white-balancing, I find that I need 3-4 of them to illuminate a subject standing right in front of the lights sufficiently enough that the camera remains at 0db gain. Yet I need only a 60W incandescent light bulb to achieve the same effect. That's why I'm skeptical about the true brightness of fluorescents.

Having said that, the 3-4 fluorescent lamps are cooler than the one 60W incandescent lamp, and that's splendid. I don't mind buying more of them.

But there's another issue - the quality of the light. I don't know if a scene illuminated by say a 90 CRI 550K CFL lamp will look almost as good as it would if illuminated by daylight. How noticeable is the CRI?

Quote:
By the way, regarding my previous post, will it be a single or multi-camera shoot?
I'm lighting for multi-camera, so I don't have to move lights around between shots. So only the camera will have to be moved.

My intention is to temporarily tape 10-20 of these babies to the walls and ceilings of each room in the house we're using for the shoot. The sunlight from the windows will definitely be stronger than the lights I install, giving viewers the impression that the light is mostly coming from the windows. What do you think?
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 08:04 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 204
Your experience with needing 3 or 4 36watt CFLs to match one 60watt incandescent is odd. I've never experienced anything like that.

Isn't a CRI of 90 good? Talking about photometrics in such detail is beyond me, though. Perhaps Richard should field this part of the question.

I have a funny feeling you'll load up the wall with CFL's and still not get enough fill. I think you should strongly consider going a more "conventional" route, if the budget allows. If you can afford it and have access, rent some professional fluorescent fixtures with daylight tubes. Or even cheaper, really consider gelling the windows, especially if all of the action is taking place inside. If you CTO the windows, A - it will cut down the outside light so you won't need as much to fill for the flat look. And B - you can pick up a couple of small movie lights (250W - 500W) and bounce them or diffuse them heavily and you'll get your nice soft fill with very little effort.

Also, you're lighting for multi-camera but only shooting with one camera? Maybe I read that wrong, but that's what it seemed like. Why are you doing it this way? It will be a LOT easier to achieve the effect you want with a single camera if you light for each angle. Hell, you might even get away with just using natural light and fome core.


~~Dave
Dave Dodds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4th, 2007, 08:05 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Anything from 82 to 90 CRI is fine. The ones above 85 have the higher quality phosphor which contributes to the CRI being better but also lessens the lumen output somewhat. It's just the price to be paid as the green spike (coming from the mercury inside) is actually what makes these lamps more efficient. IMHO, you won't notice a difference in this range. We talked a bit about this recently in this posting:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=104106

As to why you may be seeing a difference between a regular 60w bulb and some CFL's, my guess is that it may be due to the fact that the CFL's are inherently soft and if you're starting with a totally dark room there is not a problem. You're 60w incandescent bulb is not a soft source but hard and therefore has more throw.

Thus, if there's real daylight streaming in through the window (another hard and powerful source), you have the same problem you have with any soft source--competition between them and the daylight. It's why you see so many pro shoots using high wattage daylight HMIs so they can overpower the daylight coming in through windows for those times they can't gel the windows. Otherwise, they block off the windows in one of many different ways. Then you will be amazed by how low wattage fixtures or bulbs can do a lot of work.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2007, 04:10 AM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
Don't forget the cheapest solution of all. You can use a mirror to bounce a ray of sunlight onto a reflector/diffuser placed on the camera side of the room. A mirror will match the daylight in your locale and varies in strength with the sun coming in the windows. The only significant drawback is that the mirror needs to be aimed to track the relative motion of the sun. If you get several daylight bulbs and a mirror/reflector, you will have choices that can work in various conditions without costing a fortune and blowing your circuit breakers.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2007, 05:16 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wurzburg, Germany
Posts: 316
Quote:
What's the best way to flood a house with soft, high-key, sitcom-type lighting for video?
- Professional soft-boxes with the usual powerful tungsten lamps?
- Many Daylight-balanced fluorescent lamps installed all over the walls?
- Daylight-balanced incandescent-lamps installed in a similar manner?
I'd say either your second option, many daylight-balanced fluorescent lamps installed all over the walls. Where these need to be as professional as possible (you don't need kinoflos, but a good cri would be nice)

OR something you didn't mention: HID ("HMI") lamps in soft boxes/bounced.

As far as I know most gaffers today would use fluorescents for a general soft fill inside a house. Nothing is smaller and produces less heat and at the same time offers soft yet powerful fill at daylight temperature. Unless you are in a studio setting, where you have lots of space to bounce or soften big HID units (which would probably be the case for any high key type sitcom you are probably thinking of)

P.S.: All the "daylight balanced" incandescent bulbs I know are just tungsten lamps with a bad 1/2 CTB-like color on the glass. And because the manufacturers care more about lighting intensity than color, these pseudo-ctb paints are usually so bad that any household fluorescent bulb with half-ass daylight color temperature is better than that...
Take a 30 cent incandescent bulb and wrap a Lee 1/2 CTB gel around it and it's a lot better!
Heiko Saele is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2007, 06:56 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Lewisburg PA
Posts: 752
This talk of putting gels over windows makes me wonder about circumstances I've run into on location. Not a few high-end residential window makers use various "low-e" coatings to block UV and infrared. I think some of these have a subtle but definite color cast in spite of claims that the coatings don't block light in the visible part of the spectrum.

Anyone think the effect could be great enough to change the effect of gels used for balancing?
Peter Wiley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2007, 09:39 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Pacifica, CA
Posts: 348
You could add some large rolls of ND gel across the windows, if possible wrapped from the outside. Cuts down on the amount of sunlight you have to compete with using your interior lights. Add some light frost/diffusion to soften the light, hide gel seams and also 'fuzz' the exterior view. The rolls used to cost about $150.00 US, but that was a few years ago. And properly handled, they can be re-used over and over. Depends on the size and nature of your windows.
Eric Lagerlof is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 25th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: West Africa
Posts: 255
I decided to go for the Cool Lights fixtures; I hope they are adequate.
I really wish I could see the framegrab of a human under fluorescent lighting.
Seun Osewa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 25th, 2007, 11:06 PM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Hi Seun,

Thanks for the business. You see stills, video and film all the time that were shot under fluorescent lighting and don't realize it. It's quite common now and in use all over the world in major productions. I think you'll find it hard to tell the difference in digital mediums like DV between tungsten and fluorescent.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26th, 2007, 08:55 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Denver/Vail Colorado
Posts: 254
amazon have a “professional studio light kit” that includes two four-lamp fixture with tripods and diffusers. If you factor out the cost of the daylight balanced bulbs the units come out around $40 each.
Peter Ralph is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:39 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network