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Old June 12th, 2003, 01:52 AM   #1
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Please look at my screenshots - Lighting Test

Hi guys. I'm shooting a short that has a scene in a confessional booth (some of you may remember by previous thread). I've done some lighting tests and I'd like for anyone to please take a look at the screenshots and tell me if you think they look realistic. The shots are of me and the director, posing as both characters (priest and confessor).

The effect I'm going for is dark and dramatic, so I tried to light part of their faces, keep part of their faces in shadow, and light a little bit of the background behind them to bring out depth. I don't want the audience to see much detail.

Please note that I am a total newbie to lighting. This is my first real attempt at lighting something. These are also raw screen grabs and haven't been tampered with or color corrected. It was shot with an XL1s, manual lens, frame mode, with Arri fresnels.

The problem I am facing right now is that I think they look OK so far on the computer monitor and through my viewfinder, but when viewed on an NTSC television, the light is pretty hot. Too hot I think. I'm viewing this on a $200 television monitor so it's not the best guage, but I'd just like to see what you guys think of these shots. Any advice on how to improve them would be helpful. Thanks guys.

Here is the link...

http://www.fusionarena.com/forumpost/lighting.htm
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Old June 12th, 2003, 02:05 AM   #2
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Brad,
Knowing nothing about this scene or the overall project, frames 1 and 6 are the best of the group to my eyes. They invoke the most instantaneous interest and draw my attention to the (presumed) subject immediately with no distractions.

Frame 2's highlighted border is too distracting and draws a visual metaphor of the subject being in a painting. The light hitting the wall also spills a bit far to the right and reduces the separation between the subject and the background.

Frame 4 seems too muddy and low-contrast to draw interest.

Frame 5 is ok but the screen pattern across the subject's face is just a bit strong.

Frame 7 reminds me of a slasher flick, I think principally because the subject's right eye and mouth are framed too closely by the screen's pattern.

My very subjective opinions, for what they're worth.

Nice work. Are those your new Arri's?
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Old June 12th, 2003, 02:17 AM   #3
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so wait, are you saying I look like a serial killer? ;-)

Much appreciated as always Ken. It really does help to get a second opinion. So far you're the only person who's seen these shots besides myself and the director. Thanks for the advice. I agree with everything you said. Interesting you mentioned one of the shots looks like a portrait. I didn't even notice that and now I can totally see it.

Yup, those are my new Arris. I love em!
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Old June 12th, 2003, 02:39 AM   #4
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Hi Brad,

I'd like to see something in between 1 and 2 as far as the frame border goes. Seeing the detail in the frame tells me right away that this is something like a confessional. If I see only the screen pattern...it looks like a prisoner visiting booth. I like number 5 because you're getting a more dramatic chiarosucuro effect...and personally I like the strong pattern on the face.
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Old June 12th, 2003, 03:34 AM   #5
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thanks for taking the time to look John. Good advise. Yea I was wondering too if this looks like a real booth and not just someone behind a screen. It's actually just a barbecue grill for a screen with stained wood paneling for the walls. We couldnt shoot in a real booth because of the space and lighting constraints. Plus these booths are hard to find nowadays. I agree at least some of the border needs to be shown so you get the feeling of the booth. Maybe I'll try lighting the bottom border as well, just not the whole thing.
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Old June 12th, 2003, 04:42 AM   #6
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Brad:

I like where you are going with this.

Keeping in mind that a confession booth is a pretty dark place, I think you could easily reduce your exposure overall. I would probably go about 1.5 stops darker than this. It may seem radical but I think the results would be beautiful and rich.

The other thing I would recommend is to examine your compositions a bit. You are apparently shooting widescreen, so I would encourage you to use that width creatively. The side angles in particular are the least interesting in that you have the confessor center-punched. Also I would recommend being either tighter or looser (probably tighter) on these shots as the head is approximately the same size in frame as in the frontal shots. When shifting perspectives like this, it's clean editorially to have different image sizes as well. I like the composition of 6 and 7 in this regard. Don't forget to have the priest look off camera to the right of frame (to his left) to keep the proper eyeline to the confessor (as established by the confessor looking to the left of frame to the priest).
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Old June 12th, 2003, 06:34 AM   #7
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Shot 5 is better than shot 4. It's better hot, but you probably could stand to scrim it down a bit. To my eye shot 5 profile matches shot 1. (which is the superior shot for head on)
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Old June 12th, 2003, 07:14 AM   #8
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You've got enough on lighting already...

I'd try increasing the subject to grill distance and grill to camera distance. Then zoom in. You end up with the same composition but you can show the grill a bit out of focus, so we see more of the subject and less of the grill...
Just a thought!
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Old June 12th, 2003, 11:05 AM   #9
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All great comments above.

You might play with over the shoulder shots, allowing the two characters to interact a little. These things are subtle but have a lot of impact. Of course I don't know what the scene is about, and that really dictates how one would set up the shots.

Also, you have the Priest looking in the wrong direction to the confessor. As you've staged it now, when you edit this scene, you'll have both characters facing the same direction. You've crossed the 180 (sight line) between the two characters.

But perhaps this was just a test and you already knew that.
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Old June 12th, 2003, 11:31 AM   #10
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Great advice everyone. I really appreciate it. Charles I agree, I think I need to rethink my framing on most of those shots, since I'm shooting widescreen. Good tip on shallow DOF Cosmin, I'll try that. Yea Justin the sightline is off on these shots. I'll have to readjust that. I do like your idea of using OTS shots. That will probably help the perpective of where these two are sitting - especially if we could see the confessor's shoulder while looking at the priest through the screen.

thanks again everyone for taking the time to help me here. You guys are all my official film school.
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Old June 12th, 2003, 08:43 PM   #11
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What about a dolly shot that pans as the camera moves from an angle looking at the front of the confession box thru the gate at the subject, to the other side of the gate peering inside of the box at the subject. Really slow and subtle that matches the dialouge
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Old June 12th, 2003, 10:49 PM   #12
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Hi John, that's a great idea. Unfortunatley the way we have the booth set up we can only film one angle at a time. The screen and the wall the screen is on is only one sided, so we just flip the screen wall around when we change characters. If I were to pan like you said then we would end up seeing the crappy side of the wall. If I were to redo it I would have built the entire booth. Oh well, the shoot is this weekend, I'll post some more screenshots when we have em.
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