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Old January 16th, 2008, 01:53 PM   #1
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Rate my lighting... still attached

Just wanted some feedback from some lighting pros so that I can improve. The still below was taken from video I shot on a Canon A1 (HDV 1080i). Some critiques of my own: Too much light/harsh from the backlight on the left of face. I was using a brand new Arri D1 kit (1 650w, 1 300w, 1 150w)... just 3 lights... and no gels (I will be ordering some). What do you see that I could improve on... BTW the still is quite a bit darker/colors different than the actual video. Oh, I'll also take any suggestions on composition, framing, etc... Clicking the pic will make it larger. Thanks!
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:10 PM   #2
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I agree, you've got the hot spot on the forehead. And the subject a bit flat for my taste. I'd move the key in closer, with at least some Lee 205 to soften it and put some modeling on the guy. I like the background going darker, though as you say in the still it's a bit extreme. The XH A1 can handle the contrast range pretty well for a small camera, so you can get some more modeling on the subject if you want.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:26 PM   #3
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I'd also put a dimmer on the table lamp. Right now it's the brightest object in the frame and draws the eye there instead of to the subject.

Have fun!

Rob
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Lancaster View Post
Just wanted some feedback from some lighting pros so that I can improve. The still below was taken from video I shot on a Canon A1 (HDV 1080i). Some critiques of my own: Too much light/harsh from the backlight on the left of face. I was using a brand new Arri D1 kit (1 650w, 1 300w, 1 150w)... just 3 lights... and no gels (I will be ordering some). What do you see that I could improve on... BTW the still is quite a bit darker/colors different than the actual video. Oh, I'll also take any suggestions on composition, framing, etc... Clicking the pic will make it larger. Thanks!
Hi Scott:

Are you new to lighting? It doesn't look too bad but it could be improved easily with some tweaks.Wat did you do for fill? Here are some I would look at...

1. The subjects face is lit flatly and looks a bit harsh, there is no modeling. 20 year olds with perfect skin might support hard light but a subject of this age would be much more flattered with soft light. Angle - regardless of type of key source, moving your key more to the side would add some dimension and texture. Did you just use a bare light for the key? I would suggest adding a Chimera, if you don't have one already with the kit.

2. Overall BG scene is underexposed except for highlights. You need some more ambient light on the BG. Subject is too close to BG. Move subject as far away from BG as is possible to give some separation. Your spill from your key and fill will interfere with you painting the BG with any kind of lighting style.

3. Subject's shoulders are dead on to camera, once again, makes the lighting and subject look flat. I would have had the subject aim his knees camera left, presenting his body to the camera at a more oblique angle. Much more interesting looking and flattering to the shoulders and posture.

4. Put a dimmer on that practical and dim it way down, it will go orange, which in most interviews looks cozy and sets a nice mood. The lamp is the brightest thing in your frame. Unless the subject is describing the lamp and it's a very interesting and historical lamp, the lamp should not be the focus of the shot. Generally, your interview subject would usually (not always) be the brightest or one of the brightest subjects in the frame.

5. Key is probably coming from the wrong direction. It's not a hard and fast rule but usually you should have keyed this from camera left, not camera right. You can key the opposite side of frame as you have done here but it adds tension to the shot, which you may or may not want/need. By reading the subjects nose shadow, it looks keyed from camera right.

6. You got the catchlights in the eyes, good job.

7. Was talent wearing makeup? He should have been. Even if you cannot afford a MUA, you can slap some powder on, it's not rocket science. You should concentrate on powdering the "T" zone, which is the forehead, nose and below the eyes. With men, it's almost always the forehead that is too shiny. If he is wearing powder, he needed more, he is too shiny.

8. Watch your hair/rim light. Not sure if the blown highlight is from your hair/rim or that practical but that should have been flagged off or adjusted.

9. Beware of hair lights on subjects with white or gray hair. His hair is borderline blown out. We have all been nailed by this one. When your subject has white or gray hair, knock down your hair light a lot with some scrims and or diffusion. If your subject is bald or balding, just skip the hair light, it's a losing battle that I have fought many times. You will get blown out highlights on their head somewhere. Your subject here is not balding so you did good by using one, but you needed to knock down it's output and or re-locate it.

10. Overall, not bad for someone new to it. But you have a lot of details to narrow down and fine tune.

Tip - for older talent, you can minimize lines and wrinkles by flattening out the lighting by moving your key closer to the camera axis. Problem is, that looks boring as heck. What I like to do is keep your key around 45-60 degrees to subject, then spread out a 45" white flexfill on the ground in front of them, propped up a couple of feet toward them, away from the camera/interviewer. Hit that flexfill with a 300 watt fresnel for some soft, nice smooth under side fill. Adjust to taste using spot/flood and or scrims. Don't use too much of this, just a taste.

Make sure you use barndoors and place that light high, probably close to the talent so that the light is caught by the flexfill and put up onto the talent's face. This is a favorite glamor look trick that makes just about everyone look better, unless you are going for a weathered, older, craggy look. I have done a lot of film noir and western stuff where I want to see the wrinkles and lines on the subject but usually, people want to look younger and more glamorous.

All the best,

Dan
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the tips, they are great and I will certainly use them. This one was in a very tight office space, so I was limited on spacing. I had the 650 with Chimera soft box just left of camera, the 150w was camera right and the 350 was back to left. (I know... should have used 150w in back or scrimmed the 350...) I'm not new to video, but I am really wanting to improve in lighting. Totally agree on the lamp and his angle... dang! I knew better.
Some of your tips I knew and should have caught, but it was one of those hurried shoots AND in a tight space... aaaarrrgh. Also, what would be a good light to purchase for lighting the background... to use with a pattern? Do you make your own patterns/cookies (out of cinefoil?) or purchase them? Thanks again!! Very helpful.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 03:24 PM   #6
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If you present this on regional tv it is outstanding (at least where I work). Other than that (because I don't intend to stay there forever) I think the background is too dark (you can't almost see anything to the right of the person), the person is a little too dark, the edge light is a little harsh. What I really don't like is the edge light falling on to the the person's nose. That is, I think, a matter of opinion, but I really don't like it.
I'd like to emphasize that this interview would be very very well recognized in some environments, but you can always do better. Lighting is never finished, it it is always aborted ;)
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Old January 16th, 2008, 03:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Lancaster View Post
Thanks for all the tips, they are great and I will certainly use them. This one was in a very tight office space, so I was limited on spacing. I had the 650 with Chimera soft box just left of camera, the 150w was camera right and the 350 was back to left. (I know... should have used 150w in back or scrimmed the 350...) I'm not new to video, but I am really wanting to improve in lighting. Totally agree on the lamp and his angle... dang! I knew better.
Some of your tips I knew and should have caught, but it was one of those hurried shoots AND in a tight space... aaaarrrgh. Also, what would be a good light to purchase for lighting the background... to use with a pattern? Do you make your own patterns/cookies (out of cinefoil?) or purchase them? Thanks again!! Very helpful.
Hi Scott:

Based upon that information...

1. Move your 650 with the Chimera more to camera left and possibly closer to the talent. Does your Chimera have an eggcrate? If not, buy one. Also, don't be afraid to use the scrims to manipulate your contrast ratio between your key and fill and key and ambient better. A 40 degree egg crate will help you tame spill from your Chimera in smaller rooms like this.

2. I mistook the nose shadows for your key when in reality, they were from your 150 as fill. Here is a suggestion. Unless you are doing a really wider framing, use a flexfill on your boom mic stand as your fill instead of a light. The light from your key will hit and it will fill in the opposite side at a lower but pleasing contrast ratio, adjust angle and distance as necessary. Place the mic boom on the opposite side of of your key. Those harsh nose shadows are doing your talent no favors and it frees up that 150 to be used as your hair light, which then frees up your 300 watt fresnel to do the under fill trick I wrote about OR as a BG light.

3. In a small space like this, you probably could have covered that bookshelf with something small like a 300 watt fresnel but you would be safer probably buying another 650 watt fresnel to cover BGs for small setups. More horsepower and when you shoot it through a cuculoris, it does lose some output. Also a 650 is a softer (larger fresnel lens) than a 300 watt.

I use celo, wood and Cinefoil, just depends on what I brought to the shoot. You can also make one out of foamcore pretty easily but they are fragile for re-use/storage in comparison to the wood or celo.

Small rooms + not enough time = story of my life! ;-) I know, it's tough. I shot an interview of a big wig effects producer at Fox and had the exact same problem, a tiny office in one of the little old-school buildings on the Fox lot, nothing on the walls and about 15 minutes to setup the whole thing. No elevator in those old buildings so I had to lug all of the gear upstairs by myself in the Summer heat too, man I was panting on that one. Try doing a good lighting setup when you are stressed, heat exhausted and only have 15 minutes! You can only do what you can do. I tell clients now, "the more time you can give me to light it, the better it will look". Working alone, if I get 10 or 15 minutes, it's going to look like news, lousy. Need at least a 45 minutes to an hour to do something decent and in 90 minutes, I can give you a masterpiece. It's up to you.

Dan
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Old January 16th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #8
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adding a bit of yellow/orange gel to your hair light may make it feel more like it's from the practical as well.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 05:32 PM   #9
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When the term "modeling" is used, what is that referring to?
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Old January 16th, 2008, 05:52 PM   #10
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When the term "modeling" is used, what is that referring to?
It's the reason you spend all this money and time lighting a scene. In essence Scott, you are trying to make the eye see a three dimensional image on a 2 dimensional medium (the screen that the video or film will be ultimately seen on, or a canvas in the case of paintings). In the real world, the slight separation between our eyes gives our brain 3 dimensional clues about depth and relationship between objects commonly referred to as 'depth perception'.

Look at paintings to get an idea of what you are trying to do. A good painting will seem three dimensional as the artist uses light, shadow, and size differential to simulate the real world.

-gb-
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Old January 16th, 2008, 09:08 PM   #11
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It's the reason you spend all this money and time lighting a scene. In essence Scott, you are trying to make the eye see a three dimensional image on a 2 dimensional medium (the screen that the video or film will be ultimately seen on, or a canvas in the case of paintings). In the real world, the slight separation between our eyes gives our brain 3 dimensional clues about depth and relationship between objects commonly referred to as 'depth perception'.

Look at paintings to get an idea of what you are trying to do. A good painting will seem three dimensional as the artist uses light, shadow, and size differential to simulate the real world.

-gb-
Great explanation Greg. Also, when you hear about "modeling on the face", people are typically remarking that the lighting on the face has depth and dimension. You typically don't want the lighting on the face totally flat, you generally want one side of the face to be brighter than the other but not by a lot as to emulate window light.

Nose shadows should be short and subtle and you should skillfully fill in the dark areas under the eyes and chin and nose. The trick is to hide as many imperfections as possible without washing them out. Of course, this varies with style. I have shot interviews for two projects with one talent, one for film noir and one was for an animation documentary. I lit the film noir with high key, no fill and barely any rim, then switched out the wardrobe, added soft fill, took the key level down a little and tweaked the hair light to get a glow around the talent's hair.

Same talent, same room, two different projects, two totally different looks.

Good luck,

Dan
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