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Old November 27th, 2008, 10:33 AM   #1
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Projector Back-Lighting

I'd love to hear some thoughts on my attempt at using a projector for back lighting. IMO, the blue looks fine, but the talent doesn't pop. I used two soft boxes to her right, appx 6500K w/ a CTO to bring it to 5500K, a reflector, and a boom with a hair light (a sony camera light with a diffuser). I could do some work in post, but the natural image should look better to begin with. Thoughts?

http://legacyhdv.com/dental.htm
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Old November 27th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #2
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Dana,

Freeze a frame anywhere and study the shadow cast by her nose.

Your described "double softbox on one side" technique (something I've never actually heard of before) has created a pretty ghastly nose shadow that makes the entire stage right side of her face look like it's caved in. (Note how the nose shadow extends right into her eye socket!) Very unflattering.

That's the first issue that jumped out at me. Others can comment on other details, but that's a place to start.

Also, (and this is a personal note) Please, Please, PLEASE think twice before you send out a video that commits the ultimate mistake which is the root cause of why the planet HATES PowerPoint. NEVER, EVER READ CAPTIONS TO YOUR AUDIENCE WORD FOR WORD. Please. Pretty Please. At least unless you believe that the message your audience need to receive is "Hi, I'm the presenter and I believe you, my audience, is so abysmally stupid that I must patiently read it to you word for word ."

But maybe that's just me.

Take care and I hope you're enjoying our rare Valley rain as much as we are in North Scottsdale!

Happy turkey day, all!
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Old November 27th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #3
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Just to add a little to the above. Your shot doesn't have much if any specular highlight in the talents eyes, this makes the talent seem dull, lifeless, etc . . .

Also, her hair looks flat and could use a colored kicker to give it some punch.

Personally, I light women who face directly at the camera rather evenly. That is unless the subject matter is dramatic.

Why two keys? For quantity?
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Old November 27th, 2008, 03:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dana Salsbury View Post
I'd love to hear some thoughts on my attempt at using a projector for back lighting. IMO, the blue looks fine, but the talent doesn't pop. I used two soft boxes to her right, appx 6500K w/ a CTO to bring it to 5500K, a reflector, and a boom with a hair light (a sony camera light with a diffuser). I could do some work in post, but the natural image should look better to begin with. Thoughts?

http://legacyhdv.com/dental.htm
Dana... I second the idea of trying to backlight her with a hairlight. I'd also suggest a reflector on the other non-key side of her face to cast some light into the shadows on that side. Some of these suggestions may necessitate tighter framing however.

Alternately, put one softbox closer as the main key and the other farther on the opposite side as a fill. 2:1 would be about right on ratios. So if the two soft boxes are equal put the fill 1-1/2 times as far from the talent as the main key, as a starting point.

I think in the end closer framing will allow you to get the lighting closer and utilize these techniques. Soft lighting falls off VERY quickly.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #5
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Great advice.

I have two soft boxes (1250W) that I got as a kit. I used a reflector (gold), but it turned out to be very weak. All the lights were cool and very close, but compared to the bright background, they were very weak. I don't think I'll use the projector as a background again unless I get stronger bulbs for the soft boxes.

Chris, I love your idea about the opposing softboxes.

Bradley, what would you do for a color kicker on the hair.

Bill, the script was a nightmare. They didn't want a teleprompter, so the cue cards were below the lens. I had very few sections where she wasn't directly reading the cure cards, thus, the powerpoint.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #6
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For the kicker, she has "blond" hair so an amber colored gel would work. Or if you only have CTO/CTB, and your fixture is 3200K you can throw some CTO on there to "warm up" her hair.

Wait, your keys were daylight, so even a 3200k hair light will warm it up. :)

For white or jet black hair, a blue colored gel can often look better.

Experiment and see what you like. Certain "party" colors look awful, some will create a mood you don't want, some will reduce the light too drastically, etc . . .
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Old November 28th, 2008, 02:05 PM   #7
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if the projector was too bright, why didn't just cut the projector ? a piece of 1 or 2 stop ND in gel would of worked, or a ND for a camera lens, even if it took a little tape to hold on since projector lenses don't expect to take filters on the front.

I thought the blue was a bit intence because it was plain. if you went with a projector, you should of used it to project something - like client logo, moving video, whatever. otherwise you could of used some seemless gray or black paper and gotten the same look with lights + gels.

it looks like a chromakey shoot where the BG's weren't added. I guess in fact you could pull a key and then change the BG, even if a solid.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 07:25 AM   #8
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I think you're right, Steve. I was going for a clean look for the web. I didn't even think about filtering the projector, which would've been the obvious solution. Dang.

I don't think I'll use the projector in the future. I really like simple, grey/black muslin backgrounds with a colored light to give it interest.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bradley Helgerson View Post
For white or jet black hair, a blue colored gel can often look better.
I quite like deep purples on dark hair as well. With white hair, I prefer to use Bastard Amber or Straw rather than blues, just because I hate that "blue haired old lady" look.

Use your eyes and your aesthetics.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #10
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Just for chuckles, have you tried to pull a key from the background?

And besides the other issues, the voice was - hmmm - too raspy and grating. I was glad she didn't talk any more than she did.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 10:16 PM   #11
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Dana, just because you have to put in some filler to cover the edits, doesn't mean you're stuck with "PowerPoint". You can animate a few of the key words with After Effects or Motion to create a graphic that's not "PowerPoint" at all. You could also use b-roll from something you shot or bought from a stock library... dentists offices, pulling out the wallet, steaming mocha lattes, etc. come to mind from your video.

And I always convince my client to use the prompter... they get three takes without it and then they have to use it. No one has ever complained after they've used it. I showed up without it one time because the talent was afraid the performance wouldn't be "conversational" by using a prompter. Well, after thirty minutes and about fifty takes to get 20 seconds of footage, I promised myself I'd never leave home with it.

And I agree... see if you can pull a key from you background. Then, you'll be able to put whatever background behind her you like. Lately, I've been shooting most of my interviews with a greenscreen setup and having a lot of fun with it. It takes a bit longer in production and in post, but gives me something to differentiate myself from the other pros in the area. Here's a few examples from the last year:
YWCA - 2008 Videos
Broomfield Chamber S.O.S. Videos

And then there's the "walk-on" style videos, where the talent comes up over the Website, which can be pretty dramatic for viewers. Maybe it'll end up being a fad, who knows, but I've been shooting a few of these lately, and I can tell you that a prompter is required to get a good take of even a few seconds long (since it has to be seamless... no edits). Here's a few of mine:
The BEERiodic Table of the Elements
Crystal Jewelry - Candori Jewelry by Amy Cannon Cooper
Advantage Home Inspection | ASHI Certified inspections in Boulder Longmont Niwot Loveland Erie Frederick Firestone Superior Broomfield

The purist DPs won't like greenscreen because it forces you to light the talent very flat to avoid shadows on the backdrop. Shadows are the plague when it comes time to pull a good key. FWIW, I key with the Keylight filter in After Effects, but there's other good keyers out there. The best key comes with lighting the screen and talent properly in the first place, rather than worrying too much about it in post.

Cheers,
Brian Brown
BrownCow Productions
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Old December 1st, 2008, 10:55 PM   #12
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Hownow,

Thanks for the samples. I watched all of them. I would fall into the purist category, I guess. I don't like green screens because of lighting compromises. I thought the projector would help with this, being really hard to overpower with foreground light, but it just made her too dark.

I would rather do stuff like Extreme Home Makeover interviews, and if I need to show something, either use a pip or temporarily cut away.

I do think the website 'walk-in' is a fad, and very hard to do non-cheezily. What I would like to try is a simple white background that I could garbage matte and put on a web site as-if it were green-screened. Then the only challenge would be to assure a true white with no shadows. Thoughts? Would black be easier?
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:12 PM   #13
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Dana, I'm pretty sure that the pure-white videos, like the Mac/PC commercials are chroma-keyed. Probably shot on a huge cyc. Trying to get a white background to avoid shadows would be hard indeed. Esp. with cinematic lighting.

And you sure don't want to roto. Trust me on that. And black will show pretty bad grain with most of the current crop of HDV cams (looking at your URL, I'm assuming you have one). I know my Canon XH-A1 does not like dark backgrounds... noise at even -3db when there's lots of black in the frame.

Looking forward to seeing more of your work,
Brian Brown
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:34 PM   #14
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Dana:
Oh, I don't know if you saw the jewelry ladies long piece on her site that does the "super white" thing: https://www.candorijewelry.com/cryst...elry_about.asp

I obviously croma'd her. But she ended up with the most lights on anybody I've shot yet. Here's a quick still from that shoot: http://www.browncowvideo.com/amy_green.JPG The kicker behind her really made her pop. Altering the fill and key ratio might be doable without causing spill and could lend a little more drama. But I don't think women will take near as much modeling as a man, esp. as they get older.

Cheers,
Brian Brown(Cow)
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 09:07 AM   #15
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its myth that chromakey lighting = flat lighting. you light your talent as you need to so that looks right for the peice. I've lit people with hard sidelights and even fairly dark. all that counts is the BG is even and lit to the right level. if your subject is placing a shadow onto the BG its a very big hint, your WAY too close to it. 8-10 ft is the minimum. this not only keep shadows off, it also reduces spill. you foreground and BG lighting are two completely seperate things and should be handled as such.

as for the white cyc look. I can't say how many times I've done this. shadowless lighting is very simply - you need large diffused lighting or careful placement with harder sources. 6x6 to 12X12's silks. even a couple of 4X4's or softboxes can work, but with more effort. this is a time when a light meter can be very handy to ensure even levels, and slightly hotter ones on the BG. the only time that using CK for this works is when there is NO choice - the people will be shot in different locations on different days and you want the same white. then and only then does it make sense. otherwise fighting spill, compression artifacts, how well it was shot ect becomes a huge fustration and waste of time. its far simpler / faster / cheaper to shoot on white to get white.
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