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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:31 AM   #1
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Beginner Lighting Questions

I have received some great advice on other forums here. Now I am trying to make some finasl decisions and go with some lighting products. Here is my situation:

Filming instructional guitar video in 12x12x9 room. Not looking for a dramatic effect. Just good, soft skin tone since I am the one playing the guitar!

Ceiling is white (textured). Walls are light orange. I have pinned comforters and other materials to deaden the sound. Most of these are out of view of the camera. But there is a velvety, maroon fabric behind where I was going to sit. Should I take that down? Also, my amp is resting on top of a desk that has a shiny blue sheet on it. I am starting to suspect that might not be so good... What do you think?

Based on advice from these forums, I have decided on fluorescent for the key light.

Trying to decide among:

http://www.coollights.biz/clsft1-sof...and-p-113.html

Steve Kaeser Backgrounds & Accessories

Movie & Video Lighting Kits | Indie Filmmaker Lighting Kit | Pclightingsystems.com

Would like to go with cheapest of these if it'll get the job done (I have spent way too much on audio/guitar gear...).

Not sure if it makes sense to point the key light at me or have it bouncing off reflectors... Someone should write a 3D imaging/rendering program that has models of various lighting products and room materials and that will render an approximation of how the lighting will appear...

Also based on advice, I plan on using a reflector (white foamboard) for fill if I need it. Though from what I have gathered, flo light coming from a softbox should light a good portion of the room and the fill might not be needed.

And again based on advice here, I am leaning towards Lowel Pro Light for a backlight. I will probably need a very flexible stand to experiement with placement of it - any recommendations?

Just wondering if there are any other thoughts or if this seems like an agreeable approach. And any advice on placement of the reflector as well as distance of key to subject is appreciated.

This is sort of what I had in mind (placement of lights and reflector is by no means exact but I am trying to see if I have the right idea):

http://www.guitar-dreams.com/misc/video.jpg

Okay now I am going to have a nice Belgian beer. This stuff is making my head hurt (and I didn't even play my guitar today!).

If anyone lives near Monterey, CA and wants to help me with this I'll have my wife cook you a superb meal!

thanks,

brian
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:10 AM   #2
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Brian,

Based on that setup, I'll say a few things.

1. If your key light is a softbox, you won't need a backlight, you are going to get a nice natural fall-off from the softbox.

2. The bounce card should be as close as possible to you without getting in the camera. Then back it away until you get the desired effect.

3. Try to put the camera as close to one side of the room as possible, and put yourself in the center of the room. Leave as much space as you can between you and the background. This separation will give a much more pleasing image in camera.

4. There isn't going to be much need for expensive lighting here. I hate to say it, but a pro could get you a nice look for $100 or $150. As someone new to lighting, it's going to be a bit more costly for you. Hopefully, someone in your area can help you out. I'd do it if I was close. Home cooked meals are always a treat! :)

Hope you enjoyed your Belgian... I got two Chimay's for Christmas and still have one left! :)
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 08:44 AM   #3
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those coolights 8u 200 watters are fantastic lights for the money..... don't bother with the other lights you listed....

If you just want a clean soft lighting look to your set.... and your ceiling is already white.... just put a few of those coolights up close to the ceiling. the light will wrap around you and look very natural. no ned for the softbox with those lights. treat them like china ball lanterns. if you feel you need a little more shape to your subject... bring one of the lights down a bit and closer to the subjects left side ( if their a right hand guitarist ).

also.. just to create some depth to the room/set... burn some incense or a cigar or something to give the room a little fog. just a little.... it's a very common technique in filmmaking to get the background softer.

good luck... and please post your results!

p.s. as a former bay area resident.... love that part of the world.... and I miss blondies pizza in berkley!
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post

1. If your key light is a softbox, you won't need a backlight, you are going to get a nice natural fall-off from the softbox.
It's not often I disagree with Perrone. The "rim lit" look of a well positioned backlight often is all a video needs to get that visual "snap" to separate a subject from the background and I continue to be a BIG fan.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 11:13 AM   #5
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What do you guys think of the crazy color scheme of the room from the sound deadening materials I put on the walls? Will that wreak havoc? What would be ideal color for those materials?

Is below sort of how you envision things:

http://www.guitar-dreams.com/misc/video.jpg

Here, L1 and L2 are the cool lights you mention. The table is about 2.5 feet tall with blue cloth. The desk is about 3 feet tall with blue table cloth and has amps on top that bring total height to around 4 feet. On the wall behing the amps is a maroon, velvetty material. Length and width is 12feet. Walls are orange/yellowish. Ceiling is 9 feet.

I take it L1 and L2 would be high up pointing downward towards the room center?

thanks,

brian

Speaking of guitar, thought I would invite you to vote for a contest submission I made for a Yo Yo Ma collaboration contest. You can check out my submission and vote at http://www.indabamusic.com/submissions/show/4800
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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That Coollights softbox is a terrific value. I own one and use it often. You WILL still benefit (as others have said) with some sort or backlight/hairlight/rimlight.

I use a Lowel prolight with a snoot on a dimmer for that purpose and a reflector (I often use the gold side) placed as close to the subject as necessary (usually pretty close) for fill. The setup works beautifully.

Now all that said... a "cookie" and a source light to shoot thru it can make the background a little more "interesting"

This is basically interview lighting, without the extreme closeup often used in an interview.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 11:54 AM   #7
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Not sure if my situation is considered extreme closeup. I will have two types of shots - one wide enough to capture me holding my guitar and the other zoomed in on the guitar as I am playing.

As far as the fill goes, is the reflector being illumionated by the softbox? Since the softbox is diffuse, I take it the reflector is pretty much guarnteed to have a good amount of light impinging on it?

thanks,

brian
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:04 PM   #8
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Yes, the softbox is your key light, and the reflector is reflecting that light for the fill.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:00 PM   #9
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Hi Brian,

I answered your email and will answer here as well. The look you want to achieve will influence the fixtures and placement of course.

Look 1: Want an overall soft and flat look (some would argue its best to go very neutral on an instructional video and don't get too creative).

Look 2: or do you want the classic "video sculpted" look where we simulate 3D in a 2D medium?

If you go for the classic look 2 with key and fill, you'll need to keep shadows off the guitar in any case because people need to clearly see what you're doing there, regardless of what you've done with face and back / hair lighting.

Also, a splash of light on the wall wouldn't hurt either and is unobtrusive--regardless of whether you choose look 1 or 2. Wall splashes are best done with a focusing instrument like a fresnel so you can get a streak of light and even add a gel to it if you want. If you use a flo for that, all you get is an evenly lit wall and a gel would weaken it quite a bit. No way to use a cookie with a flo either, there's just not enough projection to define the edges well. As Chris Swanberg said, a hard light used to project a cookie pattern would be interesting too.

Some more things to think about...
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:16 PM   #10
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Hi Richard,

I am leaning towards look 1. Sounds simpler, and at this point my brain is getting fried and I need the filming process to be as easy (relatively speaking, of course) as possible so I can focus on playing my guitar...

thanks,

brian
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Old January 14th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #11
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I myself is looking for a key light and backlight... reflector as fill for now...
I checked out Movie & Video Lighting Kits | Indie Filmmaker Lighting Kit | Pclightingsystems.com and looks like a really good deal. Any takes on that? $500 for all 3 lights and Shipping??? I was looking at Rifa 250w and something close to pepper 100 as backlight. If Dayflo EZ system has good value, I would love to get them..
Or better yet, is there better option for key+back lighting system within $450 range ($500 with S+H) you would recommend? I know i got nailed by others when I said I might get DV creator kit... people seem to dislike Lowel tota and omni, pro lights...
Thank you in advance for all the help.

JJ

EDIT: I just talked with the owner of local video equipment rental place and he told me he could give me excellent condition Rifa 250W kit with hard case and new lowell pro 100 kit for $599... very tempting...

Last edited by J.J. Kim; January 14th, 2009 at 01:27 PM.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 02:05 PM   #12
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I have a couple of comments. I have several flo's and I love em. My softboxes used with them all have egg crates though.

However, I don't necessarily suggest that ALL your lighting be soft, like a flo or softbox. Hard specular lighting has it's place and purpose (hair/rim lighting or projecting through a cookie for example).

What I tend to see is that a kit is one manufacturer's line and may not be the best mix of lighting.

I'd suggest you look at the coollights flo and softbox combo, and a Lowel Pro light as basic starter stuff. Add a reflector/stand and holder for it and you are on your way. That is a pretty basic set up, but it will always serve you in one capacity or another as you expand your lighting kit and skillset.

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Old January 14th, 2009, 02:33 PM   #13
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A Rifa 250w, sometimes known as a Rifa 44, is a pretty small source (16x16"). With a softbox that small, you don't get a lot of "wrap", if that's one of the effects you're looking for from a softbox.

I'm a huge fan of the Rifa, have 2 Rifa 55 (500w, 21x21"), and am shopping for a Rifa 88. More wattage (1000w), bigger source (32x32") = more soft, and coverage for more than one subject.
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