Shooting a talking head in a theater w/projector at

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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Elberton, GA, USA
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Shooting a talking head in a theater w/projector

I would like to shoot a talking head in a theater with some pictures being projected on the theater's screen.

Sort of like those Jeff Daniels Michigan Economic spots.

But I'm having a hard time figuring out how to light the talking head without spilling onto the screen. And keeping additional lights from appearing in the shot.

The theater is pretty well lit from the top and straight on.

I would consider a green-screen, but I can't help but think that an "organic" treatment of thtis would end up looking better.

1. Very wide shot to walk the talent in. Pictures on screen huge -- talent "small." The pictures are the star.

2. Cut to a more close up shot of talent, allowing portion of picture (bare feet) to remain.

3. And back and forth like that a couple of times.

I need to light the talent mostly from the top and bottom don't I. And also limit his movement. I can place him up to 10 feet from the screen.

Any thoughts at all?

Thanks. Mark
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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
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On a topic you MAY not have considered: if using a DLP projector, the light will be daylight corrected. Use daylight colour temp lighting on your subject: HMI's or colour corrected tungsten.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 01:26 PM   #3
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I've done the very thing. It's not difficult if you have some fresnels so you can barndoor the light off the screen. If not, you can flag it with C-stands. You want to key from one side...say the camera is halfway back facing the screen, the talent comes in a few rows in front of the camera...key from the left, fill from the right, or vice versa. As long as he's far enough from the screen, no problem. The closer you get the more direct your lighting will have to be. You can also use a small light, like a 300 fresnel, gelled for softness and set up high and down for a bit of eye light on the talent.

You don't want to overlight. Set up the camera and expose for the image on the screen, or maybe let it go a half stop or so, then light the talent to whatever f-stop that is. Once your aperture is set, leave it along and bring the talent light up or down as needed with gels or positioning. In most theaters there's plenty of room to the sides, so if you want the screen to fill your frame, there's still room enough to put lights in the aisles. You may also want to light some of the seats a bit too so they don't go totally dark but don't overdo that either or it will look phony. In the talking head shoot I did, I had a set of four Altman fresnels (two 650s and two 300s) and about half a dozen Lowel DPs, with diffusion gels, flags, C-stands, etc. I did a dolly shot of the guy walking in and down the aisle to about 10 rows from the screen, then cut to show the screen as he turned and talked toward the camera. Even with a film being projected, it's pretty dark in a theater, so a little light goes a long way. I had the theater owner leave the wall sconces on but dimmed down too, just to give the wall a better look as the talent was walking down the aisle.

Also the above post makes a good point. I was assuming film would be projected but either way is OK. Just have the projectionist turn on the projector with nothing in it and white balance on the screen, then gel your lights to match that, either tungsten or daylight.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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Wow. Good tips.

Yeah, it's a community theater with a fairly large stage, which I think comes out about 15 feet in front of the screen. I'm hoping I can put the talent on the stage.

The top light bank there (honestly I was hoping I could use some of their lights, because I'm a little light poor) can all be dimmed individually, and I'm guessing they have 12 x 500 watts.

They also have lights on a truss about 1/2way up the theater. Again, I'm guessing, but at least 1k x 12-14

I could use one of those top bank lights pointed straight down for rim.

I have a 2k baby tungsten fresnel w/doors that I could use for key (now I heard you about over lighting -- I would have to gel it down)

One lowell DP. Two 250 watt "peppers" (they're lowells-can't remember the name)

But the rest of my kit is fluo's and softboxes. 3 x +/-1K equivalent homebrew fluo's and 3 x 500 watt softboxes

There's an Orchestra pit below the stage. What do you think about trying to bring the fill in from there?

Maybe the first order of business is to go there and project the images on the screen, and then see about the house lighting. Or forget about the house lighting, because it would be to hard to go up and cut.

Light the wide shot first, and keep the aperture set to there. Got it.
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