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Old March 2nd, 2004, 03:26 PM   #1
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Small Room Lighting Problem

I have to shoot video in the office of an orthopedic massuse - doing massage demonstrations on the massage table. It's a small space approx 15 feet square. I have two Arri 650s w/barndoors and a set of double mesh screens to take each down 2 stops, one Chimera 2'x3' softbox, and a big reflector. I've concerned about space and also about the intensity of the light. I won't be able to move the lights back very far from the massage ttable - maybe only 4-5 feet. Any suggetstions?
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:12 PM   #2
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Check the lighting article by John Jackman on dv.com, he discusses lighting techniques in small rooms in there.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:22 PM   #3
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Dan,
Barry's tip sounds like a winner.

Gee, that room must be larger than 15 sq.ft. (3x5!) Nevertheless, I get the picture.

That 650 will turn the room to an oven in short order if there's not adequate ventilation. You've no smaller instruments?

What about focusing it on spotlight, setting it just outside the room and punching the beam through the door and bouncing it off of a white reflector placed strategically? It will give you a soft light and keep the heat outside the room.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 07:14 PM   #4
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Are there any windows to the outside at all? If so, maybe you can get away with some reflectors only, or similarly to what Ken suggests, place the light outside and shine through the window.

Failing that, are you able to get some cheap photofloods or something and mount them on a stand and use those?

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Old March 2nd, 2004, 10:06 PM   #5
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A room that small could probably be done with a couple of 200-250W and maybe a couple of 100W's. Sometimes the hardest thing about a small room is finding a place to put the lights then you worry about how to place them.
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 11:49 AM   #6
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Small room clarification

Thanks all -

I'll take a good look at the Jackman article.
The room is actually 15 feet by 15 feet - still rather small for me, the massuse, the table , and the light kit.

NEW QUESTIONS:
1. Can I put a lower watt bulb in an Arri 650 light?
2. I could use my on-camera Frezzi Mini-fill, but I've found that it tends to make people squint if looking at the camera, but it would be good for shots where client and massuse are not looking at the camera. How do others deal with the on-camera light when people are trying to look into the lens?
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 01:39 PM   #7
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Dan:

Not having seen the room, does it have a drop ceiling? If so, you could use a scissor clamp to mount the 650 with the Chimera from the ceiling. I'm guessing that the masseuse will work around the table and that you will have to move the camera to follow, so that you will see 360 in the room and don't want light stands in the background of the shot? I'd hang the Chimera light as a soft key light, above the foot of the bed/facing the head of the client, and backed up and away as much as possible. The other 650 could be hung opposing this one with a lot of diffusion on it (another Chimera would be great, but you probably feel the same way!) as sort of a backlight or reverse key if you come around the backside to shoot the masseuse working on the feet or something. You could potentially use that onboard light with a LOT of diffusion (a mini-softbox would be ideal) as an eye light and fill for when the masseuse is bending down, but I would make sure that it is much less intense than the overhead lights or you will get that cheesy "news" look. A better use would be to have someone else work that light handheld off axis from camera, again with a ton of diffusion, to fill in the shadowy parts. They would have to have a pretty good understanding of the frame and how much and when to apply that fill light for that setup to be worthwhile.
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 02:14 PM   #8
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Thanks Charles

Those were wonderful ideas - thanks so much!
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 09:25 PM   #9
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Coincidentally, I had my first massage in a number of years today, and I have a couple of thoughts based on that experience. This is a bit more dramatic.

First, where are you going to place the camera? It seems to me that the main position might be at the foot of the massage table, since the masseuse spends a good deal of time at the head of the table, hunkered over the subject. When the masseuse does work on the lower body, then exchange positions and you go to the head of the table. These two positions will allow you to cover almost all the action (I am assuming this is meant to be an intstructional video, rather than some sort of erotica).

Next, what is the overall mood you would like for the piece? I see it as soft, low lighting, complimented by soothing music and voice over. This means, I would consider bringing the lights low by dimming those 650's till they warm up the flesh tones nicely. (Film people learned a long time ago that natural color skin tones aren't all that attractive on most people. One reason that film's gamma tends toward warm tones, rather than the bluish tint that is so common to video, although it is getting better) So, use the 650 in the softbox for your key on one side of the room, pointing at the profile of the subject. Place it about body height, maybe three to four feet high. Then, bounce the other 650 off the opposite wall, similar height, also dimmed down. You are trying to create an effect that the sofbox side is the key and the other side is soft fill, so you may need to add some diffusion to that bounce light. You are looking for at least a one stop difference between the key and fill sides. Although, season to taste. The lights will have to be close to the walls to be out of your wide shots.

What this lighting set-up does is give you a kicker effect, similar to what looks so good on dancers, or, muscle shots of people on exercise machines. Plus, it has the advantage of getting light into the face of the masseuse (although a case could be made for putting their face in heavy shadow). But this should allow you to shoot freely without having to re-set your lights for various angles, which is always to be desired.

You could use your on-camera light with lots of diffusion to put a sparkle in the eye of the masseuse, if they are speaking directly to camera, explaining what they are doing.

And this is one instance where a small jib or dolly could be wonderful. And add lots of candles.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old March 4th, 2004, 10:50 AM   #10
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The Arri 650's don't come with a dimmer. Are you suggesting that a seperate dimmer be used? If so, what brand would you suggest to handle the 650 watts or 1300 watts combined? I have almost the same problem as Dan but that I am trying to light a very low key lighting environment where I want pools of light but all I have to work with is Arri 650's and up.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:31 AM   #11
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Yes - a massage training video

So many good ideas! I'll have to discuss with the masseuse how "warm" and low-light a look he wants. He seems to be a rather "clinical" guy and he might want to go for that Discovery channel ER look! He is really into closeup shots of thumbs massaging particular tendons, but regardless of how wide the shot is, I think I'll be using the dimmable on-camera light, keeping the softbox out of the frame, and bouncing the diffused 650s off the walls for sure.
Thanks again.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:38 AM   #12
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Regarding Bryan's question: your cheapest route is to pick up a commercial-grade 1000w rotary household dimmer, the type one would expect to mount on a wall of your house (about $25). Mount it into a plastic wall box and wire it with two industrial-grade plugs (male and female). This will net you a fully functional portable dimmer for this range of light. Alternately you can buy a rheostat but likely these will be a lot bulkier and cost more, however they can accomodate a higher wattage fixture.
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