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Old August 7th, 2002, 03:54 AM   #1
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Chiaroscuro effect?

I've been trying to figure out how to do the visual effect that's become a bit trendy lately...but looks really nice. It's kind of a chiaroscuro effect...shadows go black, everything takes on a slightly golden hue, and all edges are soft.

The two examples I can think of are the scenes from "The English Patient" in the opening and closing where you see the biplane from above flying over the sand dunes...and also Britney Spears' newest music video in the portions shot inside the Arizona cave.

I'd like to try to get that effect...any way to do it with just Final Cut Pro? Or is there some filter available out there somewhere?

I tried doing just the above...blurring slightly, changing the hue, and increasing contrast...but it didn't look the same.

Thanks for any input.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 04:35 AM   #2
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I'm not exactly sure of the effect your after. I've some how missed the latest Britney music video. But you look at some of the filters Singh Ray make http://www.singh-ray.com/ Some of the filters will pump up or saturate the color spectrum you want. Blacks can be adjusted in FCP. Look at the Proc Amp controls for a start on increasing the black level.

Jeff
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Old August 8th, 2002, 04:44 AM   #3
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Jeff,

I had a hunch you would be the first to say something...I've been sitting here watching you work your way through the boards. ;)

That's a great site, actually. Never have been there before. The filter chart looks like it's worth a second closer look, although at a glance the prices seem a bit out of my current budget.

Actually...I'm sure this effect is done in post-production rather than with filters. The best example is the scene flying over the dunes in "The English Patient." It produces a surreal quality...almost a "painted" look (but not like the cheesy impressionistic or watercolor filters).

You see it so much now...I kind of expected a lot of people to know how it's done. I'll see if I can come up with more examples.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 06:34 AM   #4
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I'll take a look at "The English Patient" again in the next day or two and try to give a better estimate on how to achieve it in post. I'm sure not going to watch MTV all day waiting for Britney' video. Any other guesses?

Jeff
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Old August 8th, 2002, 07:19 AM   #5
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Jeff,

I'm not one to watch MTV that much either (but did back when it first started). I was flicking through the channels the other day and happened upon one of the "Making of" programs where they showed the filming of Britney's newest video. Pretty interesting, but they didn't go into technical details enough. It was kind of inspiring to see how simple the setups were and how small the crew was...but still were able to crank out a nice video. The thing that really caught my eye, though, was the difference between the raw documentary video that was shot while the crew was filming her in the "cave" scene as opposed to the final product shot by the crew. Night and day difference...even though they were shot simultaneously with the same lighting, etc.

Saw another "Making of" just yesterday on Will Smith's "Nod Ya Head" for MIB II. That one had the opposite effect...just depressed me to think how hard it is to compete without a multi-million dollar budget. Practically the entire thing is CG.

Anyway...off topic...I'll come up with some more samples of the effect I'm looking for.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 09:06 AM   #6
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John:

Just checked out the opening of "English Patient", and to my eye the footage looked fairly different than what you described in terms of the diffuse effect--looked pretty clean. The color was probably achieved with camera filtration such as corals and possibly goosed a little warm in the color timing. The overhead shot of the biplane looked like a composite to me, the edges of the plane looked a little funny. I think the deep shadows were just due to the high contrast in the desert. On the frontal shot of the pilot, that "hot" look was due to high contrast lighting--film takes on overexposure so much better than video! As far as I know, English Patient did not use a digital intermediate, so what you are seeing on screen would be purely chemical manipulation, which is far more limited than can be achieved with in a telecine suite.

I haven't seen Britney's latest but I can make some educated guesses based on the look you describe. Almost all of it is achieved in telecine, starting with the use of a filter or net in the telecine itself which gives a glow to the edges; the golden color palette is dialed in on the DaVinci and the blacks are crushed a bit to increase contrast.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 09:27 AM   #7
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You're right about the edges of the plane being "funny"....that's kind of what attracts me to that look really. After reading your post (which caused me to think edge-wise...or should I say "edgy") it suddenly dawned on me where I'd seen the "look" that I've been trying to describe....it's like the effect of using a ring light in still photography. Of course, the golden tone doesn't apply just from using a ring light, but the shadow that circles the subject, and the soft, flat lighting is definitely what I had in mind.

Seems to me that if I try using a ring light, and then apply the steps you mentioned (I'll get pretty close to the look I'm hoping for). I'll give 'er a go and see what happens.

Thanks, Charles!
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Old August 8th, 2002, 12:42 PM   #8
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Hello,
The technique you are refering to as CHIAROSCURO is now referred to as REMBRANDT lighting. He perfected Caravaggio's technique. It is a style of lighting. It can convery both high and low emotional intensity.
There are 5 points used for guidelines to accomplish this:
1.) place the key light, or angle the subject, so the shadow side of the subject is closest to the camera( so it appears the subject is looking into the direction of the light BUT not at it)
2.)Move subject away from the background.
3.) look for a dark background
4.) Make the subject the brightest and/or biggest area of the shot
5.)have the darkest area of the background directly behind the subject.

I don't see how you could do this in post unless your Ted Turner and colorizing frame by frame , but then what do I know?
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Old August 9th, 2002, 02:18 PM   #9
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lighting

Hi. I would like to agree with bruce. I would assume the key to the chiaroscuro effect would be the lighting.
But why in the world call it Rembrandt lighting when it already has a name? Rembrandt lighting just seems so inaccurate. It would be like calling rock-n-roll Beatles music or Elvis sounds.
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Old August 9th, 2002, 08:11 PM   #10
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CHIAROSCURA is Italian for light-dark

1.) 99% of the people would not be able to remember the name no less be able to pronounce it. (They'd probably think it's a cell phone - Keyocera)
2.) The artist who developed the style was CARAVAGGIO (ca. 1600 )
3.) Rembrandt van Rijn (1609-1669) was an admirer of Caravaggio and PERFECTED the style and became famous.
4.) How many people ever heard of Caravaggio or can find any art done by him?
5.) Not only is Rembrandts work easy to find ( so you can see a good example of the technique) but its's easier to say!

Bruce

P.S. Real Rock'n Roll is called Doo-Wop
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Old August 10th, 2002, 05:26 AM   #11
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Try playing around with the Magic Bullet demo.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 08:55 AM   #12
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All right Bruce, you say "Rembrandt lighting" and I'll say chiaroscuro; my painting professor girlfriend would want it that way.
But, more interestingly, anyone who hasn't seen any Caravaggio's work and wants to create that sort of dark, moody, amber effect should really do themselves a favor and do some research. Caravaggio is a wonderful painter and was truly brilliant with lighting. Not to mention he was quite the trouble maker in the art world.
Chet.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 11:33 AM   #13
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Chet,
I highly suggest you call it chiaroscura, winter nights in Troy can be very cold. I learned it as chiaroscuro also but in the second year of video school the books refered to it as Rembrandt, perhaps because he perfected the technique and is more well known and easier to pronounce. Either way, the technique is not as easily mastered as one would think and does take practice.

Bruce
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Old August 13th, 2002, 08:37 AM   #14
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But what a beautiful effect when properly used!
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Old August 23rd, 2002, 01:08 AM   #15
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Chet Hardin

Please e mail me at bvmprod@quik.com

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