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Old June 11th, 2010, 07:15 PM   #1
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Daytime Cooking Show w/ Huge Windows in BG! HELP!!

Suggestions please! :)

I'm going to be filming a series for a cooking school in a cool lodge style house with an incredible kitchen. That's the good part. The bad part is there are three big windows (bay window) directly behind the main cooktop area where most of the action would be happening. There's also a window off to one side.

The producers want to keep the awesome mountain views in the shot as my HDR pics I took below show. HDR in Photoshop is one thing (taking multiple exposures and piecing the right parts together so everything is exposed well), but in video I'm having a bit more of a challenge.

What would be the best and most cost effective way of handling this? Is there some sort of ND plastic that can be applied to the windows so everything's not blown out? Although this is an ongoing program, it is still a house that is in use most of the time so it either needs to be removable or nonobtrusive. I see windows all the time on news programs, but I've never had to do a setup like this before that is going to be an ongoing production.
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Daytime Cooking Show w/ Huge Windows in BG!  HELP!!-kitchen-2.jpg   Daytime Cooking Show w/ Huge Windows in BG!  HELP!!-kitchen-3b.jpg  

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Old June 12th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #2
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ND gel is certainly available. I've done this and you will need ND12 which is 4 f-stops dark. Yes, it is very dark gel. Unless you have a couple of thousand watts of HMI lights, you need to bring down those windows tremendously. Although the gel is very dark, it is still easy enough to see out the windows. If you think tint that dark is not acceptable, get lighter tint and really strong lights. Even with the tint, you will need a lot of light. The problem with adding light near windows is that there will be reflections. You should test your location well in advance with your lighting.

One other possible solution is to use shade screen material but it isn't as dark as ND12. It also can cause a moire pattern if it is in focus so you would have to keep the background out of focus. The only advantage of mesh would be that it is easier to put up and take down.

If you put up the gel, look into the wet method of application. I had problems when we hung the gels by taping it to the window frames. They produced warping reflections that really made it evident there was plastic behind the glass. We had to get really creative to avoid all reflections. With flat glass, some reflections are normal so you won't have to go crazy avoiding avoiding reflection. The windows in our location had lots of small panes (french doors) so cutting all those gels was not possible since we only had the location for a half day.

Make sure it is theatrical ND gel made to be removed after wet application. Wet application is simply spraying the window with water and floating the gel into place. You can cut the excess gel away and the windows look factory tinted. Use soapy water and squeegee the excess away.

Rosco | E-Colour #211 .9 Neutral Density | 102302114825 | B&H

Rosco | E-Colour #299 1.2 Neutral Density | 102302994825 | B&H

On top of this, you should make sure your camera is set up to capture the greatest dynamic range. On my camera, the Canon 5Dii, I would turn down contrast and apply Highlight Tone Priority.

I should add that every .3 strength of ND gel is one f-stop so nd.9 or ND9 is three f-stops. I had a large group to light with weak lights and ND12 worked fine. If you have a smaller group, strong lights, and can get the lights closer, you might want to use a weaker gel to keep the exterior looking brighter than the interior.

You also must use daylight temperature lights like HMI, LED, or fluorescent or you will have the same color problems in your video as you have with the HDR photos. The inside will look amber and the outside will look blue. If you can't get daylight lighting, you will need to combine ND gel and CTO to make the blue sunlight look more amber. There are combo gels like Rosco #3406 CTO nd.6 and I'm sure you can find others. Make sure to buy gel larger than your windows so you don't have seams.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 02:45 AM   #3
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What occurred to me was to block out the windows with chroma key material and then add the views back in post.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 04:21 AM   #4
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Marcus got it nailed. My only additional suggestion is to make sure the gel is also color corrected to match the interior lights.

Get some test swatches and see what combination works. Then buy whatever you need.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 04:35 AM   #5
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If you're going to do this a lot, I would suggest looking at this. It was at NAB. It ain't cheap. But it allows you to dial in the compensation.

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Rosco US : Film/Video : RoscoVIEW
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Old June 12th, 2010, 04:38 AM   #6
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Dean, I didn't suggest color matching the gels to interior lights, but rather to match the color coming in the windows to the studio lights. Practical lights tend to be so weak that they are mostly irrelevant and can often just be shut off. Also, I don't mind using (and I see it done often) tungsten practicals in a primarily daylight scene. Little pools of warm tungsten light can make nice, subtle hairlight. I would even suggest using the track lights along the window as backlight/hairlight since they are there and look easy to aim inward.

I'm not disagreeing with what Dean suggests, but rather I had a slightly different idea in mind. If one should necessitate a choice between my advice and Dean's - take his!

You can definitely shoot this scene and keep the real view in your shot. What lights are you planning to use? What is your budget for materials?
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Old June 12th, 2010, 04:52 AM   #7
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Marcus... I missed your point but looks like you got that nailed, too.

As for the cooking demos I shoot, the problem of the big windows in the set are behind me.

Literally.

Fortunately the huge window wall is behind the cameras. Still, I have to cover them with large sheets of painter drop sheets (thin and translucent) to get rid of distracting traffic reflections in the stainless steel panels behind the talent.

I then kick in some daylight-balanced LED and flo lights to provide some modeling and shape to the talent.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 05:26 AM   #8
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In addition to the very good advice from Marcus and Dean you can, depending on the desired look and feel, white balance your camera halfway between daylight and tungsten (roughly around 4500K). This will lead to a slight blueish cast (though very acceptable) coming from the windows which adds to a realistic perception. If you use tungsten with half CTO, HMI with half CTB or 4000K fluorescents (kinoflo divas and the likes) for your key sources inside and tungsten for your soft ambient fill, you will have a nice mix between the two extremities. The advantage in the way color perception works is that blueish colors will tend to recess and reddish colors will tend to come forward. This way you can add some more depth to your image.
In situations like this I always try to have the windows slightly overexposed. When the light level inside is equal or higher than outside it would feel unreal to me.
If you have to leave the gels attached to the windows for a longer period you can add some 7up or sugarwater and a few drops of liquid soap to the water you use to spray on the windows. The sugar will act as glue when dry.
Make sure to do some tests and note the difference in light levels between a cloudy and a sunny day.

Good luck with your challenge.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 11:29 AM   #9
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Get some Rosco Cinegel #3421 and put it on the outside of the windows. It cuts the light by 2 stops buy still allows you to see through the window. You could also use #3423 which is an ND version of their Scrim Material.

Looks great. They sell it in rolls so you can get as much as you need. If you hang it from the outside you don't need to be real neat about it and can just cover the window quickly.

It's about $125 for a 48" x 25' roll.

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Old June 12th, 2010, 12:30 PM   #10
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Can't add much to the very excellent advice given above, except to say we're involved in a similar project up here in Seattle. We're in the process of doing everything already suggested, but our challenge is that the window behind the talent is made up of several old-fashioned double hung, multi-paned windows. Each piece of glass is only about a foot square or less, and there are over a hundred of them, so the kind of gel that sticks to the glass isn't practical for us.

Our overall strategy was to make the inside light more like the outside, in both color and intensity. As the light changes so rapidly and frequently outside here in the Northwest -- both in intensity and in color -- we've laid in a supply of 1/4 orange (#3409), 1/4 plusgreen (#3316) and both 1-stop (#209) and 2-stop (#210) ND gel rolls, and are fabricating them in such a way as to get them up and down quickly as needed.

We added four 30-amp circuits to the kitchen studio to accommodate the power requirements for lighting and to run the four cameras and monitors and other equipment. We've pumped the light levels inside the kitchen up so high that even with the windows ungelled, if it's a typical crappy Seattle day outside, it looks like night. We're using eight ceiling mounted CFL softboxes with the diffusers removed and a dozen CFL reflector floods at 5100K, total actual wattage about 3200W for an incandescent equivalent of about 12KW. The kitchen has a high vaulted ceiling so we built a lighting grid for much of the lighting as well as an overhead cam.

We're doing test footage at the moment and we have the cams manually set to 5600K, a nice compromise between the 5100K lights inside and the very blue outside light, which can get as high as 6500K. This way the outside light still looks a little blue -- we have the gels to take care of that if it's too blue -- but inside the CFLs look warmer. The window faces east so we never really get any direct sunlight through that, as our talent is never awake before noon.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 12:30 PM   #11
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Thanks, everyone, for the great advice!

Adam, I would love to see some pictures of your set up. It sounds just like what we are doing. If you are allowed to take pictures, and you have the time, do you think you could post some (or PM them to me)?

After digesting the advice above, I have decided to get some 2-stop ND film and fabricate some frames for it the exact size as the windows. I will attach these frames to the OUTSIDE of the window (screw into the wood around the glass). I am going to be using mostly florescents and other 5600k Fresnels for my main lighting. We want to still be able to use the overhead (existing) tungsten lighting since it adds a nice feel, but hopefully it doesn't turn everything orange.... Won't know till we show back up an test it out. If this is the case, I might need to get a layer of 1/4 orange on the windows as well. We'll see.

The "frames" can be removed when the filming is not ongoing. This is the caveat of the whole thing. This is an ongoing show in a non-studio house. That is, when there is no filming the house needs to be just that--a house, without all the studio gear up. This is our challenge.

I will post some pics next week when we get the gel in and the frames built.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 12:47 PM   #12
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One more thought.

I'm concerned with applying the plastic gels in a frame and outside application that the waviness in the plastic will be seen. But I'm also concerned with the moire in the scrim material showing up.

Which do you suppose to be the lesser of the two evils in my situation?
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Old June 16th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #13
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Here are a couple of quick snaps, one with just the existing fluoros on, and one with the extra lighting fired up. The windows are not yet gelled and we used to have some nice fake plants just outside the windows, but it's raining at the moment so we had to take them in.

I was thinking about doing a more detailed write up of our build with more photos; if there's any interest I will.

Hope this helps.
Attached Thumbnails
Daytime Cooking Show w/ Huge Windows in BG!  HELP!!-lights-off.jpg   Daytime Cooking Show w/ Huge Windows in BG!  HELP!!-lights-.jpg  

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Old June 16th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #14
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Wow, Adam! I can't thank you enough! That is very helpful. I especially like the lighting setup. I never thought of clipping lights the cabinets. Very nice.

And YES YES, there is A LOT of interest in a detailed write up on this; at least from me! :)

I might take some pictures of mine as well and do a write up as well.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 06:21 PM   #15
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Adam...

That's an impressive setup. Those lights using the compact fluorescent lamps are really interesting. They look easy to set up yet fold up to something manageable.

BTW, your on-camera talent could use some eye shadow and blush. :-)
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