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Old April 24th, 2014, 04:27 PM   #1
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Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

Greetings! I'm new to videography in a studio setting and I really want to address some of the issues I've been having.

A video of the issue I have:
Video grab of the problem: http://i.imgur.com/EP2Oexv.jpg.

Details: I am trying to achieve a nice white screen effect with the space I have available. I'm new to studio lighting and this is a complete new experience for me. I'd like the subject not be washed out and not have the bottom left corner of the whitescreen displayed in the final product. I'm not sure what to do with the umbrella light though as our ceiling isn't high enough for it to be over a persons head and without it acting as an additional key light the background doesn't get fully washed out. As shown in the video we have an unused floresent lamp in the ceiling and two unused desk lamps that can be added to the mix if they can somehow magically help this mess.

My camera equipment:
* Camera: Canon T2i
* Lens: 18-55mm f3.4

My lighting equipment: BW Backdrop Support Stand Photography Studio Video Softbox Lighting 3 Kit | eBay

Thanks all for any time you'd put in to help me out. Have a nice afternoon.

Last edited by Brandon Smith; April 25th, 2014 at 03:38 PM.
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Old April 24th, 2014, 05:06 PM   #2
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

Wow! Where to start? The only suggestion I could give you is trial and error and then come back and show your results and maybe someone could have a better idea of how to help you.

My personal suggestion would be as I did many years ago before I had my own studio. I partnered with a small church close to my home. I would shoot an occasional church service or event and they would give me access to a community center they had. Before long I had my own key and could use it anytime I wanted.

You have a multitude of problems in that room that to me wouldn't be worth fighting. Good luck!

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Old April 24th, 2014, 09:09 PM   #3
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

Think about lighting your subject and the background separately. Light the drop independently and then pull the talent away from the drop to minimize spill. I also think you're making things difficult for yourself by trying to cram everything into that small space. The nice thing about seamless is that you can put it ANYWHERE and the audience will never know. Find a larger area so you can practice setting up and getting the look you want.

Here's a great video showing some basics to the setup:
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Old April 25th, 2014, 11:02 AM   #4
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I'm not 100% sure I can move to a larger space where I am, but if it were possible, the core problem still stands, am I lacking additional required lighting equipment? If so, specifically what? That video was nice, but the link in it's description doesn't work to find out the specific equipment needed.

My guess? The cheap desk lamps I own are garbage and I need proper lights on stands in front of the subject, and potentially 2 more key lights lighting the backdrop. I'm currently at 9~11 CFL bulbs, and this is really on a very limited budget.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 11:41 AM   #5
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

If you have a 3 light kit now give this a try.

Set up 2 of the 3 on the background with soft boxes. Point them so they face the background only. Don't allow ANY of the light energy to fall directly on the subject. It all goes onto the background.

Set up the 3rd light as key on the subject and use the reflector for fill.

Be sure to black out that window and kill the overhead light in the room. You want all the light in the scene to be from your lights.

As an option see if you can set up the backdrop in the corner and shoot diagonally across the room. That could get you some more space between the subject and the backdrop.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 03:40 PM   #6
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

My problem is that by doing that, I still have to crank the ISO up to 2500 to white out the background and even without a light shining on me, I'm overexposed and its a mess. I made a new video to replace the old one in the original post visually detailing my issue. I really feel lost.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 03:53 PM   #7
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

You need to set your background lights at different heights. Have one light the top of the screen and the other light the bottom. This might sound counterintuitve but you should also move the background lights back a bit to even out the exposure. Have them be closer to you but still slightly behind. They are so close to the background now there is too much contrast from edge to edge due to the inverse square rule of lighting (look that up and get to know it, it will make understanding where your lighting issues are much easier).

Another thing you are overdoing is your exposure on the background. You don't have to blow it out that much to make this work. If you take your background down and iron it the background will look a LOT better with less light.

Before you work on your foreground lighting at all get the background even and under control. Once you do that we can talk about foreground.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 06:57 PM   #8
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

If you crank the ISO until the background is overexposed and find that your subject is ALSO overexposed, then there's not enough difference in illmination between the two. You can do 2 things: increase the amount of light on the backdrop (you have already thought of that); or DECREASE the amount of light on your subject. If you can't move the light far enough away, get a cheap dimmer to hook up to your key.

I agree with Chris that an iron makes a BIG difference. Paper rolls are also better at not getting wrinkly. He is also correct that you are going too far with the overexposure in your example. Good luck!
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Old April 25th, 2014, 08:38 PM   #9
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I've had several friends deal with this same headache.

And they, like me, have chosen a different solution.

Fact is...lighting a white background properly while still seeing the talent is very tricky. Not to mention...time consuming.

Thus...the keep it simple solution many of us have chosen, to save a few brain cells.

Green screen.

Easier to light and key.

Key in your chosen white background.

http://www.google.com/search?q=white...isch&tbs=isz:l

Done!

The problem is...too many are thinking like a still photographer instead of a video..."photographer". ;)
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Last edited by John DuMontelle; April 25th, 2014 at 09:16 PM.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:11 PM   #10
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I would urge caution using a green screen for a dslr shoot. In my opinion you will get a better looking result with the white background assuming you can get your lighting sorted. Dslrs can be much trickier pulling a good key versus a more traditional video camera.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:21 PM   #11
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I'll admit...I've only done one DSLR green screen and...maybe I was lucky.

That was with a Canon t3i.

We were not using a white keyed background.

All other times I use...pardon the phrase, no offense intended...a "real" video camera.

But...are you suggesting never use a green screen with a DSLR?
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:27 PM   #12
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I agree 110% with Chris. Learn how to light the white background before messing around with a green screen. Light the BG first-positioned as Chris suggested to light up the BG and then massage them to keep it even and not spilling off onto the talent. Light the talent with your remaining light and a reflector. Keep the ISO down to the least needed, don't try to light with ISO. Really it's not as hard as some think to light a white BG. Back in the 70's as a still photog, I did hundred of model composites. I used 1 200WS strobe on a 42inch umbrella with a homemade reflector. Used 1x1's stapled a silver crinkled material on 1 side and gold on the other. I had a roll of white seamless hanging and that was it. By controlling the light I could get from super white to a dark dirty grey and the talent always came out fine because that's what I exposed for.
Lighting is an art and takes practice to learn the ins and outs. I suggest you do that, that way you won't end up with an ulcer. ;-)
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:35 PM   #13
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

To be a bit blunt if the Brandon is having trouble lighting a basic white background then switching from an unevenly lit white to an unevenly lit green screen with a dslr will be a disaster.

You certainly can have a good key with a dslr if you control the foreground carefully and do a better than average job lighting. I don't think Brandon is ready for that yet. I think he should practice with what he has now and keep going till he figures it out. Then kick off a new challenge such as green screen.

Strictly my opinion.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:48 PM   #14
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

I don't claim to be some end-all lighting genius...but lighting a green screen is damn easy.

Two wide flat lights. One on either side of the screen.

Pull the talent out, away from the screen and light them.

It's not rocket science.

I use my camera zebras to make sure it's even and I can pretty quickly get it even with that simple, in-camera tool.

I do half a dozen green screen shoots a year for corporate folk.

I've even had a couple of my friends in third world Nicaragua use a couple of umbrella lights on a green screen and...even they have no problem achieving a nice clean key.

To promote a much more complicated and time consuming process...well...I guess that's ok if that's what a person likes to do.

I'd rather get it done faster and save myself time and the client money.

Plus the multiple choices I have to easily change the background white to any grade of white I want without further monkeying with the lights...just seems to make sense to me.

I still don't get why you would think shooting a green screen with a DSLR is any different than using a traditional video camera.

This is just me being curious and not argumentative.
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Old April 25th, 2014, 10:01 PM   #15
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Re: Newbie Videographer: Studio Light Setup Mess.

The dslr records with a 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. That means that 75% of the color information is discarded. A traditional video camera can offer 4:2:2 subsampling which gives you more chroma detail and as such a better key. Some cameras can even do 4:4:4 which is pretty much as good as it gets.

This is not to say you can't get a good key using a dslr. It is more challenging and mistakes in lighting and having a suboptimal foreground can make it a lot harder than it should be.

Software Keyers have come a long way and do a great job pulling a usable key from footage that in the past that would have been unusable. That said a basic white background should be even easier and not require a lot of post processing.
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