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Old October 11th, 2005, 12:57 PM   #1
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Blown out BG

I have an outdoor scene. The actors are mostly in the shade but the BG is in the sun. If I expose the actors properly, the BG is totally blown out. If I expose for the BG, the actors are too dark.

I have a PVC fram that I have mounted fabric screen onto and have put this behind the actors but it does not knock the BG down enough.

Can anyone suggest a solution? Can this be adjusted in post?

Any help greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
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Old October 11th, 2005, 01:03 PM   #2
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Shaughan,

You either need to move the people out of the shade, or light the people to get your contrast ratio down. Or bounce some of that sunlight onto the people.

If you need the people to be in the shade, perhaps for reasons of comfort, how about shading them with a white fabric screen? This will create a soft toplight and some shade, without totally killing the light.

Josh
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Old October 11th, 2005, 01:21 PM   #3
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Part of the issue there is that there is basically no light to bounce up onto them.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 02:09 PM   #4
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Shaughan,

Can you describe the setting a little more? Why they must be in the shade? Can you bring in some lights to light the subjects? What camera are you using?

Josh
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Old October 11th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #5
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Camera is Sony Z1U.

Here is an example test frame from the location (the word 'here' IS actually a link :) ).
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Old October 11th, 2005, 03:47 PM   #6
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Shaughan,

1. The best solution is suplemental lighting on the subjects in the foreground. Everything benefits from bringing in some lights. To match the rest of the scene, you need daylight-balanced lights, or tunsten lights corrected to daylight with CTB. Bear in mind the direction of the sun and shadows in the background and light to match. Judging from the picture, you'd light from the left side, slightly behind the talent, and bounce some of the light back to fill the shadow side using white reflectors.

2. Have you played with the "Cinematone Gamma" settings on the Z1U? These should give you extended latitude so you can get more of the highlights in the picture.

3. Is there a contrast control in the menu somewhere? Turning down the contrast should bring some of the highlights back in range.

4. Do you have a circular polarizer? It might cut down some of the glare and bring some definition back to the sky.

5. Worst case, you may have some blow out of the sky, but I've seen worse.

Also, to some degree the talent is going to be in shadow in relation to the background no matter how much light you bring in. You might want to have an establishing shot including the tree or whetever it is that is causing the shadows, so we're not thrust directly into this shadow world.

Last thing, the cars are distracting me from an otherwise nice shot. Is there a camera position you could use that might minimize the cars in view? Unless the cars are part of the story.

Josh
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Old October 11th, 2005, 05:45 PM   #7
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Thanks, Josh. I can't realistically have lights at the location. I will check the other setting though. As to the cars, this was a full crew rehersal and all of the cars belong to the crew so that is an easy fix :)
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Old October 11th, 2005, 06:12 PM   #8
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Use Reflectors

Try using some bigger reflectors at a distance from the actors to send some sun their way. The latitiude of video will never allow a wide exposure range.

Best choice - use reflectors with a Lisa Marie pattern mounted on Stands - they should be able to pivot and will allow good bounce from quite a distance.

Second choice: Use large collapseable reflectors - they will flex a bit in the wind and are really better for close work.

Another option - but a sheet of polystyrene about 6' tall - or two, andd have them behind the camera. You'll be amazed at the amount of soft ambient light they semd back at the actor's faces.

-john
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Old October 11th, 2005, 06:27 PM   #9
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Shaughan,

Just trying to brainstorm, because you've got to suplement some light in this situation, or it just won't look right. Maybe just worklights and a long extension cord, is there anywhere to plug in within 100'? Or even drive a car over and shine some headlights? Anything! :)

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Old October 12th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #10
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Try adding more fabric screen. You can double or triple layer it. Anything till it becomes obvious. Must be a pretty good size frame, judging by the size of the still.
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Old October 12th, 2005, 02:38 AM   #11
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I tend I agree with all the suggestions, at the very least use a reflector to add something to the face which looks dull in the low contrast compared to the high contrast background.

I am shooting in southern Africa right now and have the same problem all the time. It's hot and bright and people sit in the shade. So, I do one of two things: compose my shots so that another tree takes up the background (this often gives me a more interesting composition anyway) or simply blow out the background on purpose and expose for the faces. In post I bring down the highlights so that they aren't a beacon screaming for attention. No detail, but the viewer should be looking at the faces anyway.

There's an axiom in design that says if you're going to do something, BE OBVIOUS ABOUT IT. A good example is font sizes.If you have different sized fonts, you don't mix similar sizes in design, you double them at least.

I suggest the same can be applied to lighting. You may have noticed that some TV shows lately have blown out highlights: The Shield, Rescue Me, Johnny Zero, to name of few. I know Rescue me is shot in HD with very fast setups, but I don't think viewers ever notice that highlights have no detail at all. I looks like it's part of the overall effect. Faces are, however, perfectly exposed.

Good luck!
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Old October 12th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #12
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A friend of mine is a huge fan of the Closer and convinced me to watch an episode. I was amazed at how much all of the daylight outdoor scenes had all of the BGs blown out. I thought it looked terrible and was distracting.

I bought some more sheer fabric last night and I am going to shoot some tests today. If they are not feasable to use, then I will probably raise the camera slightly and aim down to eliminate some of the BG altogether. And I am going to zoom in for the same framing as the original setup was fairly wide angle.

Thanks for all of your help here folks!
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Old October 12th, 2005, 01:57 PM   #13
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I don't know if this is possible, but if you cannot add any more light to the foreground, then you might consider shooting on a cloudy day as this would naturally help to even out the lighting.
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Old October 12th, 2005, 09:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua Provost
Shaughan,
2. Have you played with the "Cinematone Gamma" settings on the Z1U? These should give you extended latitude so you can get more of the highlights in the picture.Josh
The CineGamma does not give increased latitude, in fact it probably decreases it slightly.

3. Is there a contrast control in the menu somewhere? Turning down the contrast should bring some of the highlights back in range.

There is not a contrast control in most cameras.

4. Do you have a circular polarizer? It might cut down some of the glare and bring some definition back to the sky.

First, a circular polarizer is not needed for video and a polarizer wouldn't help this shot much. A low-con filter might.

Someone suggested additional layers of scrim, but this can create a moire pattern that makes the fabric noticable.

BEST solution is reflectors. If you have selected a spot where all is in shade behind the camera, take this as a lesson for future site selection.
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Old October 13th, 2005, 09:02 AM   #15
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I think that black stretch on the Z1 is fairly close to a contrast control and I had that enabled.

I did some tests with the new sheer fabric that I bought and the results appear to be damn near perfect, so I am making a PVC frame for the fabric tonight so I can mount it on some C-stands for the shoot.

As for cloudy days, I have a production schedule that would only allow for a re-schedule of the shoot for that day in the event of rain. As of today, it's scheduled to rain that day. The ONE day I have to shoot this outdoor stuff and it's supposed to rain after months of NO rain...

So we are now re-scheduling for 1 week after the original shoot date. Maybe it WILL be cloudy on that day and all of this will be moot :)
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