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Old February 16th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #1
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Lighting for PURE WHITE background.

Hey all,

Looking for opinions here. I'm shooting some talent in a white room for that clean white background look. My question is: would you light the background so it blows out completely? Or keep in within exposure limits and bump it up in post? Any input would be welcome.

thanks
jesse
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:00 PM   #2
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I haven't done this shot before, but if you blow out the background too much it will bleed into the talent. You probably don't want it that blown out, but it is probably hard to get that much light without the sun anyway. I'm guessing that it is best to shoot it to look as close as possible to your intended result, then tweak it a bit in post. If you keep your talent from wearing anything white or silver, you can probably just barely overexpose the white while keeping the people properly exposed. If you have trouble with the white room overexposing the talent, you could try some negative fill (black cloth) on the camera side of the talent to knock down the reflections.

If you are shooting full-body shots, watch out for shadows and make them wear clean shoes! :)
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:36 PM   #3
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Thanks Marcus.

That's kinda what I'm thinking of doing. Blow the background just a bit. Any other opinions on this setup?
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:43 PM   #4
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Many many moons ago when I was doing still work I did a lot of modeling composite and fashion stuff. I used WHITE seamless paper only with 1 strobe on an umbrella and if needed I used a reflector on the opposite side as a fill. The reason I tell you this is because I could make the background anything from absolute pure white to pitch black by moving and adjusting the single light source while still keeping proper exposure on the talent. (this was a technique I learned from Victor Skrebneski one of the premiere fashion photogs in the country based here in Chicago)
Now granted while video requires to be a bit more precise with the lighting due to exposure latitudes I think you are far better off doing it for the shoot rather than trying to "fix it in post"-set your lighting to get the desired effect before you hit the record button and I think you'll be a lot happier with the results.
good luck
Don
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Rosten
Any input would be welcome.
SLV studios in Wimbledon, London UK have a 'white-out' studio just big enough to get a car into. There are white polystyrene sheets glued to the ceiling above the lighting gantry. Four blondes (2kW lights) are bounced off the poly into the white infinity cyclorama. Works great.

The talent or subject is lit separately (they've got a couple of KinoFlows which are nice, but I prefer adding a bit of dedo or Lowel stuff), and for shiny objects plenty of flags are used.

Set zebras at 95% and up the exposure by half to one stop. Check evenness at 100% zebras to find any dim spots - cure them, then light the foreground. Full length shots are of course harder to light because of spill.

If you want a harder lighting look, consider chromakeying. The better chromakey assist filters like zMatte have a 'wrap around' light spill (zMatte calles it 'light wrap') and 'film pre-flash' functions that help you achieve that THX1138 look.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 03:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss
...Set zebras at 95% and up the exposure by half to one stop. Check evenness at 100% zebras to find any dim spots - cure them, then light the foreground...
I like Matt's suggestions here. Generally agreeing with other comments to get your look in the studio.

This is a great time to have a reference monitor and a waveform monitor in the studio. If you want your white at 100 IRE in the final, put it at 100 in the shoot. Which is what Matt's workflow would accomplish, but it's certainly easier to see if you're evenly lit with a waveform mon.

Did you know that your background doesn't have to be white? Lots of studios keep their walls/cyc at a light grey. It can be lit to a wide range from white to very dark grey.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:34 PM   #7
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I just did this shot myself in a garage about 6 months ago. The talents were on a couch with a wall of white fabric hung behind them about 6 feet away (wanted it farther away, but the setup wouldn't allow it). The camera was about 15 feet from the talent, set straight on. We used a pair of funky looking house lamps (with 3 60w bulbs each) to light the talents and the couch. We used 3 sets of work lights to light the white fabric.

The result was that I got the white blown out on-camera, but it did bleed into the centermost talents. Part of the reason for this is that one of the work light sets (two light mounts at 500w each I believe), was mounted right behind the couch in the center. had the sheets been farther away, I think the effect would have worked better.

Overall, it worked well enough, but you definitely should watch out for your white bleeding into the talents.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 01:56 AM   #8
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To get a white background

You really need to light the background 2-3 stops higher in film
Talent should be as far away from the background as you can.
Hard light is good for the background... 4 or more tota's or other even floods work well and softlight and lightbanks light the subject seperatly.
That is how you get pure white.
You need lots of light on background. Pull subject away use a lightbank reflector and hairlight on subject.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 02:08 AM   #9
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Does anyone know (technically) why the background can bleed into the foreground on a shot like this? How is it possible?
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Old March 4th, 2006, 10:14 AM   #10
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subject too close.. no light control

too much spill..

subject too close..

flags.. distance

good even floods or kino's
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Old March 4th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #11
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Jesse, if you're shooting video, I would highly recommend NOT "blowing out" the white, even a little. It's certainly okay to overexpose when using film, but that kind of blowout is a big no-no in video. It really has less to do with the whites bleeding into the talent - that probably won't happen much on properly exposed video, anyway. It has to do with keeping the video within legal limits and not clipping. If you want to create that light wrapping effect in post, it's easy enough to do. Here's a detailed response I gave to someone else by email, but I might as well post it here, as it also has some examples that might be helpful:

We shot in front of a Cyc (short for cyclorama, this type also known as an infinity wall, for the curved floor for that "stretching to infinity" effect) at a Phoenix photo studio. Look at the first Quicktime VR in the "studio tour":

http://www.vermillionphoto.com/Default.aspx?tabid=27

First, I highly recommend a portable waveform and a production monitor. It is practically impossible to know how smoothly you've lit the background by eye, just like with bluescreen shoots. You have to meter it somehow. A waveform gives you an easy graphic readout to see just where your hotspots are. It also insures that you don't overexpose. That's really, really important - if you go over 100 IRE exposure, it will look unnatural, with video-y clipped areas, and you'll completely lose the ability to correct in post - information that's gone is gone forever. It's also important to have a good, calibrated production monitor to rely on. Don't trust your eyes, or an inferior LCD.

Here's what we did. We started by lighting the background evenly to 90IRE in the waveform. This is harder than it looks. We had about 5000W of lights just for the background. I think we had 6 or 7 tungsten lights: fresnels, soft bounces and pars to get it even. Keep in mind, we were trying to cover 15+ feet in the background, so I could shoot someone full-frame, if needed. If you're only doing head and shoulders, your job should be much easier.

Next, we had several large, soft sources in the foreground to wrap as much even light around the talent as possible. We had at least 2 of the large softlights (softboxes) like you can see in the "studio tour" picture, perhaps 1000W each, placed as close to talent as possible. I think we also used another light shining into a bounce card to remove shadows from underneath. Whew - a lot of light!

I was standing as close to the wall as possible - right where the blue director's chair is, shooting straight ahead. The talent was pretty much where the camera position of the QTVR is taken. Any closer, and the talent would have been casting shadows on the background, ruining the effect.

From this basic setup we were able to tweak the lighting slightly for black, white, closeups, full-body - the whole range you've seen on the video.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...409#post251409

Once you're done shooting, you can tweak the video with a Levels filter in post to really bring those whites to a pure 255,255,255 white, which will remove some inconsistencies and allow you to seamlessly merge with a white background. I edited a similar spot, which was shot horribly - pinks in the background, uneven lighting, vignetting, etc. With some careful color correction and maybe even a garbage matte or 2, I got it to match pretty well:

http://www.meltmedia.com/ccisite/videoReview/

But save yourself the time in post and shoot it right to begin with.

Good luck on your shoot - let us know how it goes.
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Old March 5th, 2006, 06:50 AM   #12
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In photography we do high key lighting by simply lighting the background 1 stop over the key light

In addition you need to have your subject a few feet (6 or more) away from the backdrop to avoid spill. Also if you have white walls all around you may need to make sure you dont get too much spill from walls (use dark curtains)
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Old March 7th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #13
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Thank you all for the input.

The shoot went great. Here's what I ended up doing:

Used a 10ft roll of white seamless paper as the back drop. I found that it was almost impossible to get it all lit evenly. So I ended up totally blowing out the background to make up for brightness differences. I'll just clip the BG in my NLE at 100IRE to keep in legal. It worked out doing it this way, but I would have preferred to get that danged wall lit evenly just at 100IRE, even with 5 diffused lights I couldn't do it. I think it would have been helpful to be in a bigger studio where I could move lights further away from the BG... and dimmers would have helped.

Here are before and after shots.
http://www.savvyproductions.com/IMAGE1BG.jpg
http://www.savvyproductions.com/IMAGE1NOBG.jpg
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Old March 7th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #14
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Looks good! I knew you would have to blow the background out, at least a little. It's just too difficult NOT to start blowing out white when working with DV. Besides, the white doesn't need any detail preserved. The important thing is that the outline of the talent is still defined. Now, you can file this experience away for a time when you might want to do a chromakey.

How large were the diffusers you used for the background?
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Old March 7th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #15
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Marcus,

On the background, one Caselite 4 over head, two Rifa softboxes (1K I think) on either side, plus two lowel 650 fresnels with diffusion paper.

For the talent: two 650 fresnels diffused with a full length photoflex light panel (main light source) one caselite 4 as fill.

That's a lot of light.
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