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Old May 11th, 2006, 08:40 AM   #1
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Tips about Black and White Lighting

Hi guys. I introduce myself. I'm a newbie scripter-director from Salamanca, Spain.

The fact is I'm gonna shoot a short in the next days, with a low price Canon camera, Wayne's SG35 adapter, and 3 low F rating lenses.

I'm gonna shoot it in Black and White, so I can reduce the problems of a low quality camera as mine. I have two 500w lights to use.

I'll be very grateful with any help you guys could give me :):)

Thanks a lot!
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Old May 11th, 2006, 01:50 PM   #2
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Javier,

Shoot tests of your locations and costumes in B&W to make sure that it isn't too muddy, or that your characters don't get lost in the backgrounds. It can be good to have locations that are sort of plain, and have your characters dressed in more contrasty tones.

If you only have two lights, you might use one as a key light and bounce some light for fill. Use the second light as a rim light, to separate the characters from the backgrounds.

If you had more lights, you could use them to create layers of separation in the foreground and background elements. That type of separation is especially important in B&W, where color won't help you out.

Josh
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Old May 12th, 2006, 02:43 PM   #3
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Thanks Josuah

Seeing a "making off" of Raging Bull, the editor talked a lot about the difficult matter of getting different planes of density, exactly what you're talking about. The color does it automatically, but not the B&W.

So maybe i'll need to get two more 500 watts lights, and make little research about the costumes. (Mmmm... complementary colors will work?)

If anyone can extend this info, or give me some links, i'l appreciate it :)

Excuse my poor english, thank you joshua, and have a good time everyone :)
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:08 AM   #4
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One cool thing about B&W shooting is playing with black and white photo filters.

Filters in the red, pink, light magenta range are flattering for women; they tend to mask out blemishes and lines (as that sort of stuff tends to be reddish or brownish). You may need to go with darker lipstick and blush colors with women though (test! And have the talent or makeup artist make nots for repeatability.) Green filters are opposite, really enhance that stuff, great when you neeed a guy to look a little rough & craggy.

Do a little reading/research on the old-school masters of B&W film & portraiture; they had it figured out ages ago. Lighting knowledge is a lot more important here; you really need contrast & lighting to make up for the lack of color, esecially to make key things stand out in a scene; using the differences between hard & soft light really separates the men from the boys in B&W.

(I've done a lot of shots in B&W where I had holes cut in scrims, to get one hard "key" in a soft-lit shot)
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Old May 16th, 2006, 11:24 AM   #5
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Very interesting Michael Carter. So when talking Digital Video, would these filters only be used if "shooting in B&W". In other words, could I achieve the same effects in post if I "shoot in color" and and then desaturate to B&W or is the opportunity to beautify gone. I am asking this because I keep reading threads on this forum where some encourage to shoot in color and do all the desaturating in Post and work from there.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 09:17 AM   #6
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I'm very interested in this discussion since I am going to shoot a short on DV in B&W in a few weeks. Sorry for the ramble, but this is what I am working on now and I am somewhere between not knowing what I am doing and being able to give advice.

I've learned a bit from testing and will try to share but certainly open to advice as this is the first time with B&W (but not my first project).

My project will be shot at night (night for night), about half interiors and half exteriors.

I've starting doing some experiementing with lighting. It is certainly critically important to light carefully with B & W since you dont have color as a tool to compose your frame and direct attention. Get more small lights to use even if they are ordinary (practical) fixtures. Lots more.

So one lesson I've learned well is lots of back/rim/hair light to separate actors from backgrounds, especially in the exteriors.

I'm going for a contrasty look with lots of pools of light to build depth. So I'm using small fresnels and broadlights, trying not to be afraid of darkness. I find if you let parts of the frame get really dark you dont have the noise that creeps into slightly underexposed video. But this makes the exposure meter in the LCD screen unreliable. I am depending on my zebras for exposure (which your camera may not have).

If you are only using two video lights I would follow Joshua's advice. One light for key and one for back/rim. Control the spill very carefully. If you want a noir look skip the fill. Use practicals (ordinary lights) for room lighting. At least when you are shooting B &W you dont have to worry much about the color temp of the lights!

I've read some about shooting in color and the processing to B&W in post. However I am getting good results in shooting in B&W in camera and it would be a big hassle to set up and light in B&W then switch to color when you actually roll tape, then switch back to B&W for the next set up, etc. Someone feel free to convince me I am being foolish to do B&W in camera.

I see the possibility of using filters e.g. red to darken blue skys, etc. But shooting at night is there any value to trying color filters? I'd rather not put more glass in front of the imager as I am already using an anamorphic adaptor on top of the stock lens, which flares badly.

Whatever you do, dont just shoot it in color, lit like you would for color, and then desaturate in post. It will be one big gray mush. One example: I have a scene where the actor makes tea. I started with a bright red teapot on a gray gas burner. Looks fine to the eye and in color. Turn on B&W and the teapot and burner merge as the same shade of gray. I'm now using a stainless teapot which is boring in color but fantastic in B&W.

Lots of good books out there on the subject.

Bill
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Old May 17th, 2006, 11:33 AM   #7
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Regarding color vs. BW on-set, desat. in post, etc...

The key thing here is to monitor in B&W, no matter what else. And keep in mind the contrast & ratios of your monitor may not be that close to what you're really getting. (TEST!)

The times I've shot digital with a camera that will capture in B&W, all the basic filter tricks apply. My brain tells me that filtering for B&W when shooting color should give you similar results when you convert. But, best thing is to test with the gear & software you will use.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 12:44 PM   #8
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Yes, better to shoot B&W in camera. If you shoot color and desat in post, the inaccuracies of the miniDV colorspace will contribute to your final image and your quality will be degraded compared to shooting B&W in camera. Also, compression will be more efficient if shooting B&W, increasing quality.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 02:19 PM   #9
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Shooting in color lets you play with color filters in post. See for yourself.
http://www.glennchan.info/fcpugto/sh...end/shot10.htm

I would agree with Michael about monitoring in color.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:23 PM   #10
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Thank You So Much Everybody!

Thanks, Michael. All your comments were very illustrative. Do you think i can build this "color filters" by myself, with some transparent paper, or maybe should i buy theme? I'm a newbie and i'm not quite sure :) All your suggestions about making up are very appreciated, thanks.

Steve and Bill, I was actually thinking about shooting in color, and desaturate in post. I was thinking about shooting with a TV conected to the camcorder, so I can compose the scenes, avoiding mistakes. I'll post some example footage in a few weeks, so we can keep on with this thread.
PD. I´ll try to get some extra 100w and 500w, so I can work with your suggestion of more light points, thanks you both!

Mmm... i don't think my camera has the option to shoot B&W XDDDD

Great! Glenn, this link is awesome. Will you write it as a tutorial? Can it be done in premiere? Guess so... Thanks, man :)
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Old May 17th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #11
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The channel mixer in PPro will do the channel mixing or channel blend stuff.

The color corrector has a curves control. Make it s-shaped to bump contrast.

2- If your TV can't do B+W (i.e. the saturation menu setting doesn't let you go all the way) *and* it has a S-video input:

Take a s-video cable and cut it in half. One of the wires carries a black and white signal, the other carries color information.

There are 2 wires inside. Cut both. Tape one of the cut wires together. Test this out on your TV... if that doesn't work, it's the other wire. Use tape to hold stuff together.
Make sure to keep the shield and the signal wire(s) seperated.

If you want to make it more permanent, just solder that sucker. Or use lots of tape... tape the two big wires together, then the inside wires together. In like a Y-shape.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 10:03 PM   #12
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This now gets me wondering, what would be the difference in monitoring with a genuine B&W monitor vs. a regular TV on B&W(desat) or with the s-video cable rig that Glenn described? What are the advantages of a real B&W production monitor? I've seen them for about $299.00 and they don't look like much. Seems like a small TV would be the way to go instead.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:20 AM   #13
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More and more

i think the best (and cheaper choice) is to have a good planning of costumes, make up, and scenario, doing lots of test. I will do video tests, as well as some reflex photographies, so the TV will only be for monitoring, cause I'll already know the real look.

I have no S-vídeo conector in this TV, so I will desaturate in the menu :)
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:29 AM   #14
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Black and white monitors have higher resolution than color monitors. This is why viewfinders are often in black and white... a color monitor/viewfinder that small won't give you full resolution needed to check focus.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:35 AM   #15
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If you have little budget and want to see what color filters look like, get a sample gel pack from GAM, Rosco, or Lee. Equipment rental houses will usually have some they give away. They may also have some free gels... because people just throw em away after a shoot.
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