Can you look at this video and help with LIGHTING? at

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Old June 6th, 2006, 07:13 PM   #1
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Can you look at this video and help with LIGHTING?

Hey everyone, new here and hopefully I'll be able to contibute eventually.

I'm having a problem, we run an online business showing people how to do hair. You can view a couple of clips here

*links removed by poster's request* -- Admin

That was shot with a Canon XL1 and ONE floodlight looking light, don't even know what it was. Well, I want to invest in more quality equipment so I'm going to buy a Canon XL2 and just can't decide on which lighting to get for our type of filming, I was thinking of buying this:

Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks a lot!
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Old June 6th, 2006, 10:43 PM   #2
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Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
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with the flood light looking thing, if you suspend a white bedsheet in front of it, you can soften the light making it less harsh (don't let it fact, back the light up a bit to let the beam spread out. The bedsheet will become the light source and be large and close giving nice soft light instead of the harsh directional light you've got in the video.

or you could bounce the light off of a piece of tagboard or foamcore spray painted gold for a more glamorous look to the light. This will also diffuse the light making it softer.

using a piece of foamcore on the opposite side of the subject, you can bounce the light back to create a fill which will bring up the light values a bit in the shadows alleviating the sharp contrast between light and dark.

Bouncing the light off the ceiling first behind the subject would provide a hairlight to provide some definition and dimensionality to the edges of your subject.

I would also recommend a non-stark white background as this will allow the hair light you've just created to act like an outline separating the subject from the background.

The key light should also be a bit more to the side and higher if possible. When looking directly at the subject, the nose should cast a slight "V" shadow under the eye. For glamour photography, you can do alot with a simple and cheap lighting setup. Do some research on the "3 point lighting system".

Start watching lighting on TV very critically...if you have TIVO or the like, pause pictures that you like and figure out where the obvious lights are placed in the scene by studying the actor's faces and clothing. Once I started doing this, my pictures went overnight from looking very amateurish to much higher quality footage with no other changes.

BTW, I use $15 lights from Home Depot. $10 clamp light and $5 GE soft white flourescent screw in bulbs...I don't use a sheet to diffuse this setup, but could easily clip parchment paper from my kitchen drawer to the light as the flourescents generate almost no heat. I clamp them to old microphone boom stands that I have laying around from the band days.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 07:27 AM   #3
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NEVER put flammable materials, like a bed sheet, in front of a light source. These lights get incredibly hot and can very easily start a fire. ONLY use materials that were specifically made for diffusing lighting instruments.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 09:06 AM   #4
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Sorry, I did say to put space between and not let them touch...I didn't say why and include appropriate warnings. Lights get hot, this is one of the reasons I moved to a flourescent lighting system, they produce much less heat and use less power.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 10:10 AM   #5
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Ricky, the Lowel DV Creator 44 Kit you linked to is a really good starting point for someone just learning lighting, even if it it is a bit expensive.

I say it's a good starting point because it includes a variety of types of lighting instruments. The Rifa is a soft-light only, functionally identical to a Chimera, but configured for fast, easy setup. The Pro-Light is a very small Par (that is PArabolic Reflector) instrument that will provide a harder, more focused light. This could turn out to often be your kicker, or rim light coming from the back. The Omni is also a PAR, but larger. Both the Pro and the Omni come with very flexible, 4-leaf barndoors and a gel frame which you can mount colored gels or diffusion in front of the instrument. The Tota is what is often called a Broad, as in throwing out a broad, uncontrolled beam of light. On any of these, you can also attach a silvered Umbrella, which can provide a semi-soft light, in-between the Rifa and a Par.

The benefit of this kit is that it is extremely portable. To have a 4-light kit that a single person can easily carry is great. The tradeoff for portability is ruggedness. The lights are easy to break, as you'll find out the first time a stand tips over, slamming the light onto the floor. The stands themselves are pretty flimsy, and the knobs to adjust the height tend to strip after many months or years of use. Lowels are very ingenious in their design, however, and extremely modular. It's pretty easy to replace most parts yourself.

I would recommend this kit for anyone doing mobile interviews indoors. Your situation is very similar, as you're mainly focusing on a head. Although you would be able to do a 2 or 3 person interview with this kit. Heck, you could really do a large variety of setups with this kit.

Now, learning the craft of lighting is a horse of a different color. One quick tip: if you look at high fasion photography, you will often see a big, soft source placed as close to the subject as possible. I'm talking that Rifa light within 3 feet of your subject, just out of the camera frame. Or, even better, the Tota or Omni bounced onto a 4x8 foamcore placed just out of frame. Making the source bigger is often better, as you're looking to "wrap the light around" your subject. This minimizes harsh shadows. Then, to add some contrast and detail to the hair, you kick a hard source in from behind. You want to just rake the light in from an angle to highlight the texture and detail in the hair, and to help seperate the subject from the background.

In addition to the kit, I would add not only some foamcore, but also some small sandbags or soething to weight down the stands - they're so light that it's very easy for people to trip and send a light flying. I would also add some extra gels and diffusion material in larger sizes, as well as a small bag full of clothespins, or in grip house language, C-47's. Often it is much easier to take a gel or diffusion and clothespin it to the front of your barn doors than to set up the Lowel gel frame and try to fit the gels onto the little metal clips.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #6
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If you want to do textbook lighting, do 3-point lighting. For key and fill, get two soft sources... a large softbox (i.e. rifa, chimera) is one way of doing this. The larger the softbox, the softer the light source. The closer it is, the softer it will be. If you need room for the instructor to move around, then obviously you can't put the softboxes as close... so the light will be harder and cast a more defined shadow. Which may or may not be to your taste. You may not like shadows if it makes things difficult to see (it's an instructional video after all).

Back light is used to seperate the talent from the background. If you had black hair on a black background, it would be hard to differentiate between the two. A backlight adds a rim or line of light around the talent to give you that seperation. In your case it didn't matter too much because the background was white. But you may want to add a back light if you change the background. You might want two... which will give a rim all around the head (place all 4 lights in a X, with the talent in the center).

I would try to make the background look more interesting than a plain white wall.
Options: Make the background look like a hair salon. How to light this depends on what it looks like.
Move the talent away from the wall so you get a little shallower depth of field.
Another option: Use a black drape so there's a black void behind the talent.
Yet another option: Use lights + cookies (cutouts) to cast an interesting pattern on the back wall.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 09:05 AM   #7
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Use fluorescent lighting

Your talent and crew will be happier and your air conditioner too ;-).

As Glenn said I would definitely consider doing something with the wall behind. Amazing how this can make a difference. I usually use the cucaloris idea with a shutter pattern or some random stuff. Maybe you'll think it looks too dramatic though. Perhaps just a simple swatch of color across the back wall could be a very simple effect and easy to do as long as you have barn doors on whatever fixture you use. If your models are primarily black skin tone I don't think I would use the black "limbo" background" -- better to have contrast but definitely not white either though.

As for the key, a fluorescent light source could be softened up even more than it already is and really inexpensively too, with a softbox or chinese lantern. You can get these lanterns for less than $20 with shipping. Get the larger nylon ones because they are rated to higher wattages. Then if you get something like a 100 watt CFL bulb/fixture to use in it you are putting out an equivalent lumens of a 400w bulb. These lanterns of say, a size 24 - 30 inches will easily handle a regular 200 - 300 watt bulb (that's what they are rated for anyway). So the CFL bulb will be well under that margin. And a softbox is usually rated to at least 500 watts of power. You could jump up to a 125, 150 or even 200w CFL then. And you can experiment with color temps too. Try a 2700, (if you can get it a 3500) and a 5000 or 5500 to see what you like. You may decide to "warm" up the scene with the lower color temps. Or you may prefer the daylight look. I used 3500K a lot in my last video and was really happy with it. And those bulbs are readily available too in many different sizes and types.
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