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Old June 20th, 2006, 03:47 AM   #1
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IRE Level suggestions?

Hello!

I'm doing a short video here in the next week and thought I'd ask my very first lighting question on dvinfo.net!

Shooting with an XL2 and DV Rack, lighting with a small lowel kit (2 omni's, 1 tota, various gells, difusions, "flags and bounce cards" (ie foamcore), a homemade soft box, c-47's).

I was reading in another thread about lighting for a night scene and monitoring light levels on DV Rack (80IRE for subject, 35IRE for background) and was wondering what levels I should be looking for in other situations:

1. A small bathroom lit with a TON of candles, one person sitting on the floor. Looking for very warm light, but still highlighting green wall paper...deep shadows.

2. A basement "lit" by a single light bulb hanging fron the ceiling, a person playing drums underneath, same feel as above.

3. A person watching TV in the dark.

4. A person in a kitchen...only practical light coming from torn tinfoiled windows (ie, beams of light cutting through a light haze) Cold and isolated feeling.

5. A very even/soft lit foyer in daytime, same cold and un-inviting feel...maybe with some kind of rim light on the talent. I'll probably drape white musiln on the glass door to further difuse the light...need to knock down windows too...

6. A very hot-yet-dark room with lots of inky black detailed shadows. I'm thinking hit the walls with hard light from the omni's, soft light the talent with the tota through my softbox...very contrasty...a sort of dream sequence.

7. :)

Thanks so much!

-Dan
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Old June 20th, 2006, 05:40 PM   #2
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It's pretty much impossible to give absolute IRE numbers for every situation, which I think might have been your question. Conventional wisdom says that caucasian skin tones are in that 75-80 IRE range when properly exposed, but there is no law that says you have to do that. The waveform monitor is really giving you exposure information to make sure that you have enough but not too much range between white and black. If you haven't, Ansel Adams book on the Negative can give you some great insights into proper exposure, although you'll have to convert from the photochemical world to the electronic one.

In addition, for a lot of the words that you used (like warm, cold, isolated, etc.) I would be looking at color temperature of the light relative to the white balance on the camera. I don't have much experience with XL2's but they have a reputation for great flexibility in how they handle color, so I'd be sure I understood how to use that to my advantage.

Have fun with your short!
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Old June 20th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #3
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Yeah, thanks!

I really wasn't looking for absolute numbers, just some guidelines to help get things lit right. I've never used a waveform monitor like that before, or a vectorscope for that matter...

Colorwise I've had a lot of luck balancing for tungsten, then using a straw gell on the talent...that looks pretty good. I'm not 100% sure what I'll do for the cold/empty feeling rooms...
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Old June 20th, 2006, 06:01 PM   #4
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Whoa!

I just noticed you're in Albuquerque! I was born there and lived most my life in Las Cruces. I just recently moved to Memphis...stinking muggy weather...
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Old June 21st, 2006, 05:07 PM   #5
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For the color temperature stuff, I agree that creative white balance is the best way to go (as long as you want to get these looks in the camera--color correction is another option).

For a cool look, you can set your white balance on something beige, or even orange if you want it really cold. If you want a warm look, white balance to something that's light blue.

Doing this stuff in post is another option. If you shoot your footage with desaturated colors, you'll have a lot of options in post. If you shoot with the saturation bumped up on the camera, you'll have less breathing room to tweak the colors later.

I personally prefer to try to get the look I want on the set, but it's a matter of preference. You'll lose a little wiggle room in editing, but it's always nice to get really close in the camera if you can. It saves time, and could potentially keep you from having to reshoot if you find you can't get the look you were after in post.
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Old June 21st, 2006, 05:18 PM   #6
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It's about the look that's right for your film and it's mood, setting, etc., not specfic IREs, you don't want to become a slave to the waveform and numbers, as long as you have a good "range" with something in the blacks and something in the highlights.

If you're looking for the ultimate in image control and proper exposure, you should use the combination of a waveform monitor (DV Rack is a pretty good tool for this) and a properly calibrated (using bars) CRT monitor, for example, I use a little Sony 9" PVM series field monitor that can be powered from AC or batteries.

The waveform will tell you if you've got a good exposure, but in terms of the look, you'll want to make your judgements on a monitor (no the camera's or laptop's LCD screen if you can avoid it). These LCDs simply don't show you what you're recording on the tape. Keep in mind that every time the ambient light conditions change, you'll need to recalibrate (using bars), if you can "hood" the monitor it helps for critical viewing. Some LCDs are starting to get almost good enough for this kind of critical work, but they are very expensive. The thing to do is rent the monitor and see if you like working with it.

If for one reason or another you can't use a CRT, then by all means, work with what you have, and DV Rack goes a long way in making up for a lack of monitor. By the way, never use a monitor alone, you need the waveform to tell you where things are really at and as a sanity check in case the monitor is off for some reason.
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Old June 21st, 2006, 08:54 PM   #7
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Thanks man!

I could probably have been a little clearer in my origional question...I just wanted to make sure I was getting proper exposure in those settings, which has been a bit of a problem for me.

Does the general exposure for a person change from an interior night scene to an exterior day, or will that tend to hover around the 75-80 range regardless?

Or I guess I could also ask, when shooting outside, is keeping skintones around the 75-80 a good starting point, or would I generally go brighter?
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Old June 21st, 2006, 09:53 PM   #8
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Again, it's all relative. And if we're sculpting with light, it's not just about exposure on the face but ratios too. Like 70 IRE key side and 60 IRE in the shadows for a flat "see them walk, hear them talk" TV look, but 70 IRE key side and 20 IRE shadow side for a more dimensional look that borders on film noir, or whatever you need in between. You want to have some values along the entire tonal scale somewhere in the image to avoid a washed out look, so having some 0 IRE black areas and some 100 IRE speculars is always good for a full range image. You really need to look at the scene in a wholistic context.
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Old June 21st, 2006, 11:47 PM   #9
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Ok, cool.

Now, you said that and I'm reminded of Highschool art class where we learned to alternate light and dark to aide in seperating foreground and background objects...so lemme pose this - barring focus and color for the time being:

One shot is of a keyboard player playing in a foyer, with the keyboard in the foreground and stairs in the background. I could leave the keyboard dark, key the talent for 70IRE, leave the hand rail behind her dark and throw some light on the back wall, then use fill light to set the mood?
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Old June 23rd, 2006, 12:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Baker
[...] I'm reminded of Highschool art class where we learned to alternate light and dark to aide in seperating foreground and background objects [...]
That would be the interaction of shadows and light known as chiaroscuro.
Chiaroscuro. n., [It., lit., clear, dark < L. clarus, clear + obscurus, dark] 1. the treatment of light and dark in a drawing, painting, photograph or shot in a film, etc., to produce the illusion of depth, a dramatic effect, etc. 2. a style of drawing, painting, photography, or cinematography etc., emphasizing such treatment. 3. A Flickr Group in which contributors show their photographs (or frames from their own films) that display the use of chiaroscuro.
If you study photographs, movies, and paintings, soon you'll develop an eye for what is a compelling image. I'm not going to provide a direct answer, I'm going to suggest you think about your reaction to any photographs or paintings you have access too that exhibit chiaroscuro. I'd suggest taking a look at the lighting in films, for example Henry and June, directed by Philip Kaufman with cinematography by Philippe Rousselot and Blade Runner (directed by Ridley Scott with cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth), I could go on and on with suggestions. Study them in terms of how the lighting makes you feel. What is being shown? What is being hidden?

To help recreate the illusion of the third dimension, filmmakers use chiaroscuro and its many variations. One side of the actors face is lit from the key while the other side of the face exhibits the interaction of shadows and light, known as chiaroscuro, to create the illusion of three dimensions through the modeling of volume by depicting light and shade and contrasting them.

By simply changing the position of the key light relative to the actor, you create more or less chiaroscuro. More chiaroscuro can be more flattering and offers more visual impact and sense of depth. How hard or soft the shadows are is a matter of style and intent. Whether used with soft or hard sources, chiaroscuro creates an illusion of depth.

Keep in mind, the larger the light source, the softer the shadows, the smaller the light, the harder the shadows. Learn to look for chiaroscuro, the lights and darks and how they interact. Simply changing the position of the key light relative to your actor, without moving the actor or fill lights can make all the difference. Using backlights is an excellent way to create another alternation between dark and light. The most serious problem I see when people first start lighting is they are afraid of the dark and over light.
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Old June 23rd, 2006, 12:55 AM   #11
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Wow...very insightful. All I want to do is pop a DVD in now and observe...

Thanks so much!

I had been trying to do that with some music videos, but it's hard at first when you don't know quite what you're looking at (at least technically). I'm 4 days out from production and I really need to plan out my shots...and build a dolly...at least I found a production assistant, that'll help a ton come time to shoot.

And what the heck is with the unicorn in Blade Runner?!? Seriously!
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Old June 23rd, 2006, 01:18 AM   #12
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You can find books and training videos that will take you step by step through basic lighting and some are even good... but especially with lighting, you will discover the magic through experimentation and analysis of both your own and the work of others. Try replicating scenes you like, experiment with various angles, ratios, instruments. Walk around the world and look. Think about where the light sources . What is the source? The color? The quality of the light? The angle?

An excellent basic introduction to lighting is Ross Lowel's Matters of Light & Depth which is written with style and sense of humor.
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Old June 23rd, 2006, 01:48 AM   #13
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I've heard a lot of recomendations on that book, so I will probably get it next time around...too soon for this shoot...unelss the library has one, I should go check tomorrow.

I had gotten Film Lighting by Malkiewicz, which is good, but it's mostly practical things...

I could tell you what scales and patters you need if you wanted to learn the blues, but you need to listen and practice to play them...

Ok! Back to work!
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Old July 22nd, 2006, 10:55 PM   #14
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Generally speaking, I wouldn't use the WFM for specific lighting levels they way you seem to be asking. Each of those setups might vary tremendously depending on other factors.

A better way to understand using the WFM is to watch upper & lower limits, and view distribution of midranges. Ansel Adams defined the "Zone System" for B&W still photography - good basic link here:

http://www.ccp.arizona.edu/branches/...de/zonesys.htm

and the concept applies here -- typically there should be some values in every "zone" of the WFM. There should be only a few pixels actually 0 IRE black -- other shadows should be a range of dark grays to show detail -- and only a few of the brightest pixels should be 100 IRE. There should be values in most other zones of the WFM, even in a very contrasty pic.

You might want to pick up a copy of my book "Lighting for Digital Video & Television":

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...290236?ie=UTF8

It's been the top selling book on lighting since it came out. For a more objective opinion, read the reviews :^)
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Old July 23rd, 2006, 01:26 AM   #15
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In my opinion, do what looks good on a broadcast monitor. Nobody watches TV through a waveform monitor!!

With night shots, you have to get the contrast ratios and mixed color temperatures correct to really sell the shot. You can't simply convey darkness by underexposing... many consumer CRTs will make that look normally exposed (because they overdrive the signal to begin with).

The other thing you need to watch out for is that video cameras tend to have a limited dynamic range... so:
Quote:
1. A small bathroom lit with a TON of candles, one person sitting on the floor. Looking for very warm light, but still highlighting green wall paper...deep shadows.
By itself, the candles (and any practical light in the shot) will likely overexposed into blobs if you want decent exposure on your subject. To compensate for that, you could add supplementary light (usually a soft light source is appropriate) to fake the light coming from the candle / practical light.

Quote:
You might want to pick up a copy of my book "Lighting for Digital Video & Television":
John... shame on you for plugging your product!! I could've done that for you. ;) John's book is a good book in my opinion, lots of practical information that Lowel's book doesn't go into. Both books mentioned are good... Lowel's book gets more into the art of lighting, although that is also touched upon in John Jackman's book.
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