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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #46
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Show a lot of improvement

Hi Kev:

Wow, your last two grabs show immense improvement over your earlier setups. Very nice lighting.

You might want to learn about some of the different styles of lighting like broad lighting, short lighting, butterfly lighting, etc. The more lighting knowledge you have, the more "tools" you have to create different looks that can evoke many more moods. The first step is to be able to light a decent looking interview which your last two grabs show you can know do. The next step is to be able to light any of these in "film noir", "horror", "high key", "low key", etc.

My only nit picks are on the last frame, you might want to brighten up the BG just a bit, it looks a little gloomy, unless that's what you were going for. I don't know the subject matter so a dark BG might have been perfect?

On the second to last frame, I would agree, a bit more low angle fill would flatter her face, I almost always use a flexfill or a piece of foamcore on the floor or on an applebox at the talents feet and hit it with a 300 watt fresnel, it really helps give that extra gloss and glint to their faces without flattening out the light too much.

Keep up the good work, you are learning quickly Grrasshopper.

Dan
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Old March 15th, 2007, 06:23 AM   #47
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Kevin you have made some giant strides since your earlier postings, now letís see if we can fine tune this.

First keep in mind that lights positions are not etched in stone, conventional placements are a starting point and will vary depending on the subject.

The fill light is too low and too much off the side. Incorrect fill light position can create all sorts of visual problems. The ideal position for a fill light would be just slightly above the camera lens. When short on set-up time the small sungun on your camera can make an ideal fill light if the output can be properly controlled and adjusted; many manufacturers make brackets that can bring the small light even closer to the lens, this light position will also ideally place a catch light on the eyes. By keeping the fill too far away from the key light you are basically creating a secondary and conflicting key light as both lights are coming from opposite directions resulting in the fill light creating its own shadows. On your shots itís evident by the dark valleys on the side of the nose because thereís no light hitting there. Also the low position of the fill makes the jaw line blend into the neck, remember that shadows are the most important part of lighting, thatís what give us modeling and depth, we have to control shadows not eliminate them.

Letís start working on the background now. Forget about patterns, cookies and any other gimmicks for now, the best thing that I can tell you right now is to go over and understand this: http://efplighting.com/?The_Chiaroscuro_Principle

Keep up the good work.


Nino

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Old March 16th, 2007, 07:54 PM   #48
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Thank you for your input, Nino.

I hadn't noticed the necks blending into the chins - you're exactly right. I'm still using a reflector as my fill "light" and I did have it at a very low angle. It seemed to catch more light from the key light, which I thought was a good thing. But it seems that it just created a second, and distracting, key light.

I just shot some interviews today using my little on camera lamp to create catch lights in the eyes. I'm afraid that it might be too underpowered to be a proper fill light though, at 35 watts.

As far as the link to your sight on the Chiaroscuro Principle - I've read about it nearly two dozen, literally and with no exaggeration. I do understand it (I think), I just wish that I knew of a way to make it work with only one Lowel Prolight to light the background. Hence the use of the cookie. If you have any tips on effectively lighting the background, using the Chiaroscuro Principle, and only having one light source for the background, I'd love to hear it. The only thing I can think of right now is a very specifically shaped cookie.

Well, a lot of the problems my lighting faces seem to be able to be solved with buying more lights. Looks like I'll just have to save up and get by until then... just like the rest of us.

Thank you again, Nino, for your honest and critical feedback. Any of you other guys have anything to add?

Kevin
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Old March 17th, 2007, 05:52 AM   #49
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Completely agreed with Nino in his comments over your "blonde" interview lighting, probably because we believe in similar principles.

His suggestions on using the camera light as both camera fill and eye-light is on the spot, and it should help concentrate the viewer's attention on the character, something that was primordial in old chiaroscuro portraits and in traditional Hollywood lighting.

Your lighting on the background is also an area that will need further improvement. Perhaps you will need more units to achieve that, or you may try more tricks.

The question is the principle: if you want to do chiaroscuro, you should follow some rules. Rules that will probably be broken in the dynamic thing "moving images" are.

A dark follows a clear that follows a dark that follows a clear. Perhaps the areas behind the characters should be split in only two, if you have just one light, and follow the chiaroscuro principle more precisely.

The kickers or hair lights you use, which seem to be two (one from the left and one from above) could be subtler and perhaps just one. Use that extra light on the lower right corner background, which is jet black. Or use part of the kicker reflection on the background too, perhaps using a mirror reflector to send it there.

Perhaps what you will need are more C-stands, flags and reflectors, instead of more lights.

Another question, and this is a personal taste comment, is that perhaps some softening of the key light might make the final result more flattering and also more forgiving, if you are not sure if this or that angle are better for the character.


Carlos

Last edited by Carlos E. Martinez; March 17th, 2007 at 07:06 AM.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 12:36 PM   #50
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Specifics about lighting the Blonde...

I offer this up so that the critical input can be more specific, if possible:

The softbox on the Key Light is relatively high, pushed up almost to the ceiling (Nearly 10 feet, I believe).

The “Fill Light” is a 42” Relfector that is place low. The bottom edge of the reflector is nearly touching the ground.

The Hair Light is a Lowel Pro Light with a Snoot on it and the dial twisted to full flood. I know it seems to be a contradiction, but it eliminates the possibility of lens flare. The light is on a boom and angled down, a slight bit sharper than 45 degrees.

The Background light is another Lowel Pro Light with barndoors, opened up all the way, and shown through a cookie with a random pattern.

This is, right now, all the equipment that I have for lightning.

P.S. - Nino, I stole some of the graphics from your lighting diagrams - Hope you won't sue me...
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Old March 20th, 2007, 12:48 PM   #51
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This frame grab could basically use the same lighting diagram, but I remember the fill reflector being higher due to a desk being in the way. I think the fill on this shot is better (her neck doesn't blend into her face as much) and the shadows aren't as deep around her eyes. Is this more of a correct fill placement?

As always, any and all feedback is appreciated. Please be critical.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 01:01 PM   #52
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Very nice indeed.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 06:18 PM   #53
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I'd echo the earlier comments about the dramatic improvements between the first frame grab in this thread and the latest ones. Keep up the good work.

I think you are starting to run into the limitations of the equipment you have available. For what you have to work with, these shots are just fine. So, from here on, we're really talking about fine tuning things.

So, taking the last shot, for example. This is a case where having a separate light will give you more control. Even if you shoot that light into your reflector for a soft bounce, you gain much more control over intensity and direction than depending on just what you can catch from the key. In here somewhere, we get into "artistic interpretation". I'd probably work to reduce or eliminate that shadow under the lower lip on your last subject. It's not awful by any means, but I'm not crazy about it.

And regarding the Chiaroscuro Principle and backgrounds: It's pretty tough to do that with just one light, although sometimes it happens. It's all about the interaction of your interviewee and the background. If you want to make that happen, it requires control over the background elements, where they are located, and their tones and colors, and precision with your light. Your background is always dependent on your "set dressing", which is why production designers are such a key part of the look of motion pictures. From a lighting point of view, to get the level of precision required, I usually prefer a number of smaller instruments when lighting backgrounds, so here's another case where you've basically used everything on the truck and don't have any more options. Of course, there's a tradeoff to all of this in terms of time and therefore money. As you set more lights, it takes more time or some help if you want to get done in the same amount of time.

Anyway, as you're probably discovering, it takes progressively more and more work for each additional improvement in the image. But keep after it - and don't forget to experiment along the way. Lighting is not a formula process, which is one of the things that makes it so fascinating.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 02:43 AM   #54
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The stuff in the background is more distracting to me than the lighting. Monitors are OK... kinda "high-tech" looking. But the back of the PC, with its power supply light and cables, the phone, etc. Um... looks too much like my office. *LOL* And what's in the left of the frame, a white board?

All in all, the background just looks too "run and gun" compared to your lighting. If you could get a little more DOF, none of that stuff would matter too much.

I just want to focus on your talent... and not the PC behind her. Hmm... is she watching something on You Tube!

Just some well-intentioned suggestions,
Brian Brown
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Old March 21st, 2007, 10:34 AM   #55
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in general: if you had 4 of us come onto your set i'm sure all 4 would move the key/fill within 1-2ft of where they are now = there would be 5 slightly different set ups - comes down to i prefer X and others prefer Y,Z, T, S ...

i would take some light off the tee-shirt .. i would try a butterfly effect using nets ( on key light) .. maybe a single on camera left and a double on camera right ?
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Old March 21st, 2007, 03:24 PM   #56
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I would have moved the key way down, if possible. The shadow on her neck is huge so I know the key was way up. I just don't like the amount of details this kind of keylight reveals (I want women to look smooth and beautiful, don't you?)

Also the background, yet very well lit, looks a little messy to me. I'm not the one to speak up because I hardly ever have time to do a good interview - but if I had shot this one myself I would also be critical about the background (I'm always critical about my own shots, believe me). I guess you just didn't have more time to re-arrange the background... I totally know that.

...and I'd like the key light a few hundred degrees warmer. Maybe put something like a cosmetic rouge or a 1/4 cto on that?
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Old March 21st, 2007, 03:31 PM   #57
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*double post, sorry*
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Old March 21st, 2007, 05:45 PM   #58
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Thank you all for your feedback. I really do appreciate it. I'm always trying to do better on my lighting and the critical feedback really helps. A lot of people I know to ask in person just say, "Looks good to me."

Ralph and Heiko - Thank you for pointing out the shadow under her chin and lip. I didn't see it (or rather pay attention to it) when I set up the shot. I think you're right, moving the key down would have softened that up considerably. I also should've brought the key around a bit closer to the camera to soften her cheekbone shadow some, don't you think?

Brian - Out of context it does look like she is watching something on You Tube! I never thought of that. She is actually an amateur editor and that's one of her projects in the background on an Avid system. Explanation aside, you're right about the clutter. It is a bit too much and some depth of field would help the viewer focus on her. I had room to move the camera back too. Just didn't "see" the issue - too focused on trying to improve my lighting, forgot about other principles.

Don - Butterfly effect? I'm new to that term but I think I understand what you mean. Correct me if I'm wrong - place an ND material on each of the lower corners of the softbox making the top half of a butterfly, using two different strengths of material to make one "wing" lighter than the other. The effect would be to add depth to her shirt by subtly putting a gradation of shadow across her chest. Do I have it?

Heiko - Yes indeed she could be warmer. I completely agree. A carry the Vortex Warm Cards in my kit and tried all of them with her. The problem was that she is soooo pale in life, the warm cards actually had almost no effect at all on her skin tone. By the time they did, the background was completely yellow, like it had been colored with a Crayola. So I shot it using a pure white white balance and decided to up the saturation and warmth in post. This frame grab is of the raw footage, but you are right on the money. The frame is way too cold. In fact, the only thing that I could do to get any color in her face (without taking the time to do a custom preset for her, and I didn't have that time as I am still too inexperienced at that) was to use a Minus Green Card. Boy, did that cool things off in a hurry, but it added a touch of magenta to her skin tone, but in a really creepy, horror movie kind of way. I didn't think of gelling the key light though. I don't know why...

Thank you all again for your input. Please keep it up, some of the best advice I've gotten about video has been from this board, and I truly treasure each piece of advice.

Thank you,
Kevin
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Old March 21st, 2007, 06:09 PM   #59
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"place an ND material on each of the lower corners of the softbox making the top half of a butterfly, using two different strengths of material to make one "wing" lighter than the other"

YES that is the basic effect of it .. because you have a soft box IMO it would be more affective if you use 18x24 or 24x36 nets ( if not nets use as you stated above) .. place on C stands approx 1- 2 1/2 ft in front of you soft box and after both are set they would creat a V - so the left side ( of V) would be a single net and the right side a double net -the space bewteen the 2 lines of the V would be persons face with NO netting so all light would hit her ... the nets would overlap slightly at bottom of the V ... you do not want hard lines so adjust accordingly ( close to light =softer line ) ... too close to light and it will take light off face ( and it's difficut to shape the light because edge is too soft) ...

Last edited by Don Donatello; March 22nd, 2007 at 12:28 AM.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 02:43 PM   #60
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I now this thread has been dead for quite a while, but I really did/do value the input of the people that have participated here. This post is to steer people to two threads that I've started in the "Show Your Work" section of the board. I was hoping to get some of the same constructive criticism on a couple of pieces that I've edited together. Thanks, and here are the threads:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=100168

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=100110
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