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Old March 2nd, 2007, 10:26 AM   #31
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Brian, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Phil used natural available light pretty extensively in that clip. One of his requirements for using the Brevis was that it be very light-efficient to reduce or eliminate supplementary lighting.
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Old March 4th, 2007, 02:25 AM   #32
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Mark, thank you so much. This is an excellent answer. I will take both your setup ideas into consideration. I will hopefully have a 2 or 3-man crew. Not ideal, but hopefully it will work.

A question: how directional are those Kinos? Can you control them easily? Spillover?

To be honest I had never considered the cool-down time of lights -an interesting point. Thank you.
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Old March 4th, 2007, 02:27 AM   #33
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Thank you Dennis. You are right, as far as I can tell. I mentioned a couple times in here that I realized it wasn't a lighted piece. Just an example of an artistic look with similar subject matter.

I'll be purchasing my very own Brevis in the next day or two. :) Thanks!
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Old March 4th, 2007, 11:08 AM   #34
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Brian,

You can use black wrap to kill the spill. The flag in the Roadrags kit will help keep the spill off the background. I bought an extra frame and flag for my kit. The Kinos usually come with an eggcrate that make the unit more directional, but it does cut the output a bit. But, if you're just doing interviews, then it should be fine.

Often time is a consideration. You don't always have a lot of time to do things because your subject only has a given amount, or you have to pack up and go to your next interview, etc. There is usually time presure on a shoot.

When you start shooting a lot, you have to consider a lot of seemingly minor things, weight, size of cases, cooling time of lights, relative quiet for the interview room, power, etc. You have to let the lights cool down, or you'll melt the case, or the padding, or a rug. I've had times where I've had to toss everything out of the space we were shooting in, because someone else had to use the space. But that's where the producer's job comes in- to buy extra time. They botched it on that one, though.

Most people don't realize that you'll need at least an hour just to find your spot, set up camera and lights, mic people, block out windows, kill noise. "I didn't know it was gonna be a whole big Hollywood thing. I thought you were just gonna set up a camera and shoot". Nope. That's why you have to thoroughly educate the subject before you get there and tell them what you need. And follow up.

It's not just about the lighting it's about what you need in terms of time, space and electricity, among other things. The logistics. That's what most people fail to take into account.
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Old March 4th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #35
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Mark, thanks again. I am beginning to realize this more and more. I have to reevaluate some of my plans, and make things more feasible. Thanks for the advice.
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Old March 7th, 2007, 02:12 AM   #36
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Happy to help.

In this business, OCD is an asset, because you have to plan for and consider EVERYTHING.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 12:31 AM   #37
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Ya, I'm starting to feel pretty crazy and obsessive. I dont even talk about the content of my film anymore. :)
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Old March 8th, 2007, 01:09 AM   #38
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Yeah, it's easy to drown in all the details and forget why you came in the first place. After a while you minimize all the BS and create a system that allows you to concentrate on what you are really there for, making pretty pictures and telling a story.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 02:20 AM   #39
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I guess thats why lucky pros get a DIT (Digital Imaging Tech) to take care of all the technical video stuff, and a sound guy and a lighting tech etc. I'm jealous. :) Oh, to be just DP or director...
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Old March 8th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #40
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kino's are very good because they draw very little power ...
if you are shooting in a class room you don't want to be using 1000's of watts as you might blow a circuit and then it could be hours before a janitor ( or are they call custodial engineers these days/) can turn it back on ...

IMO if they give you a room that is YOURS to do interviews for the day then you can work with 2-3 person crew and have more lights but if you will have to be moving to several different rooms to interview then having a 4-6 light set up with flags may not work unless you have more crew ...

you'll know after your 1st day of shooting what is working and not working..
perhaps you could do a practice at a local school near you to see what problems you come across ... seems to me that for "set up" interviews the 35mm adaptor would be OK but for on the run interviews/shooting around campus or if you're out in police car it would slow you down ? ...
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Old March 8th, 2007, 11:20 PM   #41
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lighting technique

Brian, I looked at the clip and it also looks to me like it was done with minimal lights. If you look at an article on portrait lighting, it will talk about split lighting. Actually, most of what he did doesn't look like there was any extra light involved or at the most something very simple. I understand that you aren't really looking for this after all. But, it seems that you might not actually be sure what you are looking for.

Get a friend and have him stand next to a window and have him rotate slowly. Watch the effect of the light coming in through the window on his or her face. Imagine the camera being your eye and stay directly off the tip of his nose a few feet away.

I saw lots of split and rim lighting, really it's the same thing but the subject is at a different angle from the light coming in from the window. There were a couple shots with very warm orange light coming from the side also and a one where there wasn't any light on the subjects at all.

The out of focus background lights indicate that the camera was focused close, with a wide open f-stop, due to the low available light hitting the subject. The lights outside in the background are blurry representations of life passing the homeless person by. Also, the piano soundtrack add just as much to the melancholy feeling. Watch it with the sound off and see if you get the same impression.

The orange effect could be done by a simple household light bulb using daylight film in the camera or with video just white balance with the room or day light and use that same household bulb after making it look warm, perhaps with something between the bulb and the subject to diffuse it a bit. Or just get one of the larger bulbs you might see in a bathroom over the mirror.

That whole piece could be done without buying anything at all, just what lighting is already in the room and maybe one extra bulb as I suggested. If you can't find a location where there is some bounce light to fill the dark side, get a roll of aluminum foil and a piece of cardboard to tape it to for a reflector. Or take the shiny wrapper from a double decker burger and use that. The front side will bounce back light and the back side of the foil will add some light without the harshness. Just move it closer or away from the subject to change the contrast ratio. The dumpster at a home construction site sometimes is filled with extra styrofoam slab insulation that is super light, free for the asking (you probably should ask) and it makes a super reflector.

Another thing to remember is that seldom do you see homeless people surrounded by expensive lighting equipment. If you do that they aren't going to look homeless. Do you want to carry this stuff around with you and set it up anywhere? You may be complicating your life immensely and maybe even destroy that feeling you are trying to capture.

Where I live the people you notice are sitting by the downtown bus terminal, intersections, highway exit ramps or the parking lot exit at Sam's Club with surprisingly good cardboard signs that ask for some kind of help, food or money. Strangely, they no longer offer the "will work for food" deal.

They are in whatever type of light nature provides, occasionally with some reflected light from the door of a police car or other vehicle that the driver has stopped. If it is an overcast day or they are under a bridge, then they are in soft light. Maybe they are under an umbrella.

Truck stops are another place, you will run into people selling various things, women who want to use the cb, looking for rides somewhere (usually into the truck sleeper)...

Public areas like librarys are usually well lit and the homeless tend to stay out of the weather at places like this. Also consider a bus or other mass transportation.

I know this sounds sarcastic but you get the point. I photographed some guys one thanksgiving for the typical homeless during the holidays type story. With a reporter we went to a very nice neat and clean man's house, a shack he built behind a mall in the woods. We actually went to two shacks, he pointed out that the first shack was where his roommate died so he moved a few hundred feet down the footpath. That's where I took the available light shot. Another location was at the plasma center.

One of the best places to shoot a person I think is in an area where there is bright light nearby like sunlight, but the subject is under something (gobo, diffuser, bridge, porch, tree) that keeps that same bright off him, but allows the softer light from the sky to illuminate the side of him. White balance with the light falling on your white card in front of the subject, unless you want something else. Keep that skylight behind or to the side of you, so the background doesn't burn out and flare into the lens, assuming you don't want that to happen.

You simply turn him to change the light pattern on his face. Don't forget other sources, like streetlights, signs, car headlamps, fires, various reflectors, handheld or otherwise. It is one heck of a lot easier to turn a subject than it is to set up and power several or even one light on location. And how about using a $20 1,000,000 candlepower battery operated spotlight on a tripod or handheld, maybe with some kleenex for a diffuser?

You might consider bringing some decent food along with you as a token of appreciation for your subjects co-operation.

I was taught that we need to learn to see the light, understand what it does and then use it to our advantage. There is some great advice on this website. Remember too, that some of the posters on this web site are making money by selling some of the equipment that they recommend.

Last edited by Larry Vaughn; March 9th, 2007 at 12:27 AM. Reason: add info
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Old March 9th, 2007, 12:25 AM   #42
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Don: A good point about power draw; I've been realizing more and more that it could be a problem. The same goes for the sclae of the lighting setup; I realize that I will end up streamlining this thing a bunch. We are definitely planning on practicing at a school nearby. Thanks again.

Larry: Thanks for the extensive reply Larry. I realize that the piece was shot with natural light mainly. I now regret posting it as many people think I'm missing that fact. :) Oh well. But your point about natural light for someone who lives their whole life outdoors (or matching light, and mood, to subject) is well taken. Thank you. Also thank you for the advice on using natural light to a persons face. Interesting.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 06:55 AM   #43
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Although Iím a strong promoter of fine lighting, thereís a time and place for everything. If I had to produce a documentary on homeless people, and Iíve produced many similar projects during my career, the last thing that I would consider would be pretty lighting. I would take my photography down to their level and make it as harsh and as realistic as technically possible. Lighting would still play an important and even more complicated role but not pretty portrait/interview style lighting. I would use street lights as backlights and backdrop, and if necessary I would use my own lights to recreate, get more control and enhance existing lights within his environment. If appropriate, use a battery operated lantern as front illumination pretending that this is his only source for him to see at night, even if the front of the subject is dark as long as you can distinguish the features, show the lantern once or twice to show the conditions, use your own lights for better exposure if you have to but still give the impression that the light is coming for the lantern. Make it realistic, create or use the headlamps of cars driving by, flare into the lens is okay; even add a slight diffuser to the lens so the lights will glow. Add gains to the camera if you need to, the added noise will add to the effect, do all this while he is talking. I would keep the subject on camera only for a few seconds at the time and add footage to his voice.
Rules and techniques will give you a solid and necessary foundation for quality lighting but for the rest of your career lighting will be an endless experimentation.


Nino

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Old March 12th, 2007, 06:29 PM   #44
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Hey Nino. Thats a very good point. (Just for the record I'm not doing a documentary on the homeless, but on a very poor high school/town.) I will definitely consider making it look like the lighting is natural like that.

Btw, if you're Nino of EFPlighthing, then thanks a lot. That site's amazing. Helped me alot. Thanks for your advice.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 03:28 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Orser View Post
Hey Nino. Thats a very good point. (Just for the record I'm not doing a documentary on the homeless, but on a very poor high school/town.) I will definitely consider making it look like the lighting is natural like that.

Btw, if you're Nino of EFPlighthing, then thanks a lot. That site's amazing. Helped me alot. Thanks for your advice.
Why? That's such an obvious route to go.

"Oh, they're poor people, lets reflect that in the lighting... gritty real..." . I'm sorry, but I find that approach patronizing and lazy. It's route one, first base...

There are many ways to present the contributors in your film in an interesting and enlightening way. It's your job to find that way.

Just my 10p worth. Good luck with it.

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