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Old June 6th, 2011, 08:18 AM   #1
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Unusual setup for Speeches

Hi Guys

Did a wedding on Saturday where the reception was in an undercover area outside the actual bar/bistro and they turned ALL the lights out and resorted to little tea candles on the tables ...everywhere else was as dark as midnight in a coal mine!!! During the speeches I had virtually no ambient light (if you can call tea candles "light") so I setup a CFL softbox about 30' away from the lectern so my camera could actually see something....now, the end result (thanks to the softbox) was great and the speeches came out perfectly BUT the speakers complained bitterly about "the light in their eyes" I had the stand fully extended to probably almost 7' so it was basically higher than their head level anyway. I guess with no other "compensating ambient light" like you normally have the softbox appeared brighter than their eyes were used to????

Any ideas on how to handle a situation like this (I've never had such a dark reception before in 20 years of shooting!!!) Could I have provided a softer lighting scenario...I figured softbox, CFL tubes and a white diffuser was a pretty soft solution already...maybe crane the lighting 30' overhead?????

Chris
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Old June 6th, 2011, 08:45 AM   #2
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

Small, dimmable LED light (Lightpanels Micro style light with diffusion filter) on podium? Adjust LED dimmer to desirable level.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 07:48 PM   #3
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Guys

Did a wedding on Saturday where the reception was in an undercover area outside the actual bar/bistro and they turned ALL the lights out and resorted to little tea candles on the tables ...everywhere else was as dark as midnight in a coal mine!!! During the speeches I had virtually no ambient light (if you can call tea candles "light") so I setup a CFL softbox about 30' away from the lectern so my camera could actually see something....now, the end result (thanks to the softbox) was great and the speeches came out perfectly BUT the speakers complained bitterly about "the light in their eyes" I had the stand fully extended to probably almost 7' so it was basically higher than their head level anyway. I guess with no other "compensating ambient light" like you normally have the softbox appeared brighter than their eyes were used to????

Any ideas on how to handle a situation like this (I've never had such a dark reception before in 20 years of shooting!!!) Could I have provided a softer lighting scenario...I figured softbox, CFL tubes and a white diffuser was a pretty soft solution already...maybe crane the lighting 30' overhead?????

Chris
Why ruin the ambiance of the effect the bride was going for? It is what it is..dark.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #4
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

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Why ruin the ambiance of the effect the bride was going for? It is what it is..dark.
I'd have to agree with this point of view.

This is something I always try and communicte to the couple... the camera relies on lots of light to work! I make it clear that, without adequete lighting, we won't get a usable picture.

I will use a 10w on camera light for some shots, but as much as possible I try to re-create the ambience the couple have designed. If the ambience if pitch black, then that's what I record, and I make them aware of this in advance.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 08:48 PM   #5
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

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I will use a 10w on camera light for some shots, but as much as possible I try to re-create the ambience the couple have designed. If the ambience if pitch black, then that's what I record, and I make them aware of this in advance.
I've only recently come to terms with this. I used to use powerful on-camera lighting, but have come to believe that I am disrupting the atmosphere created. As a documentary-style videographer, I want to capture the happenings as if I weren't there at all. If it's dark, it's dark. I'll use the fastest lens I can and tweak levels in post, but there's only so much you can do. Best to be clear with the clients beforehand, like John said.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 09:54 PM   #6
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

It's difficult sometimes because as professional craftsmen we never want to settle for anything less than the best.

However, you're also producing the product for a client and if they are made aware of all the details and requirements but choose to prioritise something else, then that is their decision and I will do my best to work with the available circumstances.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

Hi Guys

Fair enough comment but if it was your wedding would you want the Best Man's speech to be a dark talking head with no detail??? I certainly wouldn't want that....It was a VERY dark reception and I kept the ambience as it was BUT not for speeches where the viewer would at least expect to see the speaker's face!!!! In the available light I could have simply given her an audio only track...or light the speaker...the way I lit it actually preserved the ambience very nicely too!!! However because of the extremely low ambient light any light source appeared to be brighter than it actually was to the person in front of it ...in fact once their eyes got used to light again after the coalmine, they were quite happy!!!

Chris
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Old June 7th, 2011, 12:37 AM   #8
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

It'd be easy to adopt Michael's solution but frankly that's a very short step to audio-only jobs as Chris describes. Anyway, the client doesn't usually hire us to tell them afterwards that it was dark so I recorded dark. They expect and deserve more.

In my view the key is "afterwards". We always get the clients' permission to ask the venue to turn the lights full on for the speeches so we have enough light to record without destroying the ambiance completely. For their part the venue is invariably happy to comply because the speeches generally immediately precede the clearing of the room ready for the evening so getting the lights up is useful to them also.

If I'd been stuck with the situation Chris originally described my instinct would have been to whack light behind the speakers ideally on the background or at worst on the speakers themselves so the head on shots were silhouettes and the side shots would have had some light spill, and, providing I knew about it advance, I'd buy a few self powered light globes (they sell them here for lighting dark cupboards) and place them on the table - soft uplighters, not ideal but better than nothing. I'd try anything to avoid being remembered for blasting light into their eyes which is very unfair criticism though I can hear it now..
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Old June 7th, 2011, 02:08 AM   #9
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

Thanks Philip

It was unusual in the fact that there were no lights to turn up!! As the sun died it just got darker and darker until the tiny flicker of candles were all that was left. It was actually held in the rear foyer of a large building in which the bistro is placed..the bistro was nicely lit but the actual wedding area was a candlelight vigil and the lectern was actually beyond that with not even reflected light...I always try to keep a nice balance between the ambience and the lectern and because the bride decided against a rehearsal the venue was sight unseen.

Oh well I would have really liked to see how the DSLR guys would have shot this without any lighting..even a 5D with Canon's fastest lens cannot see "black as white".... luckily first ever coalmine encounter but the speeches really turned out great without destroying the ambience and the bride will be happy ...that's all I do hope to achieve!!!

We are into our Winter season now with cold weather so we do have a few breaks over June and July before the craziness starts over!!!

Chris
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Old June 7th, 2011, 02:14 AM   #10
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

I am sure it did seem quite bright to them all. Sitting in the dark like that their eyeballs were opened up to around f1.2! One that I did last year had some terrible warehouse lights on the ceiling and they were dimmed way down for "ambiance". Between the crappy Kelvin and the low light everything we shot there that night was junk. It wasn't just "dark" it was full blown crap footage! I tossed the entire evening. Doing anything with it would have been a complete waste of time.

Using 20/20 hindsight a guy could come up with lots of fixes for the situation. But I am betting this whole dark thing was a surprise you learned about when you arrived. There is just so much gear a guy can drag around in the hope that "maybe I'll need it tonight".

The one thing I can think of that probably would have done ok in the dark, might have been a dslr with a real fast f1.2 lens. The closet I have is an f1.4 and it sees light that my naked eye can't.

The end result, your bride has a viewable video of the speeches where my bride has nothing. I think your bride is going to be happier than mine was.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 03:16 AM   #11
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

Just adding (as I have a couple of minutes waiting for a render).

I tell all my wedding clients that I record reflected light - if there is no reflected light then I can't record it.

This way if they want ambience (no lights and dancing with candles) then I give my most pessimistic viewpoint. Imagine their delight when the DVDs show it better than I descibed it would be.

It's about expectation - tell them "no problem" and they'll expect perfection. Tell them you have your doubts but you'll go for it (for them), and when they see the results were better than they imaged then you're a "genius".

Ooo... the renders done.

:)
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Last edited by Claire Buckley; June 7th, 2011 at 03:27 AM. Reason: typo
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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:20 AM   #12
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
It was unusual in the fact that there were no lights to turn up!! As the sun died it just got darker and darker until the tiny flicker of candles were all that was left.
It's definitely a different story when there are no lights to work with! :)

What a tough balance this is -- to preserve the atmosphere the clients wish to create, yet provide them with great video.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:56 AM   #13
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

I was doing 2nd camera at a wedding a few weeks ago. I had a great view of the top table for my wide shot of the speeches, my colleague was a lot nearer and he was to get close shots.

Everything is hunky dory until just as the Best Man tapped the mic to check that it worked, the lights went off.! I saw my colleague run to the manager to check what the problem is and he was told that 'this is what the couple requested'! Agh! I was a bit bemused as I hadn't heard about the request, but as my colleague went back to his station, I thought, ok, there's a point for this. There was candles on the table, so we managed to get grainy silhouettes. The BM's speech incorporated himself and the Groom donning masks, so I thought that the lights would then be turned on, but alas, the whole 30 minute speech section went by without a light!

I still don't know why this was, as none of the wedding party were shy, but thankfully, I'm not the one stuck in the editing suite!
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Old June 7th, 2011, 07:57 AM   #14
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

Hi Mary

Ok you got me fair and square...I would consider that a disaster and I would have been hopping mad!!!
All my "complaints" consisted of was a groomsman who put on sunglasses and asked if the light could be moved. He wasn't even making a speech !!!! I did have the softbox above their heads so they didn't really have to stare into it. All the speakers (and the MC) were tolerant I must admit but if I could have improved my situation, I would have...normally it's just raise the house lights just a tad to balance the room lighting without spoiling the mood.

I bet your heart dropped when the lights never came back on!!!! Did they really expect to have broadcast wedding style speeches with no lights on????

After your problems I'll quit making a fuss now!!!

Chris
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Old June 7th, 2011, 04:00 PM   #15
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Re: Unusual setup for Speeches

In a perfect world, this detail would have come out in the planning, and the B&G would have been informed that only audio would be recorded during this portion of the day, or a "bright light" would be used to provide the light necessary to film. Then it could be the B&G's call.

Unfortunately, the B&G seem to like to throw curve balls at us and expect great results from poor circumstances.

Anyway Chris, for the future I like Claire's solution. Always tell the B&G what is required for filming, and if they decide to choose "ambience lighting", their video will be dark. We can't alter the laws of physics.
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