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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:30 AM   #1
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crap venue lighting

I have a venue that recomends me and I'm at the point of asking them not to - they use a new type of LED lighting and it's a pain - everything has a yellow cast (that's not too hard to fix in post but the flickering is a nightmare - unless the lights are on full (which is still pretty dim) there's a flicker which I can't eliminate. a shutter speed of 125 seems to minimise it but it's still significant. I'm told it's due to 'pulse width modulation' but with venues insisting on 'romantic lighting' and constantly wanting to dim the lights its a major drama.

with other venues I can bring along my own lighting to suppliment but with this place I'm buggered - I don't see changing cameras helping and if I start insisting that they leave the lighting on full, they'll stop recommending me anyway. So.. before I bite the bullet and tell them thanks but no thanks does anyone have any ideas?


This isn't about WB - I mention that just in case someone has come across lighting with a similar cast and yes I've tried different shutter speeds. I shoot with multiple GH2's and I've tried evenything I can think of.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:44 AM   #2
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Re: crap venue lighting

This is exactly one of my fears of being hired to film at a venue with this sort of lighting condition.

I don't know of any work arounds unfortunately .. I would like an answer just like you !
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:45 AM   #3
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Re: crap venue lighting

Even after manually white balancing with a grey card/cap in the field? I know doing it post will probably turn a lot of things blue while still leaving the yellow.. Weird. Usually it's a problem if there's a mixture of lighting colors. At least this is uniformly yellow.

Anyway, maybe perhaps complimenting the yellow light with a blue-ish lighting fixture?

Sorry, not sure if wanted advice on how to fix future gigs or this one. You could also just desaturate...
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:52 AM   #4
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Re: crap venue lighting

Thanks for your input Andrew but - it's nothing to do with WB - it's the flicking that's the problem. I've mentioned & shown the yellow cast in case somone had worked under similar lighting
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 09:08 AM   #5
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Re: crap venue lighting

I've had this problem a number of times, and it is also often noticeable in a marquee in the summer with a coloured lining giving a coloured cast to everything.

As a videographer, I want the whites to look white, and in your video the whites look yellow, but, if you look at the bar staff behind the bar at the back, you can clearly see that their shirts are white. That tells me that what the guests are seeing in the room is exactly what your camera is seeing. Our brains know that the bride's dress is white, but what you are seeing on the video is actually correct. In those situations, I always make a point of saying that the video is showing a real view, which is a reproduction of the yellow cast that existed in the room.

Candle light also gives a cast that makes it difficult to show white accurately, so I feel that it is better to emphasise the reality of the situation, rather than artificially 'normalising' it.

I recently had a problem with a greeny/blue colour of the bridesmaids dresses. They had a sheen to them that showed the dresses as either blue or green on the video depending on the direction of the sunlight. To the natural eye they appeared green, but the bride was concerned that on her video, they sometimes appeared blue. I explained the reason and asked her to look at other matching greens in the video that didn't have a sheen. Sure enough they were consistently the correct colour and she was totally satisfied that it was down to lighting conditions.

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Old March 23rd, 2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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Re: crap venue lighting

Paul,
you've got it right about shutter speed. I find that 1/40 or 1/60 of a second helps here. It might be worth a trip over with the technical person to test the settings on the lights and see if he can dial it in. I also find that the higher end leds don't flicker while the cheap stuff is a different frequency.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 10:37 AM   #7
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Re: crap venue lighting

As I mentioned, the videos are classic examples of LED fixtures that have really basic PWM dimming. The unpleasant strobing is mathematically linked to the mains and camera shutter speeds, and while faster shutter speeds may initially seem to cure it, they often fail over time when mains frequencies drift. I find the slow shutter speeds best. LED architectural lighting has very crude control - just not made with dimming in mind really. The alcove light in the distance a classic example of how rotten it is. DSLRs do seem more prone to this than other cameras, but cheap LED lighting really can be very annoying with unforgiving cameras. What's sure as eggs though, is that the clients who were there, and saw no flickering will never be convinced it's the venue problem - and the only solution/salve I can suggest is to show potential clients previous footage at that venue and let the decide if they can live with it.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:08 PM   #8
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Re: crap venue lighting

Paul -

I'm sure we're all bound to face that kind of thing (sorry you have to go through it!).

I found the flickering most noticeable in the party/dance portion of the footage. What if you were to have some on-camera fill light (ironically, I use dimmable LED litepanels on the camera -- just enough to fill in faces of the dancers). I wonder if a little added light of your own would draw attention away from the background flicker...

It's clearly all nice work (and good low-light cam) on your part. Just those d'mned venue lights.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 08:46 PM   #9
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Re: crap venue lighting

Hi Paul

I did a venue back in January that had bright blue LED uplights so getting the flickering and trying to keep the whites, white also was tricky ...the entire bridal table had a white background but the blue LED's turned everything blue.

I also use an on camera LED light and that way I can essentially under-expose the background to lessen the uplight effect and then actually use the on camera light to set a correct exposure on my subjects and it comes out quite well. Good method, as Tim suggests as there is no way you will elimate the lights but just lighting subjects when close with an on camera light works really well! It again doesn't help on really wide shots like you have shown but works well on tighter shots.

I'm not sure if you have enough space on the little GH2 to clamp on an LED light but an extra bracket on the side might help. Just also bear in mind that the bride isn't really looking at the lights she's only interested in the content so by keeping content interesting she won't even notice any oddities away from that.

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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:08 AM   #10
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Re: crap venue lighting

I reallly dislke on camera lighting, I have a number of LEDs that I can throw up on stands but the problem is that I'm fighting the venue, they dim - I brighten. That may be the only solution but I don't think it's a great one.

I have been mentioning the lighting problem to the brides and I can see that showing them footage would be a clear example but the venue isn't going to be happy with me bagging the stuff out of their lighting.

I might have a chat to the head coordinator and go from there.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 09:58 AM   #11
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Re: crap venue lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Mailath View Post
I reallly dislke on camera lighting,
I know what you mean. But, again, when used only dimly/as needed, the on-cam LED is there purely to fill in faces (not for deer-in-headlights look). I find that with great low-light cams like a good DSLR or the C100, all you need is a tiny bit of help and it really brings out your subject (and mitigates a venue's poor lighting). I've never dealt with the exact situation you have here, but I've certainly had the flickering backlighting on the walls. Had I not filled in the primary subject with a little help from the camera fill, the flicker would have been far more obvious.

Attached is one example where a reception venue had some flickery blue-light on one of the walls. It would have even been visible on the faces (of the toaster/b/g) in this image had I not filled in a tad:
Attached Thumbnails
crap venue lighting-light-example.png  
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Old March 24th, 2013, 10:24 AM   #12
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Re: crap venue lighting

Paul,
BCC Flicker fixer?
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Old March 24th, 2013, 09:05 PM   #13
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Re: crap venue lighting

Hi Tim

Those look like the exact sort of lighting I encountered too ...by me using a fill from the camera light it didn't worry the speaker at all but it basically killed any blue cast that came from the uplighting. It certainly works a treat for me. Due to the physical size of Paul's GH2 cameras he might need a dimmable light on a stand next to the camera, but it certainly works well .... I had the same issue while doing guest interviews as the blue lights had been placed all around the room but just a touch of fill from the on-camera light works wonders ...you still get the nasty blue background on the orginal white wall/curtain but at least skin tones are correct.

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Old March 24th, 2013, 09:36 PM   #14
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Re: crap venue lighting

Yep, while I agree on camera is more suited for news type work, I've been using it for years for weddings and now with the LEDs that are commonly used to fill the room and the lack of any other ambient lighting the on camera "fill" has become more important than ever. I HATE having green, red, magenta, orange or blue skin tones because of the LEDs in the room.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 12:15 AM   #15
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Re: crap venue lighting

It sounds like this would be another good item to add to all of our contracts. We'll be able to protect ourselves and educate our clients at the same time.

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