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-   -   Bouncing Light Around (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/photon-management/22242-bouncing-light-around.html)

Anthony Meluso March 2nd, 2004 02:51 AM

Bouncing Light Around
I'm currently in the middle of a shot and was wondering if what I have been doing is an affect method to lighting scenes.

Currently I have been useing two 600 watt lights in tight rooms with little or no space between the lights and the actors. What I have been doing is bouncing light off of walls and ceilings to disfuse the light and lessen the creation of hot spots in front of the camera. But is this the way people light shots; do they normal place diffusion or scrims on their lights and shot with the lights directed at the actors? Is their any disadvantage to lighting scenes my way?

Thanks for the help

Don Bloom March 2nd, 2004 06:26 AM

People have been bouncing light for a very very long time.
The question to you is how does the subject matter look in the camera (monitor)? Is it the look you're looking for? Bouncing will generally give a somewhat softer look but a lot depends on the surface you're bouncing it off of.

Again, the number one thing how does it look to you.
If it looks good to you, then don't worry, be happy.

Lighting is a subject that can drive you crazy, there is almost always more than one way to do it BUT it depends on the look you want. Sounds to me like you're getting the look and doing what you have to in the space you've got with the equipment you've got.

Good Luck,

Adrian Douglas March 2nd, 2004 07:09 AM

I'm with Don on this, the bottom line is do what works for you. Yes people us direct light diffused with scrims etc, but they also bounce. In a limited space bouncing often works better as you do avoid thise hot spots. I recently shot a sushi making demo in a small room and used large white boards to bounce for a softer more natural look. I had 4-500w lights and used one direct key light a bounced fill and two bounced lights for the background which was japanese shouji, the sliding doors made from paper and balsa. It looked very natural which is what I was going for. Bounce also reduces shadowing which is particularly important if you have light coloured backgrounds.

Mix and match, experiment, have some fun and see what works the best.

Ken Tanaka March 2nd, 2004 12:05 PM

I ditto Don and Adrian, Anthony. Your description -sounds- like a lot of wattage for a "tight rooms", but it's impossible for us to judge.

One point I will add is not to overlook the need to subtract light for certain shots, particularly when bouncing. That is, you may find it useful to use a black board (ex: foam core painted black on one side) to prevent light from bouncing back onto a side of the subject. This would be placed near the subject with the black side facing him/her/it.

One other point I'll add from personal experience is not to be shy about just shutting down and starting over. Sometimes I find that an hour of tinkering with lights has become an arms race of photons. A cascade of remediation for prior placements. At that point I just shut 'em down and start over, a decision that nearly always produces better (and sometimes more economical) results.

Have fun!

Charles Papert March 2nd, 2004 12:23 PM

Ken's point about subtracting light is well taken. With bounce light, it tends to go everywhere when all you wanted to do was light the subject. Use the black board to block the bounce from hitting the wall behind the subject, and you may like the look. Think of it as an oversized barn door--soft aka bounced light scatters more than direct light and thus needs a larger size cutter to shape it.

Adrian, my first instinct with shouji screens would be to backlight them from behind, creating a glow--maybe even adding a bit of color for atmosphere. But I haven't actually had the opportunity to do it. Have you tried that?

Adrian Douglas March 2nd, 2004 08:39 PM


I tried that and it did look great but unfortunately our shouji has a few scars that need to be fixed before I can do that well.

If you've ever seen Hiroyuki Nakano's "Samurai Fiction" the opening sequence has two samurai fighting in front of a huge shouji screen that is lit from behind with big red lights. The effect looks fantastic, actually the whole movie looks pretty good.

Charles Papert March 2nd, 2004 09:07 PM


I'm in the process of planning a renovation to my house, and since my girlfriend and I both dig Japanese architecture and furniture, we are planning some shouji screens in a couple of places, possibly even covering the screen for the projection TV...

Adrian Douglas March 2nd, 2004 09:46 PM

Man I love shouji, it's does look cool and still lets in plenty of light. Our house is a traditional style place with sliding panels everywhere. Here is a little info on shouji

Charles Papert March 2nd, 2004 10:33 PM

thanks Adrian, nice!

Anthony, to echo Don and Adrian, if you like it, go with it. Basically what you are doing is amping up the exposure in the room overall, so it will look on camera similar to what it looks like with the eye with the overhead lights on.

If you are looking to strike a mood, then you will likely want to get into directing the light a bit more carefully. A Chimera-type diffuser will transform that 600w into a whole other look; soft yet directional.

Wayne Orr March 3rd, 2004 12:46 AM

I did a taiko drumming piece a few years ago in a sound stage at Skywalker Ranch, in which the audio people had left a number of baffles to direct sound for their recordings. I saw a certain Japanese asthetic in the baffles, and lit the baffles for our video with a certain "shouji" feel. I over lit the lower portion of the baffles, which gave them a certain glow/transparency. It is still one of my favorite gigs, and I hope you can take a look:
Like the man says; sometimes its better to be lucky than good. I was very lucky they left the baffles standing around.


Ken Tanaka March 3rd, 2004 01:15 AM

Wow. I've seen such performances and you certainly captured it.

Adrian Douglas March 3rd, 2004 07:11 AM

That looked really nice Wayne. It must have been great to shoot at a facility that allows the freedom to do what you want instead of having to work around the location.

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