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Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100

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Mayalin FiksNeed cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:37:32 pm

Hi all!
This time I'm shooting a music video that's very...sad/sexy. It's set in a woody 10x 12 kitchen and most of the shots are Medium close-ups (waist up) and some kitchen background, with her hands visible because she's cooking.

I want the lighting to emulate Frank Ocean's- Novacane video (Warm, kind of Low lit, but enough to catch detail), here:






and I want the Close-ups to be shot in slow motion, similar to the beginning of Dexter:






I have a very limited budget (and my DP/Lighting dropped out last minute), how can I light this cheaply?


Details: Shooting on Sony FS 100 with probably a Canon EF 100mm f/2.86 & 50mm f/3.5 macros

Thanks always for teaching me!


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Bill DavisRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 5:47:33 am

Well,

I really want to play the piano like Oscar Peterson could. Especially his left hand, which was amazing.

So what kind of piano do you think I should buy tomorrow so I can play like Oscar next weekend?

That's kinda what you're asking here.

You're LOOKING at the work of talented professionals with HUGE experience and access to first class tools.

In just the Dexter sample, I saw evidence of the use of at least a dozen different lighting tools.

And you want to spend a few bucks and get some forum advice so that you can run out in a week or so and get the same kind of results?

Good luck with that.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mayalin FiksRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 7:53:12 am

If you have no help to offer, why waste your time with pretentious comments? I'm clearly, a beginner- why poke fun of someone trying to learn?

Thank you for your close-minded opinion.

I'm sure I'll receive more apt answers from the rest of the very willing and helpful Creative Cow Community.

Enjoy your night.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 3:56:01 pm

Bill's answer was a bit off-putting, but he's not wrong, nor is he being pretentious: the guys here in this forum have shelves full of awards they never talk about, Emmys. Oscars. They are the Pros from Dover. You can't get better teachers, certainly not for free. Don't let your ego blind you to facts you must hear.


Having said that, you need to define your budget, specifically. You need to define actual shots, specifically, not just generic looks. The more specific you can get, the more practical tips you will get.

What lighting instruments do you already have on hand? Is there a place near you that you can rent real lights from? Or are you in the hinterlands, and having to MacGyver everything? You can only get so far doing that; a light you make using a tungsten worklight from Home Depot will be harder to control and slower to set up than a pro light.

Finally, just because a scene looks mostly dark, doesn't mean its not using a BUNCH of lights. They are being used more subtly, with a lot of diffusion and "cutters" or flags to control their beam shape and spread. You can only fake this so far without using the real tools. Yes, you can got to IKEA or PierOne and get chinese stlye paper lanterns. That's a start. But its not all diffused sources in your sample shots either.


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Mayalin FiksRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 6:51:38 pm

Thanks for your response Mark.
I still disagree that being sarcastic while belittling an amateur's effort (because you have an "emmy" or an "oscar") is appropriate here. If he's angry at my naïveté, then just don't answer my thread.

Anyway, Details: I have $150 set aside for lighting, I live in reach of Adorama (http://www.adoramarentals.com/)

I have no lighting instruments so far.
The main shot I'm concerned with is a medium close up of a girl standing by a kitchen island with some of the background visible behind her too (this mainly consists of wooden cupboards and other kitchen details and is about 2 feet behind her). I want it to look like she woke up in the middle of the night and turned the dimmer down low- I won't be panning like in the video I linked to earlier, it'll just be one fixed shot. I'm just trying to fake it as best I can! Thanks for taking time out to be helpful Mark.


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Bill DavisRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 7:30:28 pm

[Mayalin Fiks] "I still disagree that being sarcastic while belittling an amateur's effort (because you have an "emmy" or an "oscar") is appropriate here. If he's angry at my naïveté, then just don't answer my thread."

Mayalin,

I did not belittle your efforts. You did not actually post any of your efforts beyond your research into pulling together things that you liked that were done by others. There is NOTHING wrong with doing this, by the way. It's how everyone starts.

And sorry, but "don't answer my thread" is a poor solution. It invites others to come here expecting people to simply give the answers to complex questions without requiring them to do do any actual thinking about how this stuff actually works.

I was teasing you not for your naiveté - but for what I perceived as your laziness in wanting to come here and have other provide you with pre-packaged "solutions" to things that simply don't have pre-packaged solutions.

I brought up a famous musician, because NOBODY expects a person to buy a piano - and to be able to it down and play it adequately without tremendous amounts of practice.

Yet you essentially came and suggested that merely pointing out lighting on programs with tens of thousands of dollars in gear and people with decades of hard won expertise on set - and expecting someone to tell you how to go out and "buy" a solution for a few hundred dollars to get you that is obviously kinda silly.

My analogy stands if you want to learn from it. It's NOT the "stuff" that makes our videos. It's the knowledge and experience of the people using the stuff.

If you expect the PIANO to make the music - you will fail. It's the person playing the piano that makes the music. Period. Full stop.

Until you learn this, and disabuse yourself of the false idea that there's a magic piece of cheap gear that if you simply buy it - will give you those DEXTER results, your actual education in how lighting works can't really begin.

Yes, I was teasing you. Because your post was deserving of a bit of teasing.

If that hurt your feelings, sorry.

But now you have two paths ahead. Get over feeling bad at my treating you so poorly and actually start learning this stuff. Or hold onto your feelings of being victimized by a mean guy like me - and live with your present lack of understanding.

It's kinda up to you.

Either way, you just can't learn to light a complicated project properly with a few forum posts and $150.

Sorry.

(BTW, I hold no Emmys, Oscars or other big time awards - my sole qualification to blather about this stuff is 30 years in the trenches and about 400 paid video projects under my belt - so take my advice as being worth exactly whatever you think it's worth)

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mayalin FiksRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 8:57:20 pm

Again thank you for not helping at all. I never asked anyone for pre-packaged bundle of anything. I put in work, I am learning. I ask questions. Someone may answer. I may have a follow-up question, it's called a conversation- that's what forums are for. Nowhere on this site does is stipulate that I have to be a professional to post. Part of learning is figuring out what questions to ask. Clearly, I am in a bind and trying to find a solution to a problem that occurred last minute.

Stop wasting your time on someone apparently not willing to put in work. Congratulations on your 400 videos, I'm sure you wrote many long, beautiful, haughty essays along the way.

Weakly, longingly, lost in a field of lights and laziness,

M


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Dennis SizeRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 14, 2012 at 12:11:11 am

"Nowhere on this site does is stipulate that I have to be a professional to post."

Mayalin: This is the description Creative Cow provides for this FORUM:
Lighting Design Pros
Creative Cow's Lighting Professional's forum community is dedicated to the discussion of pro level film and broadcast lighting design.


That seems to negate your involvement in this FORUM. It might not stipulate that you have to be a professional to post; but if you jump into the shark tank be prepared for whatever might happen.

If you want to make hot tea, there are many resources other than contacting the IRON CHEF to find out how to boil water.



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Mayalin FiksRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 14, 2012 at 12:36:26 am

Ok Dennis. Thank you for your insight re: shark tanks, Hot Tea etc.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 8:57:12 pm

Bill was being helpful as well, you just don't see it yet.

Anyhow, 150 bucks is a joke for a lighting budget, I could spend that just on a packet of gels and some black foil... but assuming your totally awesome camera has the low-light ability you need... this is what I might try, if I was in the same situation...

First, to read as "night" people generally light with blue, which has over decades become a visual shorthand for night/moonlight. Blow some of your Adorama money on some color gels, a couple of blue ones, maybe a straw or amber or two. "Blackwrap cinefoil" too, if they have it. It's aluminum foil ...in black. you use it to make barn doors and otherwise shape light coming from instruments that don;t have barn doors.

You need a soft blue wash over the cabinets and back of the room, preferably looking like it came in thru a window. That might come from an LED-based work light or flashlight, diffused thru some paper and/or gel, or a clamp light with home-made barn doors and a dimmer. If there is no window in the right place, fake one by making a gobo pattern of a window with mullions cut from foam core or cardboard, held up by a stand out of shot.

Place your actor or stand-in in the shot and figure out where a "motivated" keylight would come from. Kitchen hood fans and stove tops often have built-in lights, these come from funky angles. But those appliances may not be in the right spot to take advantage of. Even if they are no good for keys, you might want to turn one of them on as a silhouetting backlight, to suggest night-light type use. Microwaves light up inside while cooking, so that's a possible source of temporary light in a scene as the actor warms a coffee or something, depending on the camera angles used. The lighting-up from an opened fridge door or microwave, then the fall of darkness as the door closes again, could sell a night time mood, if the contrast is strong. In such a case I'd hide extra light in the fridge to play up the difference. Maybe leaving the fridge door ajar in the whole scene could work, if its motivated. The contrast blows out almost all the rest of the kitchen then, and you just need the blue wash and maybe a little keylight on the face when they face away from the fridge and into the camera.

If the room light is the key light, and is supposed to be from a dimmed overhead fixture, you can get a portable dimmer at Harbor Freight, where it is sold as a variable speed control for a table saw. Plug your regular light bulb socket into this, but stick the bulb inside one of those paper ball lampshades from Pier One. You don't want the light to go in every direction, so on the side that faces the back wall cabinets, block the light with foil on the inside of the paper ball, to preserve the blue wash. Black paper on the outside of the ball might also work. This time of year, christmas light strings go on sale: a big wad of xmas lights in a tight bundle can make an interesting semi-soft light source as an alternative to the paper lantern. LED ones are usually blue-ish so that might work to read as "night", but to shoot the face, get the old-fashioned incandescent "italian style" white lights. This may have to get wrapped in a white plastic bag as a diffuser, play with it, see how you can put it to use. One thing to try: shape it in a donut, tape or zip-tie it to the center of a white foam core board, cut a lens hole out of the center and poke the lens thru that to get your face shot.

Some kind of small night light should be in the shot somewhere, and it should be very yellow-orange in contrast to the blue. You can get this a couple of ways, one is to deliberately set white balance on a colored card instead of one that's white. A blue card makes normal light more ruddy, a yellow card moves things towards a blue cast.

If you can't find a place for the night light, get a clock in the shot, preferably with big LED numbers, and set it to suggest an early hour.

Set the camera as far back as you can, then zoom in, to help with depth of field: the narrower the better in a scene like this, so there's fewer details to make out. Add a few night time sound effects, a few random dog barks in the distance, or a distant siren dopplering away, and maybe crickets or frogs or katydids, very low. Sound effects sell a shot more than people realize.


One important thing to consider is that just a lack of light does not read to an audience as "dark", you need to show some shadow detail, and that's what blue light is good for. You might want to read some wiki items on noir style and chiaroscuro before you go further.

Best of luck, and learn to accept both critiques and praise with equanimity.


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Mayalin FiksRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 13, 2012 at 10:55:35 pm

Thanks Mark. I accept both praise & critique, when they are due.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the time and effort you took in your response & all of your advice to a laymen learner. I'm heading to Adorama to try and rent the LED work light plus gels, and diffusers in addition to the chinese paper ball lights. I like the idea of a temporary light source coming from the microwave as well, I'm thinking the LED string lights could work well for that?
I'm going to try to borrow some kinos and get blue gels for those as the main source of light.
Thanks again, have a good rest of your week.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 14, 2012 at 12:42:32 am

Mayalin, I don't know if this is something you seek to do as a career. I can tell you that the combative 'tude makes it harder for people to want to reach out and help you, and that this is, despite all the stats, still a business where everybody knows everyone, where reputation is the most prized currency. It is hard won and easily lost. Please take this into consideration when I tell you, you're hurting your future prospects when you ask pros for help with one hand and slap them with the other.

That's not lighting advice, that's business advice. Maybe life coach advice. Take it, or don't.

Good luck with the project, you are fighting an uphill battle when you spend about five grand on a camera and next to nothing on lighting or sound or grip gear. You're approaching this thing all backwards, from what little I can see of it. At your stage of your artistic development, you really can't afford to turn away advice from anybody, even when its hard to take. Lucas can ignore advice and make cr@p movies because he's a billionaire. You're not there yet, again, as business advice, I say, put your pride aside and just take everything in for due consideration with a "thanks for the insight". Peace-out.


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Tom PriggeRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 14, 2012 at 8:01:45 pm

This is a little bit on topic ( I think). A few years ago I worked at a TV station in creative services. The boss's son, a college student, interned with us one summer. I had given my notice and was encouraged to let him shoot and edit a commercial while I looked over his shoulder. It was an outdoor shoot on a lake, getting shots of a ginormous boat. After his first shot, I took a look and lo and behold, the footage had a nice blue cast to it. He had not white balanced the camera. No problem, he assured me, I can fix it when I edit with color correction. Which he could, since the boat was white and all he had to do was click on the eyedropper in his color correction filter. But I told him to shoot it again, this time correctly.

I noticed this same attitude from the kids fresh out of college. We can fix it in post they always said. Back in the day when we said that, our tongues were firmly planted in our cheeks. In fact, things can be fixed in post like never before. But that's poor technique. In the days of machine to machine editing, if you came back with blue footage you were screwed.

Today's NLEs and compositing programs have bred, in my humble, grumpy old man opinion, a generation that thinks video is easy, that the software will fix it. Or that just posessing the right gear is enough.

Now I'll go back to sitting on my porch and frowning at the cars that go by--that's what we gumpy old guys excel at.


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Dennis SizeRe: Need cheap lights for low lit music vid with lots of Macro detail shot on Sony FS100
by on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:59:28 am

Wow, this has been quite a thread ..... providing some of the best advice to a novice I've seen collected in one string in a long time.
Tom -- I too am annoyed by those damn cars!
Bill-- Congratulations on telling it like it is ...I knew you had it in you!
Mayalin, you owe Mark Suszko more than you could ever realize. Even though you missed the point, he essentially totally lit your video for you .... providing a step by step process of how to achieve the look that you want. Our company would charge several thousand dollars in consulting fees for what he's given you for free. it would then cost several thousand more to actually execute the lighting. Excellent lighting design work Mark (and without mentioning Lowell once!)

I have one last piece of advice for you Mayalin:
If you're REALLY interested in learning the basics of what lighting is all about. Look around you and observe it -- then strive to recreate it so that your work has as naturalistic a quality as possible. That was the main point Mark was trying to get across to you.
I would also recommend you go on line to Focal Press and buy one of the many books they sell on television lighting. The best one for someone of your skill sets would be Des Lyver's book, BASICS of VIDEO LIGHTING, 2nd Edition.

DS



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