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Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video

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Steve Crow
Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 15, 2010 at 9:50:03 pm

I am going to do some filming downtown this evening to see if I can get a particular look...it's one where light sources (particularly oncoming car headlights I've noticed) are captured in the video as as very blurry round discs.

Is this just a by-product of filming with wide open apertures? How can I best capture that look?

I've seen many other still photographs where you see almost octagon-shaped blurred-out lights but I think that has something do with capturing reflections of the camera's own iris...I'm after something a little bit different - the diffuse round discs of light in the background.

Any tips?


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Michael Sacci
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 4:17:46 am

Is this what you are talking about -


That is just the scene totally out of focus, below is the shot in focus -


I would think I was at f4 for this scene.


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Steve Crow
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:27:21 am

Yes, that's it. I went out tonight to do some testing and I quickly came to the conclusion that what I was after was actually a focus issue - I was at about a 2.0 during my test filming.

Now I do notice the shape of your "blurred" lights is the hexagon shape I was talking about versus the more disc/round type of shapes that I've also seen...I will look at the footage I filmed in the morning to see if I got hexagons or discs...maybe a disc is just an even more out of focus hexagon? I will do some more testing to see how this focus-related effect works and how it might be used creatively


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Steve Crow
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:38:00 am

Here is an example from a Philip Bloom video of how I would like to take this effect to the next level ... a foreground object or person in focus and the background out of focus



So now I am kinda getting back to wondering if aperture IS related when this kind of effect is desired...if I just used the focus ring for a shot like that then both the girl and the background would be out of focus, but here just the background is out of focus...shallow depth of field.


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Steve Crow
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:44:32 am

Here's another example from the same Philip Bloom video ("Dublin's People")



So Zane if I understand your point you are saying the difference between the more rounded off disc shapes and the sharper hexagon type shapes has to do with the specific camera model, aperture or lens - do I have that right?


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Zane Barker
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:56:21 am

Thats right Steve. If you look close in the image you just posted even though they may look round they have a slight hexagonal shape.

Honistly one of the best things that you can do to improve your video camera skills is to learn to do still photography. Take the DSLR and set EVERYTHING on manual and do a lot of still photography for 6 months or so. Because the camera is set to manual you will learn vary well how different settings effects the final image. And that knowledge of the camera in still photography translates directly to video. Plus it will make you more aware of lighting.

**Hindsight is always 1080p**


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Steve Crow
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 7:08:22 am

Thanks Zane, like you I only shoot in full manual and I am indeed trying to learn as much as I can about still photography (everything except using a Flash that is!), I agree with you that learning the skills that still photographers have known and used for years will really help us become digital cinematographers with these new DSLRs.


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Zane Barker
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:40:25 am

Yes it all about the aperture.

[Steve Crow] "Now I do notice the shape of your "blurred" lights is the hexagon shape I was talking about versus the more disc/round type of shapes that I've also seen"

The shape is because that the actual shape of the aperture, depending on the lens they are seldom perfectly round.

NOte the shape of the aperture in the photo on this link.
http://hardikshah.me/blog/tag/aperture/


**Hindsight is always 1080p**


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Norman Pogson
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 5:49:53 pm

Hi Steve,

Generally the round out of focus light points your talking about are caused by the iris being fully wide open i.e no iris blades visible in the lens.

As others have said the hexagonal or pentagon shapes are all iris blade deigns you are seeing on the image.

My Canon 7D Blog


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Micah McDowell
Re: Getting Blurred Lights in Nightime Video
on Aug 16, 2010 at 9:49:03 pm

Here's a great page that gives TONS of info about "bokeh", the out of focus areas of the image and why they look the way they look:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/bokeh.htm

Actually, it's a great site to learn about photography in general.


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