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Lights or Not

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tony west
Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 3:21:03 pm

The other day I had to shoot some jerseys in the locker room. Didn't have much time to be in there so I couldn't light them. Just available light which I don't like (too flat)

I was messing around with it in X and was able to get a more dramatic look that I prefer. Not that you couldn't do this in other programs, I just used this one.

I used a glidcam to shoot it and one of the challenges that brings is keeping my own shadow out as I'm moving around and trying to get close to the subject.

That's not a problem when I light it in post, causing me to think about weighing my options of sometimes shooting flat from the start.

It would really depend on the situation, but I never even considered thinking that way years before.








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Bill Davis
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 3:34:45 pm

Based on trends I saw at NAB toward RAW workflows migrating toward video from the stills industry, I suspect that our future holds not only more than 12 stops of latitude to do more of the kind of "post lighting" you're talking about here - but the kind of large rasters that allow us to push in to create useable re-framing options in post.

All this is certainly changing how I think about shooting in the field.

It's not necessarily shooting to "fix it" in post - it's more shooting while being mindful about what's possible in post.

FWIW.

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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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 3:44:15 pm

Bill -

What you propose is not unlike what the greats in photography, Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Man Ray, all did (they had no choice of course, because the technology was fixed at the time). They shot for a negative which would give them the most latitude in the printing process - the print was everything!

Their greatness lay in what they did in the darkroom after the negative had been produced.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Paul Jay
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 4:22:12 pm

Indeed. Dodging and Burning was a analog darkroom process that's now also digital.


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Michael Garber
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 4:33:25 pm

It's true. I worked on a show that interviewed Ansel Adams' son, Michael. When asked what Ansel might have thought about modern tools, he said that Ansel would have loved Photoshop. Michael said that he did a ton of "post-lighting" work in the dark room. He'd use his hands to block out areas of light when developing the print. The key to Ansel's genius was that he knew how to shoot efficiently using the correct filters, film stock, ISO, exposure, etc so that he could give it the final look and make the image pop in the darkroom.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 5:40:21 pm

Isn't this par for the course for shooting on film? Exposure, focus and framing in the field and then grade to your liking in post? Obviously that's an oversimplification as everyone (dir, dp, wardrobe, art department, etc.,) has to be on the same page in pre-pro as far as what the final look of the film should be.

A few years ago when I started grading a magazine-style TV show I really got into post lighting. The field lighting was typically pragmatic and unpredictable (sometimes an interview would be outside and other times in would be in an office the size of a closet) but in post using Color I helped shape the lighting to look more purposed. On the wide shots it was harder but on the close-ups I was usually able add separation between the subject and the background, giving the shot a sense of depth it lacked before.

Like in Tony's example, a little bit of love can go a long way in taking a shot from 'meh' to 'niiiiice'.

With more cameras coming out (and at cheaper prices) that have wide dynamic range and recording in raw or lightly compressed codecs the option for more people to light in post will be there, but I think the downsides to raw (storage requirements, processing power, etc.,) will keep a lot of people shooting in H.264 based codecs.


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David Lawrence
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 6:01:33 pm

I still prefer to get lighting right during the shoot whenever possible, but I've done miracles with Magic Bullet Looks when it's not.

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 9:53:39 pm

I have to say that I'm amazed at the low light stuff I've been working with off of Red Epic. Late dusk. Early dawn.

And in slow motion ...

Really astounding stuff with great detail and low noise that just would not have been possible before.

Franz.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 10:21:35 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I have to say that I'm amazed at the low light stuff I've been working with off of Red Epic. Late dusk. Early dawn."

Recently I worked with some RED stuff natively in Color and the extra control you get is awesome. From a grading perspective it's great. Until you go to render it all out, lol.




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Walter Soyka
Re: Lights or Not
on May 3, 2013 at 5:26:25 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I have to say that I'm amazed at the low light stuff I've been working with off of Red Epic. Late dusk. Early dawn. And in slow motion ... Really astounding stuff with great detail and low noise that just would not have been possible before."

I'd be curious to know if there's some kind of Moore's Law trend on sensor light sensitivity (which improves dynamic range, and which I think is ultimately more important than resolution).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Shawn Miller
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 12:12:56 am

[Walter Soyka] "I'd be curious to know if there's some kind of Moore's Law trend on sensor light sensitivity (which improves dynamic range, and which I think is ultimately more important than resolution)."

I think it's more a matter of will on the part of camera manufacturers. High dynamic range imaging for video has been possible for a number of years, but Canon, Sony, et al, have been focusing their marketing and development dollars on bigger sensors and proprietary, highly compressed formats. Even now, a lot of shooters are more concerned with full frame sensors and 4k images than really good latitude and open HDR formats. Hopefully this is trend is changing though. You'll also find this to be true in the stills world, camera companies have focused their marketing efforts on selling megapixels and sensor size rather than high dynamic range. For many, 8bit images are just fine... as long as their proprietary raw pictures have more megapixels than everyone else's. :-)

Shawn



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Herb Sevush
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 12:12:18 pm

[David Lawrence] "I still prefer to get lighting right during the shoot whenever possible"

Amen to that. what you can't get in post is the directionality of the original lighting and the quality of the light.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Richard Herd
Re: Lights or Not
on May 2, 2013 at 5:56:10 pm

[tony west] "sometimes shooting flat from the start"

Both of those images look nice.

have you tried a ring light?


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tony west
Re: Lights or Not
on May 3, 2013 at 7:06:29 am

[Richard Herd] "have you tried a ring light?"

Thanks Richard,

I have not used that specific light but

I find that if I have a top light on my rig when I move into the subject the light becomes a little too intense.

Also the extra weight on the rig is a workout.

I shot it with an F3 and that camera needs very little light. I have really been enjoying using it.

Have you had good results with the ring light?


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Bill Davis
Re: Lights or Not
on May 3, 2013 at 8:19:06 pm

Re: Light rings.

It's a specialized tool that does one thing incredibly well - provide multiple angle of incident facial soft lighting for close ups. If you look at magazine ads for makeup - you'll often catch ring lights in the eye reflections of "whole face" shots. (if they haven't been 'shopped out!)

But the soft effect disappears rapidily over distance, so using one at more than a foot or two from your subject is typically a waste of time - at even 4 feet, a 10" ring light turns into a point source.

Lighting is physics and geometry combined with a brain and eye which have each been trained to intuitively understand the combinations.

This is why their will never be a single light - or even a single type of light - that will do all common lighting tasks well, IMO.

On my shopping or learning list, ring lights would fall somewhere toward the bottom unless I'm shooting something like eyewear or makeup or dental topics.

FWIW.

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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Richard Herd
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 11:19:00 pm

[tony west] "Have you had good results with the ring light?"

Haven't tried it. But am always looking for input -- and was hoping you had.


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Michael Sanders
Re: Lights or Not
on May 3, 2013 at 8:32:30 am

Top end Graders have been saying this for years. A good DP will know what he can do in post and what can be done better in camera.

Michael Sanders
London Based DP/Editor


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Brett Sherman
Re: Lights or Not
on May 3, 2013 at 12:50:35 pm

Shooting with a C300, lighting has a slightly different role than it had in the past. I never use lights for anything except lighting podiums and interviews. For interviews I use lights to soften wrinkles, deal with excessive contrast with the background, or unflattering existing light (ceiling mounted flourescents). I use lights a lot less and am more confident when I don't have the time to set one up.

The lighting gear I use is different now and focused on speed of setup. Basically I use a battery powered softboxed LED for key. Every once in awhile if I have time I'll use an LED backlight. But I'm finding I like the "hyped" look of that less and less. Like everything else, lighting style is constantly evolving. I look at stuff shot in the 90s or 00s that is tightly controlled with lots of backlight and think "ick."



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Michael Gissing
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 2:03:43 am

I've been shooting lately on my Canon 5D and even with it set to flat contrast, it obviously doesn't give me the grade range that I have enjoyed with RED & raw formats. I prefer to get lighting right on location where possible with the knowledge of what can be done in post. Tools like Color, da Vinci etc can be very useful to relight but they become very fiddly on moving shots or action within frame. So it is a balance between time spent on location or in post.

Many DPs that I work with have tools like Color and da Vinci and often send their ideas of shot grades ahead of the grading session so most are aware of the balance between location lighting and post lighting fx. All prefer to control lighting on location as the primary and then know what post can do to add or enhance. Just shooting flat and lighting later will often give pleasing results but shooting flat and lighting on location gives the best result.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 12:07:36 pm

[Brett Sherman] " I look at stuff shot in the 90s or 00s that is tightly controlled with lots of backlight and think "ick.""

And I look at a lot of the flat ugly natural lit stuff that is now in vogue and I think "there's a shooter with no training or competence."

Interior "natural" lighting is mostly shit, unless your sitting by a window. Proper exterior lighting is totally hit or miss unless you really know what your doing. The lost art of lighting with today's young DPs makes me want to cry.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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tony west
Re: Lights or Not
on May 4, 2013 at 2:35:53 pm

[Herb Sevush] "The lost art of lighting"


I tend to agree here Herb


The back light is a light that has gone by the waste side for many, but not me.

I work with a talent with jet black hair. Her hair is beautiful, but with out a back light her head can look like a black hole on camera.

No need for that. It takes extra time but it's really worth it.

I love to light in the field and will always make that my first move.

It's nice to have the option of saving flat lighting when you are forced to use it.

Get in this locker room and get out!


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