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What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?

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Rich Rosen
What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 16, 2005 at 6:01:28 pm

I'm shooting at a race track and constantly run into 100% zebras telling me a car's lettering or a guys white t-shirt are blowing out. If one thing is over 100% in the shot do you underexpose the rest or let that one part of the frame go over? Thanks.


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john sharaf
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 16, 2005 at 6:17:29 pm

Rich,

This is a very good question!

The answer is not really easy; it depends on many things. First of all you must consider what the ultimate use of the footage is.

If it's for film out, you must be pretty careful not to overexpose, as the film will go totally clear and the brightness will be way beyond the ability of the film to register any detail in the whiteness. Now if it's white numbers on the car, it probably won't matter, as there is no particular detail in the numbers anyway, but if it's the white t-shirt, there is detail there, even if it's only wrinkles, ultimately you'll miss the texture in the picture.

If your footage is for broadcast overexposure can often distort the sound track, although there are clippers built in to the system to prevent this. I don't think this is as serious a problem as it was in the past.

Ultimately though it's the cameraman's creative decision about exposure; if you have to open up to see the subjects face (rather than sillouette) then you'll might have to live with a white, clipped sky; what starts out as technical decision, inevitably ends up as a creative one!



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Rich Rosen
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 16, 2005 at 7:20:00 pm

As a photgrapher I would rather have 90% of the frame exposed correctly and let the blown out 10% go, but this is hopefully intended for broadcast so I get real nervous when I see those 100% zebras. How hard and fast are the networks these days? On HBO's Six Feet Under the opening title sequence was all white and bent the type it was so blown. Also the sound buzzed. But that was the worst I've ever seen.

For the sky is there any way to make (or buy) a grad filter that's a screw in circular? Or are there only matte box grads?


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Bob Cole
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 18, 2005 at 2:50:19 pm

[john sharaf] "if you have to open up to see the subjects face (rather than sillouette) then you'll might have to live with a white, clipped sky"


This comment, and the remark about the buzzing in the title for Six Feet Under, really make me think.

John mentions "clipping." In my NLE, my Matrox DigiSuite takes care of illegal video. Is there some camera setting which limits (clips?) the exposure to a legal level?

I've often had just the situation John describes, of dark face against white sky. I have always just chickened out and reframed.

-- Bob


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john sharaf
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 18, 2005 at 3:19:49 pm

Bob,

It's a good strategy to reframe if possible to eliminate the overexposed area!

All cameras have "white clip" circuitry, and the level canj be adjusted on professional gear. I believe the nominal level is 108 ire, but often folks set it down a bit, especially for live satalite broadcast, where I often adjust it down to 100 ire.

JS


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Rich Rosen
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 23, 2005 at 10:28:59 pm

Shot at the track all day Saturday in bright sun. With a polarizer on and making sure not to go over 100ire, the tape looks mostly underexposed. What's the answer? Getting a grad, but that will only help with sky. Not a white car next to a red car?


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Bob Cole
Re: What to do when only one part of the frame blowsout?
on May 31, 2005 at 10:36:58 am

[john sharaf] "It's a good strategy to reframe if possible to eliminate the overexposed area!

All cameras have "white clip" circuitry, and the level canj be adjusted on professional gear. I believe the nominal level is 108 ire, but often folks set it down a bit, especially for live satalite broadcast, where I often adjust it down to 100 ire."



John, if you do adjust the clip level in the camera, is it then safe to have part of the frame blow out?

I don't know how prevalent this is, but I just saw another technical gotcha in a PAL flavor. On a trip to Italy last week, we sat in a bar to watch a soccer match (hearing the commentary from the viewers was as good as the game). The bar used an overhead projector, which did fine for the game, but when the ads came on, with their dramatic lighting and white backgrounds, the image actually rolled, rather than buzzed. A good third of the ads were affected this way.

-- Bob


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