So what do you do when you walk into the laboratory and see (of course) a bunch of people wearing bright white lab coats? Some of them are light-skinned, some dark. You have a video camera and a moderate light package. The people are moving about, doing their work.
I just used a lot of frost over the lower part of the lighting instruments, but I'd like to hear some cleverer ideas.
This was recently asked here at the Cow and the answers varied; some preferred to dye coats a grey color.
It may be a matter of taste or style, but I've always preferred to allow a little clip in the whites for this kind of work; it seems to put a nice bit of glow into a clinical setting that suggests, "clean" and "high-tech."
I very often do not use a kick light, but adding a very noticeable edge in this case seems to motivate the burn out.
Back in the bad old days of video with cameras that couldn't hold detail in the whites at all, we had to use flags just to shoot suits in white shirts. The standard prescription to the talent was to wear light blue shirts; today, it's just no problem at all, even with individuals with very dark complexions. VariCams and others I'm certain, have no trouble holding detail in the highlights, however, I still like a bit of burn out for the reasons above.
If you're shooting with a less capable camera and you're on the run with limited crew, equipment, and time, you are faced with three choices:
You can hold the detail in the whites and have talent resemble burned matchsticks, you can replace the lab coats with something darker, or you can enjoy some degree of detail loss in the whites.
Obviously, I prefer the latter.
If you have the time & flags, you can pull down the light on the whites, but that really liimits the movement of the talent.
Fix in camera with knee or dynamic range controls (the Varicam is especially capable with its 500% Dynamic range setting). Be care full in making knee adjustments not to add color to the highlights.
Fix with the lighting, by keeping light off the problem coats woth flags, doors and cutters. You can alternately use snoots or focused light on the faces.
Fix with wardrobe adjustment by dyeing the white down (tea or coffee tint is often used) or replace with another color lab coat; although these fixes arre rarely available in news, doc or corporate production.
Learn to love the blown out look, or minimize it in the frame for closeups and adjust the exposure in the wide shots so the coats don't blow so much!
I think you answered it Bob. When you walk into a lab you do see a bunch of folks wearing lab coats. Problem is everyone thinks white is your enemy. It is not. In such a situation the simplest and most effective way of illuminating them it to see what it is about a natural setting such as this and simply recreate it. THat usually involves large sources such as a diffusion frame and/or a bounce light. Worry less about the white and more about the entire picture.