hair light and backlight
I recently just bought a fluorescent lowell rifa kit and am looking to expand my kit with a hair light and backlight. Since my key and fill lights are fluorescent I would need my hair and backlight to be fluorescent as well right? If so, do you have any recommendations? I am mostly shooting 1 person talking head interviews and just need to bring my subject out from the background.
Any advice is very much appreciated!
Thanks a ton
Since my key and fill lights are fluorescent I would need my hair and backlight to be fluorescent as well right?
I would say no you don't need a flo for backlight, If you are shooting tight enough then a flo would work, but if you need flexibility and something you can control without additional grip gear I would consider a focusable fresnel lamp. Arri 650 tungsten unit will give you what you need. If you need to match color temperatures to daylight you may consider a 1k (1000 watt) unit that will give you a little more light from the unit that can help when you color correct it with blue (CTB) to match.
If your color temps are the same, the type of light shouldn't matter. If you want to stay within the Lowel product line, as a hair light you might try the L-light, or the ViP Pro-Light, with some of Lowel's awesome clamps and attendant mounting gear to put the light where you want it. Scissor clips, and their spring clamp, for example, as an alternative to a floor stand. I am a huge fan of the Lowel Omni pro lights, they are so gosh-darned versatile.
A lot of how much power you need for a back/hair light depends on your visual preference. My own is: you shouldn't see it, but if it were not there you'd see the difference. In other words, very, very light. A 650 is usually overkill, but can be scrimmed down. It's also useful to have a set of half-scrims so that if the subject is wearing a dark jacket and has light hair, or, the revers (dark hair with light shirt) you can wire off the light part of the scene and leave the dark part full bore.
In general, I find 1/2 blue plenty of correction to a tungsten unit when shooting daylight. Warmth looks great on any hair with red in it. On the other hand, a silver-haired subject will benefit from a slightly blue hair light.
As was pointed out in another post a while back, putting a squeezer (variac or other dimmer) on your hair light and placing the control by the camera allows you to vary the intensity quickly. Just remember that when you dim down a tungsten unit, it warms up, color-temperature wise. Like almost everything else in this biz, there are trade-offs to consider.
director of photography
[Rick Wise] "As was pointed out in another post a while back, putting a squeezer (variac or other dimmer) on your hair light and placing the control by the camera allows you to vary the intensity quickly. Just remember that when you dim down a tungsten unit, it warms up, color-temperature wise. Like almost everything else in this biz, there are trade-offs to consider."
Dimmer-by-the-camera is a great time-saving idea, but some bulbs (including those for the Omni) tend to buzz when dimmed. My fresnels (Mole and Pepper) seem to take dimming without buzzing -- usually.
I've been using variacs from Staco out of Dayton, OH, (http://www.stacoenergy.com/variable_transformers.htm), for over 20 years on a variety of fixtures and I've never has a lamp buzzing issue even with the Omnis. The downside is the weight but they are the only quiet solution I've found for all instruments.
Interesting. It doesn't make sense to me that the dimmer itself would determine whether a buzz-prone filament design is loud or not. I have two dimmers, of very different design and expense, and it didn't matter which one I used; the Omni filament buzzed.
But to be honest, I've switched to using fresnels and Kinos, so it's been awhile since I've used an Omni, and the buzzing could have been due to a bad run of Omni bulbs.
Thanks for the info. I'll keep it in mind and keep an Open Mind about this.
An engineer explained it to me years ago. It has something to do with the variac's flat sine waves or something of that nature. I'm no engineer and forget the details of the explanation except that it works and that however variacs work they don't cause filament buzz. I've tried pepper pots and demo-ed various other industry dimmers over the years and all created the same buzz much to the dismay of the sales reps trying to convince me otherwise. The only time I use an Omni these days is as a location back light with a 420W lamp when space is cramped.
By the way, I also broke in with a D-Vision, (spent a few years with Media100&844X) and am now FCP. One more sidetrack, I just got back from visiting my son in Baltimore...nice city...a lot warmer than Syracuse, NY.
I agree whole-heartedly with Rick. A little backlight goes a long way. I also love cheating my color temperature on the backlights to enhance the hair and shoulders.
In this particular instance I'd go with two 150watt fresnels (left-shoulder and right shoulder) plugged in hot. The 3200K color temperature will be a nice warmth and you won't have to worry about dimmed filament hum. If it's too "warm" for you, stick a 1/8 or 1/4 CTB in a frame. If it's too hot on the subjects hair barn door the light beam, or use a 1/2 scrim (as Rick suggests) or clip a cut of diffusion onto the top door flagging the top half of the beam...allowing the light to softly flare up into the subject's hair (my personal favorite). If the shoulder's aren't bright enough then spot the beam up a bit.
Frankly, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say backlight is over-rated.
Often there is no need for backlight and I don't bother with it -- preferring instead to shoot with a wide open iris and allow my background to go soft -- with the crisp in-focus edge of the subject providing all the separation that's needed.
I just got into a dispute just the other day with an "old school" producer who wanted to know how I was going to backlight people being shot wide standing in front of a very bright huge floor-to-ceiling window. When I said I wasn't going to, I thought he was going to have a coronary. When we did the shot however he was thrilled by the separation that was achieved by the bright "fold-over" from the out of focus exterior seen through the window and the crisp edge we achieved on the subjects ...accomplished via a carefully controlled foreground to background light ratio and a wide open aperture. Additionally, he was also thrilled by how inexpensively we were able to light the space and the time saved not having to go through the arduous task of rigging/hiding a backlight pipe.