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Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!

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Ryan Velasquez
Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 18, 2009 at 6:48:18 pm

Hi all,

I am setting up a couple of different looks for talking head videos in my studio and would love to have some opinion/critique on the way the lighting is set up.

1) The first setup is a black backdrop:

http://www.rybo.tv/forum/blackcyc_half.jpg

The set-up consists of a black curtain in the background, with those 3 lights (turned off and used as props), about 2-3 ft from the curtain. The subject is 8-9 ft from the curtain, and the camera is about 17-18 ft.

For lighting the subject I have two 1500 watt flourescent lights with daylight bulbs, both with 1/2 minus green gels on them. The key light has 3028 (tough quarter white) diffusion on it, while the fill has a thicker diffusion (the material that is used to separate gels). I have a 50 watt LED hair light attached to the ceiling (which is low, only about 3 ft. higher than the subject).

I am using a little bit of fluorescent light to highlight the light props in the bkgd as well.

The camera is shooting 1920x1080 24p, with ND1 filter on, the iris at f1.9, shutter speed at 1/60, and white balanced at 5200k.

2) The second setup is a white cyc look (i shot it on white - then used a luma key to replace the bg with a gradient):

http://www.rybo.tv/forum/whitecyc_half.jpg

The setup is the same for the most part in terms of lighting the subject. The bgkd has two 2000 watt fluorescent lights blasting on it.

I am not sure about what the camera settings were for this one, but they were adjusted to blow out the bg.

Thought I'd ask to see if anyone had any suggestions for how to improve these looks and also, if they had any ideas on any other looks I can go for in a cramped studio space.

Thanks!

Ryan





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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:23:17 pm

I'd hardly call a studio space that's almost 30 feet long "cramped". Why are you putting your camera so far from the talent?

Why are you using the two 1500w fluoros as a key and a fill -- while wasting that wonderful ARRI fresnel as a prop?!!
One major bit of advice..... minimize the sidelight angles (a LOT). It's not attractive.

DS



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Ryan Velasquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:04:30 pm

Hey Dennis...

It's cramped in that the ceiling is a mere 7-8 ft high and width wise, probably only a few feet more than that. I do have length in about 18 ft.

In any case, I am putting the camera so far away to decrease the depth of field and shift the lights in the background out of focus. That's also the reason why I am using the ND filter.

I'm using flos instead of the Arri because I have to light it all with the use of flos. Just a part of the project.

Ok, now to business!

Sidelight angles... I don't know what you mean by that. Would you care to explain?

Thanks for the response/help!

Ryan


Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
by Dennis Size on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:23:17 pm

I'd hardly call a studio space that's almost 30 feet long "cramped". Why are you putting your camera so far from the talent?

Why are you using the two 1500w fluoros as a key and a fill -- while wasting that wonderful ARRI fresnel as a prop?!!
One major bit of advice..... minimize the sidelight angles (a LOT). It's not attractive.

DS




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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:24:42 pm

There are many ways to light one person in a room that size (despite a low ceiling), 1,500watt fluoros wouldn't be my first choice however. That's a VERRRYY bright fluorescent. What are they (make, model, number of lamps, etc).

Sidelight is just what it sounds like -- when your fixtures are positioned to the side of the object, instead of at a more frontal angle.

DS



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Ryan Velasquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 18, 2009 at 10:58:01 pm

Hey thanks for the quick response Dennis.

You are most correct that the key and fill are more to the side than straight on. How can you tell? The ways the shadows fall? What looks so unattractive?

I was originally blocking for someone with glasses and the side angle helped me minimize reflection of the flights in their glasses.



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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 4:42:45 am

My 9 year old daughter could tell your lights were at too extreme a sidelight angle.
That is definitely why your talent looks God-awful ...the highlights and shadows you've created are extremely unnatural.

The reflections are a combination of errors. The position of your camera is too far away from the talent as is the relationship of your lighting fixtures to both your camera and your talent.
The number one thing you must always remember (and has been restated dozens of times in this FORUM) is that "the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection".

What are those 1500w fluoros?

DS



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john sharaf
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:22:23 am

Ryan,

You must be mistaken about the 1500 and 2000 watt units. The Kino Flo Image 80, which is a gigantic flo unit only draws 9 amps; two of them on a white wall would be like daytime. I don't get the ND filter either, just set the iris wide open and start turning globes off.

The white cyc look hardly motivates a side light key. One expects a high key frontal source on the foreground to match the quality of the light on the back wall. With the black bg you can take more liberty with a low key or contrasty look, just be careful to use enough backlight so your dark haired subject doesn't disappear in the darkness. In addition to the backlight for seperation you might consider a "scratch" light on the off key side.

Furthermore the direction and quality of the foreground lighting ought to be recreated on the props if one is to believe that they exist in the same environment/space.

I'm not going to be as harsh as Dennis here, but I think you're overthinking things. Think about how the lighting creates a reality; what would be the logical source of the light and what's the best way of recreating it? A window, an open garage door, a street lamp, the sun, etc.





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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:31:27 am

Me .... harsh? I guess I've gotten way too used to working with all the nastiest people on earth (and it's rubbed off) :-)
As for his nd filter, we all know it's because he's using those "nuclear" fluorescents -- and will ultimately need to use layers of nd9 on them if he's unable to turn off individual lamps.

By the way John, did you do Barbara's upcoming pre OSCAR SHOW this year?

DS




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Michael Palmer
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:12:59 pm

Harsh? I think it was rubbed into me.
I believe I ran a crossed some 1500 watt equivalent (softbox) kits that he must be using. It would take nearly 38- 4' T12 tubes to equal 1500 watts, thats 4-image 80's and 1-4x4 kino.

Ryan,
Having the light far away doesn't make it a bigger source on the subject, as it doesn't rap around the face like natural light would do.

If you are using units with a single globe that can't be individually turned off (like an image 80 kino) then try a (5x5) white bed sheet or muslin cloth much closer to your subject and bring these flos in behind it and see the difference Dennis is talking about. You most likely won't need a fill light at all. The bed sheet will become the source and a much larger source it will be. Ad ND filters for the desired iris you want.

Your skill level is obvious, but keep trying new setups and you will find something what will work for you.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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john sharaf
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:14:50 pm

Dennis,

Yeah, another year of Oscar specials, which as before there's rumors that it will be the last. All the usual suspects involved; Chuck Lofthause as LD and I provided my four Varicam kit in LA for Anne Hathaway and Mickey Rourke and also traveled to Dallas for the Jonas Bros shoot and used a local five-Varicam Bexel package.

Also watch out for the 20/20 Special on March 6 about Siegfried and Roy. Same deal, my Varicams plus my lighting and grip truck. Shot at their ranch and backyard rehearsal stage.

First time in more than twenty years though that I will not be working on Oscar coverage, as GMA canceled their usual big deal and has cut back seriously, but I will be lighting and providing video facility for the Weekend GMA live remote from the Fashion Institute in LA. Sign of the times!

Thanks for asking,

JS



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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:47:38 pm

I shall anxiously be watching.
I always love what you and Chuck do with my old girlfriend "Babs".
I know you'll make her look spectacular -- instead of an 80 year old _______ (fill in the blank)! :-)

I know what you mean, the economy's killing everything.
The ABC cutbacks -- as well as all the other networks -- have been absolutely absurd on the East Coast.

I'm also anxious to see the OSCARS with Roger at the helm this year.

DS




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john sharaf
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 20, 2009 at 4:44:30 am

Dennis,

Your remarks about cutbacks couldn't be more true; in the time between my last post and your reply ABC canceled my return trip to Las Vegas for the completion of the Siegfried and Roy special. They're "scaling back" meaning they don't care about getting the job done right, just that it come in under budget. I'm having a problem getting paid from another account for a half day job last November from a company that has offices in NY, Chicago and LA, and has been in business for 27 years. What's a fellow to do?

JS





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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:23:08 pm

I feel your pain brother!

I'm surprised you do half-day billings. We've always avoided it (although the times may start to dictate otherwise).

In response to the terrible way this business has been going, a friend of mine recently told me he's brushing up on the following line he may have to use with future clients..... "Would you like fries with that sir?"

DS



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Ryan Velazquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 21, 2009 at 12:00:45 am

heyo,

I pulled the key around more frontal and raised it as well. i also strengthed the backlight/kicker (and messed with the prop light in the bg - but thats not too important):

http://rybo.tv/forum/blackcyc_1.jpg

I agree that it looks better... a lot more pleasant in the traditional way. however, there's still something about having it set up with that previous sidelighting that was/is visually interesting to me.

but please, tell me what you think of how the setup looks now.

(one with less fill http://rybo.tv/forum/blackcyc_2.jpg)

sorry Dennis that I can't give you more information about the lighting fixtures.


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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 23, 2009 at 6:12:17 am

It certainly looks better.
DS



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Ryan Velazquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:10:24 pm

Hey John,

I saw your work on the Barbara Walters special and it looked great. Do you mind if I ask what the lighting setup was for the different interviews?

For instance, I noticed on the Anne Hathaway interview that the shadows from the key were far sharper and less diffused on Anne than on Barbara. In fact, far sharper than on any of the other guests in the special. What was the reason for this? Obviously, the soft light flattered Barbara, but why the hard(er) light on Anne?

I'd be pretty curious to know how many lights went into the interview, and where they were set-up (i mean if you wouldn't mind taking some time to explain, of course!). I'm eager to learn from such an outstanding professional such as yourself.

Thanks!
RV



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john sharaf
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 24, 2009 at 1:45:59 am

Ryan,

Thank you for watching the show.

Actually the lighting design for these shows is done by Chuck Lofthause who has been BW's Lighting Director for many years and does not change from a specific plan.

As with all multicam interview setups it starts with boom arms (sometimes called menace arms by movie grips) which dangle the key light, backlight and sometimes setlights where a stand would otherwise be seen by the crossing cameras. This method puts the lights in the place where the two subjects (or more) are looking at the other person(s).

In a daylight setting the keylights would be 800 watt Jokers and in a low light day of night scene would be either Joker Black Jacks or 1K Babies. In bother cases a snoot made of foam core (with the black side in) is attached to control the spill off of the other person. Inside the snoot, the light will have white diffusion in various density based on the situation. At the end of the snoot there's often black wrap "bottomers" to further control the spill.

Fill lights are some soft source, usually a 2K zip with Eggcrate or in daylight a 400w Joker with Chimera and louvers and a solid flag to the off camera side to again control the spill off of the unintended subject.

Finally the set itself is lit with source fours, Joker pars and even 4K, 6K or 12K HMI's through windows, etc. Often with colored gels and shadow makers like gobos, cookies or actual bushes. Sometimes as many as 20-25 lighting units come into play, because great care is used in choosing extravagant and large sets, except when they're forced into small hotel suites (like the Hugh Jackman interview in NY).

Now to your observations about the chin shadows; because the lighting is completely complimentary (the same on both people) the chin shadows should look the same. The Anne Hathaway interview was obviously a night interior and the room ambiance was less than the daytime sets, thus the shadow is more noticeable. Her key might have been less head-on that BW's which would also accentuate the shaddow.

When I design the lighting I rarely use such hard light keys. My preference is to key with a 800 or 400 Joker in a Chimera, backlight with a 400 or 200 Joker in a Chimera and fill with a 400 or 200 Joker in Chimera if necessary. To me this creates a more natural, less theatrical looking scene, especially as regards the otherwise hard chin shaddows. This method also minimizes hand shadows if people "talk with their hands". A lot of network shooters use Divas on boom arms in a similar plot. This is what makes horse races and any of the above schemes can look great with careful execution!

The determining factor in the successful lighting of these type interviews usually comes down to the choice of the set, the larger and more three dimensional the better. Perhaps some of you watching identified the location of the Anne Hathaway and Mickey Rourke interviews to be the Doheny Mansion in Beverly Hills, which was the original home of the American Film Institute (AFI) and is now actually a park owned by the City of BH and used in many movies, TV shows and commercials.



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Ryan Velazquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 25, 2009 at 7:50:30 am

Hey John,

Thanks for the detailed response. It gave me a very clear idea of how the interviews were set up. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain everything.

I thought the Mickey Rourke and Anne Hathaway interviews looked really great. The first shots of Barbara Walters talking directly to camera looked a little off to me. I'm not sure if that's the right word... maybe manufactured would be a better word. Since I'm working from my memory, I can't really put my finger on it. It seems like the candles in the background, the really soft lighting and the way she was clipping her words, combined with odd visual edits/cuts, made everything seem a bit forced. I'm not sure. I think once the interviews started getting go, everything worked really well though.

Do you mind if I ask what your role was in this whole production?



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john sharaf
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 25, 2009 at 3:11:27 pm

Ryan,

FYI, I provided my video facility (four Varicams, Telecast Fibe Systems, Canon HD Lenses, eCinema Monitors, Panasonic Switcher/Multiviewer, Evertz Frameset and DVCPRO100 decks) for the Hathaway and Rourke interviews in LA. I was also the "A" camera operator and provided the rest of the crew. I also went to Dallas to be the "A" operator and video consultant for the Jonas Bros shoot.

I agree with your comments about the opening "standups", but I think the problem was basically what I spoke about in the previous post, that the selection of the location affects the success more than any other one factor. In this case, the empty restaurant really had no relationship to the rest of the show or to the Oscars themselves. When BW was in LA there was not enough time on her schedule to do these pages then, so they were picked up in New York, as was the Jackman interview.

JS







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Ryan Velazquez
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:21:17 am

Thanks Dennis and John,

I don't mind any of the feedback. I care more about getting a good shot, and everything Dennis said was honest and, more importantly, true.

Your comments were very helpful as well John. I should definitely take the ND filter off and just knock off globes. Lapse of judgment on my part there. Care to go into the "scratch" light for the black bg in a bit more detail?

Any other suggestions, I'd love to hear as well.

Thank you both for your input!

Ryan

Also, excuse me if I misspoke about the lights. I was giving an approximation of what their approx. equivalent output would be for hot lights in an attempt to make it easier. You are 100% correct in that they themselves are not outputting at 1500 and 2000w.



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Dennis Size
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:41:53 pm

Until you tell us what the fluorescent fixtures you're actually using are (and how they're mounted) .... detailed advice can not be given.

DS



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Richard Herd
Re: Pro Lighting Opinion Needed!
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:52:30 pm

I'm old school and cheap. I'd use a single photoflood (I like the lamp naked but a China Lantern is nice too) using Rembrandt lighting style.

Photoflood costs $9.00.
Foam core costs $1.50.

But that sweet arri...dude.

simple diagram here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rembrandt_lighting

When the focal length (ie "zoom") is at 50mm equivalent or closer, you create intimacy, implying "Hello I'm friendly and we're in the same room." When you get to 85mm, the feeling becomes more "this is a portrait so watch me do stuff."

The image looks soft to me. I surmise because you're at f/1.9. Try stopping down to f/5.6. Lens manufacturing would start a whole new thread, but unless you're using some really expensive glass, staying that open is a sure way to get softyfocus where you don't want it--like on the darkside of his face.



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