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Background and lighting advice?

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stan welks
Background and lighting advice?
on Feb 28, 2009 at 11:05:07 pm

I'm going to shoot video of sign language interpreters doing lots of signing. I will use Kinos and have a frame that I can place a fabric background on behind the interpreter.


1. Does anyone have any suggestions for color backgrounds that might work well for a project like this? I do not want to shoot them against a solid white wall. There will be two interpreters and I do not yet know their skin tones, though assuming they are light, mid or dark, what color background would you use?

2. Would you use a basic 3-point lighting setup for this? I have two Divas and two 4-banks.

Thanks for any advice!


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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 12:00:02 am

This should work nicely.....only a little bit lighter and more blue than this picture depicts..
DS





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Rick Wise
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 12:22:53 am

The drop pictured is often called a "scumble drop." It can be stretched flat, or, as it is more often, draped "artistically". I would imagine you would use 3-point lighting for your talent, and your 4th light for the background, which can be lit from above, the side, or from below. The further away from the talent you set the drop, the more you can make it soft-focus, which always helps. (Try to shoot close to wide open by scrimming down your lights to just above the bare minimum. On the other hand, your lens may not be as sharp on the talent as you'd like in the wide open position.)

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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stan welks
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 12:45:17 am

Hi Rick,

1. Would it be good to use two lights to light the background instead of one?

2. What do you mean by "drop?"

3. How do you scrim Kinos?

Thanks!



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Rick Wise
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 1:18:24 am

1. Two lights or one? All depends on the look you want. Light and shape to please your eye and your clients' eyes.

2. A "drop" (and a scumble drop)is a cloth (usually) sheet of any size that can be hung as background. Painters use them to protect the floors and furniture of houses they are painting. Painter drops are usually white, except that over time they take on the many color splashes of the various house paints used over them. A really well used painter's drop can make an interesting scumble drop. You could find a local painter and offer to exchange one of his or her well-used drops for a fresh one. You want something big enough to drape in folds, say 12' x 12'. Do not get plastic ones. Only cloth. (The plastic will not drape well and will have a very shiny, ugly surface.)

3. You scrim kinos either with grip scrims you hold in place with c-stands, or else with neutral density gels (ND3 = 1 stop, ND6 = 2 stops, etc.)

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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stan welks
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 12:41:53 am

Hi Dennis,

Just curious your reasons for suggesting this?

Thanks!



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Todd Terry
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 2:42:34 am

If you need an "in action" look at what Rick and Dennis are talking about... as luck would have it early last week I directed a series of four commercials for an insurance company using that same exact backdrop.

We just wrapped post on them... they look like this:

http://fantasticplastic.com/bakerwoodward/FCSSyvonne.wmv


The setup was actually super easy. I usually kinda wad up my drops, but in this case it was stretched tight on a 6x6 Hollywood frame about six feet behind the talent. Talent was lit with one 650w open-face tungsten instrument in a white umbrella, white 4x4 bounce card held by a duckbill clamp on a C-stand for fill, and a 300w fresnel up in the grid for a back/hairlight. A little 200w Pepper fresnel was immediately behind the talent on a short stand lighting the backdrop, with a bit of 1/2 CTB just clipped on it with a couple of C47s to give it some color. Camera was about seven feet away from talent, shot 35mm format with 50mm and 80mm lenses both wide open at f/1.3. I would have probably personally perfered a softer more blurry background, but this was the look that the client wanted.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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stan welks
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 4:04:44 am

Thanks for sharing that link. I like it, though I am not sure if it might be better to use a solid soft color background instead. The interpreters will be using their arms and hands the whole time while interpreting and am just wondering if the darks and lights in the background might make it more difficult to view.




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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 6:18:40 am

Very pretty Todd!

I think for Stan's purposes however he should add a layer of blue gel to the backdrop light ...just to "wash down" the texture a bit while making the whole background "richer"...... I'd use a Roscolux #68, or perhaps the gutsier #80. Of course, for a more subdued look, one, or even two layers of Full CT Blue could be used.

DS



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Todd Terry
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 6:49:30 am

Thanks, Dennis...

Actually, the background lighting in that instance was not what my original plan was.

I had planned to not light the background at all, because I wanted it quite dark for contrast as I had originally planned to do white letterboxing, not black. That's why I used an umbrella rather than a softbox so the key would give just a bit of ambient light to the studio. But the client didn't think the backdrop "looked blue" enough. They said "Can't you just put some blue gel on it?" I tried in vain to explain that you can't just "put gel" on something, that you have to have a lighting instrument to PUT it on... they didn't quite understand that light was needed to enable the gel to work (insert eyeroll here). So finally I grabbed a little Pepper that was sitting unused a few feet away on stage and slapped some CTB on it to show them. They liked it and that's what we went with.

I actually thought the end result was far too cheesy "Sears Portrait Studio" for my taste... but one doesn't argue with those who are writing the checks. Well, actually, I do argue, just not too much.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 7:30:43 am

Now THAT's funny ..... but it's so typical.

Speaking of blue, and eyes rolling around in one's head, last month I did a redesign of the O'REILLY FACTOR for FOX NEWS. The background scenic elements were a woodgrained wall, a gray backed etched plexiglass full of FOX logos, that framed an LED wall, and an RP Screen.
Bill O'Reilly's head was centered in the LED wall for his close-ups. When guests were on set the RP screen was the center background element. I suggested we use a warm blue in the LED wall to make Bill's head/body "pop out", and to flatter his eyes. Bill loved it but didn't like the amber woodgrained walls, so the Producers asked me to make them blue -- but with colored light. Paint's so damn expensive you know! :-)
(It's tough enough to make warm amber wood blue; but I did ... with LOTS of light).
That was a big hit, so -- since nothing succeeds like excess -- they then asked for all the elements to be blue.
Now Bill is swimming in a sea of "tone-on-tone" blues, with absolutely no delineation between all the expensively crafted elements in the background. (The etched plexi wall of logos was only about $10,000.00 ..... and you can barely distinguish it!)

Is this a crazy business or what?
DS



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Todd Terry
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 8:03:14 am

[Dennis Size] "Bill loved it"

Ok, now you're forcing me to tell a Bill O'reilly story...

In a previous life many years ago, I did promotions for an NBC television station. Every year there was a convention of promotions types from all over the country... and usually the stars from many the shows (both syndicated and network) would come and schmooze.

Most of the celebs realized that we were there to help them and controlled their on-air promotion (or lack thereof), and most would fall over themselves to be nice to us.

Oprah gave us lavish gifts. Merv let me cut in line at lunch when I was late. Sally Jesse bummed a light in the hall. I sang karoke at a party with Kelsey Grammer. Vanna gave me a ride in her car. Montel let me rub his head.

Lots of butt kissing.

Except from Mr. O'Reilly.

A bigger jerk I have yet to meet. He wouldn't even talk to anyone, just hid in the hall smoking and being bothered and holier-than-thou. I just wanted to yell at him and say "You're on a frikkin' tabloid show, for cripesake" (Inside Edition, at the time).

Anyway, that's my Bill O'Reilly story.

And now we're waaay off topic....




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 8:11:19 am

Your assessment is 100% correct!

...but isn't this REALLY the topic!

DS



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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 1, 2009 at 5:10:39 am

You'll find that blue will service you well as a background behind just about any flesh tone. You could just go with just a soft blue drape but texture will relieve some of the "boredom" of a boring flat blue color..... hence my suggestion of the scumbled blue backdrop. My only quibble with the drop I suggested is that it might be a little too "busy" -- and too dark. You don't want the background to distract from your foreground subjects.
You could easily create what you need using the drop I suggested as a "concept".
Just go buy a hunk of blue fabric, some paint, and a few cheap Par cans to "slash" your slightly swagged creation.
Have fun with it. If it's too overpowering just tone down the amount of light on it.
DS



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Mark Suszko
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 2, 2009 at 3:51:28 pm

"Blank it, we'll just do it live!"

Back to the lighting thing; signer-interpreters are special cases, I've worked with them in the past. What seemingly works best for them and their audiences is kind of dull for the rest of us, but they really need the face, hands and upper body as clear as possible, with no distractions behind them or edging them, so featureless gradients are better IMO than any patterns or patterned drops.

I wound up using a dove gray photog's paper roll on stands, and a simple round open-faced spot, softened with tough spun and flooded out to give a bit of gradient to it, flagged off to just hit the paper, and I controlled the contrast ratio to favor the foreground significantly. I gel these (If at all) with a blue or green generally, as the warmer shades start to compete in contrast ratio. The nice thing about the gray paper is you can gel or light it to look like any color and any brightness from black up to bright white.

Signers tend to wear solid black or at least dark, patternless clothes (kind of goth) to keep the "canvas" as neutral as possible and keep the hands easy to see. Some side-lighting that helps define the arms from the front of the body may be helpful, but don't overdo rim lighting anything.

Keeping the background to a simple grad means you can help define sections of the narrative by alternating colored gels if you like. But discuss that in advance with the clients, obviously.


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Dennis Size
Re: Background and lighting advice?
on Mar 2, 2009 at 6:15:14 pm

This same issue was discussed a year ago in the Lighting Forum.
For further info check back to the subject below on January 21, 2008.

background muslin color?
by Ty Ford on Jan 21, 2008 at 6:04:17 pm






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