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Lighting a white background

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Matthew Delaney
Lighting a white background
on Nov 3, 2009 at 8:43:14 pm

Hi there,

I have a shoot coming up for a client that requires we shoot them against a white background while sitting on a loveseat. The shots will be 3/4 and head-toe and we'll be seeing the floor as well.

I've never lit for this before and am looking for any suggestions.

I believe we're going to use white photo background paper 9'wide and we have a couple of chimeras and 250W arri lights to light the subject.

What would be best to light the bg in a limited space? I was thinking of renting 2x 4'-4bank Kinos with Tungsten bulbs?

I'm shooting on a Sony Z1U

Many thanks.

Matt



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 3, 2009 at 10:47:00 pm

You light the talent separate from the backdrop for most control. To me the issue is that you have to leave some headroom in your levels to go up from; if everything is at 100 IRE on the scopes you're throwing away visual information in the burned areas. So what looks under-lit to the eye may be more than fine to the lens.

Some folks fake the white in post from greenscreen, I've tried it both ways, and I think they can both be valid methods, depending on your needs, but if you can shoot on real white, you should, to save some post time.


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:15:05 am

Typically white limbo is exposed at 80ire so as not to clip. If you shoot wide open, even the best lenses will vinyette and slightly darken the corners; if you want it even light to a level that you can stop down a stop or two.

JS





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Matthew Delaney
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 5, 2009 at 2:25:22 pm

Thanks John,

Definitely info I'm going to use.

Regards
M


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Bob Cole
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 6, 2009 at 3:41:18 pm

Please report back - this is an ongoing problem that I think everyone has to deal with sooner or later.

Does anyone know how the "Get a Mac" ads were filmed? It looks as if everyone's on a white background, but it is so consistent that I wonder whether this was chromakeyed.

re your shoot: I did something similar, but not as challenging (interviews, not including the floor). I used a waveform monitor to make sure I didn't clip, but the producer kept insisting it wasn't "white enough." I wound up pulling a luma key in post, garbage matting out the center of the subjects' faces, and replacing the off-white background with barely-legal white.

This sort of depends on your producer and your camera. If you were shooting for MY "make it whiter" producer, and if you were NOT shooting with a Z1, I'd recommend chroma key.

With the framing including the floor, shadows would be an issue too.

John Sharaf is, as usual, absolutely right about the clipping issue. That could kill you and is probably your primary job to deal with.

I'd look at the lighting of the Apple-PC ads and try to imitate that. Light it with as big and soft a source as possible - a big diffusing panel pretty close to the camera? Light the background with exactly the same type of source (i.e. don't mix tungsten-ish Diva's and true tungsten) so you don't have white-balance issues. Lock your iris down too - make sure that if you will need to go in for close-ups, you shoot everything, even the wides, at the max.aperture that your zoom allows.


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Matthew Delaney
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:17:37 pm

Hi Bob, and everyone else,

Just reporting back. The shoot went really well and I think we have some really nice results.

We ended up using photo white paper for the background and used to 1k Chimeras to light it. The Chimeras gave us a really nice event light with lots of kick.

As it turned out the room was quite deep, about 30'. This enabled us to get nice separation with the subjects from the background and limited spill from the background lights. We lit the subjects with a 1k chimera, 650w red head and a 650w arri as backlight. All of these lamps were on dimmers in order for us to lock down the exposure and make minor tweaks for different skin tones. The color temperature variation is pretty minor from what we could tell.

The other nice thing that happened was that when we arrived the client decided to stay away from the full wide shot that included the floor. We essentially stayed between a 3/4 and a MCU. Saved us having to try and light the floor evenly with no shadows.

All in all I think the project was a great success. Thanks to all who offered some advice. It really helped out.

Cheers for now.

M


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John Mastrogiacomo
Re: Lighting a white background
on Nov 13, 2009 at 7:25:19 am

I saved this from a previous Creative Cow post. Unfortunately, I don't know who to credit:

From Creative Cow:
Just thought i'd mention a bit about white cyc shooting, I actually worked on one of the mac pc commercials, they used 2 bigeye 20k's (fresnels) with very large chimeras on scissor lifts as dual keys, and the cyc area was lit with about a dozen 6k spacelights (no skirts). A very simple plot easily duplicated for a smaller stage with smaller units.


John Mastrogiacomo
Spectra Video


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