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Levels of Diffusion

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Ben Edwards
Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 27, 2010 at 12:40:05 pm

Hi,

I am new to lighting, I have been reading up a bit and did my first lit shoot on Sunday. It went fairly well. I was using 2 650W open faced lights with Lee Filter 216 Full White Diffusers (Key and Fill) and another as a hard backlight. It looked good but ideally I would of liked more defined but not hard shadows. It looks like I should go for the half, quarter or eighth rather than full white. Maybe I should use a full for fill and eighth for fill. I know I should buy one of each but I am on a tight budget (as always). I am thinking to give the eighth a try but any advide would be good.

Regards,
Ben


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Todd Terry
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 27, 2010 at 6:55:08 pm

Hi Ben...

Sounds like you're off to a good start.

You said "I would of liked more defined but not hard shadows." I'm not sure if you are saying your shadows were too hard, or not hard enough... but either can be easily fixed.

How are you using your diffusion material? Clamping it or attaching it to your instrument face or barndoors? If so, therein my lie the problem. I'd suggest you need a bigger light source... which would come from not changing the type of diffusion material you have, but in how you use it. Try moving it farther away from the instrument (you'll probably have to put it in a frame on a separate stand) which will, in effect, give you a bigger light source.

I'd suggest that you'd also get better results from using at least one softbox, or even just a white umbrella (with the same lighting instruments you have). Or bouncing the light into a white board as your key (white 4x4 foamcore is commonly used).

Another thing that will vary your look greatly is the position of your key. So many lighting diagrams show the key placed just a bit off axis from the line between the talent and camera... but that's often (usually) not nearly enough. Try moving your key light farther back... 30, 40, maybe even 45° off-axis. As you move it, you'll see the definition of the shadows varying greatly. Keep moving it until you find the "sweet spot" where it looks like you like. Move it back even more if you like, for even more drama.

The "classic" three-point lighting plot, as we all know, is key/fill/back. I personally almost never do that... at least not the way it's taught to do "correctly." When done by the book it yields very soft, very even, flattering lighting... lighting that, to me, is wildly uninteresting. Real people in real life rarely walk around in perfect three-point lighting... and that's why I think it looks so unnatural.

Keep playing with it, and you'll see you can get good and interesting results using the gear you already have.

T2

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



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Ben Edwards
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 28, 2010 at 10:23:23 pm

Todd,

Thanks a lot for that. It nice to see someone answering the question and not recommending buying lots of expensive kit.

I saw you recommend a couple of books on lighting in another post but cant find it. I have the John Jackman book and would like to know what else I should have a look at.

Its interesting that it does not mention powder to help with the sweat hot lights create on talent or is there a better solution?

Regards,
Ben


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Todd Terry
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 29, 2010 at 12:14:43 am

Sorry, Ben... but unless I'm having a total case of amnesia (which I will admit, is a possibility), that wasn't me. I don't think I've ever recommended any lighting books. I don't even own any, except a dusty old copy of the ASC bible.

Good luck with finding that post, though. If it turns out to be me, let me know... because God only knows what else I told people that week.

T2

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



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Ben Edwards
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 29, 2010 at 11:44:02 am

Found it, it was Motion Picture and Video Lighting by Blain Brown and it was not you.

So you don't have to worry (over this) about your sanity;).

Regards,
Ben


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Todd Terry
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 29, 2010 at 2:23:25 pm

Thanks, good to know... I was up all night worrying about it.

Wait... what? What are we talking about? Who are you? Who am I?

Must stop cooking in aluminum pans.

T2

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



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Alan Lloyd
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 30, 2010 at 5:51:02 pm

Film Lighting by Kris Malkiewicz is also a pretty good one.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Levels of Diffusion
on Oct 28, 2010 at 11:48:45 am

Another diffusion material that's quite handy is "silk" - the directional diffusion sold by Rosco and Lee, among others. At your supply shop, look at a piece of it, and you'll see a slightly shinier side and a side that's somewhat scored with lines running across it. These spread the beam out - at a right angle to the orientation of those lines.

Very handy stuff for lighting things like staircases, or evening out the "wash" across a greenscreen, and it also gives a tiny bit more control of spill, or at least the beginning of more control.


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