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Bob Cole
interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:39:51 pm

I need to shoot a driver demonstrating a new vehicle, using small cameras mounted at various places. (Only the driver will be allowed in the vehicle during the demo, so the cameras have to be set up before the event starts, and left running at whatever setting I choose.) The test shots came out with a problem: if I expose for the exterior (necessary to convey the speed) the driver's face goes dark, and if I expose for the face the window is a white rectangle.

I could add a small light, but it can't be too bright, and so probably will not be bright enough to solve the problem. I could also possibly have the driver's window tinted.

The demo will be conducted at noon, which is when the disparity in light between interior and exterior is greatest. I realize that in many vehicles, the windshield is so sweeping that there is often enough light on the driver -- but that is not the case with this vehicle.

I will be shooting another test next week, but to get ready for that, I'd like to ask: Have you encountered this issue, and if so, do you have suggestions?

Thanks.

Bob C


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Todd Terry
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:21:24 pm

I'd definitely tint the hot window(s), which is what I usually do.

In the past I've used tint material you can buy at the auto parts store... but since then I've found this stuff that I talked about in a previous post...

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/47/858539

...which should work nicely.

T2

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



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Rick Wise
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:03:46 pm

Shooting care interiors with available light is always a challenge. You accurately describe the two extremes. Some ways to help:

--have the car drive where there are darker backgrounds in the noon sun -- forests, city streets with dark buildings, etc.

--compromise the exposure: letting the outside be overexposed by 2 stops and the driver be underexposed by a stop or even two often works well. Pulling this off depends a bit on the quality of your camera.

--Todd's window-darkening idea or RoscoScrim.

--Test many times until it works, taking careful notes as you go.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Bob Cole
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:09:11 pm

[Todd Terry] "In the past I've used tint material you can buy at the auto parts store.."

Just went to the store - they have 5%, 20%, 35% transmission - do you recall the most useful range, assuming no interior lighting?


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Todd Terry
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:43:40 pm

[Bob Cole] "they have 5%, 20%, 35% transmission"

Hmmm... just depends on how hot the windows looked in your test footage.

IF I'm doing the rough math right in my head (and admittedly that is a big "if"), the 35% transmission would be the rough equivalent of 1 1/2 stops. The 20% would be roughly just over 2 stops. I think the 5% would be just over 4 stops, but it's giving me a headache to calculate in my brain.

Just as a wild guess, I'd think the 20% would be my first try. Is this stuff cheap enough that you can buy all three gradations for testing?

Also, tint just the windows (or parts of windows) that are in frame... make sure everything else is untinted, to allow as much available light in as possible.

You could test it by exposing for the interior.... then put ND filters on your camera until you get good exterior exposure. Then get window tint film with roughly the same transmission as whatever ND filters you used.

You probably want the windows somewhat hotter than the interior anyway (at least a stop or more), or the whole thing starts looking phony, like a bad Hollywood process shot.

T2

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



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Dennis Size
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:06:18 pm

Use 2 or 3 mini kino-flo's (9" or 12") mounted on the dashboard. You could also use a few mini-lite panels if you'd prefer the directionality.
DS



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Bob Cole
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 15, 2011 at 3:39:50 am

[Dennis Size] "Use 2 or 3 mini kino-flo's (9" or 12") mounted on the dashboard."

Do you simply gaffer tape these onto the top of the dashboard?


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Dennis Size
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:39:23 am

You can gaffer tape, clamp, velcro, baling wire, the fixtures in whatever position works best for your shots. I would think they might be obtrusive on top of the dashboard. Not knowing your shots I can't dictate the exact position. Normally, when shooting the driver, I mount the fixtures on the face of the dashboard (2 in front of the speedometer, 2 in front of the radio). Sometimes, if there's a side shot, I'll put a fixture on the passenger seat or door.

Note there are several other fixtures you could experiment with. If your car is moving, obviously you will need a light that can plug into the cigarette lighter power "port".

DS



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Bob Cole
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:24:31 am

Thanks Dennis. That clarifies it. I hadn't thought of using several little sources, but I can see how that would look better than a single unmotivated blast. The engineers in charge of the project may not permit this, but I'll try.

Bob C


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Dennis Size
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:44:49 am

In reality you're merely "filling" the driver's face in to compensate for the light overpowering the video from outside the car.
Be sure to use daylight balanced sources.

DS



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Bob Cole
Re: interior of vehicle too dark
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:09:31 am

The results: great, thanks in large part to the advice I received here.

I was able to put only one light, two cameras, and no operator in the vehicle. No tinting of the driver's window was allowed. I used a FilmTools 494 kit to attach a light and camera to the passenger seat's headrest support rods, providing a profile view of the driver with the background of his window. The light was an LED (Flolight Microbeam 128), set to provide moderate, subtle fill when the background was backlit, i.e. relatively dark. It didn't look "lit" at all. I used a Flip HD, which averaged the exposure, so that the background would never look blown out.

To provide coverage of the driver's face when the scenery outside the driver's window was frontlit and therefore too bright for the profile view camera, I put another small camera (Sony CX150) on an interior windshield mount, aimed, zoomed-in, and spot-metered for the driver's face, so we always had coverage for his facial expressions.

The coverage of those two cameras along with the various POV cameras on the outside of the car, did the job beautifully. To repeat, it never looked "lit" yet we got what we needed.

Thanks again. The concept of merely filling, not lighting, was the thing I needed to hear.

Bob C


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