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1st time HMI user

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Daniel Schultz
1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:49:39 am

I've posted on this forum before and gotten fantastic advice. So...thanks for that.

I'm going to be shooting in a school (again). This will include single and two-shot interviews, general classroom footage, hallway footage of kids walking. I'm thinking of venturing into the world of HMI lighting for the first time and renting a ARRI COMPACT FRESNEL 1200W HMI. I've been using Arri tungsten lighting for a while and I'm comfortable with it. Will there be a big learning curve going to HMI?

My overall strategy was to use whatever daylight I could find, and supplement with diffused or bounced light from the HMI. I also have a few tungsten lights with daylight gels I can throw in for extra/fill. For the classroom, I thought I'd bounce the HMI off the ceiling.

Any thoughts on this strategy.

Thanks again!

Dan S.


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Rick Wise
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 3:59:19 am

Bouncing lights off the ceiling works ONLY to ambient fill. Overheads almost always make a lousy key except for special circumstances. In this case, to make the classroom look pleasant with good light on the participants' faces, you will do much better if you can direct lights through windows. Use the overhead bounce only as fill.

Remember how light falls off rapidly as the distance increases.

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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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:10:53 am

Thanks, Rick.

So what you're saying is use the HMI to increase the window light and use as key? Would a 1.2k HMI have enough punch to give a nice key to the room from outside in a typical size classroom? I know this depends on a lot--size of windows, intensity and direction of sun, etc.

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 6:41:03 am

There's not too much of a learning curve... just remember that compared to your tungsten instruments, aside from the color balance that HMI is going to have a lot more punch... the 1200w HMI is going to be about four or five times brighter than a 1200w tungsten instrument. Which is a good thing.

Another thing that will make it a bit easier is the fact that it is a fresnel. So many HMIs are PAR instruments, and you'll sometimes find yourself constantly swapping out lenses as you tweak your lighting (often HOT lenses), but with the fresnel it's easy breezy... just turn a knob to focus, just like any tungsten fresnel. I love the Arri Compact... it's a great head.

Personally, to light a classroom predominantly (and easily) with a single 1200 as my main source I'd do it in one of two ways... with method one, I'd put a white 4x4 bounce card fairly high on a stand (and tilted at about 45°) on the same side as the windows. I'd then put the HMI head down low and near it... I'd probably just put the head directly onto the turtle base of a regular C-stand (the base of a C-stand has a receiver exactly the same size as a Junior stand, so the head will fit... I do this all the time). I'd then tilt the head very upward to blast into the bounce card. That'd give a nice even light. Method two... I'd put the HMI on a high stand on the same side as the windows (high and to the rear of the scene), and use it to hit a white bounce card on the other side of the scene. In that method, your single HMI will perform double duty... you'll get general soft illumination from the bounce card, and you can steal a bit of "stray light" (fiddle with the barndoors) directly from the instrument which will give you some hard "splashes" across the scene for some side/back lighting. I do this a lot and it works well. Now, it is hard to envision something exactly in your head and have it turn out that way precisely, but it's a good "Let's throw it up and see if it looks interesting" method, which it often is.

T2

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



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Bill Davis
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 7:20:02 am

Daniel,

Also be SURE to talk to the rental house about the light's "hot strike" issues, if any.

If you turn off the light, you may have to wait a specific amount of time before you re-strike to protect the VERY hot and VERY expensive lamp.

Paying for a new lamp for an HMI that got plugged into a circuit on an easily accessible light switch is something you'll remember for a long time. : )

Have fun.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:57:01 pm

Thanks, Todd.
I'm including a diagram of methods 1 and 2 to see if I got it right, along with some questions. (I hope I upload properly)

1578_method1.jpg.zip

Questions for Method 1:
1. How hot does the 1.2k HMI get? They’re High School kids, but do I need to worry about them getting burned?
2. Do you think the single light, bounced as shown, will give a wide enough light for the classroom to give the feeling of window key?
3. Also, do you think most schools will have enough electricty to supply the 1.2? I’m asssuming that a 1.2 HMI draws the same electricity as a 1.2 Tungsten (which isn’t too bad).
4. Would it be better to have the light/card closer to the front of the class to have a little less of a side light, and a little more fronts of faces lit? I assume I’ll be shooting away from windows or from the front of the class facing the back.

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:59:16 pm

Here's my take on Method 2 with some questions.

1579_method2..jpg.zip

Questions for Method 2:
1. Is this what you had in mind?
2. Will the 12k fresnel focus enough across the room to get significant bounce off of a 4x4?
3. Would the Key be the bounce across the room, and if so, would I want to shoot from the front of he room?
4. Considering I’ll have limited time for setup and testing, would you say Method 1 is a bit safer/easier?

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:42:15 pm

Hey Daniel...

Yes, the diagrams of your two methods are pretty much what I had in mind. With the "Method 1" I probably wouldn't put the instrument and bounce card exactly where you did, but would most likely let it drift a fair bit either backward or forward in the room. But it's easy enough to play with to see what you like.

I wouldn't say 1 vs. 2 would be easier, safer, or better. Just different. They both use exactly the same equipment, just in different ways and will give different results. It's just whichever looks better to you.

Ideally it'd be nice if you had more firepower to work with, but even with that single instrument it's a good starting point to develop your lighting plot. I'll note that a couple of times in your posts and diagrams you refer to it as a 12K. It's not... it's a 1.2K (or 1200w). A 12K is a different beast altogether... and I do mean beast.

You should not have any power problems with the 1200w unless someone is running something very wattage-intensive on the same circuit. Most commercial locations will have 20 amp breakers, but even a 15 amp breaker (more common in a home) is sufficient for that instrument, unless there is a big load already on it. We use our 1200w HMIs in residential locations all the time.

Remember, the formula is watts / volts = amps (or amps X volts = watts)... so a 1200w instrument on a 110v circuit will require about 11 amps (1200 / 110 = 10.9). HMIs do have a bit of a power surge or "spike" right when they strike, so it's best not to cut it too close.

Worrying about people getting burned? Well, yes... but no more so than with any other hot lighting instrument. Worry about it the same as if it were a tungsten instrument. An HMI is usually going to run a little cooler than the same-wattage tungsten instrument (and an Arri Compact is one of the cooler instruments)... but of course they still get quite hot. Take normal precautions.

And yes, I'd position the bounce card so it illuminates faces, not a harsh 90° side lighting. More like a 45°-ish angle.

Mention was made of hot-restriking. True, some HMIs (usually older ones) won't hot restrike, and you have to let them cool down first (one of our older/smaller HMI heads/ballasts is a non hot restrike.... and yeah it's a pain in the rear because people are always forgetting and turning it off or unplugging it). But most modern HMIs will restrike (the Arri Compact and the globe that's usually in it will) so it's probably not an issue.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:44:30 pm

Wow! Fantastic advice! Can I take a class with you???

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:46:20 pm

And yes, the 12k was a typo!

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:48:01 pm

Okay one more question: Renting two 1.2K's is not a whole lot more expensive. Would that be better in the "firepower" department?

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:02:05 pm

Yes, two would probably be better than one. If I had two in that scenario, I'd probably try putting one outside and letting it stream through the windows from the rear (a back/side hardlight that would nicely emulate sunlight), and use the other one in the room with a bounce card.

You WILL have to put them both on different circuits... and make sure you know what circuit goes where (and it's sometimes difficult to find someone in the building who knows). We did a political commercial shoot in an old church one time where we had five HMIs going... we had miles of cables throughout the place because the wiring was so screwed up (and re-done many times through the years) that we had to go great distances in order to get each instrument on a different circuit.

If you have the budget to rent two lights, you might consider getting one 1200 Arri Compact and one 800w Joker-Bug, if they have one. Unlike the Arri fresnel, the Joker is a PAR head but is a much smaller and easier instrument (and has a small lightweight ballast), but it has almost the same punch as a 1200w fresnel. You can use it with a softbox so you don't have to set up a bounce card. In fact, most of the rental Joker-Bug 800s come with a Chimera kit, so you've already got the softbox there.

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:10:08 pm

I forgot, I meant to give you an example of the "look"...

Take a look at this commercial spot I directed for a hospital...

http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/portfolio06.html

About halfway in (around the :15 mark) there is a brief classroom shot... a kid lifting his shirt to show his belly where he supposedly had an appendectomy. That scene was lit with one 1200w HMI fresnel and one white 4x4 bounce. There was a little available light from outside, but we closed most of the blinds except in the windows that show.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 7:45:19 pm

Nice. Was that method 1 or 2. Looks like a nice backlight effect.

Also, one rental house (cheaper) has DeSisti Rembrandt 2510 1.2K FRESNEL HMI Light. Is that going to be roughly the same as the ARRI HMI compact Fresnel or should I stay with the ARRI?

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:24:45 pm

More or less the same. You'd be fine going with the best deal or most convenient location or whatever. The instruments are comparable... it's probably just a little bit bigger than the Compact. One thing to ask the rental house about is the ballast... a rental that has an average expected price probably has an electronic ballast. One that has a really super-low bargain basement price probably has an old-fashioned magnetic ballast. There's nothing wrong with a magnetic ballast, they work fine (and are sometimes more reliable than an electronic one, frankly). But... they are heavy. Especially with bigger instruments, they are like carting around an anvil or an engine block all day. Now, with a 1200 it won't be TOO bad (one person can still relatively easily lift a 1200w magnetic ballast), but an electronic one will definitely make your life easier if you plan to be moving around a lot, or different locations.

As for the previous scene.... if I recall, that shot was more or less like "Method 1," the HMI into the bounce card was the single source of illumination, with no direct spill onto the talent... although the card was fairly close to the kid (just out of frame) so it was pretty big in comparison to him (he was a really little guy)... ergo the light sort of wrapped around him a bit more than if it had been farther away.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 3, 2011 at 1:41:00 am

Todd, thanks to you, I'm much more excited (than scared) of my first HMI experience. I think I remember you saying in a former post a while ago how using HMI for the first time marked a significant change in your potential to get results you're happier with. Looking forward to working with more light than I ever have--and that great, daylight-balanced light, that will mesh with the window light so nicely.

Thanks again!

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 3, 2011 at 4:31:53 am

Nuthin' to be scared of. Have fun, and check back in after the shoot to let us know how it goes.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 5, 2011 at 8:21:54 pm

OK....so I rented the joker bug as well. Shoot's monday. If I can't get it outside, can I do the same thing with the joker just inside the windows? Any other suggestions for the joker if I use method 1? General fill bounced off ceiling?

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 7:13:11 am

Well Daniel, that's not exactly the setup I had in mind, although there are many ways you could do it.

I envisioned putting the 1200w fresnel outside, not the Joker-Bug. I'd put the bigger instrument outside the windows, to the rear shooting in... to simulate sunlight coming in and creating a bit of back/side lighting as it splashed across the talent. I'm guessing (or hoping) the Joker-Bug you got (the 800?) came with the Chimera kit for it (or other softbox kit). In that case I would use the Joker-Bug inside as the key light, at about a 45° angle to the talent. If needed, I'd use a white bounce card to fill in the other side of the talent.

To use the Joker-Bug with a Chimera, you have to take off the front PAR lens assembly thingy off the instrument (which K5600 calls the "Beamer"). If you DIDN'T get the Chimera or other softbox, I'd use the Joker-Bug with a bounce card as in "Method 1"... but you would put the "Beamer" back on the instrument.

Just play with it... you have plenty to work with and I'm sure you'll find a good combination that gives you a look that you will like.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 8:01:17 pm

Todd,

Is this what you had in mind? A couple differences:
1. 1.2 fresnel inside for the back highlight splash, since I don't think I can do the outside light.
2. Joker bug 800 has a diffuser screen rather than a softbox.



Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:21:31 pm

I dunno Daniel... I'd probably just wing it on location. Pretty often what I have in my head gets tweaked a fair bit on location. If you can't get an instrument outside, I might just use the Joker-Bug in the back/side for my rear "light splash," and use the 1200w into a 4x4 bounce as the key. I'm not really sure what the "diffuser screen" is on the Joker-Bug you have... it's probably not soft enough to use that instrument directly as your key, I'd think you'd want to soften it more or bounce it.

Planning is a great thing... but I'd encourage you not to sweat it too much or over plan, because once you get on set it can all change... and usually does. I think you have instruments that will work well, and several options on how to use them. Get in there and play with them... and have fun.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:41:17 pm

Thanks. And I will never ever ask any more questions about this shoot. Ever. I promise. (I've been told before, rightly so, that I plan/obsess too much.)

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 11:31:06 pm

Not a problem :)

It's better to plan too much than not enough.

But I think at this point you've worked out all the bugs that you can anticipate... you'll just have to wait until you're on location to see what works best.

Good luck!... and let us know how it went.

T2

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



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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:27:28 am

In your planning (obsessing) process did you actually do a survey of the site -- take measurements, visualize it in your "mind's eye", explain what you were planing to the people at the site -- perhaps do a rough diagram for them (and yourself), and get permission to put a light outside?

DS



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:31:29 am

Hi Dennis,

I wish I had that opportunity. Would love to have done a scouting shoot and done everything you suggested. But I've gotten little info back from the Principal who has, in her mind, more important fish to fry, like running the school. So in a word, no. But that would make me feel a lot more comfy if I had.

Thanks, Dan

Dan S.


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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:34:26 am

Perhaps a simple email or phone call saying "I'd like to put a light outside the windows shooting into the classroom ..... yes or no?"

DS



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:39:44 am

Well, I sent her a note on Friday asking for a room with windows, and a number of other things, including contact info and address. Her reply was to type the address. That's it. No hello/goodbye or any info about anything. Sorta typical of our communications. So I think at this point it's pot luck. I guess I'm trying to ride the line between getting the info I need and not being a PITA and turning her off. (This shoot was set up a by a client, not the school, so the school doesn't have a lot of vested interest in it).

But I'm sure I have plenty to learn as far as having the clout, sense of entitlement, and clear thinking to ask (demand?) what's needed to make it successful. Thoughts?

Dan S.


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Muhammad Atif
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Nov 25, 2012 at 3:43:33 pm

Hi,
I am going to use HMI 1st time for a short Video, outdoor shooting on construction site, how can i use HMI in that case, should i use one HMI or need to more than one and should it be key light ?? i need help for this.


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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Nov 25, 2012 at 7:37:25 pm

What are you shooting? What HMI? What time of day? How big a space? What's the b.g.? How wide? What type of camera? Are subjects still or moving? Can you afford a lighting designer? One size does not fit all.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Nov 25, 2012 at 11:42:58 pm

I lot of questions need to be answered before any advice can be given.
How it is used or how many lights are needed is relatively immaterial when it comes to which source to use.
That would be like saying you're shooting in a studio and will be using a Source 4 leko.
DS



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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 4:14:44 am

Hey Todd,

Is playing clips like this back on a computer monitor an accurate representation of what the shots look like on a TV monitor?

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 7:15:57 am

[Craig Alan] "Is playing clips like this back on a computer monitor an accurate representation of what the shots look like on a TV monitor?"

sorry Craig... I'm not really sure I understand your question or what it is in reference to....

But... no, clips on a computer monitor are rarely if ever an accurate representation of what something will look like on a "real" TV monitor.

T2

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



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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 2:46:38 pm

[Todd Terry] "But... no, clips on a computer monitor are rarely if ever an accurate representation of what something will look like on a "real" TV monitor."

Right. That's what I'm asking. If we look at these clips on-line, do we really know the look you created?
I'm not suggesting it's not helpful anyway, but lighting is all about the look, exposure, color. Since more and more video is being watched on-line, I'm just wondering how lighting pros address this variable???

When you save your files to be posted on-line do you color correct your clips specifically for the on-line version?

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 5:37:13 pm

[Craig Alan] "I'm just wondering how lighting pros address this variable???"

Hmmm... well, to me that's not much of a lighting issue. Much more of a post-production issue. I don't know of any DPs that light differently because their projects might also be viewed on a computer screen. There might be, but I've never heard of such.

Our projects are predominantly for broadcast usage, so that's how we light, block, shoot, edit, and color grade. When a version is made for viewing on a computer screen (usually just so a client can approve a project, or so a potential client can see our work), it's usually more or less just a straight conversion for web-friendly version... not a custom version for computer as compared to a real monitor. Maybe on occasion we might saturate or desaturate the the chroma just a bit to make it more web-pleasing, but usually not much.

One thing we do do is make sure that if a project is natively interlaced, we do a progressive version for the web. But since most of our projects are native progressive anyway that's usually not an issue.

There are probably some people who just specialize in online content creation, and they might have opinions as to how that kind of lighting differs from broadcast. But here, it's not something that's taken into consideration at all from a lighting standpoint. Our primary goal is to make sure the broadcast version looks good, since that's our audience.

But again, I think it's all much more of a post-production issue... and only minimally a lighting issue, if at all.

T2

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



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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 6, 2011 at 5:49:01 pm

Thanks,

I was aware that it was a post question but I asked only because lighting pros will link to samples of their work and I assume they don't hire a post pro to do this for them. That and I know they would be very critical of color and exposure issues and would want to show their work in the best light. (intended).

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:52:44 am

A million years ago, when I first started out, a gruff -- yet wise old sage -- advised me never to violate the "6 P's of success" in this business:

Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Production



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:57:02 am

Dennis, thanks so much. I'm going to make an appointment with my tattoo parlor and have it inked onto my forearm. Just below "mom forever."

In all seriousness though it helps me feel validated in doing what I really want--to plan like crazy!

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 2:27:25 am

I know this is waaaay after the fact, but might be useful for future reference, if this (or another) client needs something similar again...

We seem to have to do a fair number of school or "classroom" shoots each year. That's especially true if it's during a political year when we're churning out tons of campaign commercials and so many candidates (no matter what office they're running for) have something to say about education. We've sometimes joked that we should take a corner of our soundstage and turn it into a permanent standing classroom set.

Due to the particular local rules and regulations we are generally not allowed to shoot inside the public schools here where I am, at least not for a commercial project... especially for political spots. However, those rules of course do not apply to private schools. Ergo, we've shot in private schools countless times. Most often it's a Lutheran private school near us (I believe they have grades K through 9, or something like that). Of course we pay them for the privilege, and therefore they are always extremely welcoming and bend over backwards to accommodate us... always allow us in a few days before to scout, pick what areas and classrooms we want, and are very easy to deal with on shoot days. It's amazing how much a "donation" of even two or three hundred bucks can make with people's attitudes.

T2

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



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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 2:34:23 am

Dollars??? Wow... I usually just use swag (shirts and hats)!



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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 2:41:40 am

Hahaha, Dennis... isn't that the Joe Francis plan?

I'm all for saving money, but we'd rather pony up and pay someone what a location's really worth. Especially if it's someone we're likely to be hitting up for the same favors again and again.

It's usually not a big hunk of the budget... and hey, it's the client's money, anyway :)

T2

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



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Dennis Size
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 3:09:22 am

I've often found that money can't buy happiness ...but a shirt from GOOD MORNING AMERICA, or OPRAH, or YES NETWORK can get me MUCH more than I wanted!!! ..... ;-)



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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 4:11:29 am

Hahaha... Maybe I should stock up on shirts...... :)

But in all seriousness... it would probably be different if we didn't work in a fairly closed community where we know everyone and have to work with the same people over and over again...

There's probably been many instances that people would have probably allowed us to use locations (or do all sorts of other things we need) just as a "favor." But we've found the dangerous side of accepting favors is that you owe one in return. Now, I have no problem with helping someone out, but often there is a fairly huge discrepancy in the "level" of the favor...

Case in point... we once needed a particular location, and found just the right property. The owner positively REFUSED to accept any payment for allowing us to shoot there for a half day. We fairly insisted, but he was adamant about it. So we graciously accepted his generous offer.

Flash forward nine or ten months, and this same fellow (a very nice man) shows up in our office with tons of videotapes (hours and hours of footage of his kids' sports teams) wanting a big editing project done. He showed us a sample, some other DVD, with the "This is what I'd like for it to look like." It would have been many many thousands of dollars worth of editing... well over $10K worth, maybe even 20. He didn't explicitly ask for a freebie, or a deal... but there was definitely a "I scratched your back, you scratch mine" vibe to it. Whereas if we had just paid the guy four or five hundred bucks like we wanted... we could have said no to his project with a clear conscious. Instead, we had to say no to it with a guilty one.

More often it doesn't get that far, someone will attempt to refuse our payment saying something like "Oh no need, as a matter of fact i have a project coming up that might need...." We make sure to pay those people. Fast.

The same goes for anything else we might normally pay for... including crew or talent. When you put out casting notices, as we often do... I'm always dumbfounded by the huge number of projects seeking talented and experienced actors.... for no pay. Crew members, too. That's just not right. (Plus you get zero reliability that way... just pray they even show up). If I can't afford to pay the people that help me do my job (which makes me money... it is, after all, the way I make a living), then I don't do it. Or a do it a different way. I don't work for free, and I don't expect anyone else to, either.

Now where's my tee shirt???!!

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Feb 7, 2011 at 10:51:24 am

Actually, that's really helpful. I work at Scholastic, so a lot of what we do is in schools. In this case, it's a custom video with a client that works with particular public schools, so it wouldn't work.

But...even so. Offering a donation of $200 of books probably would have gone a long way in this case. I should have thought of that.

And for other shoots that aren't linked to a particular school, I would love the idea of having a regular school that we could use that we know the layout and lighting, etc. I'll keep it in mind, for sure.

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 3, 2011 at 11:26:38 pm

Hi Todd (& others).

Here's a link to the video I shot a few weeks ago.
http://www.scholastic.com/administrator/education-videos/education-leaders/

I'm interested in honest feedback, the good and bad. Helps me for next time.

A couple notes.

Classroom was the most difficult to light. Too much light coming in from windows giving harsh highlights and too much contrast, then light fall off as you go deeper away from the windows. HMIs were coming from the same direction as the windows. Since there was some strong direct natural light, I just shot the joker up at the ceiling.

I liked the interview lighting the best, I think. Overall, I tended to over-expose--not so used to this camera (ex1). Did a little color correction in Color, trying to fix a few highlights.

Also, anoying background hum during interviews. Live and learn. Should've asked them to turn off the a/c.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks for all your help. This is the best forum!

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 4, 2011 at 4:09:19 am

Hey Dan...

Nice... pretty good for a first-effort HMI experience... baptism by fire, huh?

I will say that at first blush some of the lighting on the talking heads seemed just a tad harsh... but not bad... it was actually kind of interesting. I think maybe they could have benefited from a little bit of back lighting to cut them out of their backgrounds a bit more as well. As I've said before, sometimes with a single HMI I'll do that by putting the instrument high and back and blasting it into a white bounce card as the key, but letting it spill a little bit directly as a hair light. I did that in several setups in a shoot I directed yesterday... I'll try to post some stills from it when it gets into post production. Also, even when you have a daylight lighting plot (HMIs or flos) you can still use a small tungsten fixture as a backlight, often even uncorrected (sometimes the warmer backlight looks good).

Just keep doing it, keep practicing, and keep refining what you do...

I know you were asking for cinematographical advice and not directorial advice... but I'll give you a little bit unsolicited anyway, if that's ok. It's just a couple of things that stood out to me... Firstly, for a talking head shot where the subject is speaking to someone off camera... if the subject is a bit off center in the frame, you'd usually want to have the subject facing the more empty side of the frame. That is, their "look space" is toward the center or more open side of the frame. I.e., if the subject is on screen left, one would usually compose them so they are looking screen right. If you have a subject looking toward the same frame edge as the side of the frame they are on, the scene can look unbalanced and there is some implied tension in the shot ("What is that guy looking at??") that might be unwanted. It's not a hard and fast rule, of course... but a good guideline.

Secondly... whenever possible I'd suggest keeping your fingers off that zoom trigger. There's nothing wrong with zooms, per se... but there's nothing that will make video look more, well "video-y", than unnecessary zooms... whereas fixed focal length shots look more cinematic and filmic. Personally, I almost never zoom. I usually shoot with primes only, so it's not an issue... but even when I have a zoom lens on I almost only use it to take advantage of different focal lengths, not to actually zoom during a shot. I'll get on my "zoom soapbox" for a second (which I've done before)... zooms are often distracting because they are optically unnatural. They are the only camera move that the human eye cannot reproduce. The eye can pan, tilt, dolly, truck, crane... but unless you're the Six Million Dollar Man (or the Terminator), your eye can't zoom. I won't say never zoom... but like any camera move, if you are going to do it, make sure there is a reason for it. You didn't have many (just a couple, I think), but I remember seeing one zooming hallway shot that made me think "That'd be a nice shot, if he'd just stayed with a nice medium-longish lens."

All in all, good job! Keep at it.

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 4, 2011 at 11:08:29 am

Wow. Really appreciate your time and comments!

I agree with everything you said. Funny, I was thinking the same about the lighting--a bit harsh, but kind of interesting. If I double-diffused the key during the talking heads, it would have softened and knocked it down a stop or so, right? How would you reduce the harshness? It was the 800 joker bug passing through a single 5-in-one screen with a bounce on the left for fill.

Also, a question when dealing with different skin tones in the same lighting setup: Do you keep exposure the same and adjust lighting, or vice-versa? I'm used to panasonic with wave form monitor, and was (obviously) not as adept with the zebras.

Yes on the backlighting. Like the one-HMI-bounce as key and backlight idea. Though I had a bunch of 650 Fresnels with me. Coulda thrown one up in two minutes for backlight.

And the off-center talking heads--shoulda known better.

I will re-think the zoom thing... comments appreciated. The lazy novice way to try imitate a dolly shot with a servo zoom...um I guess it doesn't work.

Thanks again!

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 4, 2011 at 5:15:30 pm

Hey Dan...

[Daniel Schultz] "If I double-diffused the key during the talking heads, it would have softened and knocked it down a stop or so, right?"

Well that might work to a degree... but probably not as much as you'd like. Adding another layer of diffusion would, yes, probably cut down a fair bit on the light output, but probably wouldn't make it much softer. It more depends on where you put the diffusion, rather than how much of it you use...

Say you have a subject six feet from your lighting instrument. Now lets say you have a piece of diffusion material of some kind, say 18 inches square and you put it one foot from the lighting instrument. That will give you one look, probably a bit on the harsh side. Now, lets say you take a bigger piece of the very same kind of material, but instead now you put it two and a half feet from the instrument. Your light will have the same intensity, but now it will be much softer. What you're effectively doing is creating a much bigger source of light. Bigger, not brighter... as in, more surface area of the lighting source. That will be a much less harsh source, a big soft light that more "wraps around" the subject.

I can't say I've never done it before, but I probably wouldn't use a Joker-Bug blasting directly at someone as a key, even through diffusion (although I have used Jokers like that with a soft box... there's a Chimera kit just for the Joker-Bugs). Rather, I'd probably bounce it into a white 4x4 card and use that as the key if I wanted a soft look. Doing it that way, my key is now actually a 16 square foot source (4' x 4'), rather than the fairly small direct source.

But again, as I said what you didn't wasn't a bad look... it was kinda interesting. It had a bit of a direct-sunlight-through-a-nearby-window quality to it, which was kinda cool.



[Daniel Schultz] "I will re-think the zoom thing... comments appreciated."

OK, back to the zooming philosophy... others may have different opinions, but for me personally unnecessary zooms sort of have a cheapening effect to me.. and often make things look more like news footage or such.

Watch any movie from the late 60s or through the 70s... they are full of zooms. It was just the film language of the day, and zoom lenses hadn't been available before so people tended to use them a lot. But watch something high-end from today... a feature film, or a high-end television drama ("Law & Order," or "Lost," or something like that). You'd be hard pressed to ever see even one zoom in those. A zoom is like holding a painting at arms length and then moving toward your face. The picture gets bigger, but perspectives don't change... so it's very unnatural. The same thing happens if you're shooting down a hallway... zoom in and things get bigger, but the spatial relationship between the things in frame don't change. But, if you dolly down the hall instead, things get bigger and the size and shape and perspective relationships of everything in the frame is constantly moving and changing... the scene becomes very dynamic. Whereas with a zoom, everything is static... it's just getting bigger (and maybe not in a good way). End of sermon. :)

Good work, keep at it...

T2

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



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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:16:30 pm

Todd, thanks so much for all your time and help.

I thought of your 'zoom philosophy' the other night when watching the movie "Cyrus." They over-use the zoom, clearly deliberately. I figured they were going for the home-video look to help it seem more "real" and less hollywood. I think the technique was effective in this case, especially considering the storyline. You think?

Dan S.


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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 5, 2011 at 2:33:07 am

Although I agree with the “avoid zooms” aesthetic, I thought once the zoom was engaged, because it was pretty close to matching the speed of the students coming towards us, it wasn’t bad. But the initial start of the zoom is jarring and calls attention to itself. Probably due to the stepped zoom mechanism. I do see how it was imitating a dolly out. Maybe edit out the initial step or apply a dissolve to the beginning of the zoom to disguise the abrupt start. Generally, avoiding it altogether is good advice.

Although zooms are out, ‘they’ are in love with rack focus. Sometimes back and forth and back again. Very unnatural looking too. For a while, panning quickly back and forth for dialog was in fashion. Takes good skill to ill effect. That said, I love how Boston Legal broke all these rules and by using rhythm and humor enhanced the show with it all. I think the key is to make the audience feel that that is how your characters/talent are seeing their reality even if it is unnatural.

Overall, the quality of your shoot is very good compared to most education setting videos. Shooting CUs of people with imperfect complexions distracts from the message. So I would soften things up due to this. I know TV camera operators are using filters on their cameras due to the revealing nature of HD. I’d try more MCUs or even MSs.
Rule of thirds applies to both horizontal and vertical space. But just think about nose room or lead room when framing shots.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:19:08 pm

Thanks for your comments craig. Can you suggest a softening filter for closeups? For some reason I do seem to lean towards closeups. I have to remind myself to back up for medium and wide, etc. I guess I like the way the head divides up the 16-9 aspect ratio when it's so close.

Dan S.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:19:51 pm

Oh, and could you describe the rule of 3rds?

Dan S.


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Craig Alan
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:58:02 pm

http://www.hippasus.com/resources/viscomp/RuleThirds.html

You’ll find many many hits from a google search for "rule of thirds" This one shows some lead and nose room examples. It's not a hard rule of composition, but is a pretty good place to start.

Also do a search for headroom and nose room and lead room.

An interesting experiment is to place your subject at perfect rule of thirds with the camera at eye level with the subject. Then move the camera off this plane and see what happens to the subject’s relation to the rule of thirds. If you shoot up at a subject, you are giving the subject a position of power where as if you shoot down at a subject you are, well, looking down at them. To gain an excellent understanding of when to adhere and when to break rule of thirds, just mentally superimpose the tic-tac toe pattern over well-composed footage, photos, paintings, and graphic art. Measure your monitor/TV and place eight marks on the frame at the rule of thirds. Self-stick labels work well for this. You can then just watch TV and movies and your mind will see the composition’s relation to rule of thirds.

Be careful though, with all the different formats, sometimes, the composition has been unfortunately changed from the original.

Check out the skilled camera work of some of the sports videographers. Watch while they try to keep good lead room while following wide receivers or skaters or what ever. You don’t want your talent sailing off the edge of the screen. As TV sets get bigger, directors are allowing for wider shots which I feel gives a better experience in terms of understanding athletic ability. If you stay too close you’re not getting a feel for the athletes relationship to time and space.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:59:46 pm

I see Craig already answered this... but I had already written my reply so I'll post it anyway ...

Think of your frame divided into thirds, like the diagram below... either horizontally (the one on the left) or vertically (the one on the right).



Often the most aesthetically pleasing part of the frame falls along one of these "thirds" lines. Imagine you are shooting a wide landscape shot that includes the horizon. A lot of novices are tempted to put the horizon right through the middle (center) of the frame... but often that looks terrible. It's weak composition, uninteresting, and is visually very divisive of the frame. But, if you put the horizon on one of those two "thirds" lines, and it looks much better. The "unbalanced' frame now has some inherent drama and interest.

The same often goes for interviews... If an interview subject is looking smack dab directly into the camera, then it is often desirable to put them dead center in the frame. But if a subject is looking at and speaking to someone off camera, then one of the "thirds" positions will probably give you better results. Look at the frame above on the right... if a subject was speaking/facing screen right, then you might want to put them on the "thirds" line on the left... which is a more visually interesting position for them, and gives them "look space" into the frame.

Of course, these are very basic rules, and like all rules are made to be broken. Often you might get something a lot more interesting if you purposely break the rules... directors including everyone from Hitchcock to Tarantino have broken these "rules" by the truckload... but they usually do it in a purposeful way that makes the frame more interesting than if they had followed them.

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 8, 2011 at 5:09:44 am

Well, in one of those "rules are made to be broken" examples...

I just got back from finally getting around to seeing "True Grit."

The very last shot in the movie is this very loooong landscape wide shot.... ground, horizon, sky. The horizon line absolutely perfectly bisected the screen... it cut right across the exact middle of the frame. And it worked absolutely beautifully. Just perfectly.

It certainly broke the "rule of thirds"... and is real testimony that the Coens and cinematographer Roger Deakins really know what they are doing.

It's also a darn good movie, too. Go see it, if you haven't already.

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: 1st time HMI user
on Mar 11, 2011 at 10:53:39 pm

Earlier in this thread I mentioned that I'd try to post some stills from a shoot we just did, so here they are (and a rudimentary two-minute drawing of the setup)... from a commercial shoot that we did in a bank...

These grabs were all from moving shots (both talent and camera) so please forgive that the stills look a bit soft...

This is my super-down-and-dirty method of doing daylight lighting with a single HMI. As I previously said, I will often put a single HMI (usually a 1200w fresnel) high and to the rear/sidish of the talent, and blast it into a white 4x4. The 4x4 bounce becomes the key, and I can "steal" a little bit of the direct light from the instrument as a back/hair/side light. It's not ideal by any stretch... but it is a super fast and easy way to get pretty decent (not perfect, but decent) lighting on someone. If I'm in one of those situations where we have a lot of different setups needed in a single shoot and not a lot of time to really light a scene like I'd like to (because of budget constraints, or just logistics), I often resort to using this method just because I can work so quickly this way.... and the end result is usually fairly natural and looks non-lit, which is usually my goal...





Again, they're not the "best that I can do," but it's very fast and easy... and sometimes that's what you need.

T2

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



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