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Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video

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Fischel Bensinger
Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 11, 2011 at 5:12:59 am

Hi all,

This is my first post so I'm sorry if I seem kind of lost.

I'm trying to get a small studio together in a room in my house in order to shoot an instructional video. The video will consist of me standing in front of a whiteboard teaching a subject while writing on the board.

Through the advice of someone local I purchased a Panasonic hmc-150 HD camera and 4 Ikan Id-500 LED light kits.

That person then disappeared and I was stuck trying to set up the lights myself with the help of a friend who works for a TV studio.

Our main problem was trying to get an evenly lit board while not letting the lights show on the board (their reflection)and also, when we have the lights to the side of the board or hanging on top with a boom, we had major halos of light on the edges of the shot.

Finally after many days, we have it so that 2 of the leds are in front of the board, all the way up by the ceiling, pointing slightly up, while the other 2 are off to either side, pointing at the corners of the board. All 4 lights have been covered with white tissue paper to diffuse them.

This gave us an evenly lit board with very little halo effect.

BUT, now we have a big shadow problem. Every move I make creates a huge shadow on the board. I can't backlight the board because it's flush on the wall.

I'm convinced at this point that we have the wrong lights, and that we're clueless.

Any help would be greatly appreciated (obviously if it can be done with the gear we've already spent thousands on, that would be ideal).

Thank you for your time spent reading this!

-Fischel


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 11, 2011 at 2:22:40 pm

When I light a white board, I use large Lowel Rifa softlights from 45 degree angles at the sides. Remember that angle of incidence=angle of reflection, so the more to the sides your lights go, the farther from the lens the bounce goes, if the lens is at the head-on 90-degree to the face of the board position. I think you were on the right track, adding your tissue paper diffusion to the LED lights. I think though that in this particular case, the front face of that diffused instrument is just not large enough. The big softbox type sources will tend to "wrap" around your talent and somewhat mitigate the shadow he throws on the board. You want a softbox, store-bought or home made, that is at least three feet by three feet. If you need to, I can describe how to build one out of foam core board, a trick I learned ages ago from an article by Bill Holshevnikoff.

One other technique to try is to not always shoot the board at exactly a head-on 90 degree angle. If you come at the board from something like 70 degrees, your key for the talent no longer throws a shadow onto the board, but behind him, out of shot. He also doesn't have to turn his back to the camera to work from this angle, and bounce from the white board will tend to work as a fill on the side of his body next to the board, so this becomes more or less a one-light-shot from this angle. The camera POV becomes the same as if you were a student standing up at the board next to the teacher, working one-on-one.

Since the board is white, it is going to freak out an automatic iris. Go manual iris, and you may find you don't need as much light as the camera thought it did.

A matte finish on a white board is also very helpful. I'm not going to be responsible for any damage you do, but a little rubbing with a scouring pad will take down some of the shine. The difficulty there is in treating the surface consistently enough not to just look like vandalism. It will also make clean dry-erasing a little tougher. If I had to make a white board for TV, from scratch, I would probably do it with some white or light gray masonite wallboard, scuffed a little bit with a scotchbrite pad or treated with a chemical deglosser so that it had a matte finish. OR a sheet of light gray Styrene, ABS or Sintra closed-cell PVC. Sintra is light weight but stiff, you could attach it to an existing board with magnets, double-stick tape, etc. I used to use it for a curved video projection surface in my basement.


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 11, 2011 at 3:33:04 pm

Fischel,

You must consider the white board as if it's a mirror and not aim any light directly at it. I would build a wall of 4x8 white foamcore and light is so that it creates a baselight for your subject and the board. If there was a shadow it would be only one and very soft edged.

Then I would give the actor a key light from the side he is most open to as he turns to write on the board, being very careful to keep it off the board itself, with a flag or other cutter.

Voila,

JS



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 11, 2011 at 4:06:29 pm

What I take away from John's suggestion is that it is similar to mine in that we're both advocating large soft sources, vs. tiny point sources.

John's source is a lot larger than mine, but I can see how it would work. Instead of shooting thru diffusion with the soft box, you're bouncing a light or lights off the large reflecting surface and the entire exposed surface is now the emitter of the light that strikes the talent.

Your LED lights are a bank of tiny point sources, not one continuous light-emitting surface.


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Fischel Bensinger
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 12, 2011 at 7:41:17 am

Wow,

Mark, John, thank you both so much for your quick and detailed responses!!

So, I think I have to stick with the camera being at a straight on shot in order to get the look I'm going for, but I'll definitely try the 70 degree angle.

We actually did but white reflective paper for the walls and hoped that would work if we shone the lights at it instead of the board. It didn't. I guess the foamcore board would be a lot more reflective than the paper?

Also, the room is long, but not so wide. So the lights on the side can't go farther back than 3 feet or so away from me each.

I'm willing to spend another couple thousand dollars to get this shot right, and if that means selling back the LED's as used lights and buying the requisite Rifta lights or 3x3 softbox instead. But do you suggest first getting a lighting expert to come to the site and assess? Most local experts I contacted said they have no idea how to light a dry-erase board. Do either of you guys have anyone to recommend in Brooklyn, NY?

I really appreciate your help so much. I wish I had found this site earlier.

-Fischel


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 12, 2011 at 2:50:01 pm

Fischel,

If you spend any more money at all, the most efficient use is exactly as you suggest, that is hiring a Lighting Director or Gaffer who can work out the proper design and implementation. It probably can be done with the lights you've already bought with the addition of proper grip tools.

You've suggested your own best solution!

JS



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Dennis Size
Re: Lighting a dry-erase board (whiteboard) for an intsructional video
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:25:54 pm

FISCHEL ..... Sorry for the late reply, I've been on the road and now in London dealing with lighting for the Royal Wedding. If you haven't solved your issues by now, feel free to call upon our company in NYC to provide whatever assisance you might need.
Contact our Operations Manager, Mark London, at London@ldg.com (or call 212-685-4940). Tell him I said to call.
Sincerely,
Dennis Size
VP of Design
THE LIGHTING DESIGN GROUP



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