Diffusion that can attach to jib
Hello everyone! I have been using Creative Cow for a few years for tutorials and answering a few questions, but this is the first time that I have had to actually reach out for help, as my situation is slightly unique. Hopefully someone on here might be able to guide me in the right direction.
I was recently hired by a gaming company to direct a webcast of their tournaments that occur around the US. The game that is being played is a card game, Magic: the Gathering. As part of the webcast, I have an overhead camera that is pointed directly down at the table. The camera is attached on an 8 foot jib that doesn't move during the show.
The problem that I am running into is that the players use card sleeves, which are clear plastic, in order to protect their cards (some can run in the hundreds of dollars). Unfortunately, this causes some very harsh glare on occasion with the overhead camera. The tournaments are held in different convention centers and hotel conference rooms across the country, and I have to rely on the lighting that is available, so the glare is heavier in some locations than others.
What I am wondering is if there is a way to hook up a frame with diffusion material on the jib arm. I have seen some frames online that are 4'x4' or 6'x6' and are supported by two tripods on either side, but that is impractical for our set up. I have also thought about using a C-stand with a frame attached, which is slightly better for our set-up, but also may be impractical for transportation (I have not received a straight answer from the group that packs the van).
If there is a better solution that is within a reasonable budget, I would also love to hear your opinions/experience.
It's hard to imagine your setup exactly, but I'll give it a shot.
Sounds like you have overhead lighting instruments and a camera that points down, straight down 90° over the table.
You could put a large silk (as big as needed, maybe even a 10x10 or bigger) in a big butterfly frame suspended over the table, and cut a hole in the center of the silk (although it pains me to suggest that) for the camera view down through it. I wouldn't try to attach a frame to the jib, as suggested.
Depending on what the particular venue is and the size of the room and layout, you might not have to use a frame at all... you could string the silk from its four corners to attach points on the walls, stretching it sort of like a big trampoline. That would eliminate the frame and any support hardware. Of course that would only work in a room small enough to allow that. It wouldn't work in a big location like a hotel ballroom or the middle of a casino floor. You'd be back to conventional frames on stands in those cases... unless you had four really big/heavy stands (and lots and lots of sandbags) that would create sturdy enough supports to cable the silk to.
You could also try a polarizing filter on the lens to try to kill some of the reflections, but I'm not sure that would work very well since the cards are probably all at different angles and moving around... but it'd be very cheap to try that.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Perhaps three medium sized china lanterns, bunched as a triangle around the camera?
You could literally tie or bungee them to the camera, depending on the rigidity of the light-lantern connection and heat.
Could also bolt an arm onto the jib that would suspend the lanterns from a point right above the camera, with the balls themselves, dangling around the camera.
What do I know? I'm just smitten with these lanterns right now.
I guess I could have described my setup in a bit more detail.
I'm using an 8 foot jib arm with a Sony HDR-CX130 pointed straight down at the table. I have not been able to convince my management to get any sort of lighting for the events, again, due to cost and space issues, so I have to rely on the lighting in the convention halls/hotel ballrooms. I do have a Tiffen polarizing filter for the camera, as that was my first thought, and it reduces the glare by about 10-25%, but still not enough to clearly see some of the cards.
My next thought was the C-Stand with something like a Westcott scrim jim kit attached at the end. I figured this would allow for some mobility with the diffusion material, but still runs into the packing space issue.
Well, sometimes you can only do what you can do.
If you can't put up any of your own lighting instruments, and packing is so tight that you can't even add something small like C-stands and a Hollywood frame, then you are at the mercy of what your client will accommodate.
You might just have to polarize it as much as you can, and hope for the best.
The other option would be to rent the additional gear you need at each location, the grip rental companies might even deliver it and pick it up. That way you wouldn't have to worry about transporting it.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Sorry, but this is a geometry problem.
The cards are laid flat on the table. The camera is 180degrees overhead.
I also presume that during play, cards are passed across, anti'd into a pile in the center, or other wise must cross the geometrical center of the playing surface. If so, ANY camera position light source will reflect hot spots from the reflective card cases.
If you dropped a "flubber" ball (old disney movie reference, look it up) from the camera lens, at angles from the camera lens - out to the actual card case positions at the players seats - those balls would rocket away at an equal and opposite angle. That's the geometry of your lighting problem.
If your lights are ANYWHERE inside that "angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection" path, you'll get case flare.
I'd set up a series of soft banks just OUTSIDE this angle, flown as high as possible. And think of the entire area above the table as a necessary DEAD ZONE - the darker the better.
I suppose if this is impossible, you might try buying a ton of "hero" card holders, treat them with anti-glare coating, buy a box of white cotton photographers gloves and re-case all the cards that will be in play before each game and then get the "special cases" back after the shoot. But I'd try it with a sample before I invested too much because it might not be good in played card close ups.
My 2 cents. Your mileage may vary.
"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'Connor
Following Bill's idea, maybe what you nee don the boom is not a light by the camera, but a black foamboard card instead, to kill direct overhead light and the accompanying reflection?
I was going to chime in with paper China Balls but I see that's been mentioned already. If the ceiling above was white, I might put a PAR light on the jib boom, facing up at the ceiling, to create a diffused bounce. Then the black card around the camera to hide reflection.
Is there any chance you could get them to try a non-glare sleeve product like this
Let the organizer give them out well ahead of time.
It is always problematic, any time you start telling clients and civilians to change what they do, for the sake of facilitating your shots. In my world, 90-plus percent of the time, it's the producer or shooter's job to figure out how to adapt to the client and/or situation, and make the experience from the client side as transparent as possible, so they don't have to think about the stuff we're paid to think about. In some cases, you can lose what it was you came to get, if you impose too many compromises on them. There are always exceptions, obviously, but my own style is to try to be as "ninja" about the setup as possible, so as to let the civvies more or less forget we're there and act normal as much as possible.
[Mark Suszko] "It is always problematic, any time you start telling clients and civilians to change what they do, for the sake of facilitating your shots."
Yes, but... the webcast presumably helps monetize this game. It appears that Jeremy is getting boxed in by these restrictions, and if, after offering a technical solution, he is blocked, then he should at least ask for some degree of compromise.
True, Mark, he probably won't get it...