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How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting

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Corey Protin
How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 26, 2013 at 1:00:49 am

Hello everyone! I've currently been brought on to LD a TV show of a full choir in studio. The Producers have for the show to be lit in black (or void) limbo lighting where the background falls off into darkness; however, they have also asked for the singers faces to be evenly lit, which seems contradictory to me because the only way I know how to achieve black limbo lighting in a studio is with controllable hard light sources, whose throw is easily manipulated through the light's barn doors or spot/flood mechanisms. Does anyone know how I can achieve black limbo lighting without creating harsh unappealing shadows on the singers faces?

Here is some specifics on the studio:

-Over 45' long
-The studio is limited to what lights it has access to, some of them are (Desisti leonardos [either 1k or 2k], TV 4-bank fluorescents , different types of lekos, Desisti Wyeth 2kw, scoops, some Desisti Giotto 3s, and some Desisti Renoir 2kw.
-the budget isn't extremely high, but they are willing to rent any additional lighting equipment/expendables to achieve this.
- Below I'll also attach the first (rough) draft of their floor plan so you can see the space. I haven't commented on the floor plan as of yet, because I wanted to first figure out about the lighting requirements.

THANKS!


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Rick Wise
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 26, 2013 at 2:29:59 am

Your floor plan is not visible. But no matter. The inverse square law is once again your friend. Since you have a choir, a bank of Kinos with egg crates or the like about 45º above them and pointed down at their faces about 3-4 feet above their heads should give you soft, even lighting. Then either another bank of the same as back lights, or some other units.

All that should leave the background in limbo, and your singing faces happy.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Corey Protin
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 26, 2013 at 3:06:43 am

Sorry I didn't upload it correctly. It should be below now. Also they aren't Kinos, they are Desisti De Lux 4s (they are similar though). So just to clarify, you think that the De Lux fluorescents will have a great enough fall-off to achieve limbo?



Thanks!


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Rick Wise
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 26, 2013 at 5:09:58 pm

What are the dimensions? The scale note doesn't really help us. What this plan reveals is your chorus is on 3 sets of risers. Also that it should appear as if the candles are lighting the chorus. I am presuming you have a way to rig the DeSistis from overhead, dropping them to the "correct" height.

Basically you want to rig those front lights so they are the same distance from the people on the top riser as from the bottom. Probably about 45º at the "right" distance. Something like this crude drawing, where each arm of the triangle is the same length:


As for the DeSistis, I don't know squat about them, but I presume they are photographically as good as the Kinos. You will want 4-banks to get enough exposure at that distance. An arc of fire that mimics the arc of the choir.

The floor plan shows candelabras in the background. If you want black limbo, you would want to remove them.

I'd also add an arc of back lights which will only really work well for the top row of singers, though with judicious spacing it may also have some effect down below. Your choice as to how much intensity you want here. It will help if the choir is not wearing black, but you will have to make whatever they wear work.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Craig Alan
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 26, 2013 at 5:54:02 pm

are those "floor candelabras" fixed near the cyc wall? Are they omni? Can they be masked/skirted and/or dimmed? Or thrown away?
Can you blacken the b.g. in post or is this a live feed? Do you get tech rehearsals to experiment? Do you have a grid to hang your lights? Is the cyc wall black? You have lekos so if black doesn't work you might be able to talk them into a subtle patterned b.g. using gobo patterns. Or use a digital projector and use the cyc wall as a screen. Bring a broadcast monitor and run a feed from the mixer. I assume the tiered risers will help block any light falling near the floor of the cyc? Egg crates help. Use the fresnels for the back lights. What type of DOF can those five cams achieve? With 5 cams you are going to need to see the results for each one and adjust your angles and settings. How are the cams mounted? Are they just on tripods aimed up at the riser? Cranes would help.

IMO when time and money are limited you should go with what works not necessarily what is preconceived.

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Corey Protin
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 27, 2013 at 8:27:23 pm

Thanks everyone for the help.

As for the scale, all i have at the moment is what I told you in the first post.

The candelabras are electronic and are apart of the set design and are just supposed to be a cool light amongst the darkness. (My major issue is just whether they will be bright enough comparatively to the lighting. My idea currently is: dimly light everything through the lighting board and open up the cameras irises from the studio shading console.)

-It will be a live feed, be it will also be live to tape.
-we will have the ability of messing with it in post.
-the candelabras are not fixed and movable.
-The cyc is white, and there is a giant blue curtain that can run the length of the cyc. So, were planning to pull it in front of the cyc for reflective purposes.
-There are grids in the studio. 12 independent movable grids that lower or raise to any height you wish.
- I have as much time to work in studio before the production.
-The cameras are the Ikegami HK 388W with 2x extenders on studio peds
-the camera in back will be supported on a dolly system rigged from one of the grids

I also just found out that there aren't enough of the fluorescent lights in that studio to light the chorus (go figure right). I was thinking about using the the even wide throw scoops and surrounding them in blackwrap in order to control its throw and maintain limbo. What does everyone think?


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Rick Wise
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 27, 2013 at 9:45:54 pm

Sounds like you will have a dark blue background, not black.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Corey Protin
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:31:03 pm

Well with proper falloff, the background would be black do to a lack of light. Hence the initial question of finding the proper lights that will allow for a sudden fallout off, but still allow for an even quality of light. At the moment, the only solution I can think off is: using the scoops in studio, jury-rigged with blackwrap to act as barn doors.

What do you think?


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Bill Davis
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:34:37 pm

[Corey Protin] "Well with proper falloff, the background would be black do to a lack of light. Hence the initial question of finding the proper lights that will allow for a sudden fallout off, but still allow for an even quality of light. At the moment, the only solution I can think off is: using the scoops in studio, jury-rigged with blackwrap to act as barn doors.

What do you think?"


I think there are challenges here. Not impossibilities, but challenges. Yes, hanging a bunch of soft lights would be great. But the geometry is a bit iffy. If you keep them close to the choir members (which would make the choir members brighter and help you keep the background black) - then they'll block the shots unless they are up high. If they're up high, I'd worry a bit about "raccoon eye" shadows from any choir members with deepset eyes.

Ricks quick plot was really useful to help you understand that if you move the lights up - the geometry between the top and bottom risers gets skewed and you'll have either the upper or lower risers exposed differently. And if you move them down, then you're firing more light toward the background. The farther away, the less light differential between background and subject. NOT farther away and you're closer to "top lighting" the choir rather than filling in their faces pleasingly.

I'd probably forget the Kino style stuff and rent a bunch of fresnels in pairs (key and fill) to light each section. Fresnels are naturally sorta soft yet throw well and you can cut the light with barn doors to dial in the overlap between groups. Unlike softboxes (even with grids) they're a lot more controllable. and if you end up with a section of the choir that's too dark, you can just swing in extra light from wherever.

But this is theoretical. You can't know for sure until you walk into the room.

For example I'd worry a bit about Camera 4, because from your plot, if it's shooting the Sopranos - it's also shooting that door. Hopefully there's not a big ol EXIT sign in play.

The stuff that no plot will tell you.

Interesting problem. Let us know what you end up doing.

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Corey Protin
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:52:58 am

Thanks everyone for the help!

The studio is filled with Fresnels, and I know how to easily achieve limbo with them; however, the dilemma comes from their want of a softer quality of light that won't cause the uneven harsh shadows that a fresnel would (the studio has a swath of Desisti 2k Leonardos )

I see what you're saying though...which is that one scoop at the proper angle probably won't light the entire choir in that section. That's interesting thought. It hadn't crossed my mind that the throw of the scoop may not sufficiently and evenly light all three rows of the choir. What about two scoops almost in the same grid position. One higher up at the proper angle for the top tier, and then a second scoop dropped down on an arm to light the same area of the lowest tier. This would then allow for even lighting across the three rows while maintaing limbo, correct? Plus, there are more scoops in that studio then I possibly know what to do with :)


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Rick Wise
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 29, 2013 at 3:00:35 am

At this point, enough with the theory. Time to get hands on, on site. I think you stated that you do have access to the site for a good long time to light it. All you need is a minimum of three stand-ins to start setting lights. You seem to have a decent arsenal to play with. Work your way through. From now on you need to look, think, see, adjust, etc., all that stuff we do.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Craig Alan
Re: How to achieve: Even TV lighting & black (void) limbo lighting
on Mar 29, 2013 at 5:49:03 pm

Get some stand ins and a crew to help and start setting up. Use a broadcast monitor and work until you have what you want. I mean in the end its what looks good. Your client only has an idea of what that might be. Seeing is believing. Sounds like you have a lot of lights to work with. The Flos are certainly the most idiot proof flattering to skin tone but you can get a lot more drama with the fresnels. I assume you have a light board as well? Why not use soloists in a spot? The camera on the conductor will have a completely different b.g. than the choir. After initial set up I'd ask the director and TD to join you as well and tweak the different camera angles and lighting for them. Looks like a great time could be had by all. I'd love to see your finished set up and product. I work with a combo of fresnels/kinos/lekos and a white cyc. So we'd love to learn from your experience here. How's the acoustics in that room? Seems like the walls are too parallel. Regardless where will the mics go? If they are hanging from the grid you have another factor to deal with.

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