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Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?

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Corbin Gross
Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:14:26 pm

I'm going to be shooting ad with a story taking place in an office setting. There seems to be a pretty well established look and feel in most of the commercials that I see which take place in an office.

FedEx, Staples, BudLight and such have these light hearted commercials taking place in a mundane sort of well done "bad" lighting. Of course we all know that's not actually bad lighting, but it reads that way. I'm looking to achieve a similar sort of dull, low contrast lighting while shooting in pretty tight quarters.

I'm a still photog mainly, so I have extensive experience lighting for stills, but I'm still learning for film/video. Everything I've done up until this point has been either in-studio, "good" lighting, or on-location existing light with a little fill. If I was going to do a sunset, dappled shade, day-for-night, window light at grandma's house, or anything like that, I can deconstruct the lighting needed in my head and usually have it pretty close, just needing a couple of tweaks. But for some reason I'm having trouble imagining what I'd use for this.

I'm mainly familiar with lighting tools similar to what I'd use for stills - umbrellas, soft boxes, spots, fresnels, scrims, flags, reflectors and that. I'd probably start with bouncing a crap load of light off the ceiling and back through a scrim, tuck reflectors anywhere I could and maybe design in a window for a big soft box key. I still feel like I'd have dark pools here and there though.

Maybe it's all in set design though. Are these spots achieved with extensive sets and carefully chosen color palates so as to give the look?

Thanks!

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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Rick Wise
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:53:10 pm

Color balance: Your office setting is no doubt lit with overhead fluorescents. They emit a green spike. Solution 1: turn them off and use only your lights. Solution 2: gel them with 1/4 minus green; determine if they are warm whites (roughly tungsten color balance) or cool whites (roughly daylight;) If they are warm and you have tungsten lights, all will probably mesh pretty well. If they are cool and you have tungsten lights, add 1/2 to 3/4 CTB to your lights. Solution 3: leave the overheads alone. Add 1/4 plus green to each of your tungsten lights, as well as whatever orange or blue gel you need to get in the ball park with the orange-blue component of the overheads. Whichever solution you use, manually white-balance your camera in the dominant light.

It sounds like you have the necessary lights to make this small space pretty softly lit all over.

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


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Mark Suszko
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 7:55:04 pm

This may not be so much a lighting problem as a color timing problem. You want the drab office look, try a bleach bypass effect in your color correction software, playing up the green spike from the flos already in the room. Shoot with the same tubes as the overheads in your 3-point lighting setup, and again, you unify the color profile.


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Todd Terry
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:07:06 pm

The key to the bright look you get from the Staples commercials etc. is very large light sources at eye level... very large silks, bounces, etc., down low... not up where there store's ceiling fixtures are (which gives you a sickly Bela Lugosi look no mater what the color).

Much of the time when you see those big shots in a Staples, Target, Home Depot etc., the overheads aren't used at all, often they are replaced with SpaceLites to give a good bright even palette everywhere, and then individual scenes are lit working off that base exposure.

That might not be practical in your situation. The existing lights probably are a poor color, as others have suggested. The "right" way to do it is to replace all the flo tubes in the ceiling with proper tubes (Kinos or whatever). That might be impossibly hard and expensive. So the next best bet is, as was also suggested, to leave them as is, and "poison" all your other lighting to match it... then you can correct it all uniformly in post. This is definitely the way I would do it. I never have time nor budgets to do it the other way.

I think big bright sources at eye level for the scenes is probably what I would concentrate on most. Probably small HMIs (1200w, so as not to overpower the base lighting) and 6x6 or bigger silks and/or whiteboards as bounces.

T2

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



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Corbin Gross
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:38:51 pm

Fabulous, guys! This is great info.

I totally get the behind-the-camera fill. That's how I shoot almost everything in-studio. Except it's about -2 stops instead of -.5, or whatever, for the look from those commercials.

And I can turn off any lights I need. I do that occasionally when the situation arrises. The Facilities team is always super helpful, which reminds me, I need to order them some cookies or something. And the shape of the lighting from the overheads is so bad that color would be the least of my worries.

So it sounds like the giant behind-the-camera key/fill is the starting point, then I can add lights to create the environment, right?

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Aug 7, 2013 at 2:24:17 am

There is one more cheaper option that can work if you can't fly silks or being in broad fills.

That's to go to your local home center - and buy a half dozen cheap fluorescent 4-bank fixtures - bolt some type of plumbing elbow flange connector to each one that lets you mount them on a stand - and array them for a broad swath of front fill.

Then use the exact same tubes that are filling the store as overheads in your new front array.

White balance to whatever that is and move the new fill lights around to create the shadows you need on the people in the foreground - because the people are all that really matter.

Just know that if you're back in similar situations a lot, these won't last very long. But they work fine for the occasional store shoot and don't break the bank.

FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Corbin Gross
Re: Designing "Office Setting" type lighting for an ad. Suggestions?
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:10:02 pm

Hey, guys. I never checked back in to let you know now it turned out.

Here's a link to the finished video. I think it turned out alright. It was my first time with this sort of shoot.







I didn't wind up having enough room or time in any of the locations to put up the huge fill. Where it was possible I had one or two Spiderlights at the camera, but the medium sized ones, not the big ones. Some of the locations were just too tight for that though. Idid put a white card pretty much everywhere possible. I covered the floors and taped or pinned fill to every surface not pointed at the camera (every surface that would give good fill anyhow).

The other thing I did that really helped was scrim the overhead lights. I liked the direction of most of the overhead lights, but just not the shape. So I went to Ikea (well, the stylist went to Ikea) and got a couple of packs of the sheerest curtains they had. These were about half the density of a ScrimJim screen, so I doubled them up and hung them from the drop ceilings with those clips made for drop ceiling frames. It worked really great. It effectively increased the size of an overhead light by about 4x-6x while cutting a bit of the power.

Corbin Gross | SANMAR
Photographer/Videographer | Marketing
22833 SE Black Nugget Road | Issaquah, WA 98029
206.727.5501 x5237
http://www.sanmar.com


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