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Lighting Advice for Meeting room

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Casey Wilson
Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 4:09:06 pm

I am looking for advice on lighting our meeting room for filming.
I cannot add big ugly lighting to the room. Would like any additional lighting to be discrete.

The Room:
has plenty of room overhead for lighting, vaulted ceilings.

Here is a picture of the room with the natural lighting.



appreciate the Help!!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 4:58:53 pm

Can you also post a diagram of the room, showing where doors, windows, seating and lights are now? And a wide-shot picture of the room shot from a corner, would be a big help.

How are you using the room? Are you shooting an individual person doing lecture-type stuff, or a group having a discussion?

What kind of ceiling do you have? Gridded drop-down tiles?


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Casey Wilson
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 9:43:18 pm

Here is a diagram of the Room:



Here is a photo of the room:



Here is a Photo of the ceiling and Room lights:


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:00:58 pm

You certainly have an ideal "upper half" for mounting instruments... that don't necessarily have to be obtrusive or ugly.

Are you just trying to light the speaker? Are the other areas that you are trying to light as well? Does the whole room need to be lit? Will those windows be in the shots and will you need to balance them for both intensity and color temperature (or are they a non-factor)? Is there any reason you can't turn off all the overheads if you need to? Do you have a particular "mood" you are going for?...e.g., dark and moody/serious, bright and happy, flat, edgy, or any other descriptors you can give?

And... super importantly... do you have a budget?

A lot of questions, I know...

T2

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



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Casey Wilson
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:13:15 pm

Are you just trying to light the speaker?
I would like the speaker to be lit better. The Speaker and wall blend too much in my opinion and there is very little room behind the speaker for back-lighting.

Are the other areas that you are trying to light as well?
Behind the speaker maybe. I would like to create more contrast between speaker and backdrop (fireplace).

Does the whole room need to be lit?
No, the room is adequately lit for the guest.

Will those windows be in the shots and will you need to balance them for both intensity and color temperature (or are they a non-factor)?
non-factor

Is there any reason you can't turn off all the overheads if you need to?
Most video will be taken with guest in the room. Conference, speakers, sermons...

Do you have a particular "mood" you are going for?...e.g., dark and moody/serious, bright and happy, flat, edgy, or any other descriptors you can give?
Warm, crisp.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:20:56 pm

We're getting somewhat of a better idea, but you still have not said what kind of jobs these are going to be: straight-on lecture or sermon, from one person at a podium, to a camera? Or some kind of tutorials or product demonstrations? Or a weekly rundown for members of what the organization has been doing? Or group chats or panel discussions? Is there to be any interaction with physical props, charts, models? Always standing, always seated, or a mix? The nature of the specific projects dictates a lot of what we'd recommend to you.

For example, it may seem intuitive to use the seated position by the fireplace as a backdrop, but you actually could get much better shots in some cases by using the width of the room as depth, so your backdrop could be just a wall or a simple cloth or paper roll, hung on the wall, that becomes out-of-focus while your presenter remains sharp.


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Casey Wilson
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:48:45 pm

I understand, thank you.

Sermon / conference set up.
Speaker will be standing / walking around in front of the fireplace. Within 2 or 3 feet of the podium.
There is about 2-3ft behind the speaker and the fireplace.

I cannot change the shape of the room, or the space between the speaker and the fireplace, this is fixed.

I am looking for a crisper look than the original photo. To me the video appears very warm (too orange). The presenter does not stand out very well (pop).

I hope this helps.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:17:30 am
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:18:10 am

Okay, based on your restrictions, it rules out a bunch of ideas, but what I see as your main problem is that you have *too MUCH* light. That is, it's all over and even, soft light. So my first idea is, cover the windows on that wall opposite the lectern. If the overhead recessed "can" lighting can be controlled in "zones" at all, turn off the overheads on the side where the fireplace is. My version of your nice drawing is attached.



Next, assuming your camera position is as far back by those closed-off windows as possible, you could hang ONE small spotlight with "Barn Doors" or a "Snoot" on it, to create a tight circle of relatively "hard" light, just in the lector/preacher's spot. The single blue colored spotlight shows the approximate position, angled about 45 degrees down, and hanging above where your camera position would be. If you can't hang a permanent light, then put it on a strong portable stand immediately behind and above your camera position. In all cases, back your camera as far back as possible, then zoom in a bit, to try and compress your depth of field, so the fireplace goes soft-focus a bit. If you can sneak the podium even a foot more forward, away from the wall, it will help a lot.

The second idea would be to delete the blue, center light, and use the two, grey-colored spotlights, again at about 45 degrees angle down, and 45 degrees to the left and right of center. The idea with these two is to use slightly less powerful lights that meet in the middle, but throw their *shadows* far enough to either side of the fireplace wall, so that the shadow of the person speaking doesn't get in the shot and distract. You may have to make minor position changes and test them out when you start hanging the two lights, to deal with those shadows.

As to a specific instrument, I'll let the more knowledgeable people suggest makes and models, but I'd say an LED fixture of about 100 to 200 equivalent watts might be enough. LED PAR cans come with built-in DMX dimmers, so you could adjust their output at installation time, or add cheap XLR mic cords and a DMX light mixer for another 99 bucks, and control color and brightness from the floor somewhere. Black Foil could be used to make barn doors or shape a "snoot" to control where the light hits and doesn't hit, or you could place a sheet of diffusion material like Rosco TuffFrost or TuffSpun over the front of the light, with a hole cut in the center of it, to make the center part of the light cone harder, and the edges, softer.


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Casey Wilson
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:40:57 pm

Thank you for your reply. I would appreciate further advice and recommendations on specific lights.

I have tried two spot lights on the two sides like you have suggested and it caused heavy shadows in the background. Shows that were very annoying.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:46:14 pm

Where the shadows fall can be controlled by moving the subject further away from the wall, and by moving the two lights farther left and right, as well as higher.


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:57:49 pm

Well, you have a conundrum then, and are saddled with some logistic situations there that will be difficult to change.

Mark's advice there about two lighting instruments, at 45° to the sides and down at about 45° (I'd recommend a little bit less of an angle than that) is, pardon the pun, spot on.

As far as specific instruments go, in a situation like that I'd recommend Source Four fixtures... and you can pick up the tungsten versions on eBay for less than nothing these days, although if you have any decent budget I'd look at the LED versions.

BUT... you say they create unacceptable shadows. That's understandable. But your talent is simply too close to the background to avoid that (actually much much too close). That proximity is causing you all kinds of problems... not only the shadows, but making it impossible to put any backlighting in place which is what you really need to make your talent pop from the BG and give you good separation, and it is also going to make utilizing a shallowish depth of field difficult which could help separation by softening the background.

BUT... I get the sense that you cannot move the position of the talent. Therefore, you are a bit stuck.

If you absolutely can't move them, you can help eliminate the shadows somewhat by using large soft instruments, ideally fairly close to the talent. BUT... you say you can't have anything obvious or obtrusive in the room. SO... that's out.

You're probably going to have to decide which is the lesser of two evils.

You're in a situation that comes up often, where there is a live event of some kind that also appears on camera. In a situation like that we'd all love an arrangement that allows for absolutely perfect (and invisible) lighting for the live audience, and absolutely perfect lighting for the camera. Sadly, that usually doesn't exist because those two things are so very very different, and there just isn't one solution that perfectly covers both.

So, I guess my next question would be, which is more important? The live audience?... or the on-camera image? Knowing that will help you decide what you can do.

Oh, also, I still don't know if you can turn off the overhead house lights. I asked, but the answer ("Most video will be taken with guest in the room. Conference, speakers, sermons...") only told me who was in the room... it didn't tell me if you can turn out the house lights.

I know you're not getting any fast and easy solutions here, but this is not a fast and easy situation.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:01:49 pm







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Casey Wilson
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:21:08 pm

Thank you Todd and Mark.

1. Cannot move the talent.

2. Cannot turn overhead house lights off. They will need to be on for the filming.

3. Large instruments in re front by the talent would be an issue.

I know I am being selfish and not very flexible with the room situation.
For some the video is the priority and for most the room is the priority. makes it difficult.
This is not a one and done shoot, but something that would be semi permanent.

I appreciate all the help.

Question...
When you look at the original picture, what are your opinions of the shot?
What do you like, dislike about the lighting and color??


Thanks!!


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:44:01 pm

[Casey Wilson] "When you look at the original picture, what are your opinions of the shot? "

Well, it's pretty bad from simply a camera perspective. It might look perfectly fine from a live audience view, and it seems like that is the priority. The frame is just extraordinarily busy, with a guy with either flat (or just available) lighting, he's in front of a very busy fireplace, there's a mantle growing out of his head, all kinds of flora and tchotchkes around that give the frame a very busy look. That visually makes your job of lighting him in an interesting and "popping" way so much harder because you are not only physically constrained by the space, but visually your talent is fighting all of these other elements in the frame. Sounds like there's not much you can do about that.


[Casey Wilson] "What do you like, dislike about the lighting and color?? "

Well the color is a bit unnaturally warm, but at least it looks uniform... you don't seem to be having any color issues because of mixed lighting types, which is good. Fixing that could be as simple as lowering the color temperature on your camera...



...which still isn't great, but at least isn't unnaturally warm. If you can't do that in camera (although you should be able to), it's easy to do in post.



[Casey Wilson] "I know I am being selfish and not very flexible with the room situation. "

No, you are not... we are all often constrained by things on location we can't change. The only inflexibility doesn't seem to be your fault, and it's a little bit of a no-win or non-solution kind of situation. It's a bit akin to going to a doctor with a broken leg and asking "Which of these band-aids do I need." You're told "No, you need a cast," but insist "No, I can only use band-aids." Sometimes in the face of absolutely-immovable situations things just can't be done exactly as you like, and often just doing "the best I can do" or even just not doing something is the best (or only) option.

Hope it works out well for you...

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:16:27 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:38:44 pm

Unscrew the bulbs immediately above the fireplace. Leave them out, or replace them with bulbs of half as much wattage. Close off or draw curtains on the big windows behind the camera. Put up one 150-watt light on a stand behind the camera, and focus it very tightly.

You can try to "fix" this in post, instead, but it will prove to be very time-consuming to motion-track a vignette mask around the speaker. On your side is the fact they are bound to the podium area, means less tracking problems for the rotoscoping.

On your NLE timeline, make two video tracks. On the topmost track, you use the drawn mask plug-in in final cut pro ten to mask out everything around the speaker, using a softened edge. On the bottom layer, apply Gaussian Blur, and drop the overall brightness a bit.



If nothing else, this will give you something to show the folks in charge so they can visualize the changes you propose. Beyond that, advice can't help people that won't take it. I sympathize: this is not something that you face alone, believe me.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting Advice for Meeting room
on Nov 19, 2015 at 8:52:50 pm

Slightly less-hurried version of the "look" achieved in FCP7 using Gaussian blur and darker color correction levels on the bottom layer, vignette effect on top layer, with an oval mask in-between containing feathered edges. Once built, this effect could be saved off and applied to new footage pretty quickly using the "paste attributes" function.



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