FORUMS: list search recent posts

White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine

COW Forums : Cinematography

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Bryce Moose
White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 3:26:06 pm

I'm a bit confused so please go easy on me. I have always learned from college etc that white skin tone should be at 70-75 IRE and if it's not the image is underexposed and looks bad. Recently I started watching movies and music videos which is hitched up to my external Waveform/false color monitor and I discovered lots of current films and music videos have skin tone at 40-60 IRE. obviously 40 is in the dark shots but brighter shots are always at 60 now. Did the number value change recently? Was it deemed that 70--75IRE was just too bright on our eyes? I'm very curious about this because watching older films made in the 1900's to about 2005 all have white skin tone at 70-75 IRE. Also mid 1930's have white skin tone at 70-75IRE even in the dark but the quality is bad. I'm guessing because of the cameras that were around back that couldn't produce enough image sensors in the dark so the gain or something was brought up really high.

Bryce


Return to posts index

john sharaf
Re: White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 3:41:19 pm

Hi Bruce,

No really hard and fast rule. Conventional wisdom from the "video" era was to put Eurasian skin tone at 70 IRE (or %), but the newer cameras that have extended the nominal Dynamic Range from the typical 8 stops in Video to as much as 14+ stops in Cinegamma modes (by virtue of logarithmic not straight line gamma curves and higher recording bit depth) also give you more "latitude" about where you put the skin tone.

Essentially there are now more tones in the same space (100%) so by lowering the skin tone exposure, there is more room for tonalities that approach the white clip.You'll often find that what was 100% white before is now at 80-90% now, and some detail is held above that that would previously have been clipped.

The other important consideration in reading skin tone exposure on the waveform, and it's great that you have learned how to do this, is to create a more consistent product by "matching" the exposure shot to shot and scene to scene. This also makes your post production color correction faster and more efficient.

Hope this helps,

JS



Return to posts index

Bryce Moose
Re: White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 3:59:47 pm

I've been trying my hardest to match exposure the same from shot to shot. Although trying to teach this to my filmmaker who's learning film is a bit tricky.

Bryce


Return to posts index


Rick Wise
Re: White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 5:56:04 pm

You are right that "correct" level for Caucasian skin has changed downward. I have one old text book that says to place that skin at 80 IRE.... I have long found that when I don't have a tech and a waveform monitor but do have zebras available on the camera, if my subject has white skin and I set the zebras to 70 and then adjust iris so that there is just a tiny hint of zebra on the hottest part of the face (usually the nose bridge and/or a tiny part of the forehead,) the exposure is "good."

But the question brings up, what is "good" exposure? As you observed, faces can be exposed to be quite dark. It all depends on the story you are telling and the style you are using. A thief hiding in the shadow of a building would have just enough light on his/her face so we can make out s/he's there (Zone lll,) but far from "normal/good" exposure (Vl on the face.) For a shot where most of the face is in near or total blackness and there's a raking 3/4 back key just kissing his/her cheek, I'd expose so that cheek is at least one stop hotter than "normal." ("Normal Caucasian is Zone Vl, so expose so that it's Zone Vll or maybe even Vlll.)

(Wikipedia has a decent article on the Zone system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_System.)

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


Return to posts index

Todd Terry
Re: White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 8:43:03 pm

[Rick Wise] "But the question brings up, what is "good" exposure?... It all depends on the story you are telling and the style you are using."

Rick beat me to the punch on this one... you might strive for all Caucasian faces to be at 75 IRE, BUT only if you want all faces perfectly exposed like they were getting their pictures taken down at the Sears Portrait Studio. Definitely not always the case.

A zillion years ago when I was a wanna-be actor I worked a few times on a great NBC show called "I'll Fly Away" (no one remembers it, but it was a fantastic show). Particularly on the episodes that we DP'd by Félix Enríquez Alcalá I would notice that he definitely didn't expose for faces, he exposed for the scene... which was far more important than an individual's face.

An easier sample to check is the late great HBO series "Six Feet Under", which I think is still on Netflix. Watch some of those, especially the episodes DP'd by Alan Caso. His images are just beautiful (and natural), but I doubt you'd fined a 75 IRE face there anywhere. He, too, exposed for the scene, which gave a much more beautiful and natural look. It was pretty rare for a face (or even a whole person) to be the most "correctly" exposed thing in a frame... often it was some other element entirely... a hallway in the background, a piece of furniture in the foreground, something out a window, whatever. And his scenes are gorgeous and natural-looking.

The show "Dexter" is another one which did exactly the same thing (and I know it is available on Netflix), always exposing for the scene, not a face. Alan Caso DP'd a couple of those episodes as well, but most of them were by Romeo Tirone.

Another thing I'll note, you're seeing all of these other exposure levels, by your own admission, on finished projects when you watch these movies and music videos with one eye on your scope. That tells you the levels the projects were finished and posted at, but you have no idea what the exposure levels were shot at, which were no doubt in many cases radically different. Due to color grading, exposure grading, and a zillion little things that manipulated the image in post, there's no way to know what the actual in-camera exposure was. Especially with older projects (the ones shot on actual film), the actual exposure at the time of shooting could have been way below the electronic equivalent of 70-75 IRE (or somewhat above it), since film is infinitely more forgiving regarding exposure and has a much much wider latitude than electronic acquisition. I'd say analyzing the exposures on movies and videos might be a good exercise, for learning more about color/exposure grading in post... but I'm not sure it has a whole lot of value on the shooting side of things.

While it is important to a degree, I wouldn't worry about your scopes too much. There are only two test instruments that really really count as far as whether something looks good or not... your two eyeballs.

T2

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



Return to posts index

Rick Wise
Re: White Skin not at 70-75 IRE but looks fine
on Mar 27, 2016 at 10:06:36 pm

Except, your "correct" Caucasian faces would more likely be around 60-65 IRE with only spots of 70.....

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]