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Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.

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chris pike
Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 3:17:08 am

Hello, please see photo, which is is still from a video shoot with a Canon 5d iii. The black leggings are blowing out the blacks. You can't tell which leg is in front. Any suggestions from a lighting, camera perspective? I'm told this won't happen with more expensive cameras. I could increase the exposure post production, but I don't think there is any information at all in the blacks. I could soak the leggings in bleach and make them more grey, but I'm afraid it would be uneven. I could shine a light from below, and get some bright spots on the bottom surface of the leg, but it wouldn't look like a natural light source. Stumped am I.



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Todd Terry
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 4:11:48 am
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Jul 21, 2018 at 4:14:24 am

You have indeed given yourself a photographically tough situation there...

You're not alone, nor doing anything wrong on the technical side though, it's just a difficult situation that many of us deal with all the time. Whenever we have to have actors provide any of their own wardrobe, our usual speech (right after "Bring several options") is "No pure blacks, pure whites, or busy patterns." I more or less forbid pure blacks as major costume pieces. Something small (a man's tie) is ok... something big (an entire suit or dress) is not.

Even then with the lecturing, we still run into it. Many people (especially women) think they absolutely look best in black, and show up in it anyway... despite the fact that they might indeed look their best in black in person, they probably don't on camera. And on the other end of the luminence spectrum, if you have lots of healthcare clients like we do, you learn to dread white lab coats (which is why if you ever go on the set of a medical TV show, say, Grey's Anatomy, you'll find all the doctor's coats are actually gray, not white).

But I digress...

There are a few things you can do...

Yes, a higher-end camera can have a wider exposure lattitude, and that might keep the blacks from being crushed (especially a high-end and high-lattitude camera, Arri Alexa, etc.). That being said though, the 5D does have a pretty wide range, so I'd expect only limited improvement.

I'm not a DSLR guy (don't let me get on my soapbox about using still cameras for motion work when you should be using a cine camera), so I'm not sure what profile settings are available on the 5D... but there may be some tweaks you can make to the picture profile to improve the situation. If you were using a cine camera, I'd say "Adjust the pedestal setting." Is there something comparable in your camera?

Lighting... your lighting plot doesn't look bad at all, but it might not be the right design for this scene. Try more backlighting. And I dont' mean a little... but a lot. Really pour it on... at least as bright as your key light, if not substantially brighter. Maybe even some sidelighting instead of (or in addition to) lots of backlighting.

But I think you will get by far the best results with what is by far the very easiest tweak: DON'T PUT THEM IN BLACK. Is there any reason that your talent has to have a black wardrobe? Maybe there is, but if not simply put them in something else. If you are wanting a monochromatic look, even a fairly dark gray will probably give the impression of a black wardrobe, but still allowing some details to read... and definitely not crush like the real pure black does.

T2

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



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chris pike
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 4:25:29 am

Thanks Todd for the length note. You pretty much confirm what I thought. The problem is that dance shorts do not come in many colors. However, I just did a check and there are two other color possibilities. They have purchased "black", but you can also buy "charcoal" and "nude". I will buy their shorts in a charcoal color. On another track, I may take one of their shorts and try bleaching it. I have never done this before. It might require skills I don't have. I'll get back to you.


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Todd Terry
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 4:42:55 am

You could give bleaching a try, but I wouldn't have high hopes for great results. Most of those garments are made of nylon, lycra, spandex, or other completely man-made fibers ... those are very difficult (if not impossible) to dye, so I'd think the reverse would be true, too.

But I would think "charcoal" would give much better results.

T2

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



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chris pike
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 8:55:43 pm

Thanks again for the advise on bleaching. I did some reading, and it appears you are correct that bleaching won't work to dampen the solid black. So I ordered a bunch of dance shorts in the "slate grey" and "charcoal". Hope something fits everybody.


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Todd Terry
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 21, 2018 at 9:57:58 pm

Cool.... I'm willing to bet one of those colors will work much much better.

Good luck!

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 24, 2018 at 8:59:35 pm

My suggestion would be hard side-lighting, perhaps with a colored gel, to pick up the contours.

While you can't dye the black pants... you could maybe airbrush-paint or sew stripes on them?


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Blaise Douros
Re: Black Clothing is blowing out the blacks.
on Jul 23, 2018 at 4:08:40 pm

Your other option is to add some additional rim lighting around the edges of your scene. You could do it without it looking too artificial. Not sure what your budget is, but a couple of small daylight-colored LED panels would go a long way, here.

Ultimately, the color of the clothing is the real problem. It's such a dark black that in order to get detail, you need to do one of two things: add light to your foreground and/or rim, or bump up your exposure.


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