Lighting Question-softlights

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Craig Busch, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. Craig Busch

    Craig Busch Guest

    I am shooting MiniDV. I want the look that softlights gives. I am
    using 2 500watt softlight boxes with a 3 chip camera. My question is:
    it looks nice enough now, will adding more light to the person talking
    give it an even better look. How do you know if your camera has
    received the maximum light necessary for the camera to look its best?
    Will more light to the chips give a better(cleaner, sharper?) image?

    Thank you
    Craig Busch, Aug 9, 2003
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  2. Craig Busch

    MSu1049321 Guest

    More soft light is not going to improve things. All soft light is not what you
    want, anyway, you need 'some" shadow and shading to help give depth and
    dimension, unless you're going for a very bizarre ethereal look. So key with
    the softlight, fill with a regular light, add some rim light to cut them out of
    the B.G. How to know it's "enough" light? Even the famous Haskell Wexler
    finally admitted the fireplace scene he did in "The Godfather" was too dark.;-)
    The smartass answer is, whe you think it looks right for you. A slightly more
    technical answer would be to see if no more than say, 20 percent of the frame
    is tripping the "zebra bars" in your viewfinder display, or see what the actual
    waveform is doing on your vector scope, are your peaks under 100 IRE unite and
    you blacks not too low or washed out... or if you can pull a still into
    photoshop and look at the histogram, see what the curves look like...

    Finally, more light alone doesn't give a "sharper image", it's a complex inter
    relationship between light level, lens opening (f-stop), shutter speed, and
    distance from lens to subject, plus the level of reflectivity of the subject
    and background. Just like in quality 35mm stills photography.
    MSu1049321, Aug 9, 2003
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  3. Craig Busch

    Alan Lloyd Guest

    Wasn't that Gordon Willis? (Not gonna dig out "Visions of Light"
    right now and search, but if memory serves...)
    Alan Lloyd, Aug 9, 2003
  4. Craig Busch

    Chris Fewer Guest

    There are a variety of books available on the subject... I've got one
    exceptional book, especially designed for beginners, but covering the whole
    topic pretty complete, but can't find it at the moment, and can't recall the
    title. I'll check later. If I don't get back to you in 48 hours or so,
    e-mail me.
    Chris Fewer, Aug 9, 2003
  5. If you are shooting at 0db gain and around f4 or so, adding more light
    will likely not improve the image in terms of smoothness and sharpness
    (though following others' suggestions for lighting might improve the looks...;-).
    David Ruether, Aug 11, 2003
  6. : I am shooting MiniDV. I want the look that soft lights gives.

    What are you shooting? I'm assuming interviews but for all I know it's a
    movie scene.

    : I am using 2 500watt soft light boxes with a 3 chip camera.

    Are you using any other lights at all? How are you positioning them?

    Adding more light won't necessarily make you image sharper or better. In
    fact it's quite easy to over light. If you're trying to make your subject
    pop out from the back ground it's actually better to reduce your depth of
    field so the back ground is fuzzy.

    To know how much is enough, use your zebras. Set them for ~70%. On a light
    skinned face they should cover the brightest 30% or so. For a standard
    interview the forehead, cheek bones, and tip of the nose. The darker the
    skin, the less zebras you want to see. On very dark skin perhaps just the
    highlights like the nose and maybe just above the eyebrows. Remember, you
    can fix an image that's slightly under lit in post. However, if you blow it
    out, you're screwed.

    If you can, use a decent color monitor to assess your shot before you start
    shooting. Don't forget to set the bars on it first.

    brian a. henderson, Aug 11, 2003
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