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Lighting in PLANES????


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#1 stevewitt

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 12:57 AM

Hello, I am reading Ross Lowell's "Matters of Light and Depth" and so far it seems OK. I do have one question while I reading about "Planes". I'm about 30 pages deep into the book and he keeps say light in Planes and I have read these first pages over and over but I still not exactly sure what he is trying to convey. Is he talking about the different angular surfaces of an object, or is he saying to light in different
layers like the forground, subject, and background etc? Could someone clarify this for me in simple terms and maybe give some examples (whether you have read this book or not) so I can continue further into this book with confidence about the subject matter. I think it is a wonderful book but sometimes I just get hung up on stuff like this :blink: . I'm sure once someone on here explains this to me I'll go back and the explanation that the book offers will be crystal clear and I'll wonder why I didn't see it to begin with. Thankyou very much in advance.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 01:57 AM

is he saying to light in different layers like the forground, subject, and background etc?


Yes. You create depth by having various layers or planes of bright then dark then bright, etc.

Here's an example:

Posted Image
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#3 stevewitt

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 10:08 AM

thanks Dave. I like the example because I am a huge fan of Noir B&W.
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#4 Bill Totolo

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 12:32 PM

Foreground, middleground, and background.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 03:42 PM

I had an old drafting teacher who described a plane as an imaginary two dimensional surface perpendicular to your field of view. For the younger digital media crowd...kind of like a layer in photoshop. In any field of view the number of planes can be limited only to your imagination.

So in Davids image from Orson Welles, Orson is one plane the other actor (Greg something???) is on another, and the figure in back is one yet another.

Understanding a plane also comes in handy with depth of field. So this leads me to a question perhaps David knows.

I have always thought of Depth of field planes as being flat. But if say a lens has a depth of field of 5' to 6' from the lens on the axis of the lens itself. Will everything be in focus on that flat plane? Or as one gets farther from the intersection of the plane and the axis of the lens will things get out of focus? I hope I explained that right.

best

Tim

Edited by heel_e, 05 December 2005 - 03:51 PM.

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#6 timHealy

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 03:54 PM

sorry. I meant Joeseph Cotton. Greg (Toland) was the DP.

Tim
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 01:03 AM

Well, focus is more or less set to a flat plane in front of a camera, although it's not perfectly flat with some lenses. But depth of field describes a range in front of and behind the actual point of focus where objects will look acceptably in focus, enough to look sharp.
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#8 Ryan K

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:22 PM

Bear on mind that shot which Mr Mullen put up had a split diopter on it, otherwise Mr. Welles would have been out of focus.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:52 PM

Bear on mind that shot which Mr Mullen put up had a split diopter on it, otherwise Mr. Welles would have been out of focus.


There was no split-diopter filter used in that shot in "Citizen Kane" or any shot in that movie. It was accomplished by using a s---load of light and stopping down to f/16 probably, on a 25mm lens.
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#10 Mike Williamson

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:10 PM

I believe the frame that David posted was actually achieved using an optical printer (or possibly an in-camera double-exposure although the timing of the dialogue feels too precise), as you can see from the slight blur on the left side of the arch separating Welles and Cotten.

"Kane" has tons of optical work and trick photography in it, what makes it great is that you never feel it. And, as David points out, lots of light. Incidentally, I've heard that Toland was using lights that had just been designed for Technicolor to get those deep stops.
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#11 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:54 PM

I believe the frame that David posted was actually achieved using an optical printer (or possibly an in-camera double-exposure although the timing of the dialogue feels too precise), as you can see from the slight blur on the left side of the arch separating Welles and Cotten.

"Kane" has tons of optical work and trick photography in it, what makes it great is that you never feel it. And, as David points out, lots of light. Incidentally, I've heard that Toland was using lights that had just been designed for Technicolor to get those deep stops.

Could it possibly be a mirror shot? Looking closely over Orson's shoulder see that the pillaster is slightly softer than either the plane in front or that behind. There is also a slight darker cast to Orson. Having once done mirror shots I can tell you it's tough balancing your lighting and I can't even imagine having to do it with a rack-over BNC. This is the work of masters, Welles and Toland.

Edited by Dickson Sorensen, 07 December 2005 - 10:55 PM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 02:17 AM

I was about to post again that the shot was done just by stopping down the lens, since it's a dialogue scene with back-and-forth talking...

... but it does seem odd that the wall behind Kane is out-of-focus since it's on the same plane of focus as Cotton. Since it doesn't appear to be a duped shot, it may be an in-camera double-exposure, using mattes, carefully timed out with the actors. I know Toland liked to do composites in-camera when he could even though there are many Linwood Dunn optical printer composites in the movie.

Split-diopters didn't really make an appearance in Hollywood films until the 1950's. Besides, I've found from experience that split-diopter shots actually look worse if you try and also stop down the lens, because the filter split edge comes into focus, especially with a lens this wide-angle.
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#13 Ryan K

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 08:53 PM

Whoops there - the out of focus wall behind Kane's back fooled me into thinking it was a split diopter. Pretty impressive stuff if it was done with a matte.
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#14 Evan Phan

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 11:34 PM

I have never stared at a picture for so long in my life. After reading the posts thus far, I'm going to agree with David and Mike that its a double exposure. Seemed like an insane thing to me, but then I thought- well, I guess Orson Welles WAS already a few steps down Crazy Road.

Since it wasn't a split diopter, it must have been a masked (masqued?) double exposure.... a really, really tough one I thought. There is a conspicuous white area where the middle ceiling beam meets the pillar. It means Orson's half was shot last. I'm pretty sure the mask runs up along the right most side of the pillar to the right of Orson, up to the right diagonally where the pillar meets the dark ceiling by triangle shaped corners. The one we're looking at looks like it got shifted. The small guy in the background is easily masked. I think this technique of putting everything into focus via masking was kind of one of Gregg's trademarks. Orson was a radio genius and could have easily nailed timing by using a recording of Cotton's take.

What I can't figure out is how they had.. and made the time for this kind of madness! Props to the Master Toland..... Props.

Edited by spyroll, 10 December 2005 - 11:44 PM.

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#15 Sam Wells

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Posted 11 December 2005 - 12:02 PM

SOMEWHERE I saw a book on Citizen Kane with stills that showed some of the optical composites (DX's I'm not sure).

I kind of recall this was Peter Bogdanovitch's rejoinder to Pauline Kael's book - but a quick google search doesn't give a clue to what it might be...

-Sam
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 December 2005 - 12:42 PM

Some of the Linwood Dunn opticals are easier to spot because they look "dupey" -- high-contrast. The shot of the spoon & glass in the f.g. or the parakeet (which also has some transparency problems).

Of course, many shots are just shot at a deep f-stop / wide-angle to create the effect.
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