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#1 william koon

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Posted 05 March 2006 - 05:04 AM

pls explain low key lighting and also provide some tips for setting the mood in horror genre.
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#2 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 05 March 2006 - 05:09 AM

imagine an commercial for loreal .... and now the the exact oposit :)
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 March 2006 - 12:39 PM

Low-key is not exactly the same as being completely dim and underexposed, or using low light levels (although it could); what it means is that a large percentage of the frame is below key (underexposed) BUT small areas can be at full exposure (or even overexposed.) So a wide shot of someone in a spotlight against a black background would be low-key (unless the lit face filled the frame I guess.) Low-key tends to mean shadowy, the feeling of encroaching darkness.

High-key is when most of the frame is at full exposure.
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#4 bolshevik

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 04:31 PM

pls explain low key lighting and also provide some tips for setting the mood in horror genre.


Posted Image

there are so many ways to do horror. i'd watch some of argento's films for how to use color in horror and some old hitchcock and turneur's cat people for low key hard "edges" on shadows and shaping light in general.
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 04:32 PM

Low-key is not exactly the same as being completely dim and underexposed, or using low light levels (although it could); what it means is that a large percentage of the frame is below key (underexposed) BUT small areas can be at full exposure (or even overexposed.) So a wide shot of someone in a spotlight against a black background would be low-key (unless the lit face filled the frame I guess.) Low-key tends to mean shadowy, the feeling of encroaching darkness.

High-key is when most of the frame is at full exposure.


---I think it originally referred to the direction of the key light.

With a high key, the shadows fall mon the floor, so they're not really noticable.
With a low key, the shadows are on the wall, thus a shadowy picture.

---LV
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#6 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 04:06 PM

ah, thanks. that makes sense. i've been wondering about the etymology because it seemed rather backwards. i figured a high key meant lots of key light, which implies less fill, thus more contrast, and vice versa, but then it's really the other way around. my home made conclusion was that it had something to do with key as in music keys, where "higher" keys are indeed "brighter".

/matt
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#7 Jordan Hassay

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:03 AM

I hate to revive old threads, but if there's one that exists that's related to my topic, it's still good to avoid making a new one.

Here's my issue:

I'm working on the lighting for a project of a friend of mine in New York City soon, a film-noir piece. I'm just a first year student myself, so I haven't actually done any lighting for film yet, though I have had some experience with DV (boo, hiss). Thus, I have several questions.

1.) Any tips in achieving film noir lighting? Assume that I know nothing at all about lighting, I think I'll learn more that way.

2.) How can I maintain a noir feel while shooting in the city during the day?

3.) How can I maintain a noir feel while shooting out of the city during the day?

Thank you all very much for your responses. :)

Edited by Cinemabun, 13 March 2006 - 01:06 AM.

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#8 Mike Hall

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:52 AM

I'm not exactly an expert on the subject, but I can recommend a couple of things that may be helpful from my experience:

1) - Hard light is your friend. Let the shadows be crisp, and yes, shadows occur in nature. Single source (or really good divided lights) broken up with some sort of non-discernable pattern - and fill, that's for the other guys. Let the Kodak decide how much fill there is.

2) - Shadows spark the imagination. Let the talent play into the dark...the viewer's mind will fill in the blanks with their personal worst fears. Shadows envoke a personalized experience when used correctly.

3) - Make something look "good". Some of the film has to look "normal" to standardize the experience, and so the viewer can tell when everything goes to hell. Soft lights, soft tones.

4) - Use soft sources at first, harder lights as the action builds to a climax, and break some rules when it does. Build the story visually, from a friendly look (soft) to a most disconcerting look (really hard) when all hell breaks loose. If you have diffusion on a light, or if there is a light within 25 degrees behind the camera when you are shooting your climax, there may be something out of place.

5) - If you are filming a dark scene during the day, take the light away. Negative fill is a term used for taking the daylight fill away from the talent on the non-sun side and some of the top. It can make for a very spooky look even in cloudy conditions when done right. Make everything on the "fill" side of the frame as black as possible, and play the stop a little hot to the key. Make sure to take out some of the top light from the atmosphere bounce.

Just my opinion, I could be wrong.
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#9 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 04:07 AM

and fill, that's for the other guys.


i disagree. careful use of fill is necessary to get a high contrast look in my opinion. using hard light with no fill often just causes things to look muddy with highlights. unless you flag ultra carefully and dress the set so dark that everything not directly lit goes black, but that's usually not what happens with a single light source.

/matt
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#10 Lucita Jones

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 11:50 PM

---I think it originally referred to the direction of the key light.

With a high key, the shadows fall mon the floor, so they're not really noticable.
With a low key, the shadows are on the wall, thus a shadowy picture.

---LV



I will have to disagree with you, if you mean to say that high and low refer to height.

High key means that more of the image is well exposed. A high key image can have a high or low contrast ratio. (The Cafe scene in "Jules et Jim" is high key with low contrast ratio)

Low key means that more of the image is in shadow, and the contrast can be both high or low.

High or low keys do not refer to the height of the lamp with regards to the main subject, rather to the MOOD of the lighting design in that particular shot. I think David put it quite well.

Thanks,
LJ
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#11 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 02:54 AM

i think you missed the word "originally" in the first sentence, and the two following altogether. to me it seems like you're in almost complete agreement!?! :-)

/matt
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#12 Mike Williamson

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 03:20 AM

The terms "low key" is short for "low key-to-fill ratio". What that means is that there the fill light is at a much lower level than the key light, so 8:1 would be "low key". In other words, there is much more key light than fill light, so there are deep shadows. Mathematically, the key light would be eight times brighter than the fill.

On the other hand, a "high key" shot would have a higher key to-fill ratio, like 2:1, where the level of the fill light would be nearly equal to the key light.

As someone already mentioned, these terms have nothing to do with height of the shadows or where they fall. They have to do with how contrasty an image is, and how dark (or "deep") the shadows become.
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#13 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 06:19 AM

i think we all know what it means, the question is why is it called that? your suggestion doesn't sound right. wouldn't 8:1 be a high key to fill ratio, while 2:1 a low one? the music analogy and the height of the light theory both sound more likely to me.

/matt
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:30 AM

The terms "low key" is short for "low key-to-fill ratio".


No.

The term "low key" refers to the proportion of darker values in the frame, compared to lighter ones (as David Mullen already described). The term has been around for ages in painting, long before the concept of key-fill ratio as it pertains to photography came into play.

Low-key simply means that most of the frame is dark, even if there are some very bright areas in the frame. High-key means just the opposite; that most of the frame is well-lit to average or brighter value.

http://filmschoolonl...ematography.htm
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#15 Dominik Muench

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 04:45 AM

imagine an commercial for loreal .... and now the the exact oposit :)



ROOOFL

Excellent :)
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#16 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 05:02 AM

The term has been around for ages in painting, long before the concept of key-fill ratio as it pertains to photography came into play.

do you have a source for that? all encyclopedias i've checked as well as all google hits i've checked state that it comes from photography.

/matt
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#17 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 01:24 AM

do you have a source for that? all encyclopedias i've checked as well as all google hits i've checked state that it comes from photography.

/matt


Yes, my Dad who's a retired art history professor!

Since I don't know the exact etymology of the term, maybe I should have said the concepts of "high key" and "low key" have existed outside of photography for quite some time.

In any case, the concepts still have nothing to do with key/fill ratio as we know it in photography. For example, an abstract painting that is composed of predominantly darker colors could accurately be called "low-key," without there being any representation of a recognizable subject or light source (and therefore no depiction of "key" or "fill" light).

Some examples:

http://www.bigblackp...ng/low-key.html

http://www.britishar...onincolour.html

http://www.watercolo...om/glossary.htm

http://www.librarium...ent/view/177/2/
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#18 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 04:13 AM

thanks, that helps. i was actually thinking the same but all evidence pointed elsewhere.

/matt
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#19 william koon

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 04:04 AM

No.

The term "low key" refers to the proportion of darker values in the frame, compared to lighter ones (as David Mullen already described). The term has been around for ages in painting, long before the concept of key-fill ratio as it pertains to photography came into play.

Low-key simply means that most of the frame is dark, even if there are some very bright areas in the frame. High-key means just the opposite; that most of the frame is well-lit to average or brighter value.

http://filmschoolonl...ematography.htm

Thank you all. The discussion makes me very happy and more confident with my execution. One more thing to confirm - does this mean that the contrast ratio can be high or low ? What I understand is normally low key requires high contrast (key to fill) lighting ratio. Pls confirm this.
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#20 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 05:23 PM

What I understand is normally low key requires high contrast (key to fill) lighting ratio. Pls confirm this.


No, not really. Contrast ratio is independent of the overall "key" of the image. The term "contrast ratio" describes the difference in value between the key light and the fill light on a subject. That ratio can be whatever you want as long as the values you're using don't change the overall proportion of light and dark withing the frame. In other words, adding too much overexposed area to an otherwise low-key scene can make the shot start to "feel" less low-key. Adding too dark a shadow or too much negative fill in an otherwise high-key scene can make the shot feel less high-key.


Low-key, low contrast ratio:
DVD_EndofDays004.jpg



Low-key, high contrast ratio:
DVD_EndofDays009.jpg
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