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lighting african american actors


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#1 bolshevik

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 05:19 PM

what is the general concensus on people with darker skin tones? if i rate my film faster would that take care of it or should i calculate an 1/3 of a stop over on their face?
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#2 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 05:23 PM

By rating your film faster you would be under-exposing the actors and that's not a good idea in most situations.
Depends on the situation for either "normal" or slight over-exposure.
Can ypu be more specific of the setting, lightng, format, etc.?
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#3 bolshevik

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 05:40 PM

[quote name='Dan Salzmann' date='Mar 6 2006, 02:23 PM' post='94207']
By rating your film faster you would be under-exposing the actors and that's not a good idea in most situations.
Depends on the situation for either "normal" or slight over-exposure.
Can ypu be more specific of the setting, lightng, format, etc.?
[/quote

i meant rate my film slower. sorry. i would be exposing them normally. maybe at a 1:2 ratio with lighting come from a single source through a window.
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#4 Don Bachmeier

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 11:29 AM

A common technique is to use physically larger light sources. Not necessarily brighter ones. Often you need to work them closer in to make them effective. Also realize that the skin is indeed darker and should look it. Don't fall into the trap of trying to 'make' it lighter. You are probably dealing with contrast issues so avoiding brilliantly white clothing will do wonders. It also helps to be able to have the ambient light at a similar level. Again, you're attempting to adjust the contrast to an acceptable level for your film or video camera. Adding a few 'edges' can help define the subject if the lighting becomes too flat.

Some have advised using color on dark skin but beyond a hint of CTB or CTO it looks a little too 70?s to me. Unless it is motivated of course.
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#5 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 05:05 PM

it depends on what you're trying to do. i think dark skin registers just fine with normal lighting, but if you have two actors with different skin and you need to balance them you will have to add more light. same if you want to create separation against a dark background.

btw what's up with "african american"? i know it's the prefered word for a black person in north america, but what if they're not american? i know i'm gonna sound like the white trash jerk i am now, but what's the international pc word? ;-)

/matt
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 05:24 PM

it depends on what you're trying to do. i think dark skin registers just fine with normal lighting, but if you have two actors with different skin and you need to balance them you will have to add more light. same if you want to create separation against a dark background.

btw what's up with "african american"? i know it's the prefered word for a black person in north america, but what if they're not american? i know i'm gonna sound like the white trash jerk i am now, but what's the international pc word? ;-)

/matt


Although there may be some sort of negative connotation now associated with even this term, I swear the ACLU has a department devoted to Political Correctness, the easiest, shortest term would be "Black". It is also, from what I can gather, the term that is most generally accepted by people in America desended from ancestors of the African continent. Hence "BET" for Black Entertainment Television". "AAET" just doesn't have the same ring. Conversely, "White" is much less of a mouthful than "Caucasian." As for "African American" being misused, it is a lot. The powers that be are either too stupid, or too apathetic to change "African American" to African on forms that ask one to list one's ethnic background. Technically, a native Ethiopian in the United States wouldn't be able to correctly list his ethnicity on any number of forms, tests, or documents here in the States.

Regards.
~Karl

Edited by FilmIs4Ever, 07 March 2006 - 05:28 PM.

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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 05:40 PM

Hi,

I did wonder.

I've always just said "black", I had no idea I was risking upsetting anyone.

At the end of the day we do need words to describe these characteristics. The problem is that if you have a term to describe a characteristic and people feel looked-down-upon because of that characteristic, that term is going to become unacceptable to them as it becomes associated with the mistreatment.

This seems to lead to an inevitably carousel of terms which move in and out of favour, something I've particularly noticed in the field of - now, what's the word this week - disability. The terminology gets more and more tortured and inelegant, until you're referring to someone as a person of differently-abled characteristics just so as not to ruffle their feathers, when almost nobody meant anything by the shorter term to begin with.

Yargh.

Phil
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#8 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:28 PM

other than the simple difference in luminance, the only thing to really consider is that any dark surface with considerable shininess will reflect light & color much more than a lighter-colored object of the same shininess (like the difference in shooting a grey car and a black car-- the black car will reflect your lights, rigging, skyline, etc. more apparently). this is something to keep in mind if you will be using little/no or sheen-inducing makeup.

this color reflectence is also a common technique used for lighting darker skinned subjects, particularly in fashion photography. there is a photographer in particular who was known for heavily using such technique, even on lighter skinned/caucasion models with help of makeup. he did the guess campaign in i think 1999/2000 and i think he had a japanese-sounding name. also, i recall the film karmen gei used this technique quite a few times.

as for the "african american" thing... why do people get all freaked out just because a group of people state a preference as to what they should be referred to as? it's not like they're asking for your paycheck. or a mule, or forty acres. it's just a preferred term to be referred to as. if you prefer to use "black", then fine. but why does it bother anyone so much that a particular people would decide their own label? it's not about "political correctness", it's simply about respect.

granted, most americans, including african americans, are fine with the use of black, though it's probably mostly due to the aforementioned practical reasons of fewer syllables and smoother pronounciation. those same factors have worked in favor of latinos and asians (rather than "hispanic" and the absurd "oriental"). more or less, "african american" is used in more formal situations, like in printed form. i don't think anyone, at least in the US, would get offended by the verbal or informal use of the word black. and for any europeans confused about this, and any other race-related issue in the US, the only real way to explain it would be to say "it's complicated". kinda like if i asked "what's the deal with the gypsies and the way people talk about them?... or are they "Roma"?"

As for "African American" being misused, it is a lot. The powers that be are either too stupid, or too apathetic to change "African American" to African on forms that ask one to list one's ethnic background. Technically, a native Ethiopian in the United States wouldn't be able to correctly list his ethnicity on any number of forms, tests, or documents here in the States.


one problem with this rationale is that ethnicity is not synonymous with race. ethnicity is a strange sum of race, culture, nationality, and sometimes religion. another problem is that african americans and first or second generation african immigrants often identify themselves differently-- african immigrants often identify themselves by original nationality or even specific ethnic group (ie. ethiopian american). the categories of race and ethnicity exist according to social rules & factors, and not scientific ones, which explains why they often seem to be nonsensical. though i think eugenics proved that a scientific approach is quite flawed in itself.

as an anecdote, i've known african immigrants who strongly prefer to be called "black" (i think they considered it a prideful term in their home countries), and also thought it was completely silly that multi-generationed black americans called themselves "african americans". they seemed to consider them as just plain americans. i guess it's all relative. but generally, i think "black" very rarely is taken offensively. just don't call an asian american "oriental". especially a college educated one, or you're in for a long lecture... even longer than the one i just typed out.
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#9 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:53 PM

why do people get all freaked out just because a group of people state a preference as to what they should be referred to as?

nah, i'm not freaked out. i have no problem referring to my black friends as whatever, in their presence it's even fun to use words they don't like and they do the same to me. :-) it's just that in situation where you're talking in generalizing terms, which is dangerous in itself when referring to ethnicity (or nationality, religion, sex and so on for that matter), as well as want to express yourself carefully, such as on public forums like this, african american seems very limited since it only refers to a small number of the black people in the world.

sorry for what i started. hope it stays civilized.

/matt
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#10 Tim J Durham

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:57 PM

what is the general concensus on people with darker skin tones? if i rate my film faster would that take care of it or should i calculate an 1/3 of a stop over on their face?


I got a tip from Michael Nash (I think- it was a while ago) to use a polarizer when shooting black people. You can basically dial in the amount of reflectance from their skin by rotating the filter. It works great.

As for the "African American" thing, when I was at CNN, there was a discussion between the flavor-of-the-month news reader and a reporter doing a live shot from South Africa in which he referred to the "Blacks" and she got this stern look on her face and stopped him mid-sentence to suggest he not call them "blacks" but rather he meant to say "African Americans".

He just let it go.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 07:13 PM

Hi,

Okay, not "Oriental". What then? "Asian" would take in anyone from Iraq to Japan, which isn't very helpful when trying to cast someone who looks like they're from a certain place, which is where I most often hit this. You can say "Japanese", but anyone from eastern China or Korea would then be overlooked despite the fact that you can't tell by looking unless the person in question is proffering a passport.

Yes, I know "the Orient" was a phrase used in pre-Imperial Britain to describe places as nearby as Turkey, hence the famous Orient Express which didn't go anywhere near what would now be considered the Orient, but fer chrissake.

Phil
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#12 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 07:53 PM

Hi,

Okay, not "Oriental". What then? "Asian" would take in anyone from Iraq to Japan, which isn't very helpful when trying to cast someone who looks like they're from a certain place, which is where I most often hit this. You can say "Japanese", but anyone from eastern China or Korea would then be overlooked despite the fact that you can't tell by looking unless the person in question is proffering a passport.

Yes, I know "the Orient" was a phrase used in pre-Imperial Britain to describe places as nearby as Turkey, hence the famous Orient Express which didn't go anywhere near what would now be considered the Orient, but fer chrissake.

Phil



i never said it makes sense.
but i would suggest you say "asian" before guessing and calling them by a specific ethnicity. in the US, where it is an undobtedly more complicated social and political landscape, you would use "asian american" in more formal scenarios. this is because of the 'perpetual foriegner' stigma many asian americans have been dealing with for over a century. by specifying "asian american", it, in theory, denotes that the person is an american of asian ancestry/ethnicity, rather than a 'fresh off the boat' immigrant/foriegner/tourist.

there's really no need for you or anyone to feel offended. no one is trying to project blame or guilt upon you. it's simply a particular peoples' preferred label. just like someone named theodore preferring to be called "ted". doesn't necessarily make sense, but there's little reason to not abide.

calling an asian person "oriental" is like referring to caucasions/europeans as "medieval". tapestries and rugs and paintings are medieval/oriental. to call the people who created them by the same is retarded.
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#13 rufian84

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 04:11 AM

calling an Asian person "oriental" is like referring to caucasions/europeans as "medieval". tapestries and rugs and paintings are medieval/oriental. to call the people who created them by the same is retarded.


Not exactly... The reason why is politically incorrect to call Asians "Orientals" is because the earth is round. So they are oriental in relation to what? The term "oriental" comes from the times of the European conquests all over the world around the 1400's. If we were to look at it from a geographical point of view, for Asia we would be "oriental".

DAMN, I'M OPINIONATED!!!!!!

Anyway, we should write about lighting dark skin and not about political correctness of the words used. I only say this because there was a lot of racial tension in this country for centuries and it's still a very sensitive topic.

There...!! BEING OPINIONATED AGAIN

Cheers,

Rafael
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#14 oscar jimenez

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 10:24 AM

This was not supposed to be a second or hidden intention question, I think it was very simple as well.
If the subject is very black skinned, I will overexpose at least 1/2 stop of my key reading for more detail holding, if he is not as black, lets say not dark chocolate but milk chocolate, i will over maybe just a third of a stop. I just recently shoot a musical video on which singer was just below zone 5, but with a very discreet make up he got up to 5 zone *reflected metering on skin* and I just shoot what film stock was without over anything, You have to be careful with backgrounds and sorroundings, so they wont feel forced or blown up, it is just a matter of taste and style.
Good luck
Oscar
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 10:57 AM

This was not supposed to be a second or hidden intention question, I think it was very simple as well.
If the subject is very black skinned, I will overexpose at least 1/2 stop of my key reading for more detail holding, if he is not as black, lets say not dark chocolate but milk chocolate, i will over maybe just a third of a stop. I just recently shoot a musical video on which singer was just below zone 5, but with a very discreet make up he got up to 5 zone *reflected metering on skin* and I just shoot what film stock was without over anything, You have to be careful with backgrounds and sorroundings, so they wont feel forced or blown up, it is just a matter of taste and style.
Good luck
Oscar


Why on earth would you meter off the skin? Just have you actor hold a grey card in front of his face and meter off of that. It takes all of the guesswork out of guessing what "zone" your actor is. The same is true for whites. I'm not a zone 5, and it's a bad idea to just generalize and assume a specific ethnicity is a specific zone. Find out for sure. USE A GREY CARD! (Shameless plug for whoever makes the things ;-) )

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#16 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 12:05 PM

... there are a whole load of opinions for exposing for people of darker skin tones... When shooting scenes with Jamie Fox in Jarhead, Roger Deakins didn't change his exposure and didn't use bounce fill (hardly). Perhaps because he was also using bleach bypass he knew that the final image would be okay... Using gels to enhance certain pigments can also be used...



Rupe W
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#17 Jon-Hebert Barto

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 10:54 PM

I got a tip from Michael Nash (I think- it was a while ago) to use a polarizer when shooting black people. You can basically dial in the amount of reflectance from their skin by rotating the filter. It works great.

As for the "African American" thing, when I was at CNN, there was a discussion between the flavor-of-the-month news reader and a reporter doing a live shot from South Africa in which he referred to the "Blacks" and she got this stern look on her face and stopped him mid-sentence to suggest he not call them "blacks" but rather he meant to say "African Americans".
He just let it go.



Just goes to show how PC everything is. Our news agencies are now reffering to people of darker complections (or black) from all over the world as "african American". Hmmmm, I wonder if black people in south afria or brazil or anywhere know that they are now americans or for that matter would appreciate this ? I think not... Stupid PC! At some point it makes everyone look dumb!

Reffering of someone as "black" or "white" is not offensive. It's HOW the word is said. I can say "hey, you" and make it sound as if I'm telling you to go f*** yourself.
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#18 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 11:58 PM

I look forward to a time when all all Americans are called just that-AMERICANS!!! when Blacks, Whites, Latinos and Asians unite in haromony, take each other by the hand and cry out to the Heavens in one loud unitfied vioce. "SCREW THE FRENCH!" as God intended it to be. :D ( now that's politically inccorrect and also only a joke so if your french call me a dirty name and remember I'm only kidding)
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#19 MattGrover

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 08:24 AM

As for the "African American" thing, when I was at CNN, there was a discussion between the flavor-of-the-month news reader and a reporter doing a live shot from South Africa in which he referred to the "Blacks" and she got this stern look on her face and stopped him mid-sentence to suggest he not call them "blacks" but rather he meant to say "African Americans".

He just let it go.


That's probably the funniest thing I've read today, just goes to prove how absurd the concept of "political correctness" has got. And how blatantly stupid some people can be. :lol:
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#20 oscar jimenez

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 04:33 PM

Why on earth would you meter off the skin? Just have you actor hold a grey card in front of his face and meter off of that. It takes all of the guesswork out of guessing what "zone" your actor is. The same is true for whites. I'm not a zone 5, and it's a bad idea to just generalize and assume a specific ethnicity is a specific zone. Find out for sure. USE A GREY CARD! (Shameless plug for whoever makes the things ;-) )

Regards.

~Karl Borowski


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