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#1 Christian Tanner

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 08:10 AM

hey guys!

just to clarify: with eyelights i mean the hotspots that shows in the pupil/iris.

well personaly - i adore HUGE eyelights. i tried to create them with some semi-success.
i believe to have observed a couple of things - and i was wondering if some-one has any suggestions. (remember, it's HUGE eyelights we're talking about here).

this is it:
the best position seems to be as close as possible, meaning, a traceframe. so, idealy the fill i'd say.
also, i think it should come from below the actors face. that might not be ideal in terms of modelling, but it just seems to be the perfect spot...

what i still want to try is to get a light right around the lens. but not like they do it in music videos with patterns of tubes and bulps (if you know what i mean), but with a traceframe.

i guess to optain a huge eyelight throughout the whole movie would be a pain in the ass too. so again (especially since this is a topic that kept me busy) if you have any suggestions - PLEASE! - very much apprechiated...

cary
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#2 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 09:15 AM

What do you mean by traceframe?
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 11:57 AM

What do you mean by traceframe?

He means a frame what ever size to shoot a lamp through , to diffuse , this term goes back donkies years , when only form of serious diffusion ,was tracing paper , only problem , if the light source was to close to trace , did tend to burn , or if lucky just turn brown . john .
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 01:17 PM

Well, there's a difference between a bright eyelight and a big eyelight. Technically, a big eyelight would occur, for example, when the subject is standing in a shaded doorframe or something, facing a daylight exterior and their eyes are reflecting that huge expanse of a brightly-lit landscape. Since the eyes are like a reflective globe, they shrink anything reflected in them, so to create a large reflection in the eye, you'd have to work with huge softlights, like having a 20'x20' frame behind the camera lit for fill. Of course, the camera would be a dark shape in the center of the reflection in the eye.

You could of course make something like a 8'x8' frame of diffusion and cut a hole for the camera lens to shoot through, but that would be rather awkward, plus make it harder for the focus puller to see the actor. And the camera crew would have to be blasted by light coming from behind them.

A compromise may just be a small Chimera light somehow clamped over the mattebox, slightly bigger than a typical Obie light.
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 01:33 PM

A compromise may just be a small Chimera light somehow clamped over the mattebox, slightly bigger than a typical Obie light.

Have you had any experience with ring lights (surrounding the camera lens)? If so, up to what distance are they effective? Thanks.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 01:43 PM

Have you had any experience with ring lights (surrounding the camera lens)? If so, up to what distance are they effective? Thanks.


Well, ring lights are usually used as a soft, shadowless KEY light actually -- the donut reflection in the eyes is sort of a byproduct. So it can't be too far if you need it to provide a key exposure. However, if it is just for fill or to create a reflection in the eyes, then it can be a little farther.
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 03:05 PM

Ring lights seem to work best when the subject is a sufficient distance away to make the light reflection slightly larger than the iris of their eyes.

For example:

Posted Image

Too close and the reflection is in the whites of their eyes. Too far away and it's inside the iris, and not very flattering, I think.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 04:43 PM

the best position seems to be as close as possible, meaning, a traceframe. so, idealy the fill i'd say.
also, i think it should come from below the actors face. that might not be ideal in terms of modelling, but it just seems to be the perfect spot...


Also keep in mind that as the eyelight source gets closer to the face to make a larger reflection, the incident light from that source gets geometrically brighter (inverse square law) -- potentially adding more fill than you want. If you dim the source to avoid "overfilling" the face, you're just dimming your reflection.

This is the principle sometimes called "specular transparency," which describes the ratio between incident light and the brightness of the reflection of the source. Basically, incident light follows the inverse square law and falls off with distance, but the brightness of the reflection does not. So exposing for the incident light when the source is close makes a dull reflection, and exposing for the incident light when the source is farther away makes the reflection brighter.

But in your case moving the source farther away also makes the reflection smaller, which means you'd have to increase the size of the source (up to something like a 20'x20', like David mentioned). So you've got to find the "sweet spot" where the eyelight source is big enough for what you want, but not so close it adds too much fill.

I have found that for eye reflections, from below shows up the greatest amount of the time, since it doesn't get flagged by the person's brow if they look down at all. But it doesn't always look the most flattering; sometimes if the light is smaller it can create the impression that the person is "tearing up" and the light is catching tears on the lower eyelid. Sidelight works well.

i guess to optain a huge eyelight throughout the whole movie would be a pain in the ass too.


Do you really need a huge eyelight through the whole movie? I mean, even those shots that are wide enough where you don't really see the actor's eyes? I used to do a TV show where I always used a small fill below the lens on the host, for the cosmetic "look" of it. But on wider shots it just wasn't practical to have a source bright enough blasting across the room, where it could throw other shadows. So I worked it in very subtly, only on the medium to close shots.

A few films come to mind as reference:
Something's Gotta Give; Diane Keaton is perpetually filled-in for cosmetic reasons, and it also created big eyelights. Somewhat high-key but beautiful throughout.
Hannibal; Julianne Moore is always filled frontally even in contrasty lighting, partly I think for character reasons, and partly I think to make her face appear "rounder" to better blend with Jodie Foster.
Rumor Has It; another soft, flat-ish high key comedy, but eyelights abound as a byproduct.
The Replacement Killers; Myra Sorvino always has frontal fill even under contrasty lighting. The eyelights are simply a byproduct there.
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#9 Christian Tanner

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:35 AM

first of all - thanx a lot guys!

michael - sorry for the missunderstanding. with "throughout the movie" i ment "all the close-ups". my misstake. for the medium shots i personaly don't mind a bright, but small eyelight. (so i usualy try to get the keylight "hot spot"). and for the wide shots, to be honest, i don't mind no eye-light at all...

true - because no-one let me put-up a 8'x8' traceframe behind the camera :rolleyes: - i started using a bounced poly or a small traceframe right underneath the camera - just making sure that my focuspuller doesn't get to angry...

i've seen this movie - unfortunately i can't recall its name, it's story, nore a single actor in it (yes, it was THAT sort of film...). but i do remember HUGE eyelights throughout. knowing the feasibility behind that, i was wondering if eyelights are manipulated by computer these days. do you guys know about stuff like that? or have even done it yourselfes?

cary
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:24 AM

Another option is a large Chinese Lantern over the mattebox. Again, it will appear as a bigger reflection in the eyes if the camera is physically closer with a shorter lens rather than farther back with a longer lens.

Odds are high if you're seeing a big reflection in the eye, it's not from a separate eyelight but a huge soft keylight just over the camera, like from a lighting balloon or some big bounce. Or I suppose, if the subject is dramatically backlit, and the only light on the face is soft fill, then you're seeing the reflection of the fill in the face, like from a large bounce card or something.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:43 PM

David's right on the money here. Huge eyelights usually are from the key or fill sources themselves, so you just incorporate that into your lighting design.
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#12 Dan Goulder

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:58 PM

One of my favorite examples of eyelighting would be that of Jennifer Love Hewitt in "I Know What You Did Last Summer". Her eyes really sparkled. I'd like to know the specific technique that was used to achieve that effect. I would assume maintaining the proper angle of incidence between the lens, the cornea, and the lighting is a crucial factor.
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#13 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 05:25 PM

One of my favorite examples of eyelighting would be that of Jennifer Love Hewitt in "I Know What You Did Last Summer".


I'll have to take a look at that one.

Another example is the TV show Charmed, where the girls have the three-point eyelight (left, right, low-center). Every. Single. Shot. ;)

This of course also comes from the "beauty light" below the lens, filling in to create that glamour look.
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#14 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 07:29 PM

Ring lights seem to work best when the subject is a sufficient distance away to make the light reflection slightly larger than the iris of their eyes.

Stuart,
Just exactly how was the actress eyelit in this image? What fixture? I really like the slightly surreal "ring of beads" look.
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#15 Joseph White

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 08:16 PM

although not a remarkable movie by any stretch of the imagination, "Signs" from Shyamalan has some fantastic eyelighting in some key night interior scenes between Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. It's a beautifully photographed film by Tak Fujimoto. there's a scene with the two actors sitting on a couch at night with thin cool light everywhere, and Gibson's eyelights are easily the brightest things in the frame - definitely a styllistic choice and not remotely realistic, but it has an interesting effect.

also if you like that circular light reflection in the actor's eyes like in the photograph but don't want the broken up pattern within the circle, check out the Kamio Ringlite made by Kino Flo, again Mr. Mullen is correct this is often used as a keylight more than anything, but if you position your actor in the right spot you can get the desired effect.
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#16 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 09:24 PM

also if you like that circular light reflection in the actor's eyes like in the photograph but don't want the broken up pattern within the circle, check out the Kamio Ringlite made by Kino Flo, again Mr. Mullen is correct this is often used as a keylight more than anything, but if you position your actor in the right spot you can get the desired effect.

Actually I've got a very good use for the broken up, string of beads ring pattern, that's why I'm wondering what light fixture was being used.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 12:45 AM

Usually eyelights are hard because that way you make the color in the eyes pop out and you get a bright glint in the eye, making them sparkle. Large soft sources reflected in the eye have the opposite effect, usually creating a dull sheen over the eyes, dulling the color in the eye.
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#18 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 04:19 AM

Rifa-lights are God's gift to eye-lighters. In fact, they're God's gift to ALL lighters :D
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 11:46 AM

Obviously there are degrees of how large or small the reflection in the eye is. I was talking about bigger softlights than that in terms of creating a glare over the eyeball, like from big wraparound soft keys. I could probably pull up a frame from "Sleepy Hollow" as an example, in some of the close-ups lit with a huge softlight -- you'd see a soft glare across the eyeball.

I noticed in "1492" that Biddle often used eyelights in dark scenes to keep a glint in the eye.
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#20 Dan Goulder

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 12:11 PM

There's an eyelight general rule of thumb that it's suppose to be half to a stop underexposed so you only see the reflection and light the rest of the face with another source. Anyone confirm? Not sure if it's in Alton's book.

To be most effective, that would make sense. The object would not be to actually "light" the eyes, but rather allow them to reflect a light source.
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