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Lighting Scenes when the lead is bald


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 10:28 PM

Are there obivious do's and dont's when it comes to lighting actors who have bald heads? I once shot in a store that had overhead fluorescents all over the ceiling and the host/actor/director kept complaining about the hot spots on his bald head.

I remember looking up at all the fluorscent lights and thinking I was in hell. We couldn't turn off all of the fluorescent lights because they were lighting up the store background a significant amount and since it was a local show promoting different stores and their wares, we definitely had to keep some of them on.

Are there certainly obvious techniques that work well if one is trying to avoid reflection/glare off of a bald actors head? Do certain lights work better than other lights in minimizing glare and reflection off of a bald head, or is it just accepted that the glare will be there.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 10:54 PM

Well generally a soft glare is preferable to a hard kick, but softer and dimmer is better -- make-up (powder) obviously helps a lot.

Overhead flos shouldn't be too bad since they are soft sources, unless his head is shiny and he refuses to wear make-up, but if so, you could suspend a 4'x4' frame of diffusion over his head, slightly behind, to soften & darken the light reflecting off of his head into more of soft sheen/glow, then add more soft light from the ground to compensate if he looks darker. Or suspend a 4'x4' net frame instead to break-up & darken the reflections.
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 04:11 AM

I'm embarrased to admit that I just haven't paid close attention to Deal or No Deal on NBC to see how they handle it. However I did notice on ABC's Friday Night Bingo last night that they seem to purposely use a lower angle on the hosts close-ups, I suppose to make him look dominant but I bet it also serves to reduce the glare off of his bald dome as well. Bald is in.
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#4 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 02:40 PM

I have found makeup is really important to helping with the glare issue.

Funny you mention Deal or No Deal, on a project I shot with Howie, I had a very large soft box built for overhead so that any reflections on his head would be soft, almost like a car commercial. He also does not like to wear any/ much makeup which somewhat further complicated it.

That said, I just try and avoid top light, bring it lower to the ground, get on the same page with the makeup artist, and if you must use top light then diffusion it a lot.
(the thread I wrote on the project with Howie http://www.cinematog...howtopic=11530)

In your case you could place a medium sized diffusion frame (4x4) over the talent to further soften the existing fluorescents (assuming your shot had somewhere to hide the rig).

Kevihn Zanit
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#5 Frank Barrera

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 04:37 PM

what format are you shooting? if film then the above replys are about all you can do. but if HD video then there may also be some help in adjusting your knee point and knee slope. i just shot a test with the Sony F900R and focused a good deal of time on the Knee functions. a bald shiny head could look less so with the right combination of point and slope.
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 05:21 PM

I rather like the glare that comes off a bald head, it's too bad self conscious actors prefer not to have it.

I recently shot a short with a bald actor playing Mussolini, and he really liked them.

But yeah, otherwise, go with the diffusion overhead to cut out the hot spots :)
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#7 Bob Hayes

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 11:27 AM

I think I'd be looking at shows like "The Shield" or "X-Men" before "deal or No Deal". I tend to side light rather than top light in this situation. In a back lit situation I try to light the shoulders and cut light of the dome.
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