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What are your favorite gels for natural/nice flesh tones?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:37 PM

A director said to me that the tungsten lighting was "too white" for the the actors faces.
I used, variously for different actors, either 1/4 CTO or some Bastard Amber that I had
on hand and he was happy.


Now there could be certainly a lot of variables involved here, i.e what kind of film/mood/
scene/location but if this isn't simplifying too much I'd like to ask what gels do you like
to use to give pleasing flesh tones?


In my situation, the actors were caucasian, neither extremely fair skinned nor tanned
but I'm interested in any responses. Thanks.
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 02:37 AM

Everyone's got their own opinion of what natural fleshtones look like. But it's mostly a matter of when and where your scene takes place and how that usually looks in the minds of others that determines whether something looks natural.

Interior nights are usually a bit more yellow/orange from the household lightbulbs we're used to. That's probably what your DP was trying to achieve, it seems.

IMHO, just a hint of warmness does bring out the best in any skintone, regardless of skin color. Which is why I sometimes like just a little underexposure in portions of people faces or perhaps a dimmed or CTO'd light (which becomes whiter with overexposure, and warmer with under) just to beautify things a bit.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 18 September 2007 - 02:38 AM.

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#3 David Regan

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 05:53 AM

I've yet to try it myself, but I've talked to people who say they find a chocolate gel to provide an enjoyable skin tone.
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#4 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 08:57 AM

I often use Lee 188 'cosmetic highlight' (lee filters 'Designer edition swatch) for this. It's a subtle warming-enhancer with a bit of difussion. I've found it good. You can combine it with chocolate 156 to get a good candle-light too!

Hope this helps...
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:04 PM

I'm fond of the chocolate gels, or sometimes I'll throw on just 1/8 CTO for a bit of warmth. If you're going for a color correction later, though; a lot of this can become moot.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 03:21 PM

I guess the question is what skin tone? Skin can be pink, olive, brown, yellow, very dark, very pale -- often different mixes in the same scene. I've never found 3200 light to be "too white" for skin tones, just maybe not appropriate for the scene or the most flattering for the skin in question.

With really pale people where a lot of pink light reflects from deeper in the skin, you might want to avoid pinkish gels like Bastard Amber; a more orange or straw color might work better (I lit a movie with Charles Durning, and the man's practically translucent!). More yellow- or olive-based skin might benefit from going more pink (and less yellow) instead. And darker skin tones can often take a more saturated gel than lighter skin.

But don't rush to judgment that lighting is the problem if skin tones don't look right. Most of the time with video it's the fault of improper white balance or monitor setup. I've seen people overdo the warmth on their lighting because their field monitor wasn't set up correctly, and then end up with orange-looking pictures in post. If you're making color judgments on set based on what you see on the monitor, make absolutely sure you're seeing the correct image and not going by some badly-tuned onboard LCD (for example I know a DVX-100 with an LCD that always looks a little cold, but the camera's color is actually bang-on).

In any case, a density like 1/4 CTO is pretty strong just for cosmetic use. Usually you'll want the gel density subtle enough that it doesn't look noticeably different than the rest of the lighting in the scene. I have recently fallen in love with 1/8 CTO for interiors; it's so natural-looking and blends 3200 movie lights with practicals in a very subtle, organic way.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:26 PM

This is interesting reading for me. Working subtly with color on set is a weakness of mine. I suppose it's greatly an issue of experience.

Does anyone have stills they can post and comment on? That's always helpful (and fun) for all of us visual people. :lol:
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#8 Matthew Buick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 06:20 PM

In my opinion 5254 has the nicest flesh tones. I'd probably underexpose to try and match that.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 07:06 PM

I'd probably underexpose to try and match that.


What are you saying?
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#10 Michael Collier

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 01:22 AM

What are you saying?


Haha, its Buick, sometimes you just gotta ignore him. 5254 eh? Matt, have u ever exposed frame one of 35mm? I doubt you've even shot any 16mm. And this is not to point out the fact that 5254 was discontinued long before you were born. Hell, it was discontinued before I was born. But you'd underexpose it to match? Keep the tips rolling Buick. always good for a laugh.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 01:38 AM

But you'd underexpose it to match? Keep the tips rolling Buick. always good for a laugh.


Yeah, I didn't understand it. To match what? ha ha

I still speak in 72's...since it's basically the only gauge I work with. Perhaps once I start getting more 35mm work I'll switch to 52

btw, I've explained this to him before

;)
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#12 Michael Collier

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 03:52 PM

I still speak in 72's...since it's basically the only gauge I work with. Perhaps once I start getting more 35mm work I'll switch to 52


Yeah me too. I was getting quotes on 35mm short ends for a corperate shoot and kept saying 7218. I think the guy corrected me like 3 times saying "you mean 5218". Its force of habbit. I think when I get to a level where all my work is on 35, I will petition Kodak to change its number system to 72xx=35mm 52xx=16mm, just to make it easy on me....what do you think? I think they'll go for it.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 11:04 AM

Try a Lee cosmetic diffusion instead of white diffusion. It's like having a make-up perosn aorund.
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#14 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 01:02 PM

Personally there are so many variables in the aesthetic needs of any particular film that it is impossible to generalize. One thing is that extra long extension leads or stingers as you say can cause colour temp. drops towards red which I hate and often find myself going for the mild CTB's and very weak Plus Green's as well to "neutralise" things a bit.
The shoot I was on last week had 2 identical 2K Fresnels that had visibly different colour temps and changing the lamp on the warmer one helped but it still ran warmer. Very odd.
It should be mentioned as well that lamp life, condition of the reflector and other factors can cause lower colour temps and the mix of this with ambers and CTO's I generally find makes people look like cheap ads from tanning centres.
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 04:32 PM

Personally there are so many variables in the aesthetic needs of any particular film that it is impossible to generalize. One thing is that extra long extension leads or stingers as you say can cause colour temp. drops towards red which I hate and often find myself going for the mild CTB's and very weak Plus Green's as well to "neutralise" things a bit.
The shoot I was on last week had 2 identical 2K Fresnels that had visibly different colour temps and changing the lamp on the warmer one helped but it still ran warmer. Very odd.
It should be mentioned as well that lamp life, condition of the reflector and other factors can cause lower colour temps and the mix of this with ambers and CTO's I generally find makes people look like cheap ads from tanning centres.


That fixture should probably be checked out. There may be a shoddy connection that is creating resistance and causing a voltage drop that way.
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