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#1 Phil Bradshaw

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:40 AM

I wanted to open up a discussion and encourage everyone to post their opinion concerning "eye lights". What is the best way, to achieve the most prominent eye light within an actors eyes?

I have been steadily moving from grip/electric to shooting, and lately, I've really been paying attention to different shapes and sizes of eye lights in films and commercials and wanted to see the various styles that are out there.
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:26 PM

This should be in the Lighting section not on here anyway a single hard light to pick out the eyes or best of all a ringlight .
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#3 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 03:53 PM

I have been steadily moving from grip/electric to shooting, and lately, I've really been paying attention to different shapes and sizes of eye lights in films and commercials and wanted to see the various styles that are out there.
[/quote]

So what did you see Phil?

Kieran.
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 04:49 PM

This depends. Since the eye is concave, it acts a bit like a rear view mirror: objects may be closer than they appear. So a big source will give you a bigger reflection. However, a smaller specular source might show more prominently, since it's a brighter spot (normally).

Funnily enough, there was this whole navel gazing in the 60's with the French New Wave cinematographers who experimented with what moods could be emoted by placing the eyelight differently in the eye. Below center and to the side was sad, above was happy, two dots was earnest (just as an example, can't remember exactly) etc.
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#5 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 01:43 AM

I wanted to open up a discussion and encourage everyone to post their opinion concerning "eye lights". What is the best way, to achieve the most prominent eye light within an actors eyes?

I have been steadily moving from grip/electric to shooting, and lately, I've really been paying attention to different shapes and sizes of eye lights in films and commercials and wanted to see the various styles that are out there.




I think that there are some amazing eye light shots toward the end of the B/W film In Cold Blood,
cinematographer Conrad Hall. Not sure how he did them but you might be interested in viewing it and seeing what you think.
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#6 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 02:01 AM

Do you want an eye-light opinion for a close-up? Or a medium shot. Or both?
Please specify ;)
Dim
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 04:53 PM

This should be in the Lighting section


Done.
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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 05:03 PM

Since the eye is concave, it acts a bit like a rear view mirror


I think you mean Convex, Adam. ;)
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 05:05 PM

On a technical level the principles behind eyelights are pretty straightforward. The larger the source, the larger the reflection. The brighter the source, the brighter the reflection. And then there's the principle of "specular transparency" that says that the brightness of a light source's reflection does not change with distance, but the incident light it gives does. So if you don't want your eyelight to add too much incident light, simply move it farther away.

On a creative level though, an eyelight can be anything you want it to be. I used to get a kick out of the eyelights in the TV show Charmed because they always made sure to give the girls this triangular pattern of three huge eyelights, which of course was literally a reflection of the key, fill, and beauty lights they used.

I've noticed that you have to be careful with a large soft eyelight from underneath, because it can sometimes make it look like the actor's eyes are welling up with tears -- which naturally might destroy the entire scene.
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#10 Bob Hayes

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 05:43 PM

There are many different kinds of eye lights and they all have the effects. They real goal of the eye light in my opinion is to add sparkle and energy to the performance. With out an eye light eyes can look like dead sharks eyes.

For a natural look the key, often big and soft, is the only eye light. Often this style fits into the no back light concept of lighting like ?Girl with the Pearl Earring?.

The eye light can also be a white card bounce which just adds a glow to the eyes.

It can be a small hard light which adds a bright pin spot in the eyes.

As mentioned before because the eyes are so reflective they can be a clue to how the shot was lit.
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#11 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 07:05 PM

I like this topic...I'm sure there are a lot of us out there who have lots to say....
I've always found making eye-lights to be challenging to some extent...especially when your modelling can not be disturbed...I've tried the 2bank short close to camera's axis, a far-away pepper etc. and have recently been bouncing a 600w off of the silver side of my Wescott 6in1...I keep this set up about 5 feet away and it gives me a descent eyelight...I have to say that I'm still interested in knowing what other techniques are good for this...
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#12 John Brawley

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:20 PM

I wanted to open up a discussion and encourage everyone to post their opinion concerning "eye lights". What is the best way, to achieve the most prominent eye light within an actors eyes?



Great discussion.

To me there are two types of eyelight.

Passive and active.

A passive eyelight is is usually something that allows a shape to be seen in the eye and usually needs to play somewhere close to the talent. A pizza box or bit of foam core somewhere near the optical axis and above eyeline is usually good. You don't light it. Just the fact there is something white up will be enough to *show* up in an actor's eyeball. It's passive because it's not lit it's just something to reflect into an actor's eye and shows up there. It's nice to fool around with the shape too.

If you want to do an active eyelight, or one that's actually lit, there are lots of ways. I like this to be a point surce and it really gives a *spark* that i wouldn't call natural. But it sure looks good.

I take a dedo and a sliding dimmer and drop in on a flex arm just over the lens running perpendicular. using the dimmer as i look through the viewfinder or alon the axis i dim it up till i can JUST start to see the shadow from the chin or the actor's shadow on a wall THEN i take it back a notch.

Once again, you don't want to LIGHT with the eyelight, you just want it to be reflected.

This method usually means an eyelight that POPS more but it's a bit more fiddly to set up. You're best doing it after you've lit everything else, because you need to set the level relative to your other lamps. And you often end up burning your forehead on the dedo while you're operating ;-) It just the lamp on full flood and then barn doored in to just the face. Some actor's don't like t because even though it's dimmed way down. it does glare a little.

For a while I really went mad and started fooling around with differing colour eyelights. Often the key will act as a sort of eyelight anyway, because it reflects back to the camera. I started using really cool blue keys on big sources which give a larger shape, and then i would pop a dedo in as well, but with bastard amber so it would really warm up. So then you had two colours in the eye ! And point source in the middle and a larger passive shape.

Im no fan of kino's in general, usually because i HATE the eyelight they cause, even when using them as keys. The horizontal or vertical shape just screams un-natural to me.

I don't like using them for eye-lights also because it's too hard to control the level. Remember you don't really want to light the subject, just reflect something in their eyes.

Also, you won't see eyelights on anything wider than a midshot anyways, so it's not worth bothering until you can actually make out a pupil. It took me a long time to trus that they will be there. I used to ofen OVERLIGHT the eyelight because i thought i couldn't see it. but it's there...just make it less than what you think it needs....

I love the eyelights of the photographer Bill Henson and was from him that I started thinking of using different colour eyelights.

I'll post a link to the series of shots, and it does them no favours bu looking at them on computer screen. These images are much larger than life size and if you look REAL close you will start to notice what I'm talking about with his eyelights.

Here in particular
http://www.roslynoxl...enson/84/32565/

and the series

http://www.roslynoxl...Bill_Henson/84/
jb

Edited by John Brawley, 18 March 2008 - 10:24 PM.

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#13 robert duke

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 12:48 AM

I worked with a guy ( his name left me long ago) who had us build a 6x6 with chicken wire and zip tie kino tubes in crazy shapes around the center. He treated it like a ringlight and shot through it . It gave a crazy architecture to the eye. I always wanted to do this again.
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#14 Jonathan Bruno

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:37 AM

I personally like larger soft eyelights, but this of course totally depends on the subject of the scene and the character's emotional state, etc.

However, I found a very interesting eyelight in which you simply light the subject from very close with a checkerboard lume and it gives a vibrant light to the eyes, but if it's close enough it can fill the entire eye and look very natural.
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:29 AM

Yes, convex was what I meant. I always screw up the two.

But eyelights can also be placed in the whites - they don't have to be in the iris. You often find with backlights and extreme sidelights that you get a pleasant reflection in the whites on the sides of the iris. For me, this works even better and looks better, since I don't have to add any fill (which an eyelight invariably does).
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#16 Phil Bradshaw

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:28 AM

Thank you everyone for your insightful knowledge. Because we work in the film business, I believe that we don't have the ability to "watch" a film or television show anymore without thinking about where the light source is coming from, or whether the camera was on a dolly or steadicam. As I mentioned before, I've been focusing on eye lights in pictures. I have always thought that a large, soft source provided the most appealing and appropriate eye light. I was definitely looking forward to reading about all of the different styles that professionals have. Thank you.
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#17 Ollie Bartlett

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:15 PM

I remember hearing somewhere that they created a kind of ethereal starlight effect in Galadriels eyes (LOTR), by placing a wire mesh frame infront of her and littering it with white fairy lights. In close ups each of her eyes looks like a mini galaxy, with pinpricks of light scattered all over them.

Something ive always wanted to try... never seem to have the time :(

Edited by Ollie Bartlett, 19 March 2008 - 02:18 PM.

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#18 Michael Nash

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:28 PM

As I mentioned before, I've been focusing on eye lights in pictures. I have always thought that a large, soft source provided the most appealing and appropriate eye light.


Keep in mind that what you see in still images is often highly retouched -- all kinds of details are added, removed, or reshaped. You can draw inspiration from something you see in a magazine, but don't drive yourself nuts trying to recreate it on set because it may not be physically possible.

Also consider that aesthetic appeal is only part of the equation in film; you also have to think about what's dramatically appropriate for the scene or style of the film. For example, a glossy stylized show with tight closeups like CSI Miami might get away with a huge diffusion frame for an eyelight, but a more gritty or naturalistic look like Law & Order demands that the lighting always appear realistically motivated.
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