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Runway fashion show lighting


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#1 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 08:21 PM

I shot a fashion show a few weeks ago (never shot one before). I'm told to help the lighting tech get the levels right for video. It was a painstaking challenge. He had the lights set up on each of the four corners (not sure what type of lights he had, but there was no diffusion no gels that I could see.) The models where wearing white and I was a having difficult time keeping the image from blasting out. I could get it right on for the lengthier middle portion but once they got to the end I had a hard time keeping it from blasting out. With one camera I was able to set-up a still wide shot and as the models would walk down the runway I would adjust the Iris the other camera followed the models however we could'nt follow and adjust iris at the same time. We were able to edit out all the blasted out shots and it turned out ok. But if I do this again I need to figure out how to work with the lighting guy better so that it's not such a pain and so we can get a more evenly lit runway. I'm not very familiar with setting up lighting as I'm used to shooting without. Any suggestions?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 09:22 PM

Most fashion show catwalks have rows and rows of parcans down each side, and looking back and forth in the middle. I've not had the sort of problems you describe except at the end, where they tend to end up standing in the middle of a ring of light.

I suspect the best solution would be huge overhead softboxes, which I have seen done as part of the set, but you're not likely to get that. The best I've ever shot was inside a white marquee (erected inside a huge exhibition hall) where they bounced it off the inside of the marquee itself.

Ideal: nice soft light.

P
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#3 Walter Graff

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 08:02 AM

I shot a fashion show a few weeks ago (never shot one before). I'm told to help the lighting tech get the levels right for video. It was a painstaking challenge. He had the lights set up on each of the four corners (not sure what type of lights he had, but there was no diffusion no gels that I could see.) The models where wearing white and I was a having difficult time keeping the image from blasting out. I could get it right on for the lengthier middle portion but once they got to the end I had a hard time keeping it from blasting out. With one camera I was able to set-up a still wide shot and as the models would walk down the runway I would adjust the Iris the other camera followed the models however we could'nt follow and adjust iris at the same time. We were able to edit out all the blasted out shots and it turned out ok. But if I do this again I need to figure out how to work with the lighting guy better so that it's not such a pain and so we can get a more evenly lit runway. I'm not very familiar with setting up lighting as I'm used to shooting without. Any suggestions?


Don't think there is much you can do. First off, often, we want runway lighting to have it's highs and lows, hence why the types of lights and pattern used is used. It adds to the glow of the outfits as folks walk n and out of hot spots. Secondly, exposure becomes tougher because normally we've lit the stage area while the background is dark so any differences in tone such as white outfits really show. Thirdly, everything is moving so fast as to make it more difficult to ride the lens properly while shooting. Runways are always a challenge. But, I don't think a designer would want me to light my runway flat and even or he'd have a pretty ugly looking display of his work.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 03:33 PM

Well if it's you who's in charge of the lighting for video (and you're not overriding the show lighting director's "look"), you simply need to add fill light to the darker portion of the runway and perhaps scrim/dim/diffuse the hotter spots. If it's still desirable to have pools of light and dark, you just need to make sure that the intervals between light and dark are shorter so they're less distracting as the models walk through them. Both scenarios mean adding more lights.

Another solution might be similar to what you already did; you have one camera cover the darker mid-portion of the walk, and another camera dedicated to the "hotspot" at the end of the runway, where the models typically stop and pose before turning back. Each camera is exposed accordingly, and you just cut the two together.

Sometimes you can turn a liability into an asset -- you might try adding a star filter or net to the lens to make overexposed areas flare or glow for a more stylistic look. That can be a delicate balance though, because you don't want so much flare that the fashions are obscured.
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#5 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 10:13 PM

But, I don't think a designer would want me to light my runway flat and even or he'd have a pretty ugly looking display of his work.


Walter, Thanks for your input. I've seen some of the stuff you've shot for Nine West and that's the look I'm striving for... But from my perspective (with little experience) I would say that this looks evenly lit. From what you said I'm guessing that from my untrained eye there's a lot of highs and lows that I'm not noticing. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I would guess that you had lights down the length of the runway instead of just at the four corners.

In my situation, if I do this again for the next fashion show in 6 months, I'll probably have the same situation lighting on four corners, don't hink I'll have much say in that regard, but I'm trying to come up with some practical suggestions that might help us get a better image. I really feel like we need to soften up the lights I just felt like they were too harsh. I'll see if I can post some footage soon... I'm sure that would help people know what to tell me.
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#6 Walter Graff

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 07:54 AM

Yes, I do a heck of a lot of fashion for one of the large fashion groups in the US so deal with all the goods and bad presented to me with lighting. Sometimes when you walk into a room, the lighting will be softer and sometimes it will be more spotty. That nine west event was softer due partially to the space and how it didn't allow them to do all they wanted. (Actually I did not shoot the piece you saw only produced it.) So they toned it down. But I also have to do quite a bit of adjustment in post when I edited the piece to make what you saw look reasonable. You wold see a considerable difference in the raw footage compared to the color correction I had to do, so take that int consideration. It's usually harder to get the lighting folks to work with you than having to find a way to make it work. I'd say first of if it is very spotty, ask them if they could work with you to make it more even. See if they will let you walk with a light meter down the runway adjusting. If that is too much, the only option is to deal with it. Often because of the nature of clothing on runways being bright and dark, it really comes down to simply too much dynamic range for a camera to see without making iris changes constantly. And as I said due to the fact that they do not light a background, it's often quite darker so it makes the need for the camera to do more even greater. This is also a place (runways) where 2/3 inch cameras really make a difference.
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#7 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:28 PM

Ok so I know it's taken a while but here's some stills from the show. You can see some of the problems I was facing. At the end of the runway we had a dark shadow that was coming accross at an angle, which something I didn't see when we were prepping. All your suggestions have been very helpful so please anymore would be great.
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#8 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:31 PM

here's a couple more.
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The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Opal

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport