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How to get the "real" look of outdoors when you're indoors?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 12:00 AM

This is a post that I put up a couple of years ago and which got some interesting responses.

I thought that it might be fun to put it up again and also to ask about a facet of it that wasn't discussed so much. People talked a lot about the factors involved with real daylight versus HMIs or shooting indoors without 85s. I'm still interested in anybody's comments on any aspect of the question but in particular what about scenes set at night, when the variables of lights set at 5600K vs. natural sunlight and skylight are not such factors.



Why is it that so often an "exterior" scene shot on a set indoors has a look in the "air"
that hollers "indoors" while stepping outside has that outdoor "air" look?

Also, I was shooting a film a while ago in a big cornfield and a storm came up which, as often
happens, resulted in a big drop in barometric pressure. It was still sunny and the colors became
incredibly beautiful and everything was much sharper. I've learned that when the barometric pressue
drops significantly; the atmospheric pressure is reduced on one's eyes and thus things are seen
with greater resolution and colors. Now, the "lenses" of our eyes are softer than the glass of
camera lenses but I've often wondered if some of this "low-pressure" look could be captured.


Now, less pressure on glass wouldn't seem to affect a camera the way in which less pressure on
somebody's eyes would work but I have shot on some beautiful days and seen some of that on screen.
Did I see the part of the day that was from the rich colors of the sky and the landscape or do you think
that it's possible to get a different look shooting when the barometer is at say 28.00 inches of mercury
as opposed to 32.00 inches of mercury? (I'm no meteorologist but that's how my barometer measures
- as opposed to millibars - but at any rate when it gets down to lower pressure like 28.00 inches of
mercury it seems that you can see things differently.)

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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 03:46 PM

For the first part I'd say the visible difference is the distance and complexity of the light sources (including ambient light bounced off surfaces). In short, it the real outdoors you've got a big mash of light from all directions and all distances. On a stage you don't have those distances, and lose some of that complexity in the ambient light. But that's not to say you can't create convincing outdoor sets on a stage; it just depends what variables you've got to work with. Nighttime scenes should even be easier to fake on a stage unless you're lighting by moonlight, because you can justify the sources being closer and the natural ambience is much darker if even visible at all.

As for the barometric pressure thing, I'm no expert there but I would think the density of the atmosphere and the particulate matter has a lot to do with it, especially as seen over a long distance. It's not your eyes, but the medium the light's passing through. Just a guess.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 08:29 PM

For the first part I'd say the visible difference is the distance and complexity of the light sources (including ambient light bounced off surfaces). In short, it the real outdoors you've got a big mash of light from all directions and all distances. On a stage you don't have those distances, and lose some of that complexity in the ambient light. But that's not to say you can't create convincing outdoor sets on a stage; it just depends what variables you've got to work with. Nighttime scenes should even be easier to fake on a stage unless you're lighting by moonlight, because you can justify the sources being closer and the natural ambience is much darker if even visible at all.

As for the barometric pressure thing, I'm no expert there but I would think the density of the atmosphere and the particulate matter has a lot to do with it, especially as seen over a long distance. It's not your eyes, but the medium the light's passing through. Just a guess.



That last comment is pretty exciting because it explains, or certainly suggests a good explanation, for why it seemed like footage shot in a low pressure area looked sharp. Even if changing pressure does affect human eyes, it seemed doubtful to me it would affect a camera the same way because the lenses don't work the same but they are both looking through the same medium, as you point out, the air, and that would have changed.

I think you're right that daytime exteriors are harder to fake because you've got a mix of light and bounced around light with different color temperatures, plus you may be attempting to simulate a light source that is 93 million miles away. I think sometimes though with nighttime " exteriors" that are done indoors, the atmosphere in an air conditioned studio deep inside a building is just different in whatever is floating in the air and affecting light than the air would be on a real porch say outdoors on a humid August night by a factory next to the highway. Again, that also is pretty much part of what you were saying about different atmospheres. They're going to look different, whether they're in different places or the same place at different times, and that's going to make each scene look different.
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 01:02 AM

I've learned that when the barometric pressue
drops significantly; the atmospheric pressure is reduced on one's eyes and thus things are seen
with greater resolution and colors.



And Bubble Yum has spider eggs in it. :) Absolutely no science anywhere says anything about visual ability being phycailly affected by atmospheric pressure. In fact it takes about six hours of a dramatic change in atmospheric pressure to affect the eyes... a built in protection by nature who seems to have thought of everything. Or said another way, when you fly in aircraft, you'd see wonderful rich colors and ways of seeing not experienced on the ground. And at 1 inch of mercury drop per 1000 feet, things would look sharper and clear even if you stood on the Empire State Building. But they don't. :( There is science that shows in space, vision is affected to the point that we see less color which spits in the face of the assumption made above. And it is also known that as one increases their altitude, the body is less efficient in how it transports oxygen in the blood and vision quality is decreased. But outside of those tidbits and a few others, intraocular pressure and vision are not effected by rainstorms or changes in barometric pressure. The "look" outdoors is both a value of light, how it is scattered and brain perception. But I can say pretty conclusively based on what I know about various areas of science that it does not have to do with atmospheric pressure on a normal day.
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#5 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 12:14 PM

And Bubble Yum has spider eggs in it. :) Absolutely no science anywhere says anything about visual ability being phycailly affected by atmospheric pressure. In fact it takes about six hours of a dramatic change in atmospheric pressure to affect the eyes... a built in protection by nature who seems to have thought of everything. Or said another way, when you fly in aircraft, you'd see wonderful rich colors and ways of seeing not experienced on the ground. And at 1 inch of mercury drop per 1000 feet, things would look sharper and clear even if you stood on the Empire State Building. But they don't. :( There is science that shows in space, vision is affected to the point that we see less color which spits in the face of the assumption made above. And it is also known that as one increases their altitude, the body is less efficient in how it transports oxygen in the blood and vision quality is decreased. But outside of those tidbits and a few others, intraocular pressure and vision are not effected by rainstorms or changes in barometric pressure. The "look" outdoors is both a value of light, how it is scattered and brain perception. But I can say pretty conclusively based on what I know about various areas of science that it does not have to do with atmospheric pressure on a normal day.



Hmm, thank you. When I get a chance I'll see if I can find my source for that information and check it out. It's been a while but I
think it was a school book or an encyclopedia.
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#6 boy yniguez

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 09:13 AM

[quote name='Tim O'Connor' date='Apr 24 2008, 10:00 PM' post='229113']

Also, I was shooting a film a while ago in a big cornfield and a storm came up which, as often
happens, resulted in a big drop in barometric pressure. It was still sunny and the colors became
incredibly beautiful and everything was much sharper.

don't you think it is due to the storm sucking up all the particles and moisture in the atmosphere that the sky became unobscured thus showing more brilliant colors and sharper images?

boy y
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#7 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 12:33 PM

Also, I was shooting a film a while ago in a big cornfield and a storm came up which, as often
happens, resulted in a big drop in barometric pressure. It was still sunny and the colors became
incredibly beautiful and everything was much sharper.

don't you think it is due to the storm sucking up all the particles and moisture in the atmosphere that the sky became unobscured thus showing more brilliant colors and sharper images?

boy y



I don't know. It sure is beautiful when the sun is out and it's just poured and the pressure has dropped. Don't know why though.
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