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Beauty Car Lighting


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#1 David McLeavy

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 10:08 PM

Hey all. I'm going to be shooting a spot soon where I will have to light a vintage car inside a dealership. I'd love to get that nice combination of flats and highlights out of my soft light kit. Any pointers or links that might aid my endeavor? I have a general idea of how I might go about it but I'd love to hear from more experienced folks out there.

Thanks,
Dave
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#2 Walter Graff

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 11:12 PM

It's all about reflection. If the ceiling is white, aim your lights into it at the correct angle to camera to make soft reflections. Bounce cards for other highlights.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 12:50 AM

You don't so much light a shiny car as just reflect light off of its surface, so think of the car as a big mirror -- it will reveal whatever technique you use to light it. If you hang metal pipes above the car to rig multiple units off of, you may see the pipe unless it is blacked out or completely unlit. If you hang a 12'x12' diffusion frame above the car, you will see the edges of the frame and where the diffusion is tied off to the frame, etc. If you hang hard lights with barndoors and gel clipped to the barndoors, you may see all of that reflected in the car. You may see electrical cable up there reflected. You may see c-stand arms and clamps reflected.

That's one reason why often cars are light with these giant softboxes where you get a perfect white rectangle reflected with perfect edges going to black. You have to be "neat" about what you hang above a car.

A car having curved surfaces also makes these reflected things smaller-looking, which is why to truly wrap the car in soft top light, the top light has to be physically bigger than the car itself -- which is one reason why cars are sometimes shot outdoors at Magic Hour when you get the entire sky reflected in the surface as a soft source.

White cards are often used for smaller reflections around the sides, bumpers, hubcaps, etc.

Now there is no rule that you have to use a giant soft top light for a car -- the car showrooms in the movie "Tucker" were lit with hundreds of lightbulbs in a circle in the ceiling above the car, creating lots of specular reflections rather than one big soft sheen. But often a big soft reflection shows off the shape of the car the best.

You could, for example, hang a 12'x20' UltraBounce above the car, with the UltraBounce frame wrapped in black Duvetine up to the UltraBounce material so that the pipe frame and rope ties are blacked out. Then you can bounce into that from the ground, with black flags around the ground lights to hide those reflections in the car.
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#4 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 01:16 AM

Hi David,

I'm not sure what lighting you have access to (soft light kit), but I think you're envisioning something on a larger scale than you can light with a "kit". I don't know if it's possible for you to do this at a dealership (or if it fits your budget), but one of my favorite ways to light a car is to work with large white flats suspended from the ceiling (the flats are white muslin fabric stretched across a large aluminum frame): Usually a 15-by-50 foot is paired with a 10-by-30 on top and 20-by-40 foot rolling white "wall" flats on the camera side. Anything smaller will probably create a lot of dead spots. With cars, you almost can't have a flat that's too big!

The lights (usually 8-12 2K tungsten units) are positioned on the floor and shot up onto the front edge of the larger overhead flat to create a pool of light that looks like a sunset glow in the metal and glass. Additional lights are bounced into the flats on the side of the vehicle. Check out the Fisher Light website, you can rent flats from them.

http://www.fisherlight.com/home.html

-Fran
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#5 Walter Graff

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 10:17 AM

If you don't have a budget, the simplest thing to try is bouncing lights into a ceiling. The next step is hanging a fabric (white or grey) above the car and bouncing light into it. Third, if you have money, same fabric with bigger fixtures. And if you have overhead room the forth way is a translucent with lights fired through it down onto the car.

I run the advertising department for one of the largest auto groups in the northeast. I light lots of cars and lots of dealerships. 28 to be exact. Most of the time a simple light aimed into a ceiling is more than enough to make a nice reflection of light. Part of the result and how much you have to do also depends on the car and color. Darker colors show more errors than lighter car colors. Bottom line is that simpler is always better with cars. Between some sort of overhead bounce/translucent and bounce cards along the sides to pick up spots of reflection, it's not hard to do.
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#6 Ram Shani

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 07:16 AM

you can always use this



;)
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