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Warm Woody Tones


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#1 Chris Durham

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 04:12 PM

Hi All,

I'm shooting a web commercial (viral video-type) in a local bar/restaurant. Take a peek at the place:

Posted Image

All of the action will be between a couple seated at the bar on the right. I'll be shooting with either a Canon XL2, or possibly a Sony Z7U and using Lowel lights.

The director wants to enhance the woody tones of the place. The lighting inside is amber/gold and the walls are that color as well. My thought is to use straw filters on the lights to warm the image up. What advice can you give as far as how strong to go with the gels? I see them sold as Straw 1, 2, and 3; with increasing intensity of effect.


I plan tentatively on using a 500w Rifa softbox for fill and a pair of 250w Omnis for key. I realize 1000w isn't a lot of light, but I'm hoping to do some tests before the shoot. If necessary I can bounce some more light off the walls for fill.

Advice?
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 05:05 PM

It looks as if the place is lit with tungsten practical lights. That means the color temp of those lamps will be roughly 2700 to 3000 kelvin. If you want to match the existing lighting, you could use light grades of either CTO or CTS, or if you prefer, one of the color effect straw gels like LEE 013 Straw Tint or LEE 015 Deep straw.

Myself, I'd probably go with 1/2 CTS on Tungsten lamps.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 05:46 PM

Seems fairly warm and woody-looking even in white light, so you won't have to do much, gel-wise, to enhance that. I sometimes use warmer backlights and/or lights in the background and let the light on the faces be a little less warm than that, to keep them for going too orange in the skintones.

This seems like the sort of location where some Chinese Lanterns can come in handy... Also, some small tungsten table lamps on the tables and bar counter.
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#4 Malik Sajid

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 08:49 AM

I didnt want to interfere, as i am a studnet myself. But just a relative thought that i wanted to know.

In the picture above the location seems lit quite well, as it already has the lights above, hanging along the pillers, and small lamps on the tables aswell. I think for the wide master shots these lights are enough as they look fine to me. Or would you throw your own lights? If yes for what purpose?

I understand that for close shots you have to bring in your own lights, but what i am talking about is the wide shot.
Let say the camera placed on the same angle as it is in the picture posted by Chris.
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#5 Chris Durham

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:47 AM

Thanks guys. We're trying to get a test the first weekend of the year so I can play a little bit. The bar is actually much darker than it appears in the photo, I just wanted to give an idea of the colors there. Most of the lights are pretty dim. I'm going to order some half CTS and CTO for the tests.

David, where would you place the China balls? would you gel them? Would you use them for fill in place of the softbox? I'm assuming 3200K photofloods would be the choice for this?

My goal with the Omnis is to enhance the light motivated by the overheads, and I think light CTS would be suitable for this. Would there be any merit to using a lens filter for a shoot like this? Maybe a warm pro-mist 1?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:18 PM

If you like the look of a Warm ProMist, then go ahead -- I've never used the Warm variety, seems too pink to me and it's so easy to warm up the image other ways: in post, with white balance tricks, with gels on lights, etc. But if you need a quick way to warm up the shot and your video camera, for some reason, doesn't do any white balancing tricks, then go ahead.

If you aren't going to see above the bottom of the second floor balcony, it seems like an ideal place to light from. You could string multiple Chinese Lanterns on lines across the span, put them on a dimmer to warm them up, or arm Chimeras out for soft backlights, etc.

Malik, if you look at the original photograph, you can tell that the lights in the frame are not really lighting the room up much -- there is some sort of big frontal light exposing the room (look at how much light there is on the dark wood chairs along the bar), either a daylight window or a camera flash or something. If you killed that, the light should be coming from those overhead chandeliers and whatnot, but at a much lower light level, hence the need probably to add some more lights. Plus you don't know what sort of exposure the still camera took to get the picture.

Plus the problem with really high lights is that the effect is very toppy and perhaps not soft enough, and the nice chandeliers are probably out of the shot anyway, hence why small table lamps would be nice to add spots of bright light in the frame, reducing the need to light the background as much. You can get away with people being a couple of stops underexposed if there is a small lamp that is a couple of stops overexposed in the shot next to them.
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#7 David Auner aac

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:34 PM

Hi Chris,

since you're shooting video you might consider using a custom white balance by balancing using a white card lit with blue light or by balancing through some blue gel. That way you can keep the lights un-gelled and still have them warm.

Regards, Dave
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#8 Josh Silfen

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:34 PM

All of the action will be between a couple seated at the bar on the right. I'll be shooting with either a Canon XL2, or possibly a Sony Z7U and using Lowel lights.

The director wants to enhance the woody tones of the place. The lighting inside is amber/gold and the walls are that color as well. My thought is to use straw filters on the lights to warm the image up. What advice can you give as far as how strong to go with the gels? I see them sold as Straw 1, 2, and 3; with increasing intensity of effect.


I plan tentatively on using a 500w Rifa softbox for fill and a pair of 250w Omnis for key. I realize 1000w isn't a lot of light, but I'm hoping to do some tests before the shoot. If necessary I can bounce some more light off the walls for fill.

Advice?


Don't overlight it. With the equipment you have, you're not going to be able to light up the whole place, just close-ups. That's ok, because the location seems to be lit nicely for you already, but if you use all your lights to light the close-ups, you're going to have to stop down on the camera and you will lose all the nice lighting that's going on in the background. I would choose the camera that performs best in low-light and then dim any units you bring in to shape the close-ups way down, so they don't overpower the general ambiance level and you can shoot wide open. Plus, if you dim them down, it will also warm them up quite a bit, so you may not need the straw gels.

Edited by Josh Silfen, 17 December 2008 - 12:35 PM.

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#9 Chris Durham

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 02:24 PM

Actually, the plan isn't to use the whole space much - the director wants it basic with a dolly establishing the two at tha bar, 2-shot master, and OTS'es. I'll probably push for a quick establishing wide shot of the whole place because, well, it looks awesome - but I don't have enough light to really do it justice. If I get hold of the Z7U it does have better low-light characteristics than the XL2, although it's noisier in the bottom end than I'd originally expected. That's not a huge problem though because we'll be scaling down for the web. I hadn't thought about balancing blue, but that's a really good idea I'll probably test that and test the CTS to see how each looks, but that would definitely save money - and alleviate concerns about temperature on China Balls.

If I were to use a pro mist it would be just to soften things up a hair. The gist of the video is an analogy for annoying web forms - it's a date going well, everything looks good, and then the girl starts handing him papers to fill out. and refill. and so on. So what I think I want to do is diffuse the Omnis - and maybe add a pro mist - until the point where she hands him the form. From then on it's less romantic, harder light.
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#10 Malik Sajid

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 08:52 AM

Malik, if you look at the original photograph, you can tell that the lights in the frame are not really lighting the room up much -- there is some sort of big frontal light exposing the room (look at how much light there is on the dark wood chairs along the bar), either a daylight window or a camera flash or something. If you killed that, the light should be coming from those overhead chandeliers and whatnot, but at a much lower light level, hence the need probably to add some more lights. Plus you don't know what sort of exposure the still camera took to get the picture.

Plus the problem with really high lights is that the effect is very toppy and perhaps not soft enough, and the nice chandeliers are probably out of the shot anyway, hence why small table lamps would be nice to add spots of bright light in the frame, reducing the need to light the background as much. You can get away with people being a couple of stops underexposed if there is a small lamp that is a couple of stops overexposed in the shot next to them.



So David! if you were to light the master shot for this; covering the whole cafeteria, what would you do? Where would you put the lights?
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 11:21 AM

So David! if you were to light the master shot for this; covering the whole cafeteria, what would you do? Where would you put the lights?


Depends on the scene, the action in it, the mood the director wanted, the camera angle, etc.

But first thing I would do is start by adding more practicals, like little table lamps, maybe some Kino tubes behind the bottles on the bar, etc. and if necessary, put brighter bulbs in any practicals on location. Basically I would see what I could do by just augmenting what is already there before I added any movie lights.

Then perhaps I made an overall underexposed soft ambient overhead light like from a bunch of paper lanterns or one lighting balloon (on a bigger budget) or rig a big white sheet or something to bounce off of, all dimmed down or gelled for warmth.

Then I'd think about how I wanted the main characters at the bar to be lit and again, start out by seeing if I could justify a practical on the bar counter, a tiny candelabra unit with a lamp shade, a bare tube running along the top, or a hot spot hitting the counter and bouncing back up into their faces, or simply some big off-camera soft source. Then I'd think about whether I wanted or needed any edge or backlights on them.
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#12 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 10:45 PM

Was thinking, perhaps if you're using a mattebox with a rotating stage, you could employ a soft tobacco grad, and adjust it just to warm up empty portions of the frame you would like to look especially "woody".

Perhaps for your tests you could try it out.
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#13 Chris Durham

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:08 PM

That's an interesting thought Johnathan. The effect might be too strong, but it would be interesting to test. Unfortunately I don't have a mattebox (aside from the "fake" box hood on the front of the Z7U) - but I might be getting a Letus adapter for the shoot so I'll check with the owner to see if he has a matte box.. Thanks for the suggestion.
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#14 Chris Durham

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 02:47 AM

So it turns out this is a very easy location to light. Over the weekend I took the camera, the lights, and some CTS into the bar and did some tests. I put the 500w Rifa on the second floor and a diffused Pro to the left and set the camera for daylight white balance. I was very pleased with the appearance. The only thing is that, in reviewing the test footage, the Mediums and Closeups look kind of flat. There isn't much difference in the lighting of the subjects and the background, and the skin tones blend a little much.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Any advice on how to counter this. I was thinking about putting some low-powered lights - maybe diffused 100w Peppers - possibly with 1/2 CTB close to them to fix the skin tones a little bit. Plus the extra light on their faces might create some separation. I also plan to use a little hair light on the closer shots.What do you think?

Thanks

Edited by Chris Durham, 07 January 2009 - 02:49 AM.

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