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Lighting black and white skin tones EXT Day + Night


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#1 Ashley Barron

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 11:45 PM

Hi there,

I will be shooting a drama that's set almost entirely EXT Day (with a EXT Night scene set in an alleyway and street).

There will be an African-American male and a Caucasian woman.

As I have never encountered this situation, I am looking for any advice, tricks, tips (what should I look out for, what should I keep in mind, what should I test etc.) for shooting in these situations and balancing the skin tones.

Any held would be deeply appreciated.

Cheers,
Ash.
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#2 David Regan

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:26 AM

Hey Ashley,

Been there, had to deal with that. It can by tricky, I suppose a lot of it has to do with the general mood/feel you are going for in the first place. I.e. it can be tougher if you want a more even, high key sort of look, with less contrast, in which case you'll have to balance out your exposure between the two. In my case, when having shot like this, I suppose I was somewhat fortunate in that the material was quite dark/moody/contrasty in nature, so the black/white skin tones actually played into that fairly well.

However, I did often find myself on the verge of losing detail in the african american actor, especially as the caucasian actor was quite fair skinned. In the end, I found I would usually start by exposing for the darker subject, and then stopping down about two stops. That would put him at an acceptable level of detail. Then it was all about netting/diffusing the lighter skinned actor to where they didn't get too overexposed where they moved. On which note, being discretionary with your blocking can help to keep them from always moving through same areas of light etc...

In the end, I think the most important thing is; darker skin should look darker just as the lighter skin should look lighter. In other words it isn't so much about balancing them, it's just about getting them within an acceptable range of difference to what the film (or video) can handle. And in that sense testing is your best option.
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#3 Denair Isaac

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 08:20 PM

Hey Ashley,

Been there, had to deal with that. It can by tricky, I suppose a lot of it has to do with the general mood/feel you are going for in the first place. I.e. it can be tougher if you want a more even, high key sort of look, with less contrast, in which case you'll have to balance out your exposure between the two. In my case, when having shot like this, I suppose I was somewhat fortunate in that the material was quite dark/moody/contrasty in nature, so the black/white skin tones actually played into that fairly well.

However, I did often find myself on the verge of losing detail in the african american actor, especially as the caucasian actor was quite fair skinned. In the end, I found I would usually start by exposing for the darker subject, and then stopping down about two stops. That would put him at an acceptable level of detail. Then it was all about netting/diffusing the lighter skinned actor to where they didn't get too overexposed where they moved. On which note, being discretionary with your blocking can help to keep them from always moving through same areas of light etc...

In the end, I think the most important thing is; darker skin should look darker just as the lighter skin should look lighter. In other words it isn't so much about balancing them, it's just about getting them within an acceptable range of difference to what the film (or video) can handle. And in that sense testing is your best option.

this has been alot of help i have a feature comming up with tbe same senerio but flip the sex, and would it make that much of a diffrence if it is in the snow? I wanna thank you in advance.
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 06:25 PM

this has been alot of help i have a feature comming up with tbe same senerio but flip the sex, and would it make that much of a diffrence if it is in the snow? I wanna thank you in advance.


Same thought applies. But you could consider the natural separation of the darker skinned individual against the white snow, which would make me think I could get away with that subject going a little darker, without worrying about losing them as you might in a dark INT.
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Rig Wheels Passport

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rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Willys Widgets

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Visual Products

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine