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Contrast ratio on faces


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#1 Scott Copeland

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:42 AM

Questions regarding thoughts on contrast ratio. Specifically for comedies, but reply with any thoughts.

I see even lighting on faces and 2:1, 4:1 ratios. Obviously a high contrast ratio (noir) denotes and split/ fragmented state of mind (possible). When are the ideal moments for little contrast? Or slight contrast? Are there any flat faces in professional lighting? Or is it just slight enough that my amateur eye is not reading them? I'm trying to get replies regarding the psychological feeling that accompanies various facial ratios. Specifically in a natural style. How to further convey ideas in a less stylized manner.

My wording may be a bit vague if anyone would like to take the reins and steer this thread in a good direction.

Thanks.
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:16 AM

Are there any flat faces in professional lighting?

Sure - ever see a skin care or beauty product commercial? They're all front-lit with a large soft key directly above and/or below camera to fill in wrinkles and lines. You can see the sources reflected in the talent's eyeballs. Additionally, there are often edge lights, backlights, or hairlights to retain some contrast.

The key to keeping the image from getting too flat is to separate the foreground and background lighting, which requires a lot of big flags and negative fill. Even though the foreground may be flat, the background will have some contrast to it, by creating sheens or reflections on surfaces. Some DPs use elaborate rigs of backlit plexiglas material to create abstract backgrounds in-camera.
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#3 Vivek Marimuthu

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:15 PM

Questions regarding thoughts on contrast ratio. Specifically for comedies, but reply with any thoughts.

I see even lighting on faces and 2:1, 4:1 ratios. Obviously a high contrast ratio (noir) denotes and split/ fragmented state of mind (possible). When are the ideal moments for little contrast? Or slight contrast? Are there any flat faces in professional lighting? Or is it just slight enough that my amateur eye is not reading them? I'm trying to get replies regarding the psychological feeling that accompanies various facial ratios. Specifically in a natural style. How to further convey ideas in a less stylized manner.

My wording may be a bit vague if anyone would like to take the reins and steer this thread in a good direction.

Thanks.



Youa re right in telling that higher the contrast, the more fragmented state of mind is represented. However, as in most rules, there are exceptions. You could use a high contrast ratio to express a state of mind setting in or clearing out. In normal lighting situations of a shot showing only the face (a CU), care is taken to light evenly. It is very rare to see contrast ratios in these situatios unless intentionally setup that way.
Hope this clarifies
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#4 Serge Teulon

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:36 PM

Depending on the storyline, a high key with little fill and work the highlights is also a good approach.

As Sat has mentioned, there are plenty of examples in commercials and films that have a very flat frontal look. The trick is to work the environment behind and to the sides so as to generate your contrast and for it not to look FLAT.

Actually I saw an advert recently which was filmed in Portugal. I think it was a Ford ad. And there's a scene where the main guy is walking to camera and he had a very flat frontal light look. The contrast was gained, not only by textures and colours, from the background but also had a very slight low key highlight on either side of his face. Not very noticeable but subtly coupled with the background work it completed the look.
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