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Lighting large drapes of silk


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#1 Felix Schmilinsky

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:03 PM

Hi!

I was looking for information on how fabrics can be lit in different ways but I didn't find much.

Basically, I am preparing a shoot for a fashion project in which we've got large drapes of silk fabric hanging from the top of the ceiling, waving in the wind.
It's gonna be filmed in a closed white studio.

First we only see the waving silk. Then we've got a model dancing behind the silk and we want to make out her shape. Preferably even detailed shapes of facial features but mainly body contours. (We're not meant to see through the silk!) I understand that it is mostly down to the texture of the fabric, how smooth and defined it can cast the shape of something underneath/behind it. I reckon fine silk is the best option as it is very thin and flexible.

To bring out the nice wavy texture of the silk drapes I wanted to use vertical strip lights from the side in front of the drapes. By doing that, I am hoping to get distinct but soft shadows. First I was thinking to use Kinoflos but I'm afraid they won't be strong enough. We shoot high frame rates at times and in general we want a rather clean & glossy high-key look.

Are there any slim chimeras for stronger lights (2K fresnel for example)? Otherwise I could construct it myself and put an 8x4' trace frame w/ diffusion in front of a big light and use flags to make it a nice slim strip. But probably that will take more space and the studio is not huge.


Maybe I am thinking too complicated and there are much simpler ways to light the fabric. Perhaps from the top at a 45˚ angle diagonally across the drape, as it is not waving that strongly up there. I would appreciate every advice on this. Has anyone experience with this kind of work?

I just watched the Making Of for HERO, shot by Christopher Doyle, where they have huge amounts of waving fabrics within the palace of the emperor. Unfortunately it was not really covering any of the cinematographic aspects.
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:14 PM

Schmill,

You need to go to My Controls and change your screen name to your real name, as required by the forum rules.

As far as lighting sheer fabrics goes, I'd say side, top or backlighting works. Anything but front.
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#3 Felix Schmilinsky

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:52 PM

Sorry about the fault with the name.

After having a recce I know now that the drapes of fabric won't be suspended along a rope like a curtain. It's more like a circle of drape which is waving...
Because the director wants great freedom with his angles I will rig all the lights overhead but still from a rather steep angle onto the fabric so I get a nice shadow-highlight structure. Probably 45˚ from the top right down onto the fabric.

I will have soft-boxes for fill light on standby but as the whole studio is white I can imagine that everything reflects so much that it might not be necessary to have additional fill.

I reckon it's a bit like with all shiny objects like cars e.g. that you tend to light with soft light or work with surfaces which reflect on the object instead of shining direct light onto it.

Did anyone work with large wavy fabrics lately? Any recommendations?
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