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Student Lighting African-American Skin


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#1 Matthew Gerardi

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 05:43 AM

Hello all,

I'm undergrad at SDSU majoring in film and an aspiring cinematographer. I've skimmed a couple of threads looking for some answers but haven't found much that was helpful. Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for lighting darker skin. The female co-star in the short has dark skin, mind you not extremely dark but not light-skinned either. The other female lead has very white, almost porcelain, skin. I really want to be able to get the exposures to look similar without losing detail in the black girls face. The script calls for a number of outside shots that I plan on lighting with a couple HMIs. I'm worried that the bluish light and darkness will cause her face to lose detail. I was thinking about slightly overexposing on close-ups of her face and possibly making the color temp a little warmer? Any idea if this would do the trick? Any other suggestions?

We will also be shooting on my Canon 5D Mark 2 (Canon lenses). I'm sure many of you are familiar with this camera. It's been pretty decent with skin tones (at least on white subjects)in the past but shooting on this also means Ill have less latitude in color correction/grading. So advice during production would be more helpful than any advice about post.

Thanks in advance!
Matt G.
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#2 The Dark Spark

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 05:30 AM

In my experience, lighting African American skin tones isn't particularly difficult. The react well to Tungsten light, although you do have to throw an awful lot at them, but once you do, it's very easy to create a soft slight bloom effect, which works very well as a rim, or potentially even from your key to accentuate the face's contours.
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#3 Matthew Gerardi

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:18 AM

In my experience, lighting African American skin tones isn't particularly difficult. The react well to Tungsten light, although you do have to throw an awful lot at them, but once you do, it's very easy to create a soft slight bloom effect, which works very well as a rim, or potentially even from your key to accentuate the face's contours.



Spark,

Your input is much appreciated. Thanks a lot. Ill definitely keep that in mind. Sorry, I'm not 100% sure on what you mean by 'soft slight (light?) bloom' effect as a rim. Do you mean just using a softer light as a rim to create separation and also using that soft light as my key? Also, any suggestions for shooting at night with HMI's? Thanks again!

-Matt
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#4 The Dark Spark

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 02:59 AM

Spark,

Your input is much appreciated. Thanks a lot. Ill definitely keep that in mind. Sorry, I'm not 100% sure on what you mean by 'soft slight (light?) bloom' effect as a rim. Do you mean just using a softer light as a rim to create separation and also using that soft light as my key? Also, any suggestions for shooting at night with HMI's? Thanks again!

-Matt


What HMIs have you got? And where are you shooting?

Sorry about the typo. Basically the last time I did it I used two 3/4 backs with full diffusion to break up their faces. Basically, as soon as you put too much light on their faces, you get this lovely soft sheen which looks superb (in my opinion), so basically chuck a lot of light at them, and then us some frontal bounce. As usual you really have to make sure you get under their brows to lift their eyes a bit. Sometimes it's worth (for C/Us) putting a poly board just underneath the camera's lens and bouncing something into it to loft their chin and brows.

Concerning HMIs try and bounce them wherever possible. They should only ever be used direct when lighting inanimate objects (like houses, or streets...). HMIs have some peculiarities. To be honest I prefer tungstens, as they're more reliable, and have a nicer quality of light. Also, thanks to the way HMIs work, they always make what they're lighting stick out slightly, no matter how well you colour balance them. Obviously this can be sorted out in the grade but it winds me up.

Pfft I'm rambling. What exactly are you doing with these HMIs?
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CineTape

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Visual Products

Opal

Ritter Battery

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS