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Lighting a white cyc wall well


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#1 Kevin Camin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 02:40 AM

I am shooting a yoga video and need some advice on how to light a white cyc wall.

The concept is that the talent is performing yoga in the middle of a white sweep. I want to bring the entire background and floor to a nice white and light the talent in a high key type way. You'll see the talent's entire body, so only one shadow for the talent. I want it to feel like the talent is inside a clean white space, but still have it feel like a physical room, if you know what I mean...not a virtual space or a completely blown out white space.

Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.

Best regards,

Kevin Camin
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#2 JD Hartman

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:27 AM

Lighting of the CYC is done seperately from lighting the talent. Are you shooting in a studio with a pre-built hard cyc wall? If so, it should already be lit evenly from top to bottom. For the talent, I'd use softboxes/chicken coops or spacelights from above as base lighting.
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#3 Andrew Wilding

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 03:33 PM

Lighting of the CYC is done seperately from lighting the talent. Are you shooting in a studio with a pre-built hard cyc wall? If so, it should already be lit evenly from top to bottom. For the talent, I'd use softboxes/chicken coops or spacelights from above as base lighting.



If you want it to feel like a real, albeit clean, physical space, I would avoid lighting it much hotter than two stops over your key. That should be enough to keep it from feeling muddy and gray without feeling like "Limbo"
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#4 Kevin Camin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 03:43 PM

Lighting of the CYC is done seperately from lighting the talent. Are you shooting in a studio with a pre-built hard cyc wall? If so, it should already be lit evenly from top to bottom. For the talent, I'd use softboxes/chicken coops or spacelights from above as base lighting.


Thanks for the reply. If I light the sweep evenly those lights would inevitably light the talent and create a separate shadow from her key I would think. Her whole body will be in the shot and you will see the wall and floor. What I am trying to avoid is having multiple shadows. Thoughts? Maybe an army of soft lights on the ceiling pointing downward with a soft fill from camera?
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 04:15 PM

White cyc can be tough to get right. The answer is to use a lot of soft lighting from overhead using coops or softboxes of some kind. The bigger the units, the better to avoid small, hard pools of light. Use a light meter and a scope to get the spread as even as possible over the entire area. You may want to/have to bring in some large soft sources (like Image 80s) on stands just off-camera to bring the floor up some.

If you are using multiple cameras, you MUST use a scope to ensure that the white levels are set exactly the same or the whites will "jump" in editing.

Once the environment is lit evenly, you can then bring in another soft source for the key, perhaps another Image 80 or something large and soft.

You'll ideally be setting your exposure one or two stops over exposed. That should wipe out any shadows that your talent throws as a result of the cyc lighting. Then, your key will be set accordingly to taste.

The "key" (not key light) is to use large soft sources.
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#6 JD Hartman

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 05:01 PM

Thanks for the reply. If I light the sweep evenly those lights would inevitably light the talent and create a separate shadow from her key I would think. Her whole body will be in the shot and you will see the wall and floor.


Not necessarily so. What are the dimension of the cyc and the studio space? You should be in a large enough space to have sufficient physical separation from the cyc wall and any light reflected from it. Are you trying to set this up inside the Yoga studio? If so, the lack of ceiling height will be your enemy.
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#7 Kevin Camin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 06:08 PM

White cyc can be tough to get right. The answer is to use a lot of soft lighting from overhead using coops or softboxes of some kind. The bigger the units, the better to avoid small, hard pools of light. Use a light meter and a scope to get the spread as even as possible over the entire area. You may want to/have to bring in some large soft sources (like Image 80s) on stands just off-camera to bring the floor up some.

If you are using multiple cameras, you MUST use a scope to ensure that the white levels are set exactly the same or the whites will "jump" in editing.

Once the environment is lit evenly, you can then bring in another soft source for the key, perhaps another Image 80 or something large and soft.

You'll ideally be setting your exposure one or two stops over exposed. That should wipe out any shadows that your talent throws as a result of the cyc lighting. Then, your key will be set accordingly to taste.

The "key" (not key light) is to use large soft sources.



Thanks, Brian

But if I over exposure the floor of the cyc, I would be likewise blowing out the talent as well. How can I achieve a clean white cyc, but have the talent properly exposed? And again the floor and wall of the cyc will be in the shot. You will see the talent's feet.
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#8 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 06:31 PM

Thanks, Brian

But if I over exposure the floor of the cyc, I would be likewise blowing out the talent as well. How can I achieve a clean white cyc, but have the talent properly exposed? And again the floor and wall of the cyc will be in the shot. You will see the talent's feet.


Your key on the talent should be "proper" relative to whatever your chosen overexposure is for the cyc. So, say if you expose one stop over at a 5.6 to blow out the whites a little bit, then your key should be lit to somewhere around a 4. Again, it's larger soft sources that will help keep the shadow problem to a minimum.

Reading back over your initial description, you say that you want it to feel like a real space and not "limbo." To really achieve that, you DO need some kind of shading on the curved part of the cyc wall behind the talent. That would mean NOT lighting so flatly, but carefully aiming and "wasting" some light as it hits that lower part of the wall that becomes the floor.

This is one of those pre-light situations where you go in knowing that you'll have to experiment a little until you get it where you want it.
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#9 Kevin Camin

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 06:44 PM

Your key on the talent should be "proper" relative to whatever your chosen overexposure is for the cyc. So, say if you expose one stop over at a 5.6 to blow out the whites a little bit, then your key should be lit to somewhere around a 4. Again, it's larger soft sources that will help keep the shadow problem to a minimum.

Reading back over your initial description, you say that you want it to feel like a real space and not "limbo." To really achieve that, you DO need some kind of shading on the curved part of the cyc wall behind the talent. That would mean NOT lighting so flatly, but carefully aiming and "wasting" some light as it hits that lower part of the wall that becomes the floor.

This is one of those pre-light situations where you go in knowing that you'll have to experiment a little until you get it where you want it.


Thanks again for taking the time, Brian.

I understand blowing out the back wall of the cyc by a 1/2 will probably give me what I want. But I am lighting the floor too where the talent stands and it will be in the shot since it is a yoga video and everything will be full body shots. How can I light the floor slightly over proper exposure but keep the talent properly exposed who is standing in the middle of it?
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 09:25 PM

Thanks again for taking the time, Brian.

I understand blowing out the back wall of the cyc by a 1/2 will probably give me what I want. But I am lighting the floor too where the talent stands and it will be in the shot since it is a yoga video and everything will be full body shots. How can I light the floor slightly over proper exposure but keep the talent properly exposed who is standing in the middle of it?


Makeup and Costume? Darken the actor's skin and hair and costume them with something in a grey tone. That way you can blow out everything but the actor. You will get bleed into the actor if the contrast difference is too extreme but a stop or two should be okay.

As always: Test, Test, Test.
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