Jump to content


Photo

"Optimum place for fill light" for subject modeling


  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 Ronald Gerald Smith

Ronald Gerald Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 72 posts
  • Student
  • NYC

Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:13 PM

I know that this question is quite vague and subjective but I am curious as to all of your opinions.

Let's say a subject is side lit with a nice soft light coming from the window. You can place your fill wherever you want it. What's your favorite place for modeling the skin? Closer to the camera - perhaps directly above it to minimize the appearance of the shadows created by the fill light? perhaps a little shadow under the nose and/or chin is desirable. Or completely opposite the direction of the fill light? A broad large fill source from the ceiling? Of course the placement of fill light depends entirely on the placement of the main key light, but just wanted to know generally what you like to do. Also, a very large fill light seems to be the most natural because it simulates natural fill light in a room. However, in a lot of situations it is hard to bring a 6x6 or 8x8 bounce inside a room especially in a location shoot.
  • 0

#2 Ronald Gerald Smith

Ronald Gerald Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 72 posts
  • Student
  • NYC

Posted 13 March 2011 - 12:18 AM

Interesting... I was looking on Roger Deakin's forum and he has some interesting things to say about fill.

He says, "Fill light!I don't really understand using a light for fill. Try lighting without a 'fill' light as such. If you want something in the shadows try using a piece of poly. or a soft silver reflector."

"I really don't think of lighting in the way of using a key light, a fill light, a back light etc.etc.and taking light readings of each separately. I think there is a danger in that becoming 'lighting by numbers'. That is not to say I don't use what might be termed fill light but I try do it by taking the main light source and molding it to the subject or by taking a secondary motivated light source rather than using a fill light for it's own sake."

You can find the discussion here: http://www.deakinson...c.php?f=6&t=310


He is very against using fill light for fill light's sake - Something that maybe people should read because it's become very popular to use fill light for fill light's sake and has become quite generally accepted.
  • 0

#3 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19760 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:07 AM

I don't think Deakins is against using fill, though his movies tend to be lit with a certain amount of contrast, I think he's against the automatic application of fill on every shot without thinking about it, which is why he says he doesn't like the concept of fill, that he doesn't think of light in those terms.

You don't have to call it fill if you don't want to, you can think of it as "raising the ambience" in the room, for example, to create an airy mood. Life doesn't always come with black shadows and sometimes you are recreating natural light effects, and that can include providing the ambient light hitting the shadow side of things, i.e. "fill". Or not, maybe you don't need to do it, I think that's what Deakins is trying to say. Put light where you feel it needs it, but don't necessarily think of it as filling in the shadows.

I've noticed that when Deakins doesn't want the other eye on a face going black, he will add another soft light to his soft key light to further wrap the key around the face, but maybe that wraparound light is not as bright as the side light, and that dimmer light, being 3/4 frontal, compared to a key that may be a half-light, doesn't reach the final 1/4 of the face, providing contrast and a black reference in the frame. Now Jim Glennon, who used to operate I think for Jordan Cronenweth, said that he learned from Cronenweth to fill from the same side of the face as the key is coming from, which has a similar effect of wrapping the key further around the face. Now whether this light is a fill or another key, just dimmer, is a matter of semantics.

You'll notice that in a lot of movies shot by Bruno Dubonnel, like "Amelie", he starts with an overall soft top ambience for a room and then adds some keys in different areas. Now whether you want to call that soft top light a "fill" or not is up to you.

I often bounce from low, or off of white sheets on the ground, to provide some fill from below, but you could also call that increasing the ambience in the room if you want.
  • 0

#4 Ronald Gerald Smith

Ronald Gerald Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 72 posts
  • Student
  • NYC

Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:50 AM

Hey David,

I guess the word 'fill' can lead people the wrong direction especially if they are just starting out. It's doesn't help that a lot of cinematography books place emphasis on the numbers and contrast ratios and so on so forth, people trying to aim to hit an 8:1 or 4:1 contrast ratio or something like that, and that makes people start to 'light by numbers' which Deakins clearly doesn't approve of. I definitely gain insight by the examples you posted like Amelie - and the different ways that people naturally fill in shadows - and it's cool that you saw patterns with Dubonnel's work.

That being said - you and Roger seem to me to be the most helpful in terms of helping new cinematographers and students learn more about the craft. I'm wondering if you know of any other fellow ASC members who have their own forum or website or contribute regularly to online forums?
  • 0

#5 Ronald Gerald Smith

Ronald Gerald Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 72 posts
  • Student
  • NYC

Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:52 AM

Also, I realized that my first post (that started off this thread) would probably have made Roger Deakins cringe at the sight of it. Hahaha.
  • 0

#6 Nathan Blair

Nathan Blair
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 62 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York

Posted 13 March 2011 - 07:49 PM

It does seem like lately, especially shooting digital, everyone is really concerned about latitude and trying to preserve shadow/highlight detail. But I agree it is nice to have some deep shadows where appropriate. That's a great tip about filling from the key side!

I've worked with some cinematographers that prefer to place a bounce board as a fill to the side of the subject. Others prefer it to boost the shadows under the chin and eye brows.

I always prefer to motivate my light sources... probably because I'm just practical that way. If I know where it's coming from, it helps me to decide what the quality of light should be. So most of the time I think of my "fill" light as ambient light reflecting off a wall in the room, or maybe a table lamp beside the character. In this way, the scene helps me decide where I want it to come from.
  • 0

#7 Steve London

Steve London
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 50 posts
  • Other

Posted 22 March 2011 - 08:00 PM

I always prefer to motivate my light sources... probably because I'm just practical that way. If I know where it's coming from, it helps me to decide what the quality of light should be. So most of the time I think of my "fill" light as ambient light reflecting off a wall in the room, or maybe a table lamp beside the character. In this way, the scene helps me decide where I want it to come from.

Let me gently challenge you on this. If you never establish the entire layout of a room and where the practicals and windows are, why be limited on where your lights should be? Shouldn't you decide the places that will best serve the images in your story?

It does matter where you decided a light should be. If you've decided that blank wall over there has a window in it and it's DAY then you make your source large and the direction of the light generally level. If the source is an overhead lamp that you want on the ceiling but there isn't one there, you have to make sure the light from your source falls as it generally would from the virtual lamp in your mind.

Motivation is fine but can be limiting when it needn't be. The best advice I've ever run into on this topic is from someone's sig right on this forum:

Actor: "where would that light be coming from?"
DP: "same place as the music" -Andrew Lesnie-


Make sense?
  • 0


Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Opal

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Glidecam

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

The Slider

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Opal