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Extreme eyelight setup


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#1 Nadeem Soumah

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:55 AM

Hi guys, new to the boards and just wanted to start by saying that as I go through the forums this site is a wonderful resource.

My situation.

I need to light a scene where the actor (in a closeup) is completely silhouetted (zero incedent light on him) and i want VERY strong specular eyelights.

I've done a little testing and can't acheive the results I'm truly aiming for though i'm close. I've already looked through the boards and have seen some suggestions but nothing truly relating to this more extreme scenario.

Here are two reference pics. However the difference with my setup is that I want the actor to have the same eyelight as he does in pic 2, but have it in the same setup as in pic 1. I can tell that he leans into frame and the eyelight seems then created by the overhead light but wish i could still have it when he's in TOTAL silhouette.

What I've tested:

-maglite with top screwed off taped on mattebox (eyelight too weak)
-big softbox really far back and dimmed down (still get incedent light on subject)
-litepanel right above camera (still get incedent light)

Any ideas as to what I can test next before my shoot? I'm two weeks away.

Not that it really matters much for this but incase it helps, shooting on Red with 3 ton grip truck.

Thanks

Attached Images

  • silhouette no eyelight.jpg
  • silhouette with eyelight.jpg

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#2 MikeyWilliams

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 03:05 PM

Put more light on your background and go with the LED diffused above the camera, like a lite panel brick or something like that, even 2x1 kino with the doors shut down. If you are exposing for the brighter background you will not get any exposure from the low output of the eyelight, but should be enough to reflect in the eyes.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:13 PM

Couldn't find a frame grab, so look at this scene in "Ball of Fire" (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, starting at the 5:20 mark near the end, when Gary Cooper goes into Barbara Stanwyck's hotel room, thinking he's talking to one of the professors:


Toland and Hawk wanted her face to be black, because Gary Cooper doesn't realize he's talking to her in the dark, but they wanted to see her eyes, so Toland decided the best thing would be to paint her face black. They called up the make-up room in the morning and told them to paint Barbara Stanwyck in blackface -- she grabbed the phone and said "what in the hell kind of move are you making?"

Hey, it worked!
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#4 Nadeem Soumah

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:18 AM

Thats hilarious David, yet a great idea. Unfortunately my character is going to be wearing prosthetics so that would definitely not be an option.

Thanks Mikey. I've done that as well but it still doesn't yield the results that the director is looking for. What happens is that I need to diffuse my "eyelight light" so much in order to reduce spill that when its at the level I need it to be, even when exposing for a brighter background, there then not enough intensity in the reflection in the eyes.

I think that I'm just going to, unfortunately in this case have to resort to "fix it in post."

Basically what I'll do is get the amount of glint in they eyes that I need, keeping a high ratio between the background and the subject, thus leaving room for the colorists to darken the image to correctly expose the background, putting a mask around the eye section. This should bring the subject back into silhouette and maintain the eyelight. Hopefully.

I'm still 2 weeks away from the shoot so if anyone has more ideas, I'm all ears as I would really LOVE to pull this off practically.
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:48 AM

David, the first time I saw that I was thinking- maybe a cookie (or would it be a gobo)just on the eyes. I thought freddie Young mentioned it in his book but I can't find it just now.
Wikipedia has a reference which doesn't sound too inaccurate.
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#6 MikeyWilliams

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:53 AM

Use a kino, just shut the doors a bunch, and then tape off the opening even more so it's just a slit. You will have barely any light getting out, yet the bulb will be bright enough to be seen in the eyes.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 08:21 PM

Thats hilarious David, yet a great idea. Unfortunately my character is going to be wearing prosthetics so that would definitely not be an option.



If the actor is completely in silhouette, why bother with the prosthetics? Seems like a massive waste of time and money.


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#8 Nadeem Soumah

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 09:11 PM

If the actor is completely in silhouette, why bother with the prosthetics? Seems like a massive waste of time and money.


Hi Chris,

thats because he will be leaning into an overhead light in a latter part of the shot, starting in silhouette, so we'll need to have him in it. Also because though it is a silhouette we'll still see the outline/shape of his head which is "different" in this case. The prosthetics are part of the character, not for lighting sake.

I"ll definitely play with the kino's Mikey. Hopefully I can get close.

Thanks guys.

Edited by Nadeem Soumah, 06 June 2011 - 09:14 PM.

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#9 Drew Ganyer

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 11:47 PM

Try playing around with a 4x8 shiny board, try lighting up the shiny board but having it bounce the light in a different direction than your actor, you might need to back it off a bit. Also think about the angle of incidence/reflectance for where to put the shiny board.

You might also try having the actor to put in eye drops.
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#10 Nadeem Soumah

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:32 PM

Try playing around with a 4x8 shiny board, try lighting up the shiny board but having it bounce the light in a different direction than your actor, you might need to back it off a bit. Also think about the angle of incidence/reflectance for where to put the shiny board.

You might also try having the actor to put in eye drops.


I find the eye drops idea pretty great actually. Definitely makes sense. And also the silver bounce reflecting light elsewhere definitely sounds good.

Thanks.
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#11 Jad Beyrouthy

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 04:27 AM

Try to use a small practical 50W or 25W light bulb (normal tungsten lamps used at home) a bit far from your subject, i wont give you enough light to expose his face but it can give a small eye light.
Sounds simple but i think it can work, didn't try it myself for this application but you can also put a diffuser gel on it or even use those opaque white bulbs often used for decoration and use an eye dropper to put water into the actor's eye's to increase the reflectance in the eyes.

It costs nothing to test it so let me know.

Good luck.

Jad Beyrouthy | Cinematographer
Beirut, Lebanon
jadbeyrouthy@cyberia.net.lb
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#12 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 04:57 AM

if you polarize the eye light and then filter on the camera with the same polarizing axis, that should let the specular highlight through while cutting a stop from the diffused face reflection? i haven't tried it but it sounds like fun.
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#13 timHealy

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 06:39 PM

Simply brilliant.

Couldn't find a frame grab, so look at this scene in "Ball of Fire" (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, starting at the 5:20 mark near the end, when Gary Cooper goes into Barbara Stanwyck's hotel room, thinking he's talking to one of the professors:


Toland and Hawk wanted her face to be black, because Gary Cooper doesn't realize he's talking to her in the dark, but they wanted to see her eyes, so Toland decided the best thing would be to paint her face black. They called up the make-up room in the morning and told them to paint Barbara Stanwyck in blackface -- she grabbed the phone and said "what in the hell kind of move are you making?"

Hey, it worked!


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#14 Eli Goldstein

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 05:02 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkbpfPmqqbw

Killer music video, by Keith Schofield & DP Damian Acevedo. Achieved with a combination of blackface, dark eyeliner and a lotta rotoscoping.





Couldn't find a frame grab, so look at this scene in "Ball of Fire" (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, starting at the 5:20 mark near the end, when Gary Cooper goes into Barbara Stanwyck's hotel room, thinking he's talking to one of the professors:


Toland and Hawk wanted her face to be black, because Gary Cooper doesn't realize he's talking to her in the dark, but they wanted to see her eyes, so Toland decided the best thing would be to paint her face black. They called up the make-up room in the morning and told them to paint Barbara Stanwyck in blackface -- she grabbed the phone and said "what in the hell kind of move are you making?"

Hey, it worked!


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#15 Martin Hong

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:54 PM

Hey, have you tried to place a black paper in front the light source blocking all the light and poke two tiny holes at a position that lays on the actor's eyes, when he steps in the position?
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#16 Raphael Van Sitteren

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 02:19 PM

Hey,

 

I'm digging up this subject in case someone comes here by mistake... or while randomly browsing through this great forum.

 

I saw "Persona" from Bergman today.

There is a sequence that is purely brilliant in terms of eyelight. 

 

 

The 2 main characters are talking to a man off screen. 

They are beautifully lit, low key with a nice glow, and a very noticeable sharp eyelight

It's not a dot but nearly.

We can see that the reflection in the eyes of the character further away from camera is slightly smaller which means the key light is not too far away from the camera.

 

Then at 01'30 the reverse shot shows the mysterious man they are talking to.

When he removes his black glasses, we can see with horror that there is no light in his eyes. 

 

The fact that the eyelight is so noticeable in the first shot makes it very shocking when we reverse to him and we realise his soul is gone.

 

He's toplit, the key light being just high enough so his eyeballs don't reflect anything...

 

There is obviously some fill light on his face but his eyes remain pitch black

 

All done with subtlety in the year 1966 ;)


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