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Lighting Deconstruction/Help with studio lighting


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#1 Andy Bissonnette

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 02:28 PM

I know this isn't a terribly complex setup, but I am looking to see what others may think... I am a recent graduate, still learning, and I am DP'ing my first in-studio commercial in a few weeks. I am currently deciding on the lights I will need. Basically, it is a commercial with three different scenes, all to be shot in studio. It's more of a warehouse, there is no grid, all the lights will need to be rented. The sets will all be constructed out of cardboard. The aesthetic we are going for is almost fake. A great example is this video:

More specifically around 1:30 after the lights dim. I am looking for a more experienced person's deconstruction, which will help me to decide on how to approach my set up. Here is what I see:

There is obviously some kind of huge light mimicking the sun from the upper left. (I will call this the key light) It looks tungsten. I am guessing it is some sort of fresnel due to the even spread of light and unfocused edge. Is this a correct assumption? My understanding of which lights (par vs fresnel etc) do what is still limited. What kind of light gives such a wide, even and mildly diffused light like this?

Then it seems as if the light changes between the CU and Wide shots. I'd really like to concentrate more on the wide shot. How do you think they filled out the set? It's kind of a big set, is it possible they only used one light for the wide shots (minus the background horizon). Could it be a china ball or some sort of space light? If it is a space light, what do you think the ratio was between it and the big key light.

Also, with lighting the background (sky, sun and mountain), how could one go about lighting backdrops like this. It seems like they are lit, but very subtly. I like the even glow the background has. Could/should this be achieved with cyc wall lights? I feel like those might be a little overbearing...

I have some other questions, but will save them till after any responses. Thanks for any help you could provide it is much appreciated.
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#2 John David Miller

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 03:10 AM

Well I'll give this a shot.

Let's start with the backing. Based on the way the blood splatter runs down it, and the fact that they would dowse it with blood, leads me to believe it is a "translight" backing. It is fairly tall, I'd guess 25'-30'. You can tell they cheated the heroic shots that are looking up into the backing by moving the subjects closer. A well accepted way to evenly light a translight backing is by using skypans. A backing this size would probably have two maybe three tiers of skypans every 8-10' or so. The cutouts look to be front lit evenly and are likely hung on pipe above the camera line 5k's perhaps.

To me, it feels like there is an evenly spread top light directly overhead that only shows shadowing from a single source. My guess here are several space lights are hung every 8' and are skirted. Then a large frame of a diffusion (half grid maybe) hanging below them. This would be teased off the translight and cutouts. Shots that purposely feature the ground and shadow are lit with the "sun source" only. When the lights dim it looks to me like the key stays the same and the top light dims out/down...along with action on the skypans as well.

The "sun source" or "key" would have been a unit that has a good amount of punch. Perhaps a 20k through a very lite diffusion (opal or hampshire frost)or a Maxi-Brute diffused. I believe this is not too high off the ground to get a good amount of light on their faces in spite of the brim of the hats.

I believe the front fill is direct through a 12x frame that is camera left. QT has some subtle action in his eyes. This could be a eyelight but I would guess a handheld bounce card skinned with unbleached muslin. I also notice @ 2:50ish a sidelight or back edge that has been added while the fill is cut out to give him a "ominous" feel. There seems to be a little help on the right side of his face. It appears to be a little green maybe a small LED panel.

The opening shot looking up into the sky over the windmill was probably a 20x20' green screen lit from the floor.

Just my thoughts...
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#3 Albert Smith

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 04:15 AM

for the wide at 1:37 My guess would be
- space lights overhead
- backlight source from the grid overhead slightly to the left giving a hard white edge mainly on Tarantino
- a big source frame left through diffusion and maybe 1/4 orange of some sort...likely to be a maxi through some diff I'd guesss


could be something frame right filling it in a little too, but I dont think so.
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#4 John David Miller

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 04:46 AM

There is a trick that I've seen the match mover on a large VFX team use to record the positions of the lighting on a set.

Quite simply, they use a smooth sphere the size of a volleyball that is either a mirror finish or a matte silver finish. They put this sphere in front of the camera and it will show were all the lights are coming from. They roll footage of the sphere in areas of the set they plan on "enhancing," this helps them maintain lighting continuity on the VFX they add.

You can use a derivative of this technique by pausing the video right when you get a full frame of the "egg" that QT holds up. You will see the lights and where they are coming from. ;)
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