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Eyelight for actors


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#1 Bowie Rascal

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 04:08 PM

hey guys why eyelight is very important even in our technology developed film world? can u guys give me any example of a good eyelight image from any movie and a poor eyelight or no eyelight image. show me how bad the image will look like if there is no eyelight.. please guys lets learn from each other, don't hesitate to show any picture as example.. thankx in advance!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 06:21 PM

hey guys why eyelight is very important even in our technology developed film world? can u guys give me any example of a good eyelight image from any movie and a poor eyelight or no eyelight image. show me how bad the image will look like if there is no eyelight.. please guys lets learn from each other, don't hesitate to show any picture as example.. thankx in advance!


I hate the reductive thinking that says you should always add an eyelight. Leonardo's Mona Lisa, for example, does not have an eyelight. Sure, they are nice, they add that sparkle and "life" to an eye, but they do not make the difference between a good and a bad close-up. And some might argue that they can look artificial, especially outdoors in daytime unless motivated (the eye catching the sun reflecting off of a car windscreen or a pool of water, etc.)

I find that eyelights are useful in dark scenes because they help draw the viewer's gaze to the eyes in the dark, plus if the face is underexposed, the viewer feels better about it if they feel they are seeing the eyes and therefore the expressions of the actor OK. Plus in a dim shot, a bright sparkle in the eye adds a highlight that keeps the image from looking murky.

You'll find in sort of single-source key lighting, like Storaro does, the eye catches the key 75% of the time or so, but sometimes it doesn't, so there's no reflection in the eye at that moment... but that's OK. Or the key is very soft so the reflection of it is very soft, more of a dull sheen over the eye, not a bright point. You can see that in some frames from "Tucker":

Here the key is reflecting well in the eye:
Posted Image

Here the key is very soft (basically the backlight bouncing back into the face) and it does not create a sparkle in the eye:
Posted Image
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#3 Bowie Rascal

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 09:34 PM

common guys, show me how bad the image will look like if there is no eyelight, please give more examples guys, so we can understand better....

Edited by Bowie Rascal, 27 November 2011 - 09:36 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 09:50 PM

common guys, show me how bad the image will look like if there is no eyelight, please give more examples guys, so we can understand better....


I'm saying that the image won't necessarily look bad if there's no eyelight. An eyelight is not going to make or break the lighting of a face. I can't find an example of a beautifully-lit face that "fails" because it lacks an eyelight nor can I find an example of a horribly-lit face that "succeeds" because it has an eyelight.
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#5 Justin Carrig

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 12:07 PM

Your attitude is a bit annoying Bowie! David's example is perfect.
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#6 Bowie Rascal

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:45 PM

Your attitude is a bit annoying Bowie! David's example is perfect.



justin go easy. i already thank him that he helped me in PM. u don't have to use the word annoying since it don't do any good for anyone. everyone trying to learn from each other and david's reply will help thousands of young cinematographer who view this post because it was clear with an example. anyway thankx for u too justin to correct my behaviour.
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