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Exaggerated rim lighting - a la Robert Richardson


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#1 Josh Silverlock

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 09:29 AM

Hi, I'm fairly inexperienced and have pretty modest kit (a few redheads, clamp lights, and china balls + limited grip kit). 

 

I would be really grateful if anyone could give me an idea of how to recreate the kind of powerful rim/top lighting that Robert Richardson uses in so many of his films. 

 

I realise that the photos that I've attached require a lot more kit (and expertise) than I have access to, but any way of achieving a similar look would be really appreciated.

 

Thanks,

 

Josh

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  • hugo_film_still_a_l.jpg
  • trailer-hugo-released.jpg

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 10:14 AM

It's dependent on on the sensitivity of your camera for the punch, but Redheads aren't too bad at being backlights. For the bounced light into faces, you should ensure people are wearing or near something that's pretty reflective and that the actors are carefully positioned. It also looks like there's some smoke/fog effect in the shots.

 

You'll need something to rig the lights high enough and behind the actors. That can be a bit of a problem on location, but polecats or similar can be used. Best not to try doing it over too large an area with Redheads. There's also a good chance you'll need a flag to prevent the backlight flaring into the camera lens,

 

This is something that you can rig up and do a few tests with. 


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#3 Josh Silverlock

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 12:41 PM

Thanks! You can tell me if I'm completely wrong here - but as far as I can make out, the key to the look is the balance between the backlight and the fill/key on their faces: should I simply reflect the backlight into their faces or add in another source? (the top photo looks to have a warm light coming from below)


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#4 John Holland

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 01:14 PM

Its the way i love to light [depending on subject ] put the largest lamp you can get and rig ! used as the backlight key and as you say bounce from the front the back light to fill. Its a lot more difficult if its a moving shot but still can be done .
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 01:23 PM

If the backlight is hot enough on near by objects or clothing it can reflect into faces. There is what looks like additional light coming from below them on the camera side, it could just be a reflector or depending on how the actors are blocking the backlight, some light bounced into a reflector from another lamp. It's something worth testing as an exercise, I'd pick a camera with a good dynamic range if possible just to avoid clipping the highlights.


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#6 Rudy Velez Jr

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 11:15 PM

i love his work in Bringing Out The Dead which is probably the best looking movie I have seen


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#7 timHealy

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:19 AM

 should I simply reflect the backlight into their faces or add in another source? 

 

Depends on your shot and your shot size.

 

Tim


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:49 PM

The brighter a backlight gets, at some point the bright edge doesn't look that different (once it burns out to white) but what changes is the ambient detail in the shadows due to the bounce back.  In those examples posted the backlight is overexposed enough to fill into the shadows, so not much additional lighting was needed for the shadow side, though there was probably some added soft light in the train station.  The only problem with no additional light added in the shadows is that the fill is dependent on what is bouncing the backlight back into the faces, so if the actor's face is being lit by the bounce off of the shirt of the person they are facing and then that foreground person steps out, the actor's face will get darker suddenly.  Which might be OK, and maybe the floor and furniture will still provide enough bounce back into the shadows, but you just have to factor how interactive this type of lighting can be.


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