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Most Common Overhead Diffusions for Daylight Exteriors

daylight diffusion overhead diffusion

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#1 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 10:30 PM

I know everyone tends to use different diffusions for different purposes but I'm wondering what are the most common and "natural looking" diffusion materials used for daylight exteriors in CU's for dialogue scenes etc. This is mostly referring to a shot where the hard light of the sun is directly on the face as what normally happens to 1 of the people in a 1 on 1 dialogue situation.  Is muslin a common diffusion for this situation?

 

This is of course assuming that we are using only natural light. 

eg: titanic_preview_1.jpg

 

unbroken.jpg


Edited by Robbie Fatt, 05 July 2015 - 10:38 PM.

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#2 Albion Hockney

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 11:10 PM

I don't think any diffusion was used in either of those references actually. You can see both have hard shadows. Fill light on the first for sure and the 2nd still  is either the sun at a low angle or large HMI's

 

I was in the same place a couple years ago and hadn't dont many if any day exteriors and I had read Roger Deakins say he never cuts the sun with diffusion really and if anything just use's fill light. Changed my approach for sure, its hard to cut the sun and get a look that feels realistic at all especially if your background is being hit by direct sun. It can work if your shooting up against a shaded area sometimes I think but other then that I now try to use the sun as much as I can.


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#3 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 12:53 AM

Thanks for the reply,

 

Really interesting! So you don't think that there was any diffusion at all used on these shots? I've always thought that there is some form of diffusion used on CU/ Mid shots so its interesting that Roger Deakins says he never cuts the sun with diffusion. I've always found that the shadows are very harsh on people's faces naturally (especially in the middle of the day) so I thought that diffusion was a must.

I'd love to hear what other people think too!!!


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#4 Mihnea Snooker

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 02:03 AM

There is no way to get that hard shadows with any kind of diffusion. But as the others sad, there is a fill light, probably through a diffusion.


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#5 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 05:24 AM

Alright thanks for your responses! For some reason I was certain that there was always some form of diffusion used in these situations..


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 08:00 AM

That's hard sunlight on the faces.

Sometimes instead of diffusion a DP might use a large scrim, which doesn't soften the light just knocks the intensity down making it easier to fill -- this technique was more common in the classic studio days when they wanted the hard sunlight look but also wanted a lot of fill.
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#7 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 05:23 PM

Thanks David!

So is it common to use other lights for the fill or is it usually just bounce? Thanks!


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 07:32 PM

Just depends on the situation and the cinematographer. In the old days, they would have used brute arcs mainly because using scrims was done more when the sun was frontal / overhead when reflectors work less well due to the angle. You can see a scene in "Singin' in the Rain" where Gene Kelly walks with Debbie Reynolds outside the sound stages and stops under a scrim against a wall in sunlight, filled in with a carbon arc, just before he takes her into an empty soundstage.
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#9 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 07:56 PM

Thanks David!!!

I recently watched the movie "Tomorrowland" and there is a scene where the 'Casey' character first meets George Clooney's character outside the front of his house and he is looking down at her with harsh light coming straight down on her face and I thought for sure that something would have been done to bring out the intensity. So I suppose scrims would also be useful to help an actor see better for a take.


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#10 Albion Hockney

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 10:49 AM

I think the biggest thing I have learned and always learning is that don't think you need to do a lot to make "High end" or really good looking images. A lot of the best stuff you will see is done very simply it's just about making the right decisions.

 

 

....so sometimes you can leave the 12x set on the truck!


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#11 JD Hartman

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 11:47 AM

. A lot of the best stuff you will see is done very simply it's just about making the right decisions.

 

But making the right decisions comes from experience, either "doing it and observing the result" or listening to the more experienced, rarely is the right decision just a "happy accident".


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#12 Joel Knights

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 07:06 AM

Having been on set for your second photo- there was no diffusion being used here. In fact there was very little used throughout that whole section of the shoot.
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#13 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 05:37 PM

Thanks everyone!!

Wish I could have been there with you @Joel Knights. If anything comes up let me know because I'm based in Sydney haha.


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#14 Ed David

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 08:32 PM

Sometimes I use as said earlier a single or a double and I also use a china silk - depending on sun's position and intensity - to make sure it matches with background - no one way to do it - whatever feels natural I guess.  Love those frames -really beautiful


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