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Light reflection on actor's eyes


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#1 Mathew Collins

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:28 AM

Hi,

 

I was watching 'The End of the Affair'. I could see white patches in Maurice Bendrix(character played by Ralph Fiennes). I have few questions on on this. Could someone share their experiences on this?

 

Is it the reflection of lights?

Is it a mistake happens in movie lighting?   

How could a cinematographer overcome this situation?

 

 

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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:42 AM

They're catchlights from the set lighting. They are visible in just about every MS or CU in every film. It isn't a mistake.

You could avoid it by bringing the lights to a position where they don't happen but you'd then have very heavy eye shadows- besides, why would you want to?


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:56 AM

Some cinematographers work very hard to get those reflections in the eye!
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#4 Brett Allbritton

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 02:48 PM

I can understand why you might be worried about this: if they're set light reflections, then doesn't that sorta break the fourth wall?

The thing to keep in mind though is that the audience doesn't know that; these could be reflections from any light source in the world of the characters, but the audience probably won't even think about it anyway.

Also, as David said, many cinematographers will go out of their way to make sure those reflections are there. For example, in my own work, I've found that not having these little eye lights often results in the eyes looking a bit lifeless, especially with brown-eyed subjects. So don't worry about it, no one will look at this as a mistake, and if anything it will probably make your image better. :)


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 03:08 PM

The eye is a reflective spherical surface -- imagine a section of a silver Christmas tree ornament ball -- so it reflects quite a large area.  If there are lights in the space -- natural, practical, or artificial -- lighting the face and eyes, then they will be reflected.

 

It has been a tradition for a century to use special eye lights to get a sparkle in the eye, whether or not they are motivated.


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 07:02 PM

If for some reason you were determined to have all the eye lights be 'practical' (not that anyone would actually be able to tell), then the way to do it is to build all your lighting into the set so that there are no movie lights, bounce material, or grip used. Then any eye light reflections would only be from existing sources. You would have to decide whether losing the ability to finely control the quality of light falling on the actors is worth the trade-off.
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#7 Mathew Collins

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:02 AM

Thank you David, Mark,Brett, Satsuki.

 

Suppose the only light source in my scene is fire and I uses artificial lights for additional lighting.

Would it be a mistake if the lights visible in eyeballs?


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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 11:51 AM

That's a subjective call. Most cinematographers care less about continuity than they do about making each shot look good. An example would be doing a shot-reverse shot sequence where one person is heavily backlit and in the reverse the person they are speaking to is also backlit or lit very softly from the side. Strictly speaking, they should be lit frontally with the same hard light that is hitting the back of their friend's head. But nobody usually cares or notices.
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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 11:56 AM

I guess it all comes down to what's most important in that moment for the story. Is it most important in your firelight example that you see the actor's expression so they can supply the emotional context of the scene, or is it more important that there is clearly only one light source in the scene? Only the director can answer that. For 'Mad Men' they would probably say the former, for a documentary maybe the latter.
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#10 Mathew Collins

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 12:45 PM

That's a subjective call. Most cinematographers care less about continuity than they do about making each shot look good. An example would be doing a shot-reverse shot sequence where one person is heavily backlit and in the reverse the person they are speaking to is also backlit or lit very softly from the side. Strictly speaking, they should be lit frontally with the same hard light that is hitting the back of their friend's head. But nobody usually cares or notices.

 

That is true, I observed in many movies.

 

Eg: The.Birds(1963)

 

The character 'Tippi Hedren' (played by Melanie Daniels) and reverse of her.


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