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Overhead Shot of Table - Controlling Contrast


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#1 Shane Aguon

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 03:21 PM

I could use some help thinking through my approach on a upcoming project I'll be DP'ing. 

 

The Shot: 

 

Locked down overhead shot shooting straight down on a rectangular dining room table. 

 

2.jpg

 

Action: 

 

People will be placing plates of food on the table. The frame will only show their forearms and hands placing the food. So camera rolls, plates are placed, shot is held for 3 seconds, and cut. We'll be doing the same thing with different table settings all day. 

 

Room: 

 

Completely blacked out space with high ceilings and plenty of room. 

 

Look: 

 

I like the look of the photo above although we won't be doing the same grade. To me it looks like there is a large source off to the right side. 

 

Camera: 

 

Red Epic Dragon, Canon 35mm 1.4 ii L, rated at ISO 800. 

 

Crew: 

 

It's a small production so I'll be playing gaffer and key grip with a couple of guys on standby to help.

 

My lighting idea:

 

Originally my thought was to rig a 10x10 ultra bounce above the table and bounce an open face tungsten Arri 2K directly into it and maybe a red head into some foam core off to the side. I'm having trouble picturing what kind of contrast that would give me. I'll have floppies on hand for negative fill if needed. 

 

Another idea would be to try to replicate what I see in the attached photo, so take the 2K Arri and shoot through a 6x6 frame of light grid cloth or Opal 216 off at one end of the table, and use the red head to shoot into a 6x6 ultra bounce directly overhead to bring up the levels? 

 

What do you guys think?


Edited by Shane Aguon, 09 November 2016 - 03:24 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 04:09 PM

I think the second idea is more interesting, it's always nice to rake food with soft light that is slightly to one side, but with bowls on the table and hands blocking the light, you also need something soft coming from right next to the lens for fill -- but a redhead might be overkill, a 650w might be plenty. If the table is long, you may actually want something bounced on each side of the lens for fill, but again, nothing too bright, you don't need much.

 

If you can key light the table with something bigger and farther, then you'll have a more subtle fall-off across the table.


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#3 Shane Aguon

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 04:57 PM

I think the second idea is more interesting, it's always nice to rake food with soft light that is slightly to one side, but with bowls on the table and hands blocking the light, you also need something soft coming from right next to the lens for fill -- but a redhead might be overkill, a 650w might be plenty. If the table is long, you may actually want something bounced on each side of the lens for fill, but again, nothing too bright, you don't need much.

 

If you can key light the table with something bigger and farther, then you'll have a more subtle fall-off across the table.

 

 

Big fan of yours David - thanks for the input! 

 

So with this direction, how should I go about the soft light you mentioned coming from near the camera overhead? Should I bounce into something up there? 


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 06:06 PM

Sure, a bounce would be good, as long as you can avoid whatever you are using to hit the bounce material with from also flaring the lens.  What's good about a bounce is that you can adjust the intensity easier from the ground since that's where the lighting unit is, as opposed to a light rigged overhead.


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#5 Ray Rushing

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 10:39 AM

I did a similar shoot about two months ago.  We needed more light than I think you are going for to get more depth of field.  We had 8 different table tops to shoot over 2 days.  Basic set up was 2 Arri 4k hitting an overhead 12x12 bounce for overall ambient.  Then we used a Joker 800 for directional shadows depending the scene.  The Joker either went through diffusion or direct depending on the scene.  We also had a Aadyntech Eco Punch on hand for a few of the set ups as the directional light.

 

We shot on a Red Dragon suspended from a jib overhead.  Here's a BTS and what the table looked like.  http://imgur.com/YkRMZQU https://www.instagra.../p/BKa-ZjagHGz/

 

Hope this helps.


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#6 Shane Aguon

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 06:42 PM

I did a similar shoot about two months ago.  We needed more light than I think you are going for to get more depth of field.  We had 8 different table tops to shoot over 2 days.  Basic set up was 2 Arri 4k hitting an overhead 12x12 bounce for overall ambient.  Then we used a Joker 800 for directional shadows depending the scene.  The Joker either went through diffusion or direct depending on the scene.  We also had a Aadyntech Eco Punch on hand for a few of the set ups as the directional light.

 

We shot on a Red Dragon suspended from a jib overhead.  Here's a BTS and what the table looked like.  http://imgur.com/YkRMZQU https://www.instagra.../p/BKa-ZjagHGz/

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

Ray, that turned out awesome man. Love your IG feed. That is a lot of power your brought - I'm hoping we won't need that much. What focal length and aperture were you shooting at? I love your approach too. I would have never thought to use the Joker 800 to create shadows. Question: Since the table was so small, could you have gotten away with using a smaller ultra bounce? Maybe a 8x8? I'd love to see more BTS photos if you have any! 

 

 

Sure, a bounce would be good, as long as you can avoid whatever you are using to hit the bounce material with from also flaring the lens.  What's good about a bounce is that you can adjust the intensity easier from the ground since that's where the lighting unit is, as opposed to a light rigged overhead.

 

 

Sounds good David! We went a slightly different direction with our lighting package because we're shooting in a historic building with old 15amp circuits. I decided on a Arri 1.2 HMI and using two Kino Flo 2ft 4 banks for the soft fill overhead. My guess is the Kino's won't provide enough output to bounce so I'm going to try throwing the floziers on see what happens. 

 

Thanks guys! 


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#7 Ray Rushing

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 10:18 AM

 

 

Ray, that turned out awesome man. Love your IG feed. That is a lot of power your brought - I'm hoping we won't need that much. What focal length and aperture were you shooting at? I love your approach too. I would have never thought to use the Joker 800 to create shadows. Question: Since the table was so small, could you have gotten away with using a smaller ultra bounce? Maybe a 8x8? I'd love to see more BTS photos if you have any! 

 

 

 

Thanks Shane.  Our director requested that everything be in focus from the table top to about 2 feet above.  That's basically where we worked from which dictated the camera height, iris and focal length.  In planning we were trying to get to T16 but I believe we ended up around T11 I believe.  Focal length was around 100mm for most of the day and we repositioned the camera for close-ups.  Lens was the 45-120 Optimo so we did a little adjusting with the zoom when needed.  Using the app pCam we determined both our Field of View and DoF.  For the wides we had the camera around a height of 12-14 ft. and CU was around 5-7 ft.  And the set ended up changing a bit so almost nothing ended up at the 2 foot mark that the director originally said but we gave him everything in focus like he wanted with a safety net.

 

We didn't intend to use such a large bounce but our grip recommended it so we went with it.  I'm pretty sure he just didn't want to chance having to set it up later in the day.  Since we had the space it was fine.  We had an 8x8 as well but it didn't get used much.  I was also worried we had too much light but my calculations were saying we needed it.  In the end we had the budget and space so better safe than sorry.  I figured we would end up scrimming the light but it actually worked out perfect.

 

Here a few more BTS shots.  I also made a mock up of the table in Photoshop for the Director to play around with.  Not sure he used it but I thought it was pretty cool.

 

Cheers!

 

http://imgur.com/a/zj0oE


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