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How to achieve this look


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#1 Kylie Murphy

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:09 PM

Hello all,

 

Please forgive a novice student like myself for what is probably a very basic question.  I'm trying to go for this look similar to the show "Girls" -- sort of underexposed with soft light where you can see outside the windows without it blowing out.  I'm not really sure how to best achieve this.  I would think increasing the aperture and compensating with lighting in the room, but that's not really working for me.  I could just not be using enough lighting in the room, but I also really want it to be soft.

 

Any advice?

 

Thanks so much!

 

I found this video for reference.  It's a pretty good example of the lighting I'm describing (although they are mostly being lit by the big window and I don't have windows like that for this scene): https://www.youtube....h?v=fPhHtsT5Ye0

 

 


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 09:40 PM

You can end up needing really enormous amounts of light to compensate exteriors like that. Plan B is to add neutral density filters to the windows, which costs a bit in gels and has to be done carefully or it's visible, but may be easier than lighting the interior to match. This wasn't done in that clip you cite, though, as we see her through the glass door at close range and she doesn't look dark.

If you don't have windows to contend with, things become easier. The style of lighting you seem to be liking is big soft sources, which is pretty much the style of the moment. Bounce your light off a large white object, which on a big production might mean an eight by eight foot white bounce, but can be approximated with a bedsheet hung over something, or just bounce it off a white painted wall. You can do this with either artificial or natural light.

Controlling soft light is difficult as it goes everywhere, as you can probably imagine. You might want to have some black objects available to shade the spill from places you don't want it. Bits of polystyrene insulating foam painted black are often used because they're cheap, large, and light.

Configuring all this stuff can take a lot of space and time, which is why shooting day interiors is hard and why big productions tend to exist in a forest of stands and clamps.

Sorry if this is too basic an overview; it'd help to know what resources you have and what your shots look like now, so we can suggest adjustments. Especially, it's useful to know what the layout of the location is, and roughly where the actors will be.

P
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:21 PM

It doesn't look like there's anything too special happening lighting-wise in that 'Girls' clip.

It looks to me like the natural daylight from the windows is doing most of the work, with some bounce for fill for the woman and then a soft daylight keylight of some kind - perhaps an HMI bounced and then diffused through a frame, or a high-output LED like an Arri Skypanel through a frame.

The man's coverage again looks like they turned around the diffused key. It could also be natural overcast window light if they blacked out some of the windows, though I think it looks a little too modeled for that to be the case.

Part of what makes this work is that the background isn't all front-lit with direct sun. It's overcast outside except for the wide shot, and then the camera is looking into the shaded side of the street - notice that the sun is backlighting the actors inside when it appears. The dark areas like the trees keep the exposure within a reasonable range. You can see that the occasional white object in the frame looks blown out - now imagine if they had chosen a background with a lot of white that was front-lit with sun - it would look equally blown out and not very nice.

The dark colors and shiny textures inside of the location also help to make things look good. When these locations are backlit by huge windows, they pick up edge light and you get great three-dimensional quality without doing anything.

So basically - good choice of location, good choice of blocking, some luck with weather, good crew, and a few simple tools is all it takes to get this look. Using a professional camera that can handle a wide dynamic range and can reproduce a wide range of colors also helps a lot. But the other factors make a much bigger difference.
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