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Lighting an Emotional Piano Performance


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#1 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 07:37 AM

Hi all, Im shooting a live piano performance in the attached room. (Excuse horrible image)

At my disposal I have a couple of 1x1 LED Litepanels, day light to tungsten.

The music is dreamy and melancholic, my client would like dramatic, contrasty, low key lighting.

We would like to use some color to influence the melancholic mood. Perhaps a hint of blue in the backlighting, which may or may not be motivated moon light.

We are shooting at night, the shots will range from close up to wide angle.

Id love to hear how you would approach this, with the gear listed?

(Ive some decent tungstens too, but hope to only use the litepanels)

Cheers, David

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Edited by David Daniel Doherty, 04 March 2018 - 07:38 AM.

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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 09:00 AM

By 'a couple' of 1x1 panels. Do you mean literally two of them? And what tungsten fixtures do you have access to?


Edited by Mark Kenfield, 04 March 2018 - 09:01 AM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 09:06 AM

And how much power is there?
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#4 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 09:14 AM

Hello, I have literally two of these

http://www.litepanel...-1x1-ep-bicolor

And 3 x 800w Arri Tungstens
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#5 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 09:22 AM

Okay, how wide do need to be able frame the scene? As wide as that photograph of the piano?


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#6 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 11:00 AM

That would be nice, although in theory the key light should be pretty close, so I’ll have to experiment on the day and find a good balance. Probably not that wide though
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#7 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 01:50 PM

Here’s a rough edit of approx half the piece of music. In reflection, I will make a few adjustments / improvements to my approach.

Time was very limited, I worked solely with the musician. Our last shot was 3am, highly caffeinated. Let me know if I’m headed in the right direction or if it completely sucks?

Thanks, chaps.

http://iplayerhd.com...1af195fdd/share
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#8 Ryan Emanuel

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:05 PM

I would say you have some good things going on.  For the front angle, the key has a good angle and is flagged off the background nicely.   Its a matter of personal preference but I would have softened the key more and brought the intensity down like 2 stops.  Since its a dark scene, 30-50 IRE is a good range for his skintone depending on mood. I think the shot is in the 70s.   Also he can use a very very subtle edge light to separate his black hair from the background.  

 

For the cutaway on the hands, its a good angle but you can lose 90% of the fill light.  Let the edge light define his hands and create more interest with light and dark tones.  The fill flattens the shot to much.  Its kinda why the shot from the back works better than the hands.

 

For the profile shot, I think it can also loose a little exposure on the key and the fill light.  The background just needs some brighter points of interest.  Its a little to black back there.  The front shots work a little better because you have those white doors to add some light/dark/light/dark to the background. 


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#9 JD Hartman

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 08:07 PM

Lighting on the microphone and arm for the piano is a little hot in the frontal view. Might want to soften that.


Edited by JD Hartman, 27 March 2018 - 08:09 PM.

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#10 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:35 AM

''I would say you have some good things going on.  For the front angle, the key has a good angle and is flagged off the background nicely.   Its a matter of personal preference but I would have softened the key more and brought the intensity down like 2 stops.  Since its a dark scene, 30-50 IRE is a good range for his skintone depending on mood. I think the shot is in the 70s.   Also he can use a very very subtle edge light to separate his black hair from the background.''  

 

OK, good info. Forgive my ignorance, but do you measure IRE as you shoot? If so, how? I kind of did. I ran test shots for each angle, and checked via a waveform monitor on an iMac I had set up. I can now hopefully adjust skin tone levels so they're a little more suitable and consistent, as I shot Raw

 

''For the cutaway on the hands, its a good angle but you can lose 90% of the fill light.  Let the edge light define his hands and create more interest with light and dark tones.  The fill flattens the shot to much.  Its kinda why the shot from the back works better than the hands.''

 

Yeah, one of those hands cut aways is too flat, I dislike that shot. I kind of need to stick it in, at that point of there track I don't have any other useables.

 

''For the profile shot, I think it can also loose a little exposure on the key and the fill light.  The background just needs some brighter points of interest.  Its a little to black back there.  The front shots work a little better because you have those white doors to add some light/dark/light/dark to the background.''

 

Cheers. Yeah, grim enough background. I'd like to experiment in a situation like this again, maybe introduce another light source or two, perhaps create some kind of street light effect.

 

Thanks for the comments, helpful. Onward and upward!

 


Edited by David Daniel Doherty, 28 March 2018 - 07:36 AM.

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#11 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:40 AM

Lighting on the microphone and arm for the piano is a little hot in the frontal view. Might want to soften that.

 

Yeah, and i was aware of that as we shot. The mic had to stay and, due to the slightly wide angle, I was more limited a to wear I could position that key light.

 

I'll attempt dropping the highlights on those areas, thanks


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#12 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:01 PM

*where
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#13 JD Hartman

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 09:09 PM

You can soften the light on the mic and arm using a dot and finger kit.  Lacking one, you can improvise a finger with a 2x10" piece of diffusion on a rectangular frame of wire.

 

Kit: https://www.adorama....BSABEgIVCPD_BwE


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#14 Phil Connolly

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 07:22 AM

Shure SM 7 mics sound good, but they are really un photogenic and your stuck with a black lump in the shot. The problem is they are dynamic mics - so the singer has to right on top of them to sound good - blocking your shot of the lips. A large diaphragm condenser mic would allow the singer to be further away and let you get a clearer shot of his lips. Also they look cooler - a nice vintage Neumann in a shock mount photographs better.

 

Or if the singer prefers a dynamic mic the Shure Beta 58 is good compromise of size vs sound quality 

 

Vocal mics are always a problem when shooting music. In this set up the mic in shot/placement is much more annoying then the any deficiencies in the lighting - particularly on the frontal shot.

 

Of course mic choices have to be negotiated with the singer and they very much will have a preference, their priority is usually sound over vision - so its always tricky. 

 

Also make sure everything is tidy - there is a bit of green electrical tape looped round the XLR vocal mic cable. I would have cut that off


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#15 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 10:11 AM

He sorts the audio, and doesn't have unlimited choice in gear.

 

It sounds great I reckon.

 

Ha, I didn't notice that green tape, but yeah. It was an overwhelming shoot, being solo, so it was well down the priority list. Next time!

Here's the set up:

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Edited by David Daniel Doherty, 29 March 2018 - 10:12 AM.

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#16 Phil Connolly

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 01:11 PM

I here you on the solo gigs - super hard to be on top of everything.  Its pretty minor but when your working with quite static shots - Its nice if its tidy, others of course may disagree. 

 

Like I said its always a negotiation with music gear - but sometimes its worth asking the question.  And if you are stuck with a big mic, think carefully about placement it works better in some shots then others. The shot at 1,02 I think is one I'd try and loose - since the 414 piano mic is poking in at the edge - needs to be wider or tighter - include the whole piano mic or crop it out - edges are annoying. I can see its on a push in and it works better later (or earlier) - the cut at that point just happens at an unfortunate time

 

Lots to like though the moves are nice, v smooth (especially for lone operating) and the look the material matches the mood of the music. 

 

How tricky is the footage to edit? Are you using audio from different audio/takes or is it all from one angle? Did you do a live take and then mime - how did you work out the coverage. The action looks pretty tight - only the CU of the hands early looked a bit loose syncwise 


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#17 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 04:48 AM

You can soften the light on the mic and arm using a dot and finger kit.  Lacking one, you can improvise a finger with a 2x10" piece of diffusion on a rectangular frame of wire.
 
Kit: https://www.adorama....BSABEgIVCPD_BwE


Appreciated
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#18 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:06 AM

I here you on the solo gigs - super hard to be on top of everything.  Its pretty minor but when your working with quite static shots - Its nice if its tidy, others of course may disagree. 
 
Like I said its always a negotiation with music gear - but sometimes its worth asking the question.  And if you are stuck with a big mic, think carefully about placement it works better in some shots then others. The shot at 1,02 I think is one I'd try and loose - since the 414 piano mic is poking in at the edge - needs to be wider or tighter - include the whole piano mic or crop it out - edges are annoying. I can see its on a push in and it works better later (or earlier) - the cut at that point just happens at an unfortunate time
 
Lots to like though the moves are nice, v smooth (especially for lone operating) and the look the material matches the mood of the music. 
 
How tricky is the footage to edit? Are you using audio from different audio/takes or is it all from one angle? Did you do a live take and then mime - how did you work out the coverage. The action looks pretty tight - only the CU of the hands early looked a bit loose syncwise


Shot at 1.02 - ha, I’d say you’re spot on, I agree with that crop concept generally. I can zoom back out again, I think!

Wow, most or any issues were due to limited time. I love some shots, but after a minute or so I feel like I’m just trying to fill the thing. Eg. 1.02. It need more angles really, a few more interesting shots, along with all those lighting improvements.

The first lighting set up took around two hours. We couldn’t start till around 7.30pm. By around midnight I had like three angles and the batteries in my head were dying. Final coffee hammered around 1 am, which worked, ha. A few shots were truly rushed, although the work with the general lighting had been done already I guess. So all round I’m pretty pleased.

Ideally I’d set up and test lighting and come back the following evening fresh and shoot.


Edit - not bad to edit, and as you say it’s pretty tight. Yeah, live take at the start and the rest Mimed. Basically lined up the clapper on all the clips and began cutting. Pretty efficient process.

Working out coverage - I simply planned three classic angles static. And the same three as dolly moves. Then the plan was just as many nice improvised shots as time would allow us. Nothing to scientific


Thanks, really appreciate your thoughts. I am inspired!
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#19 Seth Kaplow

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 08:24 PM

I liked a lot of your shots espeically the one of the piano parts moving up and down. I think the biggest criticism would be the way the talent is lit from the front. He's got a lot of shadow on his right eye and a very hard shadow from his right nose. His nose seems a little big in my opinion, but I think the way you keyed his face draws attention to the side of his nose. You could have raised up the light and moved it slightly over to reduce the nose shadow. Which might have also helepd with how bright the mic looked. You could have also added a soft fill light to fill in some of the shadows on the right side of his face. I'm an amateur so take my opinion for what it's worth. Otherwise I really enjoyed watching it thanks for posting.


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#20 David Daniel Doherty

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 07:06 AM

''His nose seems a little big in my opinion''.

 

Yeah we tried to reduce the size of his nose before the shoot! Haha amazing.

 

But seriously, yeah, I hear you.

 

Thanks!


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