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Lighting a White Studio


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#1 Jamie Wightman

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 09:53 AM

Hi everyone,
I am hoping someone out there might be able to give me some pointers on a studio lighting setup i am going to undertake in a months time. I am a TV documentary cameraman with medium lighting experience but this job is a little outside my usual stuff.
I will be shooting a series of idents of different setups involving babies doing various things in a soft white enviroment (think Pampers commercials etc). Surprise surprise there isn't much of a budget on this gig which is probably why i'm doing it so no big promo/commercial budget - i imagine iwill end up shooting it on digibeta. I think i am going to get a white studio ideally with an overhead lighting rig to provide a soft even fill light. A number of kinoflo for more soft directional keying and a few fresnel for back lighting and kicks.
The style will be fairly abstract - limited depth of field soft white background colourful props.
That is how isee it in my mind anyway. Is there anyone here who can see what i'm getting at and let me know if they think i've got it totally back to front. Are there any first pager, pitfalls to look out for etc.
I could really do with a recommeded kit list and any other creative ideas would be gratefully recieved too.
Thanks a million guys
Jamie
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 10:41 AM

I think the direction you're going sounds fine. When I'm shooting on pure white I don't usually use much (if any) backlight, because they're already getting enough separation from the background purely with contrast. But stylistically for this you might want some hot backlight. It's common to do some shallow-DoF rack focusing in these types of pieces to effect, and possibly even more in post. Maybe a ProMist or Warm Soft/FX for some halation. A dolly would be nice. Pastel-colored wardrobes and set/prop design.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 12:32 PM

I shot a Music Video in a 900 sq ft White studio a few months back. It had a floating white ceiling above the infinity curve. I had two 5k tungsten fresnels which I bounced of the floating ceiling. I lit the talent with tungsten lamps through frames of 216, but if you're shooting babies/young children, Kinos are the way to go - much less heat.

I didn't bother much with backlight, there's plenty of bounce. The one thing I wish i'd had more of is negative fill. You try to get the walls reading as white, and before you know it the subjects are flat lit and dull.

You might want to turn off the DCC on the camera as well.
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#4 Manu Anand

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 02:41 PM

Hello Jamie

Here is an archived discussion

www.cinematography.net/ Pages%20GB/cyc%20limbo%20effect.htm

has anyone seen the film ... "the perfect human " by jorgen leth
shot in white limbo...
gorgeous film

I like having some back light though especially when my characters are wearing darker colours .... i try and keep my back light at as low an angle as i can without getting any camera glare...that gives me a very beautiful silver lining(especially when they are wearing darker colours) kind of an effect on the characters head and shoulders. this low back light can be restrictive sometimes as cutting the glare becomes a problem the lower you take your camera.
I like having a large soft source as the back light as well in a white limbo setup ....normally i use an 8*8 gateway frame sometimes two with 5ks behind them so i have an even backlight that throws a very soft character shadow on the foreground.
For the faces i then normally light with kinos through diffusion.
In a white limbo i normally avoid a kicker as i like the feel of the character having some gradation on his face inspite of being in a white limbo..and i find the kicker thats opposite to the key slightly unnatural.

For a soft even light on the floor i then light from the top through 12*12 muslin or silk for a soft diffused even light. Depending on the size of the floor i hang more 12*12/ 8*8 frames as needed and light through them.

For a soft limbo effect diffusion is the key.

Manu Anand
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#5 Manu Anand

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 03:09 PM

OK i think the link should work now.

White Cyc and Limbo

Manu Anand
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#6 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 06:21 PM

Hi Jamie: Since you said you'll be working with babies: If any of them are "mobile" or semi-mobile, I'd only add that in addition to technical issues, you probably should put an extra emphasis on _safety_ when designing your production.

The environment has to be completely kid-proof. Even if their parents are nearby, you really have to work extra hard to insure that there's nothing a toddler can touch, grab, pull, bite, sit on/roll over, eat or anything which can cause then injury. Obviously this may restrict or challenge your lighting, electrical, rigging and other equipment choices.

Of course, newborns confined in a crib may make your task slightly easier, but if they're crawling around it can only take a second or two for them to potentially cause a disaster.

In a couple of weeks I'll be shooting another in a series of small productions involving dozens of slightly older kids (the walking & talking variety), and safety is the first thing on my mind when they're around. It's not that they're misbehaved, but an otherwise safe production environment appropriate for adult actors can be an unintended death trap for curious or inexperienced kid actors.

Have a great shoot! :)

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 11:04 PM

Hi Jamie: Since you said you'll be working with babies: If any of them are "mobile" or semi-mobile, I'd only add that in addition to technical issues, you probably should put an extra emphasis on _safety_ when designing your production.

The environment has to be completely kid-proof. Even if their parents are nearby, you really have to work extra hard to insure that there's nothing a toddler can touch, grab, pull, bite, sit on/roll over, eat or anything which can cause then injury. Obviously this may restrict or challenge your lighting, electrical, rigging and other equipment choices.

Of course, newborns confined in a crib may make your task slightly easier, but if they're crawling around it can only take a second or two for them to potentially cause a disaster.

In a couple of weeks I'll be shooting another in a series of small productions involving dozens of slightly older kids (the walking & talking variety), and safety is the first thing on my mind when they're around. It's not that they're misbehaved, but an otherwise safe production environment appropriate for adult actors can be an unintended death trap for curious or inexperienced kid actors.

Have a great shoot!  :)

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



VERY good point. If possible, you might want to rig from the ceiling. It would reduce a lot of worries and make parents feel much better.
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#8 Jamie Wightman

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 04:21 AM

Thank you everyone, your suggestions have been invaluable. It looks like i'm going to go with space lights and 5ks though 6x6 diff frames. Kino's for the talent. Stuart your mention of negative fill is a great pointer, thanks. And Peter and Christopher cheers for the H&S mention.

Manu - i will check that film asap, sounds like a perfect reference and your white cyc and limbo link confirmed my ideas.
Many thanks everyone, fantastic forum.
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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