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Tips for tiniest, Dimmable, On-Camera Light to emulate Flash Red-eye Look? Ref: Fiona Apple's "Criminal"

Andy Zou

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Hey y'all, doing a pretty simple lighting setup where the artist wants to emulate / make an homage to Fiona Apple's Criminal


BTS where the director actually talks about the cinematography here:


They wanted to emulate the red-eye flash look in video, which I understand is easy enough to do with a tiny source coming from the same direction as the lens as possible. Ringlight is too big and soft.


You can see in the video reflections the single source, and I believe there's one moment where it's clearly reflected enough to see a bare edison bulb.


This is easy enough to do with a small flashlight strapped to the lens with a tiny bit of diffusion on it, but I want a little more control/dimmability.


The tungsten Dedolight seems like the best solution, as it's tungsten, small, camera-mounted, dimmable, and can be powered with a battery. However most rental houses seem to only rent these in large sets and I only need 1...


There is an LED Dedolight that could work, it's gotten good reviews on its color temperature, but I'd try to stick Tungsten if I could.


I'm really inspired by the Profoto's Hardbox, a flash accessory that is designed to make the point as small as possible.


If anybody had any advice or ideas besides getting a dedolight, I'm all ears.

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A small reflector dish with a lightbulb clamped just above the matte box would work (or remove the reflector dish if you want a smaller source, just use the clamp on the edison socket). It could be attached to a dimmer.


The "red eye" effect though is technically different than a flat-on key light like in flash photography. If you actually want the light to reflect over the back of the eyeballs so the iris goes red instead of black (like "Blade Runner" did for some shots), you'd either need to shoot on a longer lens to reduce the difference in angle between the bulb and the lens, or use a piece of glass (semi-mirrored would be ideal) at a 45 degree angle to the lens to reflect the light off of the glass onto the actor's eyes and back into the lens. In this case, it might not actually be the key light but an additional eye light.

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Hm! That's a very fascinating idea with the 45degree glass; essentially the mechanics of a teleprompter. Never even thought about that, although it may be more complicated than the setup I'd be able to do in this.


I'll probably rely on increasing distance from the subject so that the angle is more acute.

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