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Colorful Portrait Lighting


Heath Orchard
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I have a shoot coming up this week and the directive is to do a series of extreme close ups of a persons body and ultimately reveal their face looking directly into the lens. All of the close ups and abstract shots should be shot using only vibrant and highly saturated colors that slowly desaturate over time until the light eventually becomes white as we finally see the face. We'll also  be shooting in front a green screen.  I have access to all sorts of RGB lights. Skypanels, Titans, Gemini, Lupo's, hard, soft, etc and I plan on doing some tests this week. In the meantime I'm looking for any suggestions or first hand experience this community may have in this area. What are the pitfalls I might not be expecting or things to watch out for? Is there a benefit to using harder or softer light? I'll be shooting on a Sony Venice 16 bit X-OCN with Kowa Anamorphics. I've provided images that were taken by a still photographer and given to me as a reference.

Thanks in advance. 

Heath

2019_06_07_Lyndsay_post_processed-9.jpg

2019_06_07_Lyndsay_post_processed-11.jpg

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2 hours ago, Heath Orchard said:

I have a shoot coming up this week and the directive is to do a series of extreme close ups of a persons body and ultimately reveal their face looking directly into the lens. All of the close ups and abstract shots should be shot using only vibrant and highly saturated colors that slowly desaturate over time until the light eventually becomes white as we finally see the face. We'll also  be shooting in front a green screen.  I have access to all sorts of RGB lights. Skypanels, Titans, Gemini, Lupo's, hard, soft, etc and I plan on doing some tests this week. In the meantime I'm looking for any suggestions or first hand experience this community may have in this area. What are the pitfalls I might not be expecting or things to watch out for? Is there a benefit to using harder or softer light? I'll be shooting on a Sony Venice 16 bit X-OCN with Kowa Anamorphics. I've provided images that were taken by a still photographer and given to me as a reference.

Thanks in advance. 

Heath

2019_06_07_Lyndsay_post_processed-9.jpg

The Venice responds really well to mixed lighting and you might find that you start using less intensity in the light than expected as it sees A LOT and picks light extremely well. 

I would say that the benefits of using hard or soft light depend on your personal taste but maybe you can use both. 

I shot a commercial where I mixed soft and hard light on the Venice (although not as colourful as yours) and it worked really well.
 

 

Edited by Miguel Angel
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Thanks Miguel. Beautiful work on that commercial. I think more specifically I'm looking for advice on how to maintain clear separation of colors and make sure one color isn't completely polluting another. I'll most certainly be using a combination of hard and soft lighting. The other lingering question is how to set us up for the most success in post. 

Thanks,

-Heath

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I'd say use harder lighting for the rim/hair lights and softer lighting for everything hitting the front face.

The only thing in your post that stuck out to me as tricky is the fact you want to combine highly saturate lights along with shooting in front of a green screen. It'll be hard to get that level of variety displayed in the references while still making sure your subject stays a completely different hue from the chroma-screen in the back.

What exactly will be going behind the subject? Specifc images or vague gradients like in the references?
If it's just random color splashes, I'd suggest shooting in front of an 8x8 of strong white diffusion and blasting strong party-gelled lights into it from the back. This will give you 100% freedom on color selection. Can even use flags to square off some hard cast shapes.

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I like the first image, but the second one looks clipped, both in saturation and gamut (yes, you can clip a camera by going outside its colour range, as well as its brightness range.)

This can be hard to avoid with LEDs which tend to create colours by mixing red, green and blue primaries. This means that you can theoretically mix pastel shades, especially with the addition of white, but in the end you're still usually mixing red, green and blue spikes and they may still be out of gamut no matter how dim they are. This is the dirty underbelly of colour mixing LEDs which isn't much discussed.

In my view if you want this to look its absolute best, gel white lights, or at least compare the results you get with various types of gels and LEDs. Some LEDs use phosphor-converted colours and are better.

P

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Very helpful everyone. Any advice on how to best provide post with a healthy digital negative? I worry about overexposure because I don’t want the colors to clip as Phil said, and I understand that’s not just a brightness issue. But I also worry that exposing a little under to get that saturation I want could make the sensor thin and won’t allow for pushing the colors in post at all. Not to mention introducing noise everywhere. This will be screened on a 10x30 ft screen so I definitely want to keep the image as clean as possible. 

Thanks!

-Heath

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I think you need to keep the lights fairly hard, so that you can control spill into areas where you don't want a certain color. Perhaps choose a soft source as a base color, and then add harder accents in other colors.

In terms of exposure, you pretty much have to underexpose in order to get that strong saturation. Noise shouldn't be a problem unless someone tries to crank up the exposure in post, but then they'll be ruining the colors anyway.

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The orangeish yellow and pink hard lights come in at such an angle that they don't interact with each other or mix. The blue is coming in at an angle where it doesn't really mix with the pink, but does with the orange creating that green gradient. You would get wildly different mixes depending on exactly how your talent is positioned in the frame and how the contours of their face are catching each color and causing the different colors to mix. 

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On 11/3/2019 at 3:21 AM, Heath Orchard said:

Thanks Miguel. Beautiful work on that commercial. I think more specifically I'm looking for advice on how to maintain clear separation of colors and make sure one color isn't completely polluting another. I'll most certainly be using a combination of hard and soft lighting. The other lingering question is how to set us up for the most success in post. 

Thanks,

-Heath

You are more than welcome Heath. 

Don't be afraid of underexposing with the Venice because its toe is just infinite. 

Just to give you an example, I shot this with available natural light on the Venice and I underexposed LOADS. 
They are not graded. 

You might find that once you apply a bit of contrast to the image you will get better and stronger saturated colours. 

You mentioned that you're going to shoot in front of a green screen. 
If I were you, I'd ask for it to be blue (I personally think that it keys better) and I'd try  to shoot as far away from it so you don't have the coloured light spilling into the blue screen and the light from the blue screen contaminating your character. 

Now, if you're going to shoot in a studio, I'd ask for a set of Astera tubes, very versatile and really powerful.

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Have  a lovely day. 

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