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Pierre Devereux

Lighting for slightly reflective Miniature characters

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I am doing a project that requires a lot of Green and Blue screen work to be done with the characters. The entire project is character driven, with little to no live people in any of the shots. I am having great difficulty lighting the characters nicely, so that I can get decent focus on them. I am shooting with a Panasonic AF101, and the extremely shallow depth of field that it gives, is causing my grey hair to turn even greyer. :-)


Is there any advice that can be given? Any suggestions for some online material I can scour to find some solutions?


Thanks in advance


Pierre Devereux

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All you can do is take the usual measures to increase depth of field. Add more light, use wide-angle lenses, although this may become complicated if you need macro lenses to photograph your miniatures. If they're reflective, and if you want to minimise this, consider the softest possible light as it will reduce the appearance of specular reflections (although you may increasingly see reflections of the soft light sources, in some circumstances.)


What are you using for lenses?



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Depends on the scene completely, but there are many things you can do to help lighting reflecting things.





The idea behind reflective things is well, they reflect the world around them so you have to prepare the scene in the reflection.


The angle of reflection are obviously quite great if the object is spherical.


Use LARGE soft lights and good use of flags and gobos.





Without seeing the scene it's quite difficult to know what you are after. How do you mean it's quite difficult to get focus on them?





Any picture of this miniature set?



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Hi Olliehm,


Thank you for the reply. I don't have any pictures to post yet, as we are in the very, very beginning of the project, and I am still busy with loads of testing. The tests that I am currently busy with, involve humanoid characters made from pewter and painted/shined up afterwards. The one specific troublesome character is a blue colour, and has a rather "Deep" head and face (picture the depth of the head of one of the "Alien" characters from mouth to back of head) - add to this the extremely shallow depth of field from the AF101, and I get pinpoint eyes, but the ears are terrible out of focus.


To answer Phil, I am using a Lumix 14-140 lens


I am finding it difficult to get the right amount of light added that will allow for the aperture to be set around F16 - or even F22 if possible. I am shining lights directly onto the character, but they are still not bright enough to light up the scene properly.


I will admit that I am pretty new to the art of lighting, so am probably making terrible simple errors, but, as the days go by, I am sure things will improve! :-)


Thanks again guys for the feedback



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If the lights aren't bright enough; you'll need bigger lights. Granted, though, as you start to photograph very small things, you start needing a lot of light.

I was just recently doing some Macro, for the first time (not exactly the same thing, but pretty close) and was striving to get an F22/F32... and then of course the director wanted 120fps... so this necessitated very large sources as close as I could possibly (comfortably) get them.


With reflective things, it's best not to light the thing itself; but what is around the thing... using the reflection of say a large white care to form your main lights, and black cards as your negative fill.

Also, have you considered using some dulling spray on the models?

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Hi Adrien,


We are actually going to try and recolour the character this weekend, and change the surface slightly to reduce reflection.


I do have another question though, what is said to be the best:


1) Filming with no zoom, but the camera as close to the subject as possible




2) Placing the camera far away from the subject and using the zoom function?


As I said, I am using the Panasonic AF100 with the Lumix 14-140.


thank you



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