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Ben Brahem Ziryab

Soft lighting technique

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Hello all,

 

There is something interesting happening with the soft lighting on Leo's face.

 

inception-2401-e1480354317890.jpg

 

It looks like a large soft source close to camera as the light falls off quickly (and perhaps some negative fill), but there is a bit of a highlight on Leo's face.

 

Could it be a book light, and in between the two frames, a small fresnel light pointing directly towards Leo?

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I'd say it's an HMI source outside the window to the right of frame and down stage slightly. It's not close to camera because it's not very bright and the angle of his face is changing the brightness considerably. You can see it lighting the pillar to the left of him and another vertical object reflecting to the right of him.

 

This is a very common trick when lighting fast and doing simple dialog scenes. Set up a big backlight source to fill in the negative space (windows behind leo) and then use a single key to light objects in frame with. The look is trying to mimmic a big bay window to the right of frame that you can see in the actual movie. I'm pretty sure they just fogged the window so when the camera moved around, you couldn't see out the window. That's what's making the light so soft and pretty.

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I don't think you could decide whether a light was softened by a book light technique (bounced light passed through diffusion) versus any other soft light technique (just diffused or just bounced) only by looking at the results.

 

What I see here is fairly common, there are two soft lights hitting the actor. There is a big soft light for the room and there is a closer soft light that was added to wrap the soft room light around more frontally for the close-up, from the same side as the farther, big soft light but more 3/4 frontal instead of side. And that closer light is lower and less soft / less large judging up the faint upwards nose shadow on his face and the bright reflection in his right eye. There is also a double shadow on his neck from his shirt collar. Maybe something like a 4-bank Kinoflo wrapping the window light effect around, or maybe a Lowell Rifa type light on a low stand.

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Of course, sometimes you get that double shadow effect just because there are rows of windows, each soft but separated enough to create multiple shadows.

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The highlight on the left side of his face is what you get when a light source (large and soft, in this case) is coming from a side to 3/4 kicker position. The further round it goes, the more it picks up the sheen from his skin. That soft source maybe big enough that it wraps around to a side position and catches the camera side of his face, or it may be a second smaller source. It looks like there is only one catchlight in his eye, which would suggest a single, large source, but it's hard to tell from this still. If it's a real location, it could be low level natural, ambient light that is providing the wrap, and a movie light that is at 3/4 to the action.

 

What movie is the still from?

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