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Fashion Studio Shoot - Throwing Shadows

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Upcoming summer fashion shoot for a sunglasses campaign. The creative requires throwing shadows into the space to emulate sunlight coming through a window/casting shadows through exotic plants etc. 

We're working on a bit of a tight budget, looking for recommendations on how to light a space like below (it's a photography studio), to achieve close to the look on the example storyboard from the client. There's a lot of natural light in the studio space so we'll need a good bit of light to create a decent contrast ratio between sunlight & shadow. 



I'm thinking potentially one Arri M18 through CTS/CTO and actual plants/windows cut out of cardboard to motivate sunlight. That's pretty much as far as we can stretch the budget in terms of hiring lighting. We have 1x Aputure 300d and 1x Aputure 120d available already with 1x floppy & a few flags for neg fill. 

Also, can anyone recommend any window/plant gobos? Unsure what we'll end up lighting with, and I've never used gobos before...

Any advice would be awesome,


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When you asked about gobos, were you planning to use the ellipsoidal attachment on the Aputure? 

You said there's a lot of natural light in the space already. I would question the ability to control your contrast confidently if the windows aren't blacked. Not to mention, changing light and intensities throughout the day.

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Just to add to what Joseph said: Will there be direct sunlight coming into the studio? If there is no direct sunlight in the studio you might get away with your small LED package, if there is direct sunlight hitting any part of the white (even if its off screen), you will need a lot more blackout material than just a floppy. Generally speaking a room without any stray light is best for these high key kind of situations, as you need a lot of control over the levels to make it look good. 

If you want crisp, clean cuts on your homemade cardboard cookies, a par light like the M series by ARRI isn't really the way to go, especially at the close distances you might end up using these. I would prefer an older HMI fresnel, because you have just one, clean light source (the glass of the lens, not the bulb AND the reflector). Where I live, you can get a 4k fresnel for the same day rate of an M18, just because the lamps are a lot older. How much power can you draw at the location? Generally speaking, it works best if you can back off your lamp as much as possible in the location, that way you can get very crisp cuts on your cookie.

You could also go with the Aputure Spot Mount and some gobos, as mentioned before. This would only work if you are not fighting daylight though, otherwise the stop difference between the projected window and the general ambience would be too small to make the effect believable.

Colorwise, I prefer the look of straw versus orange for making HMIs look like warm daylight, but that is a merely personal preference. You should bring at least 1/8 and 1/4 in both CTS and CTO, so you can see what you prefer.

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Assuming your goal is to create a direct sunlight effect it's hard to say how large a unit you will need without knowing exactly how bright the space is. You might get away with an M18 an M40 would be safer.

How much space do you have on the right side of that sweep to light from? Another concern is creating enough space between the lamp and anything you use to create the pattern on the wall. If you want hard clean lines you will need a minimum of I'd say 10-15ft feet between the lamp and the items you will use to cut the light to create the patterns.  

Unless there is a large amount of room the right of the sweep to me it seems the space might be too small to use one source to create a large enough sunlight effect that could both light your talent and your background in a Wide shot like your Wide reference.  You could open that door on the left and use large Solids to create a tent and light from there (though that takes a solid crew to manage. Or if its north facing and you can place an M40 out there that might be enough. 

Another route might be using Jo-Leko. Gobos are attachments for ellipsoidal lights like a source 4. They can create hard shapes/patterns without flags within the light itself.  This might be a good way to go, especially if the space is tight. It might be easiest the use a Jo-Leko which is an 800w or 1600w HMI with a source 4 attachment for a streak on your background. The cost is about the same/little bit cheaper then an M18. 

Then you could use a 2nd source to light your talent. Not sure of a 300d would be bright enough. Maybe get a 2nd Joker 800 or M18 if you can afford it. Your reference photos of hard light on the side of talent, but you could try a soft daylight source like a 2nd Joker or an M18 through diffusion.

In addition I'd plan for some large solids to control contrast in the space

if continuity isn't a big issue try to work with the actual sun. Will probably look the best. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks guys, amazing advice from everyone. Got the studio to black out the windows so we'll have loads more control. Got some time set in the studio next week for testing so we'll see how we get on with our LED package.

Got an Aputure spotlight attachment and a few gobos & plants so we'll fire light through those and fill with 2x LED through diffusion. Or might use one for fill through diffusion & one as hair light from above.

Thanks again!

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