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Shaping front light for a music video


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Hi all,

I'm shooting a music video next week, and the artist has given me Earl Sweatshirt's HIVE as a visual reference : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FcDXL5Aw0o&ab_channel=OFWGKTA

I like the circular, creepy front lighting that moves with the camera, but admittedly have never attempted something like this.

My guess is attaching a light to the hot-shoe of my camera would get me in the ballpark. That said, the size and shape of the source seem important here. My biggest light (aputure 300D) can be shaped into a circle with the included softbox, but would be too large to mount onto my camera's hot shoe. I own a hotshoe light, but it's a square and no larger than a phone. Would black-wrapping a hot-shoe light (to prevent too much spill) get me close to this look, or do I need a much bigger source?

I'm also drawn to the intimate, likely simpler setup of the old american apparel ads (stills). Just seems to be a softened front flash? Light isn't as controlled here. Any ideas how to translate this into video form? Image attached.

As a side note, I've never posted here but have learned a ton from this forum. Incredible resource. Thank you all for helping me learn.

1152296.jpg

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I've seen this kind of lighting style for music videos on a Lil Dicky video too:

You're pretty close to how to do it. Small, bright source directly above camera. It seems, in all three examples, that the source is a little spotty, almost as if it's a fresnel at full spot.

Depending on the native ISO of your camera, it wouldn't be unusual to build a rig that holds both the camera and small fresnel light, like a 150W or 300W mole. Regardless of wattage, I think you'll want to use a light that has a fresnel at full spot.

Also, welcome to the forum!

Edited by AJ Young
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I did this on a music video a couple of years ago. The director wanted a frontal pool of light, with definite falloff on the edges on the wall behind the singer. We cut a small circular hole in a piece of black wrap, and clipped it to the barn doors of an Arri 300w fresnel. The flood/spot controlled how hard the edges of the circle were. The talent wasn't moving very much, so we had the lamp on a stand right behind camera, but you could do the same thing with a smaller lamp attached directly to the camera if you needed to move around

In another setup on the same video, we did a similar thing, but instead of the blackwrap gobo, we used a XS softbox with a grid in it,  shifted the talent further away from the wall so we could use the falloff, and then moved the lamp around during the shot, so the shadows moved as well. Looked pretty cool when it was cut.

You can see it here:

https://www.stuartbrereton.com/pretty-girl

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There’s the Fiona Apple ‘Criminal’ music video from 1996 done in this style:

Looks like a small-ish tungsten fresnel mounted to the camera above the lens. 

There’s also the 80’s Robert Palmer ‘Simply Irresistible’ music video: 

Geoff Boyle says he a made a giant ring light out of a wooden hoop and a bunch of photo flood tungsten bulbs: 

 

 

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On 10/29/2020 at 7:24 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

 

 

I wonder what he mean't by "that's the heat haze from the light bulb," when referencing the diffusion-esque quality of that light setup.

Edited by Stephen Sanchez
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21 minutes ago, Stephen Sanchez said:

I wonder what he mean't by "that's the heat haze from the light bulb," when referencing the diffusion-esque quality of that light setup.

I’m assuming he means that the bulbs were generated so much heat that there was a visible heat shimmer, causing a slight diffusion effect: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirage

Can’t say I’ve ever seen such a thing causing diffusion, but then I’m also having a hard time imagining a 6K tungsten ring light!

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All of these have the subjects in front of darker walls. American Apparel ads often use brighter colored design so the difference in level between the light reflecting off of the subject and the background isn't as apparent and more natural looking. 

Check out the cinematography on the movie We The Animals.

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  • 3 weeks later...

appreciate all the feedback immensely, guys.

From the advise I gleaned here, we ended up checking out a lowel ViP halogen light w/ a snoot from the university here in town. After some tests, using proved a bit ungainly and director didn't like being tethered to a wall outlet. We ditched the idea for most the video. The one scene we did make front-y we used a titan tube attached to the trunk of a car I was shooting out the back of (strapped in, ofc). Not totally the same, but in the same world I think.

results here : http://benjaminhandler.com/index.php/galleries/tj-stone-break-the-bank/

(not trying to plug my page just images too big to upload)

Hope to get a gig where I can try some of the above ideas you all suggested. the front-y look is captivatingly off-putting, and I want to try experimenting more with breaking some of the traditional lighting rules I've learned over the past few years.

Anyway, thanks guys. Cheers.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a bit late to the party since you already shot it, but...

If the light wants to be hard, then I would just use something I could spot in to get that sort of falloff. sure you could use blackwrap to make a snoot, or tape to control the falloff, you could use barn doors to box in the light-but at a certain point maybe you're working to hard to do something that is actually fairly easy. I'm watching Magnificent 7 now, but there's a quote that might apply here - "you can cut the ears off a donkey, but that don't make it a horse". You could use a toplight that is hard and lets you spot it in. The spot will give you the falloff you want, you can control it with how far to spot you go, and it will probably give you the look your going for.  Both the client reference and the image you posted shows a kind of rough and dirty look, so why be so precious about it? Spot that light in and get dirty with it. Fortune favors the bold.

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