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How to avoid Light in Frame !!


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Hope everyone is staying safe. Kindly let me know if this has been discussed before or not suitable for this section.

I was going through a blog by one DOP and he had to shoot inside a church . There were two possibilities, one to throw lights from outside or to place them inside and match direction, intensity  etc. However, due to budget constraints he couldn’t rig the lights inside and placed them outside. Now in the parallel dolly shot (with windows) every light was visible but as the windows were closed it didn’t look completely unnatural. Coincidentally the director liked that shot and didn’t even care about this.

Now my question is how can one avoid this situation when the window will be in frame (let’s say the camera is in eye level) and the light would have to be placed outside that window. Along with avoiding blown out and diffused window frames.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Saikat Chattopadhyay
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I'll preface by saying that every category of cinematography has different priorities with the image. Truly. Fashion likes flat unrealistically bright lighting and windows can blow out if they want. Commercials like well exposed perfect representation images, drama can like anything and is usually contrasty. This is a wide generalization.

To compare. My profession is mass-market commercial (infomercials), with non-dramatic happy perfect scenario images. The windows are never blown out, and they contain detail on the edge of clipping. I couldn't get away with the church shot you described (window slats being closed down) because it detracts from the appeal of the church, which are usually beautiful inside and out. A dramatic piece will be different. Fashion will be different. So, it depends on the project and it's intended audience.

What I mean is there is not one solution for a specific scene that fits all categories of imaging.

As far as my take on the subject for my field of cinematography. I'd have to open the windows and keep the lights out of frame. For the interior shot that's easy, but when you take a shot at the windows themselves, the lights will have to get pulled back. It's your job to make sure that it's a believable match between the two. But for my field of work, I can't get away with background lighting alone. I always bring something big and soft for the talent's face inside. There must be budget for that or the spot is a failure. If it's a choice between the window lights and key light, I'd have to choose keylight and bring something smaller inside for the background to "fake" a window push, and likely have to iris open more. But those are the priorities in my field. Music videos, PSA, a burger commercial, they'll all have different things they can get away with and things they won't let pass.

I hope this helps.

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If you want to avoid blown out windows, it's an exposure balance you need to achieve. This is a solution you find by taking your location, and planning for the sun's position and the amount of exposure your lights offer.

Something that I do when windows are in the shot is set the iris to expose for the window at a range of detail I like, then light the frame to meet the window at a pleasing level.

If it's your lights that are blowing out the windows then turn them off.

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You have to ask yourself: (1) what do you want this to look like, and (2) what would this look like in reality (as a frame of reference). If you're in a day interior, maybe the windows would be hot and blown-out naturally, it isn't always bad to have hot windows. And it depends on the windows -- narrow vertical windows might look OK if whited out as opposed to broader windows. And it's a church, maybe glowing windows will give the scene a more religious feeling (look at this frame from "Barry Lyndon").

Also, if this were shot at night for day, what's your choice anyway but to blow out the windows? You have to hide the fact that it is dark outside somehow.

And if you raised the interior level to the point where the windows weren't bright in comparison, or darkened the windows to the level of the interior, maybe this would look very artificially-lit, low in contrast, and make it even more obvious that the windows are being lit artificially. A bright window can hide a multiple of sins, and it can add contrast and drama if you let the interior go darker in comparison. Unless the look you want is an overcast day where the room lights are on and it's as bright inside as outside.

But the simple answer is if the camera is pointed at the windows and you don't want to see the lights and any diffusion frames, and you don't want to blow-out the windows to an even, pure white, then the lights and diffusion outside can't be in the shot -- you have to move them to one side so that they are off-camera. On a bigger-budgeted show, sometimes you can arm the light on a condor so that it is high enough to be above the frame line coming straight in the windows (the condor arming from one side.)

Screen Shot 2021-01-13 at 9.33.54 PM.png

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20 hours ago, Stephen Sanchez said:

Something that I do when windows are in the shot is set the iris to expose for the window at a range of detail I like, then light the frame to meet the window at a pleasing level.

If it's your lights that are blowing out the windows then turn them off.

Thanks for the other explanation ,that has helped a lot. The fact that confuse me is ..if the light has to go out of frame then it must be in some angle and the direction of light will be changed accordingly . So in that case Sun position will be a considering factor as well!! 

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20 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

You have to ask yourself: (1) what do you want this to look like, and (2) what would this look like in reality (as a frame of reference). If you're in a day interior, maybe the windows would be hot and blown-out naturally, it isn't always bad to have hot windows. And it depends on the windows -- narrow vertical windows might look OK if whited out as opposed to broader windows. And it's a church, maybe glowing windows will give the scene a more religious feeling (look at this frame from "Barry Lyndon").

 

Screen Shot 2021-01-13 at 9.33.54 PM.png

Thank you for this informative piece!! Yes, Barry Lyndon is definitely a bliss to watch . But in the Church Scene from the blog the light fixtures were very prominent unlike this scene,even the DOP mocked about it by saying 'it was like multiple Suns out there'. 

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1 hour ago, Saikat Chattopadhyay said:

The fact that confuse me is ..if the light has to go out of frame then it must be in some angle and the direction of light will be changed accordingly . So in that case Sun position will be a considering factor as well!! 

You're concerned that moving the exterior lights that will break continuity with the other shots?

My response to that would be yes. But that doesn't mean it will be obvious. Being the DP, you are the caretaker of the image throughout the show and must make sure that the different shots seem like a believable space. I cheat light positions all the time when repositioning.

It's possible to put yourself into a position in a scene where a shot can't match the others because you had to remove the lights. So, any coverage directions should be considered before lighting so that doesn't happen. One way to give yourself a safety net is to light for the widest shots first so that all the tighter stuff shot later matches.

Consider the sun, of course. Benefit yourself as much as you can, but be flexible. Sometimes the schedule doesn't allow you to get everything you want, so prioritize the most important or widest shots during the best time of day for your angles. Or modify the bad sun times with rags or flags to cut it off your windows.

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