Thread: On set lighting - low light - waveform readings

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  1. #1 On set lighting - low light - waveform readings 
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    hi,
    I come from documentary but I have been doing a bit more studio and set work with my RED Epic Dragon. We have found that in certain cases where a client wants to see a "moody" low light look, that we can not achieve it visually (using a light meter to confirm our settings) without getting some wave-form "goal-posting" into the blacks.

    should we be concerned by this? the on-set monitors look great and the image is what we want but
    my instinct is to capture a clean wave-form and express to the client that all the information is there for color correction. often, they don't trust that
    work-flow.

    any suggestions or resources on where I can learn a bit more about this are appreciated. thank you!

    shooting in 4K
    standard OLPF
    ISO 800
    various looks - usually Dragon Color or REC709
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Adrian Weinbrecht's Avatar
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    Hi Jason

    Try to keep your goal posts clear if you can and bring down the ISO as low as possible for the client, ISO has no impact on the raw file. When we want to show the client something moody, we will film at 800 to help with focus pulling and framing and then reduce the iso on playback.
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  3. #3  
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    sorry for the slow reply - i'm horrible about using this great resource! thank you for the info / on a side note, we have found that rating our Light Meters and Lighting to an ISO 320 (but shooting at 800) seems to solve the exposure issues. keeping a good wave form but allowing us to control the room. Weird work-around
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Lauri Hakala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Baffa View Post
    sorry for the slow reply - i'm horrible about using this great resource! thank you for the info / on a side note, we have found that rating our Light Meters and Lighting to an ISO 320 (but shooting at 800) seems to solve the exposure issues. keeping a good wave form but allowing us to control the room. Weird work-around
    I believe this has to do with the fact that the dsmc1 epic dragon is more like native iso 320-500 than 800. At least this is what I've found out in four years with epic dragon :) Adrians tip to monitor with low ISO is great, that way you can get a good clean exposure yet still keep the image on monitors looking moody. By the way you really can't avoid the shadow goal post to show up if you shoot something with really dark areas, this is totally normal and you'll get great results if there is at least something in the picture with good exposure (and you don't plan on lifting up the shadows in post).
    Last edited by Lauri Hakala; 11-16-2018 at 03:20 AM.
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  5. #5  
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    I'd just add that once you pass the "acceptable" threshold of the sensor I've found Neat Video to be an amazing resource. It can clean things up quite a bit if you need to go a bit further.

    I've been pretty amazed with how well it plays with red noise when you push it.

    https://www.neatvideo.com/home
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  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Baffa View Post
    hi,
    I come from documentary but I have been doing a bit more studio and set work with my RED Epic Dragon. We have found that in certain cases where a client wants to see a "moody" low light look, that we can not achieve it visually (using a light meter to confirm our settings) without getting some wave-form "goal-posting" into the blacks.

    should we be concerned by this? the on-set monitors look great and the image is what we want but
    my instinct is to capture a clean wave-form and express to the client that all the information is there for color correction. often, they don't trust that
    work-flow.
    They need to be educated. Your instinct is perfectly correct. The best way to teach them is to shoot two images, one underexposed by 2-3 stops and one "correctly" exposed. Show them also what ungraded LOG footage looks like in the two scenarios (they will likely look relatively the same). Point out to them that in both cases, the LOG image contains sufficient information for composition and focus checking, but not virtual confirmation of exposure. Grade both to an equivalent moody look and then compare how much noise there is in the middle tones (cropping in to see 1:1 pixels). Ask them if they prefer grainy/noisy moody or clean moody. To my eye, grainy moody looks cheap and clean moody looks expensive. If they agree, then they should understand that the monitor is a great place to evaluate focus and composition, false color (especially GIO Scope) is a great way to evaluate contrast ratios, and the histogram is a good way to evaluate exposure levels.
    Michael Tiemann, Chapel Hill NC

    "Dream so big you can share!"
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  7. #7  
    There's nothing wrong with black areas of the frame that hit the goalposts or zero on a waveform IF that is the intended look. I mean, if you had a title card with white letters on a black background, you'd want that to happen. One shouldn't be afraid of black or darkness.

    The only problem is changing your mind in post and wanting to bring things up. As a precaution for that, what I try to do is lower the ISO rating (if possible) to get cleaner shadows when doing a dark scene, rather than underexposing the sensor too much.

    I'd also keep in mind that in a dimly-lit set, often the monitor is the brightest thing in the room, so there is a tendency to underexpose the image to compensate because it feels brighter than it really is. It's a psychological thing, and the reverse happens in day settings, the monitor feels dimmer if your eyes are used to a bright environment, so some people open up the stop to compensate.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Nick Morrison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mullen ASC View Post
    There's nothing wrong with black areas of the frame that hit the goalposts or zero on a waveform IF that is the intended look. I mean, if you had a title card with white letters on a black background, you'd want that to happen. One shouldn't be afraid of black or darkness.

    The only problem is changing your mind in post and wanting to bring things up. As a precaution for that, what I try to do is lower the ISO rating (if possible) to get cleaner shadows when doing a dark scene, rather than underexposing the sensor too much.

    I'd also keep in mind that in a dimly-lit set, often the monitor is the brightest thing in the room, so there is a tendency to underexpose the image to compensate because it feels brighter than it really is. It's a psychological thing, and the reverse happens in day settings, the monitor feels dimmer if your eyes are used to a bright environment, so some people open up the stop to compensate.
    Love this so much, and it's so true. We always try and lower our ISO, especially in darker scenes. Gives us a lot more room later in the grade.
    Nick Morrison
    Founder, Director & Lead Creative
    // SMALL GIANT //
    smallgiant.tv
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