Definition August 2024 - Web


INTO THE FRAY Balancing practical lighting with LED volume environments is another tricky challenge

“A limitation of LEDs is in generating hard, crisp light, but they’re very good at general directional and ambient fill, with natural colour and immersion,” comments Murphy. “For aerial shots featuring movement through clouds, you’d need to replicate fog on-set, which is possible but requires forward planning.” For the VR worlds of Netflix sci-fi hit 3 Body Problem , the team filmed against a large 180° wall consisting of ARRI SkyPanel LEDs filtered through and hidden behind a Rosco scrim. “Our board operators could control any kind of colour we wanted,” explains Richard Donnelly ISC. “This enabled us to light the actors precisely – for instance with the sun rising – instead of being led by VFX. We augmented the set with many other lights but, essentially, we lit the actors by the wall. It’s almost the reverse of volume capture where you use plates filmed on location to light live action.” The subtlety of balancing practical lights with the skyscape environment generated on a volume ‘is an art form’, says Alpe, that sets an experienced DOP apart from the rest. “The ambient lighting from an LED volume, as reflected on the skin tones of a person, can sometimes look different to what you would expect by being outside,” she says. “When working in a real-time environment, it’s important for volume control teams to take the time to share lighting understanding with the DOP, to empower them to fully understand exactly what they have control over in

the scene. It is through the strength of this collaboration that DOPs can be set up for success on-set.” LED screens featuring high dynamic range (HDR) are becoming standard, which means they produce a variety of intensities that feel more natural. “When you’re framing something up in camera, even if you’re supplementing it with practical lights, it can feel like those intensities and exposures and colour saturations are realistic. Once cinematographers begin to trust that, they’re becoming more confident in what they can achieve.”

A good VP team will be able to advise on the best approach that will suit the production and director needs.

EVER SKYWARD “There’s some unusual phenomena in the skies – from rainbows to light shimmering through rain,” concludes Murphy. “Recent developments in ray tracing are enabling us to accurately capture the refractive nature of light through atmospherics in camera. We’ll see much richer clouds and skies on demand, which are more photoreal and detailed.”



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