INDUSTRY. LIGHTING ROUND TABLE
and phosphors. It’s also interesting to think about how cameras interpret lighting. With virtual productions somewhat training creatives to look at a camera feed rather than what they see by eye on set, it’s then possible to optimise lighting for the camera and not the human observer. For example, if a camera is set to a 180° shutter, then half of the time it’s closed – and therefore light does not actually need to be emitted for the benefit of the camera – this means a light with proper camera sync could be on for 50% of the time. This can translate to enormous power savings. CC: When talking about LED, sustainability is often at the bottom of the list. A volume can have hundreds of panels – that number can even go into the thousands. Creating products that have a longer life and are more efficient can make a big difference. In the case of LED panels used for lighting that have extra emitters, those emitters are usually white, which has much higher efficiency than the RGB combination used until now. Can you discuss the importance of colour theory in lighting design and how it plays into creating the atmosphere for a scene? SJ: Colour theory is one of the more complex topics in lighting for film. Of course, there’s a very strong technical side, which helps gaffers, DOPs and graders to understand the impact their tools will have on the workflow from shoot to post. The way the camera interprets lighting in film is extremely important to know. If you don’t understand the physics you will not be able to predict the outcome, and therefore take high risks of making a wrong decision during the shoot. Also important is being able to communicate colours with set design and make-up to make sure their choices will make it to the end without being degraded by the way digital film works. JH: Colour theory is quite important to create a well-lit scene, but also important is a strong understanding of colourimetry. In addition to the differences between additive and subtractive light sources, it’s imperative that users have a grasp of the quality of light and how different types of sources appear different to human observers and cameras. With such a variety of lighting on set, metamerism can be a significant challenge to overcome – and creatives must fully adopt either an
“Lighting that mimics the human eye’s perception in darkness gives a subtle, natural look”
in-person or camera-specific approach to maintaining colour accuracy. CC: Lighting can dramatically affect colour and is extremely important in ensuring the desired result is achieved. In virtual production, where the aim is realism, this involves making sure the colours of the foreground elements and the colours of the background scene match. The background is illuminated in the virtual world, not lit by the physical lights on set. Multiple devices are used and this results in a variety of colour representations that need to be matched with the scene. Understanding what colour each light can achieve and the quality of the spectrum of light are important additions to knowledge of lighting techniques and artistic approach. How do you approach lighting for night shoots/scenes, and do you think technology will evolve to make these scenes easier to shoot? SJ: I am not a cinematographer, but there are very interesting techniques being used. Using two cameras, one for normal footage and one recording infrared, for example. This allows for good contrast and being able to see colour by combing the footage in post. Also, lighting scenes that mimic the human eye’s perception in darkness by getting gradually brighter as the scene evolves, is something really
clever that gives that subtle, natural look you want to have for night scenes. JH: Cameras are getting better and better at recording clean images in low light, but the sensor itself is the driving factor for how low that level can be. For extreme low-light scenes, we’ve implemented a special feature in Helios called ‘theatre mode’. It requires tiles to have special calibration at various output levels, but a user then has the ability to maintain full bit depth at hyper-low near-black levels. As more panel manufacturers adopt some of these newer features – which are being added constantly, as each major shoot is a learning process for everyone involved – the more the general industry will benefit. CC: I’m no expert in film lighting so can’t comment on approaching night scenes. However, when it comes to advancements in technology, we have a fantastic new feature – extended bit depth – which typically offers two to three stops of additional dynamic range on camera, which is a huge advantage when filming an LED screen displaying dark, shadowy content. This additional range can also be used to achieve brighter, more realistic lighting – as when using extended bit depth the camera exposure can be increased substantially, which makes the panels – and any lighting from them – appear much brighter on camera.
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