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Figure 3.11 Bruce Almighty (2003) water tank composite.


(Image courtesy 2003 Universal Studios Licensing, LLLP. All rights reserved.)

Controlling Spill Light


Attentiveuseofflagsandteasersonsetlightingandblackcloth onlight-reflectingsurfacesoutsidetheframewilleliminatemost spilllightonthebacking.(Evenconcretestagefloorsreflectasurprisingamountoflight.Toseespilllightwhenthebackingislit, lookthrougharedfilter.)Asmallamountofwhitespilllightfrom thesetinevitablyhitsthebacking.Itoftencomesfromthelarge, almostunflaggablesoftsourcesthatsimulateskylight.Sincethe skylight is typically two or three stops down from the key light, thespillhaslittleeffectonthebacking.Realisticlightingshould betheparamountconcern. Ifwhitelightiscontaminatinganareaofthebacking,ahigher level of the alpha channel can be applied in post to darken it. Since there is no difference in color between, say, transparent whitesmokeormistandwhitelightofthesamebrightnessfalling on the backing, its clear that the less white light contamination thereistobecleanedup,thebetter.Otherwise,asthecontaminationdisappears,sodoallthetransparentforegroundpixelsof the same color. Screen correction is invaluable in extracting the maximum detail from smoke and spray shot against white-lit backings. If the foreground must be flat lit to simulate overcast conditions, a good approach is to bring most of the light in from o verheadthroughalarge,translucentsilk.Onstage,muchofthe overhead soft light may be kept off the backing with a series of horizontalblackteasershungdirectlybeneaththesilk,runningits entirewidthparalleltothebacking.Theteasersare rogressively p longertoptobottomastheygetnearthebacking,preventingthe backingfromseeingthesilk(seeFigure3.11above).

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Lighting Virtual Sets


Inescapably,ifoneislightinganactorandthesurroundingfloor with white light, there is no way to control the floor brightness independentlyoftheactor,otherthanchangingthefloorpaintor floorfabric.Theonlycontrolavailableisthebalancebetweenthe actorsshadowandtherestofthefloorandbacking. Lighting Procedure for Holding the Shadow (Petro Vlahos Technique) 1. Turnonthekeylighttocastthedesiredshadow. 2. Measure the brightness on the floor just outside the shadow (useaspotbrightnessmeterandgreenfilter,assumingthatits agreenfloor). 3. Lightalltherestofthegreenfloortothismeasuredbrightness whileaddingaslittlelightaspossibletotheshadowarea. 4. Lightthegreenwallstoachievethesamebrightnessasthefloor. 5. Shadow density may be increased by blocking fill light from theshadowareaorlightenedbyaddingfilllighttotheshadow area. Shadow density is controlled by adjusting the fill light, not by adjusting the key light. Outside the shadow, the entire green set should appear to have equal and uniform intensity as seen from the camera position. Strive to stay within plus-or-minus 1/3 f-stop;screencorrectioncandeal withbrightnessvariations asgreatasplusorminusonef-stop. Thehumaneyequicklycompensatesforsmalllightchanges; itisnotagoodabsolutemeasuringdevice.(Itis,however,superb at comparisons.) It is necessary to use a spot brightness meter andgreenfiltertocheckforuniformbrightness.Adigitalcamera withacomputerdisplayisalsousefulformakingaquickcheckof lightinguniformityinthethree-colorchannels. Inbacklight,becauseoftheshallowanglebetweenthecamera andfloor,thefloorwillnotappearasgreenasthebackwall.Adiffused, polarized white-light glare component is reflected by the floorbecauseoftheshallowangle.Forholdinggoodshadowsin backlight,itisessentialtouseapolarizingfilteroverthecamera lens.TheHN38isrecommended.Rotatethefilteruntilthefloor glareiscanceled.Ideally,thebacklightsshouldbepolarizedtoo, but it is rarely done. Large sheets of polarizing plastic are availableuptoabout19feetwide;theycanbeprotectedagainstheat with heat shield reflecting filter material. Of course, HMIs emit lessheatthantungstenlampstobeginwith. Lighting to Eliminate the Shadow (Vlahos Technique) 1. Light the entire green set uniformly with large-area diffused lightsources.

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2. Checkuniformityasnotedabove. 3. Placetheactorinposition.Ifhecastsashadow,addadditional low-levellightingtoreturnthelightlevelintheshadowtoits originallevel. 4. Add a modest key light to create the desired modeling, and ignore the shadow it casts. The added key light will cause a shadowtobevisibletotheeye,butbecausethekeylightdid notaffectthegreenintensityofthefloorintheshadowithas created,theshadowcanbemadetodropoutincompositing.

Tracking Marks on the Screen


When the foreground camera moves, the background must move appropriately. Unless the foreground and/or background can be photographed with a motion control camera, tracking datamustbeextractedfromtheforegroundimageandapplied to the background during compositing. This process is called matchmoving. Tracking marks applied to the otherwise featureless screen give the matchmovers fixed points to track. These marks must obviously show in the photographed scene, but ideally they shouldcleartheforegroundactors,oratleastavoidtheirheads, sincetheymustberemovedinthecomposite.Marksaretypically laidoutinarectangularpattern,withabout3to5feetbetween them,dependingonthelensused,theaction,andthedistanceto thebacking.Blackorwhitetapepiecesorcrosseswillusuallysuffice,thoughuniquelyidentifiablemarkersareveryhelpfulifthere ismuchtrackingtodo. If camera shake or other sudden motion is required in the foreground photography, motion blur can obliterate the tracking marks. The Aerocrane Strobe Tracking System created by Alvah Miller provides target arrays of LED lamps that strobe in syncwiththecamerashutter,givingwell-definedmarksonevery frameeveniftheyarenotinfocus.CylindricalLEDshaveuniform brightnessevenwhenviewedoff-axis. Sometimes it is desirable to light the tracking LEDs continuously, allowing them to blur in motion. Valuable tracking i nformation can be derived from the length of the blur. Consult thetrackingteamfortheirpreference.

On-Set Preview
On-set preview composites made with a still camera and calibrated monitor, like the Kodak/Panavision Preview System, or a livecompositemadewithahardwareUltimattedevicewillalert the crew to problems before they are committed to film. A few videoassistcompaniesprovidethisspecializedservice.

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UsingthedigitalUltimattepreviewer(hardwaredeviceorsoftwareonacomputer)onthemotionpictureseteliminatesmuch guesswork and uncertainty. It provides great assistance when photographing actors who must be realistically integrated with people and objects in the background scene. Previewing with Ultimatte also immediately identifies the acceptable limits in lightingirregularitiesandwardrobecolor. Ifitsadigitalshoot,anoutputvideostreammustbeavailable thatscompatiblewiththeUltimatte.Anoutboardprocessormay beneeded.Thisyieldsthebestpreviewavailablewithalltheforegroundbackgroundrelationshipsvisibleatfullquality. Forfilmshoots,asmall,outboardcolorcamerafeedsthepreviewer.(Filmcameracolortaps,evenwhentheycanbeswitched to 100% video, are so starved for light that they usually cannot make good composites, although if their geometry is properly adjusted, they are fine for alignment purposes.) Playback from diskortapeprovidesthebackgroundscene.

Camera for Bluescreen or Greenscreen Photography


Film Photography: Choosing a Camera Negative
Somecameranegativesarebettersuitedtocompositeworkthan others. Ideally, one would choose the finest grained, sharpest film available. It is also important to have low cross-sensitivity betweenthecolorlayers.Foregroundandbackgroundfilmstocks donothavetomatch,butofcourseitshelpfuliftheyhavesimilargrainandcolorcharacteristics. KodakVision 2, 100T and 200T (tungsten balance), films are ideal for green and blue backing work. The dye clouds are very tight and well defined. Vision 3, 500T, the latest in a series of remarkably fine-grain high-speed films, as one would expect, is still grainier than the lower speed films. Although the 500T film isnotideal,awell-exposed500Tnegativeismuchbetterthana marginallyexposed200Tnegative! Aninterlayereffectinthesefilmsproducesadarklinearound bright foreground objects (such as white shirts) when they are photographedagainstagreenscreen.Softwarecandealwiththis effect. Kodak Vision 2, 50-speed daylight film and Fuji 64 daylight film produce superb results in sunlight, with very low shadow noise,butrequirehighlightlevelsonstage. Ifthese100Tand200Tfilmscannotbeusedforaestheticreasons, one should still pick the finest grain emulsion compatible with lighting requirements. Be aware that additional image processing (and cost) may be required. A few negative emulsions havesomuchcross-sensitivitybetweenthecolorlayersthatthey shouldnotbeused.

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Filmemulsionsareconstantlyevolving.Asanexample,recent improvements in red sensitivity in some emulsions have been accompanied by more sensitivity to infrared reflected from costumes, altering their color noticeably. This effect is easily dealt withbyfiltrationifyouknowitsthere!Aquicktestofactorsand costumesisalwaysworthwhile.

Choosing a Digital Camera


Sinceallthree-colorchannelsareusedincreatingthecomposite, an ideal camera would have high resolution and uncompressed color(bandwidth). Threemajorfactorsaffectcolorrecording: 1. spatialresolution, 2. capturedbitdepth,and 3. recordedbitdepthandcompression.

Spatial Resolution
Spatial resolution is broadly related to the number of photosites (light- ensitive elements) available for each color. In the s commonly used Bayer array there are half as many blue photosites as there are green photosites. Likewise, there are half as many red photosites as green photosites. The missing values are derived through interpolation from adjacent pixels in the de-Bayering operation. Because human visual acuity is greatestinthegreenwavelengths,Bayersarraygivesexcellent visual results from an optimally small number of photosites. Although they are not ideal for the purpose, Bayer array camerascanyieldgoodcompositeswithcareinoriginalphotographyandinpost. However, the blue and red image is still half the resolution ofthegreenimage,whichlimitstheresolutionandfinedetailof themaskimage.12Toaddressthisandotherimagequalityissues, afewhigh-endcameraslikePanavisionsGenesisandSonysF35 (samesensorastheGenesis)havefullresolutioninallthreecolors.Thesecamerasareidealforcompositework.

Color Bandwidth and Compression


Assuming your camera can produce a full-bandwidth, uncompressedRGBsignal,muchinformationcanbelostwhenthatsignal is compressed and recorded. Many HD VCRs are limited to 4:2:2recording,whichincludesrollingoffthegreen hannelshigh c

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Itshouldbenotedthatfilmbuildersusearoughlyequivalentcompromise: reen- G andred-sensitivenegativelayershavemoregrainandlessresolutionthanthegreen layer.

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frequencies and applying half-bandwidth MPEG compression to blueandred. The designation 4:2:2 does not refer directly to RGB bandwidthbutrathertoYUV.TheYchannelcarriesthelumaorbrightness information, while U and V are the channels from which the color information is derived (similar to LAB color space in Photoshop).Ina4:4:4recording,everychannelisrecordedatthe full color depth. (The designation 4:4:4 is actually a misnomer, carried over from standard definition D1 digital video. Because itswellunderstoodtomeanfullbandwidthinallthreechannels, its use has continued into the high-definition and higher digital cinemaworld.) JustastheclassicBayerarrayhasanegligibleeffectonimages intended for viewing but adversely affects composite quality, well-compressed images designed to look good on screen can have serious limitations when composited. Good software engineeringcanrecoversomeofthelostbandwidth,butedgedetail (fine hair and so forth) and shadow noise still suffer from compressionartifacts.Alaundrylistofcompressionartifactsincludes dark or light lines trailing or leading moving objects, banding in dark areas, and so forth.These problems are even more pronounced in DV and SD format cameras. With new cameras comingonlineeveryday,testingontheactualsubjectmatteris alwaysworthwhile.

Edge Enhancement/Sharpening/Detail Settings


Camera edge enhancement/sharpening should be turned off!The artificial edges that sharpening produces will otherwise carry intothecomposite.Ifsharpeningisneeded,itcanbedoneduringcompositing.

Recording
Recordingindatamodegivesmaximumflexibilityandbestqualityinpost.Datamoderecordstheuncompresseddata(asdirectly off the camera sensor as the cameras design allows) to a hard disk.Thisisoftencalledraw mode,butbeware:Atleastonecameras(Red)rawmodeisinfactcompressed.Sincerawmodedata cannotbevieweddirectly,aseparateviewingconversionpathis requiredtofeedon-setmonitors. If recording in data mode is not possible, shoot material intended for post-compositing as uncompressed 4:4:4 fullb andwidth HD (or better) video onto a hard drive or use a fullbandwidthVCR,suchasSonys4:4:4SRformatmachines. Tosumup,resolutionnumbersarenotthewholestory,since somecamerastradeoffresolutionforcolordepth.Testyouravailablecameraandrecorderchoices.

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Becausethisisanimperfectworld,youmayhavenochoicebut toshootorrecordwith4:2:2equipment.Although4:2:2isnotideal, dontforgetthatthelasttwoStar Warsfilms,whichincludedthousandsofgreenscreen,wereshotwith2/3-inch4:2:2cameras.Test the camera on the subject matter. Note that 4:2:2 can produce a satisfactoryresultingreenscreen(sincethegreenchannelhasthe highestresolutioninthesecameras),butoneshouldnotexpectthe ultimate in fine edge detail. (Consumer cameras typically record 4:1:1andarenotrecommendedforprovisualeffectsuse.) It bears repeating:Whatever the camera, any edge enhancement/sharpeningshouldbeturnedoff!

Filtration
Ingeneral,nocolorordiffusionfiltersotherthancolor-temperature correction should be used on the camera when shooting greenscreenorbluescreenwork.Compositingcanbecalledthestruggle toholdedgedetail;obviouslylow-contrast,softeffectsordiffusion filteringthat affectstheedgeorallows screenilluminationtoleak intotheforegroundwillhaveanadverseeffect. Toensurethatthefiltereffectyoudesirewillbeduplicatedin thecomposite,shootashortburstofthesubjectwiththechosen filter,makingsureitisslatedasfilter effect reference.

Negative Scanning and Digital Conversion


Thefilmframes,datarecording,orvideorecordingmustbeconverted into frame-based digital files the software can use. Its importantnottoloseinformationatthisstep. The three layers of the color negative are sensitive exclusively tothered,green,andblueportionsofthecolorspectrum.When the negative is scanned, the RGB densities of each pixel in the imagearetranslatedintored,green,andbluenumericallevelsina digitalmemory.Thethreecolorrecordsofeachframearereferred toasthered,green,andbluechannels.Theyareusuallyrecorded asCineonorDPXframes,whichareuncompressedformats. Videoanddatamustbesimilarlyconvertedintoframes.This step is sometimes called digitization, which is really a misnomer since the source is already digital.These frames are usually recordedintheDPXformat.

Color Correction
Color correction at the scanning/conversion stage can be a major source of data loss.Itshouldnotbebuiltintoimagefilesintended forcompositing.Ontheotherhand,afewframesrecordedwith the desired color and filtration will be an invaluable reference duringthecompositestep.