The First Musketeer – the period web series I DPed in France in 2013 – gave me one of the biggest challenges in simulating candlelight. Almost every scene had candles in it (albeit fake, yet very convincing, LED ones) and it was always a struggle to make them appear to be shedding authentic light.
As the sensitivity and dynamic range of cameras has increased, practicals have become a more and more important and popular tool in the cinematographer’s arsenal. A practical is any light source that appears in the frame. It could be a fluorescent strip-light, a table lamp, car headlights, candles, a fireplace, an iPad, fairy lights, street lamps, a torch, a security light… any light that could be realistically found in the place where your scene is set.
The first step in lighting a daytime interior scene is almost always to blast a light through the window. Sometimes soft light is the right choice for this, but unless you’re on a big production you simply may not have the huge units and generators necessary to bounce light and still have a reasonable amount of it coming through the window. So in low budget land, hard light is usually the way we have to go.
After my last post ranting about the very limited usefulness of redheads, I was asked what the alternative is for cash-strapped DPs. There are plenty of cheap fluorescent photography-studio-type lighting kits available on eBay now, but they have their own problems. So can you light without any film lights at all? Yes, you can – and here are a few examples.
If you work in video, you may be familiar with Red Giant Primatte Keyer. Red Giant’s Primatte and Digital Anarchy Primatte Chromakey both use Primatte chromakey technology, developed by Imagica Corporation in 1982. [Wikipedia] The last update for Primatte Chromakey for Photoshop was January 2012, but it does work in current versions of Photoshop.
If you’re working with still photography, it’s often necessary to cut someone out of the background to place them into a new scene or to add special effects. While there is no specific “Chroma Key Tool” that is built into Photoshop, it still has great tools for removing the background and other elements from an image, non-destructively.