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Thread: Help with shooting near windows?

  1. #1

    Default Help with shooting near windows?


    Hopefully all will know what I am talking about when referring to the changes from light to dark and back again when panning past a bright window from within a room?

    This is obviously the camera making adjustments to deliver the most clarity during each stage of the pan.

    What manual adjustments can I make to stop the camera changing the light levels as it passes a bright window? I appreciate that using a fixed setting within the room might make the room appear darker but the window normal and vice-versa (i.e. the room perfect but the window very bright), but I need to achieve this level of control and take it from there.

    My camera I am about to use is a Canon XM2.

    Appreciate any help with this.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    I don't think there's a simple solution to this. You could set manual exposure and actually change the exposure during the pan to compensate, but, even once you've mastered the amount of control required, it will look "odd".
    What you really need to do is to reduce the light coming in through the window - either blank it out with a green screen and chroma key in some external shots afterwards or, if the external is vague enough you might be able to put some sort of gause over the outside of the window.
    Another possiblility might be to cut in the shot of the window. What I'm getting at is pan towards the window until the shot begins to white out, then cut to a close up looking out of the window (maybe itself panned) then back to another shot panning from just beyond the window to further into the room.
    It's important that the shot out of the window is significantly closer than the pans either side as the change in perspective will override the change in exposure in peoples perception (ie the brain will primarily notice the change of view whereas if the focal distance is similar the brain will more likely notice the change in exposure)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon View Post

    What manual adjustments can I make to stop the camera changing the light levels as it passes a bright window?
    Set it to manual?

    i.e. do not use Auto, Tv, Av or any other AE mode.

    Witty signature text coming soon...

  4. #4


    Simplest solution for a manual exposure at a constant setting is to wait until the light level goes down outside then use lights inside the room to light the actor. If you have to film in bright daylight, a solution (although costly) is to gel the windows with Neutral Density gels which you can buy on a roll. If you have tungsten lights you can buy combo ND/colour correcting gels to cover the windows. Its perfectly acceptable though to allow the outside to be overexposed by a couple of stops

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    If the view from the window is not important to the narrative of the film I would just set the samera to manual, expose correctly for the subject, and just let the exterior be overexposed.

  6. #6


    Thank you all for your replies - pretty much what I thought but very helpful in case I was missing something.

    Practising with the camera on 'manual' settings, I think I can decide upon the right balance of exposure between the room interior and window.

    However you could perhaps help me out further if I explain a little about what it is I am trying to achieve.

    My filming project involves the coverage of several empty rooms in a house. This means I will be setting up on tripod in each room, manually setting the camera, and then making a series of pans and tilts throughout to give as much coverage as possible to these interiors.

    So while it would be nice to avoid getting bright windows in shot altogether, you can see it is a necessary part of this project in order to display all the important aspects within the room (including windows).

    Okay, so I will manually adjust the camera settings on the XM2 - my next question is: should I set the shutter speed, aperture and gain individually until it looks 'best', or simply adjust 'exposure' (which I understand is essentially all 3 together) and not worry about them individually?

    My concern is that I do not currently have a lot of experience with shutter speeds and F-stops - I understand their concept and basic function, but do not know how they should work best together, for this particular project.

    If I do choose to set these 3 individually, just so I'm armed with this info could you give an idea of the average/ideal shutter speed for shooting inside a room in good daylight ('normal' for PAL is 1/50?), and F-stop on the aperture (the camera seems to default at around 2.0 in its auto settings)?

    Note I will be using a .5x wide angle lens, and I know focusing could be an issue - my absolute main priority is to sweep a room with as much as possible in focus, and maintain good lighting throughout (overbrightness of windows during passing excepted). Coverage must be impeccably smooth so I could not allow any side-effects to creep in through wrongly setting the exposure.

    Thank you for any further help!

  7. #7


    Is it neccesary to do only one shot of the room? If you can mix and match the shots you could come up with something interesting? Shots where the room is somewhat swamped by the light from the window mixed with those where the window is a mere feature? I can see it my minds eye but it's hard to convey, kind of using different possible aspects of the room to give a bit emontional depth. Sorry I'm rambling and to think I was in the Coldstream Guards!
    Last edited by nick1346; 02-06-2008 at 09:33 PM.

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