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Thread: How to Work with Black Actors

  1. #1

    Default How to Make A Black Actor Stand Out

    Hi Guys,

    I'm shooting a music video next week for a friend (who is black and is also the Artist of the song), and I'm looking for a few tips and tricks. Here is what I have for gear and I'll explain the shoot and what I need help with:

    Camera: 2 Canon 60D's with Magic Lantern installed
    Lenses: 50mm f/1.8, 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, 25-155mm f/4.0L, and 70-200mm f/2.8L
    Mic (more or less for bloopers): Rode NTG-2 w/ Zoom h4n
    Lighting: Cowboy Studio 3-Light Set (Halogen) 45W @ 5500K
    A 20'x20' Green Screen

    Ok, so the shot I need help with is this:

    The artist will be playing a large black grand piano (main instrument for the song), and we want to do this at night with just our film lights to light the scene. The only 2 things I can really think of make him stand out from the background is to have a light behind him to give a slight outline around his head/body (mostly his face), and if I can't get a reflection in his eyes from my lighting set up, then I'll have a small flashlight that is the same colour tone as the other lights to achieve the reflection. Ok, what else can you guys think of?

    P.S. I realize now that the topic title sounds like it could go in a racist direction, but I assure you I did not mean it that way :P. I'm talking about making skin tones pop out here people!
    Last edited by BrockT; 03-02-2014 at 07:37 PM.

  2. #2
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    Blue backlight (looks great on black skin) lavender (something like Lee 136) key light (also looks great on black skin).

    Use more light on his face than you think he will need. Seriously. Nothing looks worse than an underexposed black face. You can always reduce the exposure slightly in post but if you don't have any detail to start with...

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    Blue backlight (looks great on black skin) lavender (something like Lee 136) key light (also looks great on black skin).

    Use more light on his face than you think he will need. Seriously. Nothing looks worse than an underexposed black face. You can always reduce the exposure slightly in post but if you don't have any detail to start with...
    Our lighting kit is a cool blue, same with the flashlight so I'll make sure to keep the lights in a little closer than I generally would to make sure his face is lit up. Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. #4

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    Just thought I'd let you guys know (even though I only got 1 reply :P) that the shoot went really well! Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    Ahh, but a reply from a guy who knows what he is talking about is worth more than a dozen people guessing. Anyone who's read this forum over the years will know Rob knows what he's talking about - particularly when it comes to lighting.
    And what's more we ALL get to learn from it.
    Thanks for posting your experience - maybe we'll get to see the result, or samples from?
    Tim

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Ahh, but a reply from a guy who knows what he is talking about is worth more than a dozen people guessing. Anyone who's read this forum over the years will know Rob knows what he's talking about - particularly when it comes to lighting.
    And what's more we ALL get to learn from it.
    Thanks for posting your experience - maybe we'll get to see the result, or samples from?
    I'll definitely post the end result! I'm filming another location this Thursday, then the final location at the end of the month. I'm hoping to have it done before April.

  7. #7

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    I finished editing the music video, I'm just awaiting a mastered version of the song, which I should have by Sunday or Monday. I'll upload it when it's done. It's my first music video, so keep that in mind (not saying go easy on me, saying that I need as much critique as you can give me). I did it for a friend (he recorded the vocals, and all the instruments himself, aside from the strings), but unfortunately, he needed to have this album done by the end of the month, so he didn't have much time for filming with me (he is producing an album for a local university for the musical department).

    Things I learned along the way:
    - Don't rush things, if you can't finish everything in one day, especially with free locations, then go back and finish up on another day
    - Set up some sort of backdrop for a more studio-feel, as opposed to just a regular old room, or classroom as I used a lot in this video
    - Flares look awesome, hopefully I didn't go overboard :P.

    I'll post a link for the video here once it's up, and I'll be posting it in the User Videos section as well. Thanks again Rembrandt Rob for the advice!
    Last edited by BrockT; 03-29-2014 at 05:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrockT View Post
    I'll post a link for the video here once it's up, and I'll be posting it in the User Videos section as well.
    Please post it ONLY in User Videos (with a link from this thread if you like).
    It is rather annoying to start to post a critique on a video only to realize that you've already posted about the same video in another section
    Tim

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Please post it ONLY in User Videos (with a link from this thread if you like).
    It is rather annoying to start to post a critique on a video only to realize that you've already posted about the same video in another section
    Will do. Next time you hear from me, it'll be there. Thanks again.

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