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Capturing Plates With Talent In Background

Lesson 33 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Capturing Plates With Talent In Background

Lesson 33 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

33. Capturing Plates With Talent In Background


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is Cinematic Lighting?


Motivated & Practical Lighting


5 Cinematic Lighting Tips


Low-Key & Upstage Lighting


Control Your Fill Lighting


Show Depth In Your Image


Pre-Production for Cinematic Lighting


Grip Tools: Clamps


Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads


Grip Tools: Pins & Portable Gear


Grip Tools: Scrims, Silks, Flags & Tape


Grip Tools: Wind and Haze Machines


Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Grip Tools: Filters


Grip Tools: Q&A


Theater Shoot: Concept


Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Gear


Theater Shoot: Motivated Lighting Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Walkthrough


Theater Shoot: Capturing The 1st Shot


Theater Shoot: Hero Shot


Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats


Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Working With Scrims On Location


The Haircut: Getting the Shot


The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Staggered Planes: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Staggered Planes: Getting The Shot


Capturing Plates With Talent In Background


Airstrip: Environmental Portraits


Airstrip: Location Shooting Q&A


Using Plates to Create a Pano in Lightroom®


Transform Tool


Post-Processing 1st Theater Shot


Retouching Details in Photoshop®


Color Grading in Alien Skin Exposure X3


Post-Processing Theater Hero Shot in Photoshop®


Creating a Spotlight in Photoshop®


Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting


Post-Processing: The Haircut


Coloring the Sky and Removing Modern Building


Creating a Pano Using Plates in Photoshop®


Developing Cinematic Portraits in Lightroom®


Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Color Grading Cinematic Portraits in Alien Skin


Lesson Info

Capturing Plates With Talent In Background

So the next bit we're gonna be taking a look at the creation of what that scene looked like, what the plates looked like, and how we were able to utilize our talent in some different ways. Alright. Let me know when you're ready! Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. (shutter clicks) Just kind of like you're pretending, like, exactly, like you're leaning over it. Go up a little, can you turn your body that way? Just like you're looking? There you go. (shutter clicking) That's nice. Yeah, that's great. Good. Cool. Now walk towards me. Good. (shutter clicks) Keep coming. This way, walk off this way. (shutter clicking more quickly) Great. That's cool. I got variations of him on the plane, I got some of him walking away, so I can always decide later which of those that I want, or maybe both of them. Again, it's all about creating some staggering effects of people. Um, let me, let me steal you for a minute? Can I get you maybe just, like, standing back over there in between? Yeah. Now walk that way. (sh...

utter clicks) There you go. Maybe, like, come forward like you're looking at the engine. Come forward, come forward, come forward. There you go, yeah. (shutter clicks) Good. Nice. Great. Great. Great, great, great. Cool. Come forward to the front as well. Yep. Let me take the hat for just a second. Good. And now lean forward like your back is turned and you're kind of, like, working on the tire. Go, other side. There you go, yep. Good. (shutter clicks) Good. Now go in, and go into the bomb doors. Great. Yep. I don't know if we'll see that, but. Cool, that's good. Good. Alright, cool. Come on out. Thank you. Alright, now I'm gonna get my plates. (shutter clicking in succession with frames) So, the only downside is this is in my plate shots. So I do have to move it. I mean, I can take it out, it's just, I would like to not to. [Female Assistant] Will this be in it though? This? No. Yes, no? Want the light for now? I'll turn it off. Yeah. Okay. Okay, thank you. Now that's in the shot. Can you wheel the octo? Or just turn it? Plates again. (shutter clicking) Okay. Okay. So that's the shooting experience as to what that was like there. This was where the sketch began, kind of what I was aiming for with the shot. I think we got it relatively close. I'm gonna cut over to the computer here really quick and show you what that selection of images ended up looking like. There we go, okay. So the shot that I ended up liking, and I tried a few different variations of this. I like the one where they were kind of facing the front and looking off to the side and laughing. And you can see that there are a lot of other different variations of my subjects kind of in the background on these different planes and stuff. So there's one of them in the background over there. There's one of him working the tire. There's one of him looking at the engine. And then I've also got that plate over there. This one in particular, and I'm gonna talk about this a little bit more during post-production, was one of the more difficult ones to stitch. And the reason was because the subjects were so close to the frame in the foreground, it presented a lot of problems with perspective. I eventually, you know, you have to figure out the right combination of the ways that it renders out. And I'll talk about this when I talk about stitching panos, but there are different ways you can render it based on perspective and different mapping methods, and certain ones are gonna be more successful than others. And this was a little bit of trial and error to make it work. But what I ended up doing, by the time it was all said and done, was we combined this foreground. This was the background on the plane shot. I've got this one in there, and I've got this one in here. And then we used a combination of the rest. And it ended up looking like that. We're gonna talk about this a little bit later when we get into the post-production and what that combination looked like. But I think, all things considered, this turned out really, remarkably close to the illustration. So this is kind of what I was going for with this image. Now, let's maybe have some questions about what that shooting was. Yeah, what are some considerations to take into account when you're reusing the same models in the background? What do you have to look out for and pay attention to? So, some of the more obvious ones are, is the face showing? And how much of them are in focus? Fortunately, I was using a really shallow depth of field, comparatively, and they are completely out of focus. Everyone in the scene is also wearing the same thing, which helps a lot because if you want everyone to be dressed irregularly and you start cloning people, that can look really strange. But because everyone's in a uniform, that helps. There were a couple small adjustments I would make, maybe like taking the jacket off or taking the hat off to change some things up, or just hiding the face was another one. And so, that was kinda what I ended up getting away with here. The one thing that I kind of thought was a little bit close, which would be something I'd worry about, and this is getting into really specific things, is if you look at him in this shot here, where he's standing up, there is a similarity between it and here in terms of how he stands. He stands in a very, even though he's in a different pose, it's just the way he stands. And so, I would probably, like, that's something I would consider. How similar looking does it, you know, 'cause even though it's out of focus, we can kind of register it as the same person. But I think because he's pretty obscure, and he's wearing a different jacket, I don't think you pick up on it too much. At least I hope. But, you know. My hope is that your attention goes to the foreground subjects, so. Yes. Yeah. When you're doing your panorama. Uh-huh. You're getting your plates and your panorama, are you on an extension plate, or are you just doing it right off the top in Photoshop? I'm just doing it right off the pivot. Yeah. I find that it's usually fine. It obviously introduces a little bit of distortion. You're gonna see that in the theater image, it works a little bit better because everyone is so far away from the camera. It is quite a bit more exaggerated in this image, in this particular pano. It doesn't really present a problem at all in the first image from today. This one, it definitely introduces quite a bit of distortion. And so I was playing with different renderings for which one gave me a distortion that I was happier with. And so it is definitely something you have to take into account. But you know, it's a pretty high resolution, so it can stretch, especially when you shrink it down. So obviously doing that lateral move would also be another way to do it and possibly give you a little bit more help. Probably give you a little bit more help, but I thought this still achieved a pretty good result. Yeah. Now, when you do these plates, have you ever used a slider to achieve that-- I have not. I have not. Again, I know that it helps, and it can work pretty well, but I have found that in my experience, the instances in which I have used it, this was enough to work for me. It's not something that I do regularly, to do this kind of work with this amount of stitching. It's not a regular occurrence. But I do it a lot of times when I'm photographing, I don't really do landscape professionally, but I do it for fun when I travel, and I regularly will shoot a wide scene with that lens. Because I think it gives a better compression of the background. If there's mountains in the background, there's a better sense of scale when you're using that kind of a focal length, as opposed to a really crazy wide-angle lens. And so I just think it feels a little bit closer to the way the eye sees. And so that's why I'm a fan of using a focal length like that instead of something really crazy wide. We've got some good questions online. Yeah. When you're shooting plates, do you always turn the lights off? When do you turn them off, when do you not? It depends on what the situation is. So in the theater, I turned to foreground lights off because I wanted a clean plate of that. But I would have left, obviously, the background lights on, because that's an environmental thing that I need. Here, I thought that the lights in the front were causing a little bit of an issue with not giving me a clean floor, clean ground, and so I wanted to make sure that the plates were clean so that when I blended it later, it would help those things be a little bit more seamless. And, I mean, you can see. There is a definite outline to that scrim, and it just, it is what it is. If I had a much larger scrim, or many, many scrims, great, I can avoid that. But in this particular instance, I just couldn't use one that large. If you've ever seen Westworld, if you ever watch, like, they have the Western town. One of my favorite behind the scenes from it was they needed to make it look like a cloudy day, so they basically scrimmed the entire section of town. And it's these huge scrims over the entire set outside, and it's amazing. But that's not what we did. (audience laughs) We don't have that HBO money. (audience laughs) (chuckles) Not many productions do. But, I mean, that exists, and it's great when you have the ability to facilitate that, but this was working with a singular scrim, and then we fix it later. Is there any reason why you chose a low angle shot related to this cinematic look? So with this one in particular, it was really more about making the planes look big and epic. And I just really like that perspective. When you see a lot of war movies that feature planes like this, they use that low angle quite a bit, 'cause there is a sense of grandeur to that hero angle on this kind of stuff. And when I'm looking at the source material, the planes are much bigger even than the ones we used, and they're kind of, I mean, you can see in that illustration how big it is in the frame. And I wanted something that felt similar, and when you shoot from that straight-on angle, they look smaller. And so the intent behind shooting really low was to just make them even larger than they were. Yeah. Yes. I just wanted to reiterate your process. Do you always shoot on autofocus? And then I noticed that that focal plane kept the same as you're doing the panorama. So when you're doing additional panorama shots, do you always then take it off or put it on manual focus to maintain that same-- Yeah, so, I mean, I don't trust myself to pull off autofocus most of the time. (chuckles) Manual focus, I don't trust myself to do it. So I use autofocus. And in this particular case, you change the focus so it's on the face, and then it's locked. And I would regularly, because they weren't moving around, I was changing it when they were in place. But once I needed the plates, I knew that it was close enough to that, once I got that shot, I could just flip it to manual. And that keeps the focal plane consistent across. So then I make the plates and everything blends in. 'Cause I don't want it to refocus and make the planes in focus on some of the shots and then with them, it's out of focus. Like, that's the entire point was to make that depth of field consistent. And so, no matter how I panned, they have a relatively similar focal plane. Yeah, I mean, there's gonna be slight changes to it, but it's mostly the same, and that way, when I'm shooting the people in the background I don't have to worry about blurring those shots to match and not necessarily get it correct or close. This way, it's already there, just stitches together a lot more cleanly. So I shoot them, I get them in focus, they're good to go, I lock the focus, and then I don't touch it. I just start taking the plates. I turn, take the picture, turn, take the picture, turn, take the picture. Move the lights out. Turn, take the picture, turn, take the picture, turn. It's the same thing. I'm just doing different versions of it so that I know for safety, depending upon whatever ones I wanna combine, they are there. It's more like, I may not use most of the plate information. I'll shoot them way wider, I'll shoot taller, up, down sometimes. I'm doing a theater, I shot extra layer above that I threw away most of. With this, I shot way more to the right and way more to the left than I ended up using. So it's just about giving yourself that flexibility and not trying to have to fix all of it later if you don't have to. Yeah. Mmkay? Yeah. If the final shot is a horizontal, why take it vertical and work with so many plates? We're talking about plates right now, so. Yeah, so it's about what I can fit into the frame. And so I can fit them vertically. Here, I couldn't have fit them horizontally. And also, shooting vertical plates across is gonna give you more images, which ultimately gives you higher resolution, if that's what you're after. It's also gonna give me a better sense of perspective when I'm using smaller sections closer. 'Cause when you start backing it up and stitching together, you're still getting more of that wider angle look, and so this just gives me a better sense of perspective as opposed to just doing, like, two frames side by side. Now obviously, you can do that. There's nothing wrong with it. I just think I prefer the look of the compression when it's closer to this.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Chris Knight - Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture Grip Quick Reference Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Bruce Walker

This course is simply terrific, and I highly recommend it. Firstly it arrived at the perfect time for me as I am soon to do a studio shoot very much in keeping with a cinematic or theatrical aesthetic. Secondly it's taught by Chris Knight who I swear is like a long-lost twin brother. :-) There are so many parallels in the way he thinks and works to my own style. So I avidly watched this as soon as it was available for anytime streaming. This is the first time I have made extensive use of the CL iPhone app, btw, and I love how it pretty much enabled me to seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop viewing to my iPad that I carry around the house during the day. I was able to make coffee and still carry on taking in the course, uninterrupted. The content is fantastic, delivered succinctly yet entertainingly. Some material and ideas are already in my repertoire and were reinforced and validated by Chris' demonstrations. But he also introduced a lot of ideas and methods new to me and very welcome. I was particularly glad to see how practical it is to stitch a series of tripod shots into a wide pano. I have been afraid to try that but I will now be using that in my next shoot, for sure. As alway, his post production practices revealed all kinds of tips about Lightroom and Photoshop I didn't know. Negatives. The volume level mastering is iffy. It started out at a decent level then midway through one of the early lessons dropped so much I had to turn up my sound system to compensate. And as I write this one lesson (34) is missing and in its place was a duplicate of the next lesson (35). I expect CL will have that fixed shortly though (I sent support a note).

Jeph DeLorme

One of the best classes I have viewed at Creative Live. Definitely worth the investment of time and money. The pace of the class allows you to learn extra tips and tricks throughout the process. Great instructor, highly recommend this class to anyone looking to step up their creative game.

a Creativelive Student

excellent class in all regards. outstanding instructor with experience in complicated cinematic shoots but who also is willing to thoroughly cover the basic nuts and bolts. i wish all creative live classes were of this quality.

Student Work