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Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats

Lesson 24 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats

Lesson 24 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

24. Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats


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

Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats

Let's move on to shoot three, work our way down to the simplest of the three shoots. This was you know, lounging on the edge of the row, and this is just you know, like the third row in, and what I wanted to do for this is I wanted to make it a little bit more visually interesting by streaking one of those spotlights across the top left corner of the frame where not much else was happening except for the seats, so I just wanted to make something a little bit more interesting, but unfortunately, that light's very hard, not really particularly flattering, so right next to it, I brought that five-foot octa in, positioned it relatively close. It uses a softer light, and it gives me a prettier look to what that light would have done. Now with this particular light, I actually think the way it turned out, it's not quite as perfect, but I prefer it. I have a couple instances where the light is a bit more flattering, but I actually prefer it the way it ended up because it looks a little bit mo...

re authentic to the environment, and we'll talk a little bit more about that in just a moment. But in the meantime, let's see how that turned out. May be get you, stretch down just a little bit more can you sit your like on the end of the seat. (mumbling) Yeah. that's nice. (camera shuttering) (camera shuttering) Yeah this is much better. That's great, right there. (camera shuttering) Yeah so my issue is based on the angle, I'm losing a lot of her dress. I'm losing a lot of her dress. Its making her look shorter than she is. So what I'm trying to do is show her length. So I'm trying to figure out how I can create compositionally interesting frame in a way that still makes her nice and long. So that's what I'm trying to work through right now. (camera shuttering) nice beautiful. That's great. (camera shuttering) I'm just not shooting her feet. that my solution. That's good, really good. (camera shuttering) I just need to see, exactly you gotta stay a little bit more to the light. Nice. Good. This is really nice. The white really does look nice. Beautiful can you turn that light to me a little bit to me please. The spot? The spot. Here it is. There you go. Its gonna hit her. Its alright. (camera shuttering) Are we good there there? I got a lot of haze where is the fan at? I can get it over there. I just aim it on her? Go this way. Here we go, ready? No its gotta, we gotta get the fan. its too, And then do me a favor and angle that back a little bit to how it was. That's nice yeah. Good. And then face to the light for me. Good. Angle the light just a little more to me. The spotlight? Yes please Ready? And tell me when. There, that's great. (camera shuttering) So the thing about the thing about working with a Hazer is when it comes in at first it's usually really thick and that is sometimes the effect you want if you're in a smoky Club or a nightclub and you'd want to make it look like that but if you just want to make it look like a normal room the trick is quite a bit less heavy-handed on the haze and I'm kind of going for somewhere slightly in between the two so it's just a matter of once the haze comes in a little bit too thick you got to blow it out with a big old fan (camera shuttering) my um, it's a little bit hot the octa is a bit hot so it's at two right? [Woman] I think it's all the way down but I can pull it back some more? Well no just just turn it at me off of her a little bit, good. That's nice yeah that's nice. Nice turn the head back just this way a little bit good that's beautiful really nice. Good turn the face a little more. good now now turn it back to her a little bit. Now I've lost it completely. Right there? Yeah. Bring it to me let me see it. Can you turn that foot so it kind of sits like this? This one or this one? Yeah this one will that work if you bend it will it kind of work? So yeah do it with both. So you're kind of sitting in a little bit more of a wider stance then these are kind of out a little bit. Yeah that's fine I'll try that. This is towards you so it's not hitting- Okay great. very flairy what's the power on it? Five, want it down? Down to like two. Okay. Much better, much better. The thing with making these spots work is they either have to kind of move across the frame so you can see the beam or they have to point at the frame so it flares at you. Looking at the across and looking at the flare I preferred the look of the flare on this particular shot. the downside of the flare is it was too bright so I turned the power down. I went from five to two so I brought it down three stops. (camera shuttering) turn your shoulders to me just a little bit but keep the face to the light. (camera shuttering) Beautiful right there that's great. I'm just trying to make her look, because it's, you know sitting poses are kind of awkward trying to make her look a little bit longer. Give me some environmental stuff and that's really all it is. With the dress yeah Good. Put the arm back on the arm for me. On the arm arm of the chair. Sorry there you go good Do you want me to flare that light back at you? Mm hm. Yes. Okay. Turn your face to the light a little bit. Just look off. Shoulder down and neck a little bit longer. Just kind of like you're looking at somebody. (camera shuttering) (camera shuttering) Open the chest to me just a little bit. Good. Roll the shoulder in there. Head up a little more. (camera shuttering) (camera shuttering) Nice. Alright so you can kind of see that one in particular was a little bit more loose in terms of the way I was moving around, the way I was configuring the lights. That was one of those instances where it was like hey we got 45 minutes to set this up and get the shot. And so it was a matter of doing it relatively quickly and efficiently as as we could. And so that was kind of the entire way we were working for that image. And as I said before this was the least complicated of all of them by a mile it was just two lights. We had one light that was creating the spotlight effect and I had another light that was you know creating the main light on the subject or filling in you know the light a little bit more and creating a bit more of what that key looked like. And that was the five-foot octa-box and the multi spot was creating the spotlight effect. You also saw a little bit of Lindsay holding that flag in place and that's because that light was hitting a very white dress and it was causing a lot of highlights and so that flag was there to kind of keep that brightness down a little bit. That's what that flag was was doing in those particular images. I was alternating really quickly in between a few different lenses there. I was using the 90 millimeter lens. I was also using the wide angle lens that I was using in a lot of those shots. ultimately the shots that I liked the best were the 55 millimeter lens and this one over here I will show you is probably the one that I liked the most. there we go that's really the one that I liked the most from the set. I liked her her expression I liked the pose. It felt kind of natural, a little bit candid. Also showed the environment quite a bit which I really liked. You can see the flare over here it makes it look like there's a spotlight effect. And even though I would probably look at this image under a lot of the rules that people will tell you about lighting and say you know it's not like it's there's a highlight on the nose and it feels a little bit rough. I actually like it because it feels natural whereas with this particular image which is also another one I like. The lights a bit prettier. and this one feels a bit more fashioney where the other one feels a bit more cinematic portrait. And so it's again not that either one is right or wrong I just, I'm more drawn to the image on the left personally. And so that's kind of the image that I would probably gravitate to even though the one on the right would be the better better lighting so you know that's not necessarily always the right, the right move. This is also something that I addressed earlier on. Be careful about a haze machine looking too smoky Doesn't work in this environment. The smokiness doesn't work. It doesn't, like why would why would a theater be smoky? Right? So yeah so that's probably why I would grab you know just just keep it in mind. That's why we said hey let's grab the fan. Let's move it out. So you got to run it so you can get it and then and then back it out as well. And so these are just you know a few of the other shots and you can kind of see how it breaks up that background a little bit. She's kind of in the direction of the light and you know that was just a few of the images that that I ultimately liked and and and wanted to go through on that but this was ultimately the one that uh I thought was was the strongest of of the set. And so you know we've we've kind of paired down in terms of lighting and and I've shown you a few different ways to deal with the scene from the very very complex, to the very very relatively simple by comparison but they all still fit together and that's really the point. They they have a very similar feel they feel like they could be a part of the same set of images even though they are all lit differently they look differently they're all really achieving a very fundamentally similar goal. So now that we've kind of looked at that and take some questions maybe on on shoot three. You got any questions over there? Yep, yeah this question is about do you always try to get lighting in the camera? Are there any post-production tips for people that can't afford all these lights like can you accomplish some of this in post? So you can fake certain things. So for example I could show you how to kind of fake a spotlight a little bit. It's not going to be the same thing but it's close. So I generally always try to get it significantly close in camera. There are times where you're gonna need to make a concession in one waiver or the other. Either, excuse me, you are missing stuff, You don't have enough lights you can use, you know you can you can help augment some things. You're running out of time. You know, hey we don't the time to get this 100% right because we're on an eight hour day and we got to move along to the shots. So yeah there are certain times you can fix some things. For example I'm gonna show you guys this a little bit later but like listen I would have loved to have a light that was powerful enough to create the spotlight effect on the stage where I could see it but I didn't so I'm gonna make the spotlight on the stage in Photoshop. And but but everything else is there like this is there the beam is there the light on the face is there. Like there are certain things you can fake there are certain things that you can get away with faking but I will try to get it if I can. I mean work on the day so you can save yourself work later. The pre-production and post-production is by far the most time-consuming parts of all of this. So why do you want to give yourself more work to do if you can avoid it? that's kind of my philosophy. So yeah. Are using capture one? I'm using Lightroom. Lightroom okay yeah what are your settings to achieve that color tone are you doing anything? So this uses and I'm going to talk more about this in the development. I mean it's white balance and there is a little bit of at play here in the split toning section about it a little bit of blue to the shadows and a little bit of warmth to the highlights but I will talk about that in the post-production section tomorrow. yeah cool alright what about you guys? I noticed that your often times intentionally introducing Flair and a lot of the new lenses with all these fancy coatings and stuff are actually fighting that ability to do that. Do you see how do you get around that or do you do you see a market for older lenses as a result of that or? I mean there are definitely a lot of things that we can do to minimize flare. And if I were to shoot this, like this is shot with the new lens I mean, I put a lens hood on this it's gonna make flare less but I didn't because I wanted it there right? The other thing is when you put a light at the lens you're not gonna be able to eliminate the flare entirely when it's pointed at the lens. And also when you're using haze the flare is not just the light being at the lens it's also lighting up the haze and so that's not a flare it just kind of sort of looks like it because your light particles are catching light so like in this particular case like what you're seeing lit up is a little bit of flare but it's also the particles being lit. So there are ways to kind of get around it but again it's all about what you want. Like some people want the flare some people don't. Yeah. I guess I was just wanting to know more about you and like what lights you up and like what do you get most excited about and I guess I don't know if we kinda skipped that I wanted to know more about you. Oh, okay, yeah I love shooting stuff like this. I love things that feel like big productions because like I said I wanted to make movies when I was a kid and so I kind of I kind of get super excited whenever I get to make something that looks like this or shoot something that I wouldn't normally get the opportunity to shoot as often. So when I'm doing personal projects or when I am able to really get away with shooting something that has a big big body of energy and people behind it that's the kind of stuff that I like to to mess around with. So to tomorrow is I'm super excited to show you guys what we're gonna do tomorrow Where we're shooting on an air-field I means I was saying to these guys earlier is just like you know how often do you get the opportunity to shoot with antique airplanes on an active runway? Like that kind of stuff's crazy cool. It doesn't happen all the time. And you get to go and walk in these planes. And I'm a sucker for old things and antiques and stuff like that and so I really really like the opportunity to see things and touch things and go into places like that that you wouldn't normally get to. There's just so much history Like there's a richness to the history And I love things that have a lot of history behind it. I think that's just one of my favorite things to do is travel and visit places that are way old. Like I love going into museums and stuff like that and just seeing things that have been created and handled by people hundreds and/or thousands of years ago. I think it's phenomenally fascinating. And so that's what I like to do and that's why I love shooting stuff that looks like paintings so much it's you know I love things that tell a story and things that have a lot more depth to it than just exactly what you're looking at and so when I'm trying to create images I'm trying to make it look like it's more than exactly what it looks like. I think when we start out doing photography we photograph in words. And so you know you say this is a dog this is a baby this is a squirrel this is a place. Right? But I think the more and more you understand photography as a visual language you're able to speak in sentences or paragraphs or short stories or whatever the case may be. And I love images that that extend beyond that exact moment. You want to know more about it you want to know what's happening. What's the story with this person? What's happening over here? why are they looking like that in the room they are in? I think that's what's phenomenally interesting about you know fine artwork in general is the work that creates, that needs a statement to talk about it because it's more than just what it is. a project can can be more than just what the image is. Maybe it's the body of work maybe it's an artists body of work that speaks to something significantly greater. And so I think photography has a power to do that it has an ability to do that and I think when people are able to reach that point within the medium like that's the kind of work that I love. Question from online, do you when you're shooting cinematic portraits do you think about sort of the narrative differently and how you're building it like is the story different for you or how do you think about this type of photography differently than you would other? Yeah I mean I think in this kind of work if you are driving in an environment it's helpful to create a narrative and the narrative doesn't have to be like some really specific story. I mean it can be you know very very vague very broad. The one that we're doing tomorrow is a lot more specific. there is a very specific story to tomorrow's. It's based on a, one of the images based on a historical photograph whereas this one was just this vague concept of you know starlet in a theatre kind of a thing and then my whole exploration toward the image would be alright well what's gonna make this interesting to me? Why would someone behave or a moat or pose in a way in this space that is interesting? And I love the contrast of here's someone in a beautiful gown in an amazing space and then how would they interact in that space in a way that's compelling and it's for me it's all about the contrast. And so does somebody, is someone that the performer or are they introspective? And for me the introspective smallness and the personal expression of the shot I always thought was really a lot more interesting in an environment like this. If you look at, so kind of step away from this for a minute but if you look at like the painter Rembrandt's work Rembrandt was all about painting very significant scenes in a way that was deeply personal and singularly human to like this is meant to be a very personal story. And so he could create a scene that had multiple moving elements but it still felt deeply relatable and deeply personal. And so you could tell these big stories in a in a simple way and that's what I like about doing images like this where you're creating a bigger scene which you're trying to relate it to the person in a smaller much more specific way.

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