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Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations

Lesson 18 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations

Lesson 18 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

18. Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


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: Pre-Production Considerations

Before I can get everyone on the same page, I also need to create a mood board. And so, again, I use Pinterest, that's pretty much my most common point of reference. It's a great way to source stuff. You can upload stuff. And so this was, more or less, what I was using as, hey, this is what the images need to look and feel like. The stylist can pull gowns or wardrobe based on this kinda stuff. I know what the lighting needs to look like, very ethereal, very glowy, very dramatic, very romantic. And so this is generally, just, the feel that I needed everything to end up looking like. Okay? So, this is obviously a lot bigger than what it is. It's probably three times what you're seeing on the screen. But again, it's just so I can constantly pull reference material over and over again. All right, so, some details on the location. So like I said, it's the Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle. And this is what it looked like. These were my scout photos. And so when looking at it, if you Google it...

, they have the most beautifully done interior photos, when you search for it. You can see this really elegant ceiling. What's really fascinating about it, so it was built after the earthquake, so I think about the 1920's. And after the fires. So it's built, there's very little, like almost no wood in the building. So all of the embellishments are plaster instead of wood, even the stuff that is meant to look like wood, and painted to look like wood, it's plaster. And that huge ceiling, to protect it from earthquakes, is actually suspended from the floors higher up. So it actually just kind of, it hovers in there and can be raised and lowered to change out lights and stuff so the whole ceiling goes up and down which is super cool. But it's for the most part looks pretty close to, you know, the interior looks pretty close to how it was built, in like the 1920's. It had a little bit of a renovation, I believe, in the 70's, 80's, but for the most part they try to keep it stylistically pretty close, which I absolutely loved. And so we get into the space, and I'm planning on using spotlights and everything else, and all this other kinda stuff. And so we ultimately find out that that's not really an option for us so we have to find another solution. How do we make a theater look like it's lit by the stage lights and everything else without actually being able to use the or having to have access to where those lights could be? So we have to kinda fake that along the way. You'll also find that there is a railing in the front of the stage and this is to kinda protect the edge before, you know, there's a pit area in the front. And so I'm looking at it and I go, oh, that clearly can't be there. So we had to kinda sweet talk them into letting us take it down while we were actually shooting. So that was a consideration that we had to make. Also, when all of the lights are on, it looks like this. Not particularly cinematic, not particularly exciting. But when the lights are pretty dark, the ceiling is the only thing that really glows in the space. So what I have to do is I have to make all of that kind of work together. So, this is kinda what I know going into it. This is what the space looks like, to the naked eye. No fancy pictures done of it. This is what the blank slate is. Then we get to the wardrobe. How does the wardrobe fit within the space? And so we've got a few different options. Both of these two on the left were pulled, I brought them in from New York, they were pulled from a couple local designers up there. The one on the right we have a version of this. That's a dress from Amazon, relatively inexpensive. So, know that you can pull beautiful, gorgeous, amazing clothing and wardrobe sometimes, and then sometimes you have to kinda work around getting something that's a little bit more creative. And I'm gonna show you what both of those look like, and they both turned out really, really well. So, we're going for that very polished gown look. I wanted something that looked epic in the space so I didn't want to shortchange myself on what the clothing they were wearing was. Like it wouldn't make sense for someone to be up there in jeans and a t-shirt, or just maybe a normal nice dress. It needed to look just amazing. It needed to fit the space. It needed to fit the pomp and the amazingness of the space and so I wanted the clothing to be really reflective of that and so I got a couple of really sparkly gowns to achieve that, or something with a really long train. Then we get to hair and makeup. Again, how does this reflect what you're working with? And so I like that old Hollywood, glamorous hair, the waves in the hair, the kind of cat eyes on the makeup, the nice lip. I'm not going for anything that's crazy, ridiculously over the top. I want it to fit the period. I want it to look beautiful and elegant. Remember that Gilda animated? That. That's what I was goin for. That's the time period that I really wanted to nail down and so this is the hair and makeup inspiration that I sent to my hair and makeup artist. In addition to that, the face was not going to be super close, so, I could get away with certain things there as well. That was kinda what I was going for, and, that's what we got. I used two models for this. We call them models, call them actors, depends on whatever you prefer. But these were our two subjects that we used for this. I think it came out really interesting as you're about to see. There are certain considerations we have to make when it comes to picking out your subjects. Who's available on the day, who fits the clothes that you have pulled, do they fit the general look and feel of the images you are going for? And everyone's gonna have different things that they're looking for when it comes to what those considerations are. But that's kinda the whole thing about who are you as an image creator and what do you look for in the details that you bring to your image? And so we got these two and we used them for these two shots. All right. Then, we actually get to the lighting. And so we talked about all of these different ingredients. These are all things that are decided weeks and weeks ahead of time. What does the wardrobe look like? Who are the models? And usually you figure out who your models are, and then you match the wardrobe to it, or sometimes you get the wardrobe first and you match the models to it. It goes all different directions. But you wanna make sure that works. You can obviously make something a little bigger fit someone who's smaller and clamp it up or you can make something a little bit bigger. So when it's different sizes you can make things work. But you know didn't have any props to consider, we had wardrobe to consider, we had models to consider, we had the location to consider. But now we actually get to the lighting. And this is the last thing, but this is probably one of those things that takes the most time on the day. I actually shoot very little. I'm all pre-production. I'm all set up. My shooting time is short because I know going into it what I'm looking to create, what I want it to look like, and once it's there everyone steps in, you're here, great, we take the picture, and we can move on. And I look for certain varieties. I look for variations on what I'm doing, but, for me, the image is made in the pre-production, and the actual just taking the picture is, the really small part of this. And so I love the whole idea of crafting the image in all of the work that goes into it so that when I'm actually making the images all of my preparation kinda comes together and like it's there. And it's always really easy to get excited about what your photographing when it looks really good. And this is a Lyndseyism, but it's if you want to be more excited about what you're photographing, put more exciting things in front of your camera. And so I always think that's really good advice. Like, put something in front of your camera that you're excited to photograph and you wanna photograph. And that was kinda the entire build up 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