Matching the Subject Lighting to the Composition Environment

Regardless of what background materials you choose or your studio or location, it's very important to pay close attention to the lighting of the scene in which your subjects will eventually be composited when you are shooting your subjects for composition. You'd be amazed at how frequently scene lighting is overlooked in production, and how often scene lighting requires a complete reshoot or fixing in the composite.

Color temperature of the lighting, direction of the original light sources, and shadows are your primary concerns when properly lighting your subject for a scene. For instance, you won't want a brightly lit subject with a strong back light if the subject will appear deep in the woods in the final composite. You must be sure that you are shooting your subjects for the environment into which they will be eventually composited. If they will be placed into a virtual environment, you must provide the director of the shoot with the appropriate lighting information; otherwise, the environment director will have to match his scene to the subject's lighting in production. Low-budget TV programs and video games frequently break these rules. Today's viewers are smarter and more visually tuned to quality composites and effects, so your challenge to provide a convincing com-160 posite starts with the initial shoot.

z In the scene shown in Figure 8.8, the actors were filmed from a crane in an out-

g door parking lot. The final composite was to be outside with a single light source, the

~ sun. The actors were composited onto a virtual environment that was re-created to

S match the light source of the subjects shot on the blue screen.

Figure 8.8 The use of the sun as a single light source provided all the lighting and shadows needed for this scene.

I created a more complicated composite involving a puppet composited into a scene with shadows and diffused lighting (Figure 8.9). Rotoscoping the puppeteer's hands and rods out of the shot required extra care, so as to not interfere with the natural shadows from the light source in the studio.

Note: I keep updated technical information and links to related blue/green screen production articles available for downloading from my website:


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