Lighting a Motion Loop

This is the first in a series that will feature behind the scenes photos and diagrams of the lighting setup I've used in my work as well as video workflows from start to finish.

THE BRIEF: PRODUCT SHOT

I was producing both a static looping pack shot of 3 teas for the Dilmah New Zealand website (as above) as well as a longer version which could use a drift in and out for social media and more (see the video at the end of this article - turn on the sound). I also wanted to add some atmospheric audio to the longer version and a brief graphic toward the end of each loop showing the brands iconic catch phrase "Do Try It".

LIGHTING:

I've rediscovered my love of lighting thanks to my new set of Aputure LED lights! Back when I used to work in film & television I was obsessed with lighting and very nearly pursued a full time career in lighting. That was nearly 15 years ago and for TV we were using trusty old hot lights, tungsten Blondes & Redheads along with Kinos and 150w Dedo lights in a 3 point lighting kit to light interviews with blue gels for daylight etc. A long story for another time... but I moved away from my work behind a camera a long time ago and into business (with photography continuing as my hobby) so the landscape of lighting technology has changed so much in my absence. My hobby is now bringing work to the door in my spare time so I'm really excited by all the possibilities the new technology brings!

SETUP: APUTURE LIGHTS Aputure have really built a strong presence in recent years with an impressive lineup of gear though they started back in 2005. Based in China with a driven and enthusiastic team on the ground in the U.S. and other markets their aim is to bring high quality and innovative gear to filmmakers at an affordable price. I've heard of people refer to them as the Blackmagic Design of lighting but they do so much more such as monitors, rigs/stabilization, follow focus systems, microphones and more. Ted Sim has become the much loved face of the brand in North America with his endless energy at trade shows like Photokina and NAB. That's where I first saw Aputure via Youtube and soon found a local supplier here in New Zealand.

Full disclosure my latest 2 lights (the 120d's) and the Fresnels were sent to me compliments of Ted after we chatted online and turns out he loved my cinemagrgaph work and I loved my existing Aputure lights! He literally said he wanted to send me some lights... never asked for anything in return but believe me I'll be featuring them because they're great!

So my kit so far consists of:

2 x Lightstorm 120d (daylight LED)

1 x Lightstorm 120t (tungsten LED)

1 x Amaran 672c Bi-colour LED Flood

2 x Aputure Fresnel lenses for the 120's

1 x Aputure Light Dome

For this setup I used the two 120d to match the daylight from behind. It was afternoon and the sun was directly behind and quite low. Having the shear curtain closed provided the background motion and also helped to cut down the intensity but it was still very bright. Below is a diagram of my setup.

Most of the punch came from light 1.) which was down at the same level as the packs on the side table. On this 120d I had the Fresnel lens mounted and focused to it's widest 42 degrees. By extending the adjustable fresnel to it's most focussed beam of 12 degrees it can reach an intensity 67,000 lux at .5 metres! I had it set at about 1.5 meters back at full power with barn doors fixed to the front to cut some of the light from spilling onto the table but mainly so I could slide in some diffusion. These generic barndoors have a set of slide in frames which you can tape gels or diffusion paper into.

Light number 2.) was my other Aputure 120d with the awesome Aputure Light Dome mounted. The Light Dome has dual diffusion, a small inner one near the led itself which disperses the light within the dome and the large round front diffusion sheet that velcro's across the entire front on the dome. I had both on and the light set at about 6 feet high angled approx 45 degrees down. This just added a nice overall fill to the scene but quite subtle compared to the punch I had coming from Light 1.

Aputure are teasing us lately with their new big brother to the 120's... the 300d! When that comes out it will even more of a power house for matching to bright daylight so I can't wait to see more on that.

p.s. the reason I didn't open those other curtains to get light in from that side is that when we often have patchy clouds in Auckland so the sun is constantly in and out making a steady exposure very difficult... so controlled light on the pack fronts was much better.

POST PRODUCTION

The following video & screen recording will take you through the workflow but I've listed the main steps below. This is my first time creating a demo video so I hope it makes sense! Lit of course with my Aputure lights... in this case my original 120t (tungsten) for key light with the Light Dome on and the Amaran 672 for some fill.

  1. Import to Adobe After Effects both a video of the packs with the curtains blowing behind and a still RAW photo of the same shot taken directly after the video.

  2. Trim the video down to approx 10 seconds and create the composition/timeline.

  3. Drop the still photo over the video layer on the timeline. Even though 4K video on the GH4 is cropped compared to the still, After Effects manages to recognise the same shot and aligns them automatically when you drop the still onto the timeline.

  4. Trim the still photo down to only the first few frames on the timeline so mostly what plays is the video beneath (you'll see why in Cinemagraph Pro)

  5. Export the project as a ProRes HQ .mov file.

  6. Create a Flixel Cinemagraph Pro project with the .mov file

  7. Drag the purple still frame handle on the timeline to the beginning few frames where the still shot is and position the in/out points over the ideal portion of video.

  8. Using the mask brush paint out the area which will remain moving. In this case it's the curtains but because technically because the subject in this is a static object you could just paint the whole scene... however as you'll see I also had to do some editing of the packs to correct some area of shadow and to highlight the text some more along with the different shade of grey/black of the two packs side by side. I wondered if I should have used the shot with the red pack in the middle to split the two different Events are Greys apart but actually that would make it harder to see the differences.

  9. I exported the still frame using the export still function in Cinemagraph Pro, opened that in Photoshop and made all the edits I needed before importing the still again. The only area that this adjust when re-imported is the unmasked area.

  10. I've selected a long crossfade so the curtains loop smoothly. This sort of motion is easy to crossfade as it's transparent and just looks like layers of curtain moving.

  11. I then uploaded the finished shot to my Flixel cloud hosting account. Once there I used the embed code generator and inserted that on the Dilmah webpage it was intended for.

  12. For the extended version I then exported the loop up to about 26 seconds as a ProRes HQ .mov file (again preserving the information and detail in the file).

  13. I then imported that back into the After Effects project and created a new composition from that 26 second file.

  14. I changed the 4K comp setting to an HD 1920 x 1080 setting which of course crops in the video. I then made keyframes to the scale and position at points of the timeline that will essentially start at full frame then zoom into the packs, hold then zoom back out so as it loops it's beginning where it finished. I also set the key frames to 'easy ease' (eases the zoom in & out).

  15. After adding the 'Do Try It' graphic with a fade in/out I exported the whole video.

  16. Done.

THE FINISHED VIDEO

(Turn on HD and Audio)

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