Hyper-White Skintones Using Fluorescent Lights (3 replies and 2 comments)
Hello Mr. Deakins and friends,
Long-time reader, first time poster. I have a few questions regarding hyper-white skintones:
I'm working on a short film using haze and fluorescent lights (tubes in pre-existing fixtures with Lowel CFL bulbs and a Kino 4ft. to complement) in a small, contained basement (one actor, one location).
I'm trying to achieve hyper-white skintones (Terminator Salvation example below) with a hint of green in the lower-mids/upper-shadows. I've read that using Silver Rosco Flex SS or Silver Lame would be a good bounce source, but am wondering if insulation board with the silver lining on the back would suffice as a DIY/cost effective solution? Or, is there another suggestion besides insulation board that would work just as well?
Also, when working with pre-existing fixtures, is it better to replace the bulbs? I'm guessing that all lights differ and that there may be colour elements that I won't be able to pick up until I'm in post. Is there a specific brand/type of fluoroescent tube light you suggest in using to provide consistent colour temps?
Insulation board is really good. Just spray it with dulling spray if it is too hard. You might also try using space blankets, of the sort you can buy in REI, or even aluminum cooking foil if you have even less money. I use cooking foil a lot for smaller reflectors.
As for florescent tubes, I would suggest that the whiter look comes from shooting with daylight balanced tubes. Even when you time the image it seems to me that faces always appear that bit whiter than if you were shooting with a tungsten balanced tube.
I do change out tubes if I find the existing ones are all over the place. However, I will usually use a regular brand of florescent rather than one that is made specifically for the film industry just because these are so expensive. On any film there is a need to prioritize your spending.
I recently bought a pack of 20 space blankets for ~$12 on Amazon. Don't know if they are good enough to keep you warm on top of a mountain or not, but I bet they make as good a reflector as the fancy ones.
Oh, also, these cheap ones are actually translucent. So maybe they may be used to cut light in a fix. I never tried it myself.
There are specific high quality tungsten and daylight balanced tubes that aren't specific (and therefore very expensive) film lamps. If you choose them for example from the manufacturer Osram, look out for the 'lumilux de luxe' ones. The numbers are 930 for tungsten and 954 for the daylight balanced tubes. They're really good when they're new, old ones might have changed color though...
Dear Mr. Deakins,
I just wanted to thank you and CameraChris for your invaluable insight. After doing a few tests for our 98-second short film, The Craftsman», we managed to achieve the look we wanted using a small silver reflector with one daylight-balanced tungsten tube as the source.
I've attached a film still from the final cut which demonstrates the hyper-white skintones with hint of green in the lower-mids/upper-shadows.
Over the next few weeks I'll be doing a write-up on your site detailing the entire process from script to screen with the hope of sharing my experiences.
Here's a link to the final trailer if anyone is interested:
All the best.