I love my iPhone. It’s incredible to have that many resources and tools in one device. I’m always interested in learning about new apps that can increase productivity and make my life a little more organized and efficient. Last month I posted a video about Cinemek’s storyboarding application, Hitchcock. Today I wanted to post a little information about Helios. Released last April, Helios is a tool for cinematographers that will allow you to calculate the position of the sun for any given day, at any given time, at any given location around the world. This can be an incredibly useful tool for DP’s working with natural light. Let’s say you have an exterior shoot in Grand Rapids, MI next month, but it’s overcast and rainy on your location scout . With the Helios app, you can instantly calculate where the sun will be at the exact moment of your shoot. It’s a great way to keep track of the ever-changing lighting conditions when shooting outdoors.
Posts Tagged ‘sunlight’
This question came to me recently:
Although our eyes can’t perceive it, certain light sources give off a particular color temperature. These varying degrees of color are represented on the Kelvin scale. Tungsten bulbs burn at about 3200 degrees Kelvin, while sunlight burns at about 5600 degrees Kelvin. However, the color temperature of the sun doesn’t stay constant. It’s constantly changing as morning turns to afternoon and as afternoon turns to dusk. Our eyes can automatically compensate for this change in color temperature, but video cameras cannot. So, they need to be calibrated every time the light source changes. Otherwise, the footage can come out with an orange tint, blue tint, or even a green tint.
Calibrating a video camera to ensure correct color representation is called white balancing. Many cameras come with preset white balance settings for different shooting situations – indoor, daylight, cloudy, etc. However, conducting a manual white balance on your camera is the best way to ensure that all colors within your scene are represented correctly. There’s a great tutorial on color temperature and white balancing here. You can also read my production tip for shooting under fluorescent lights, which pose a different set of challenges.
To white balance, turn your camera’s white balance setting to manual. Then, hold a plain, white sheet of paper in front of the camera and zoom in until the paper fills the screen (make sure you hold the paper under the light source under which you will be filming). Then (this is true of most cameras with manual white balance), press and hold your white balance button until your camera confirms that a proper white balance has been set. Then, you’re ready to shoot. Just remember to re-white balance every time you change locations and lighting setups. Read this post for tips on how to adjust your white balance to a warmer or cooler tone.
Shooting exteriors can be tricky, because you have less control over the light falling onto your scene. It would be nice to have access to a one-ton grip truck with shiny boards, silks, butterflies, and HMI’s. But most often you won’t have the budget to acquire all that extra gear. Even without all the fancy grip and electric toys, you can still get some fantastic exteriors. Here’s how:
3. Use Reflectors – Even if you can’t purchase large shiny boards or flex fills, sturdy foam core will do the trick. You can use the boards to reflect sunlight back toward your subject. Bear in mind that if you place your subject in the shade, you will have to contend with the contrast between the shaded foreground and sunlit background. If you expose for the background, your subject will be too dark. If you expose for your subject, the background will be over-exposed.
A shoot scheduled at the right time of day, coupled with a few well-placed reflectors and the utilization of lens filters will ensure great exterior footage, even with the smallest of crews.