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class="Paragraph" Skin Tone Techniques

class="Paragraph" Published : 4th April 2004

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I was recently reminded of a question that I would now like to raise in this forum which deals with a previous topic that talked about how the color vector of both Caucasian and African-American skin are the same.

What about Asian skin? And Malayo-Polynesian? I heard one editor opine that Malay (that includes Filipino) skin has a strong green component; is this true?

I'm pretty sure a good number of CML’ers work regularly in Asia (is Chris Doyle out there somewhere?) and I'm wondering if they have any special tricks and techniques for working with non-caucasian skin tones.

Any exposure compensation tips? How do color enhancers and other filters interact with Asian color?

Thanks,

Paolo A. Dy
Director / Cinematographer
Manila, Philippines


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>I'm pretty sure a good number of CML’ers work regularly in Asia

Not me yet, hope to...

>wondering if they have any special tricks and techniques for working >with non-caucasian skin tones.

I've been filming Vietnamese subjects all year...no tricks needed.

FWIW the skin generally reads the same reflectance as my Kodak grey card, a convenience !

I do have one subject, a 79 year old Vietnamese-American woman, with a real delicate paleness to her skin -- I have to be a little careful color-wise only in the sense that she can look a bit jaundiced (which she is not) in 5500K daily print viewed on 3200K light. But she does have one of those subtle hard-to-define-focus faces (as per previous CML discussion) and I feel like I haven't quite gotten some essence of her - persona (?) that I would like.

I did one scene in late afternoon, 7274 no filter, backlit low sun and *heavily* shaded by green foliage. There is a greenish tinge to all (timed away from Blue, I don't have the #s in front of me. I find the look of the Vietnamese skin tones actually quite interesting; it's a memory (of Vietnam)/ritual scene, and the green seems to work, it is literally and metaphorically you might say, a scene of reflection.....

BTW I looked at Li Ping-bin's work on "Vertical Ray of the Sun" on DVD after I shot this; there are many shots where the beautiful Tran Nhu Yen-Khe will walk through a room, picking up subtle and not so subtle green/tropical reflections. I'm still not sure how much this is natural lighting, (i.e. what would be happening from plants, painted color of the walls etc, and/or if Li Ping-bin is adding subtle color in fill. (But, compare this film to Tran Anh Hung's previous, "Cyclo" where Benoit Delhomme is using very boldly using strong gels to color....)

>How do color enhancers and other filters interact with Asian color?

I had wondered about enhancers, but decided not to "go there" as I'm pushing the neg (45 & 74) and can get, if I want, color "cranked up to 11" !

Sam Wells


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>7274 no filter, backlit low sun and *heavily* shaded by green foliage. >There is a greenish tinge to all (timed away from Blue, I don't have the >#s in front of me. I find the look of the Vietnamese skin tones [here] >actually quite interesting

I meant to say, it was a scene with this woman and her daughter by large pool of water....

Sam Wells


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Paolo Dy wrote:

>I heard one editor opine that Malay (that includes Filipino) skin has a >strong green component; is this true?

Don't know if it's due to strong green component, but I find indeed that under ordinary fluoro’s their (that's the Malay) faces look rather green. A little fill-in flash doesn't really solve it. In general actually I find Asian people look not to flattering under standard household fluoro’s. A little minus-green wrapped around the tubes eases it off, or lighting with tungsten or daylight.

Cheers

Martin Heffels

Filmmaker/DP/editor,
Sydney, Australia
http://www.pictocrime.com


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On their first broadcast cameras, late 70's, Sony had a switch that adjusted the colour matrix from Asian or European skin.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


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>actually I find Asian people look not to flattering under standard >household fluoro’s

Well, who does ?

Sam Wells