Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
Red Eye Effect
>I have to shoot some tests next week to further investigate this idea, but I'm throwing out there to the group to see if anyone else has tried this. I have a music video coming up where the director has written into his treatment a sequence where the the band would be shot in such a way that they have the "red-eye" effect that we've all seen in snapshots.
>Our initial talks brought up the idea of using a 50/50 mirror in front of the lens with a light firing into it in order to get the light on-axis as possible to the talent's retinas. My suggestion was also to keep the area in front of the subject dark so that their pupils would fully dialate, with subtle side rim lights hitting them to give them some detail in the face.
>I look forward to hearing what any have you have to offer on this subject.
>It sounds to me like you would be better off electronically creating the effect with a paint box in post. I don't believe this effect is going to work in "real time". Red eye works well in snap shots because of the axis thing, the super intensity, the small size of the source flash, and the dark room scenario, all happening faster than the pupil can react. Hence the reason why "red eye reduction" cameras flash a few times in order to shut down the pupil first. (Did you know that it works best with people with blue eyes?) But the situation that causes red eye is the instantaneous moment where a great deal of light is reflected off the retina.
>In your situation having a darkened room will not help because you are going to be asking the talent to look directly into a bright light for an extended period of time and in a very short period of time, their iris is going to close down anyway. The exposure which you would get on the face is going to negate the red eye as you'll need lots of light. Also a narrow frequency of light is better than a broad spectrum of light. You would have better luck with an exterior scene at night where you could have the subjects very far from the camera/source with a very narrow source of light hitting their face, but then again, you have the exposure problem. Too bad we did not have eyes which had the same physiology as animals. You would have a better chance.
>The only experience I had with this was in college where were trying to create the effect with humans in a darkened field, but we did not have much luck. We tried various distances and light sources, but the retina to iris ratio in humans is so small that the effects when created were negligible. By the end of the night the talent was seeing blue spots and not much more.
>>have a music video coming up where the director has written into his treatment a >sequence where the band would be shot in such a way that they have the "red-eye" >effect that we've all seen in snapshots.
>Walter is probably right. Reflective contact lenses might work... partially silvered, with a front-projection rig shining red light through a beam splitter at the contacts. Otherwise, post. Fun to action track each eyeball! Perhaps contacts with registration grids on them instead???
>I shot a short film where the one of the characters needed to have "RED EYES", because she was a witch, and as the script said, all witches have red eyes. Production had RED contacts made up. Perhaps the same could be done for your shoot. Clear on the outside, with a center of red.
>Of course perhaps you could take that pen which is used to remove red eye on prints and then use it on the neg before telecine, since it's negative then the pen should work in reverse. . .
>Steven Gladstone Cinematographer
>Have you thought about contact lenses?
>I'm sure they could be produced?
>Just a thought.
>Of course if your band happens to be from Australia and is specifically Aborigine, then this effect will work. All species except humans have a mirror like reflector behind the retina called a Tapetum Lucidum. This is what you see so well in cats and dogs when your driving down the street but not in the humans walking the dog. The Aborigines are the only members of our species which have this membrane.
>>they have the "red-eye" effect that we've all seen in snapshots. Our initial talks >brought up the idea of using a 50/50 mirror in front of the lens with a light firing into it >in order to get the light on-axis as possible to the talent's retinas.
>Sounds like you are aware of the same thing done for "Blade Runner" in order to get that "cats eye" effect in the eyes of the replicants. It was pretty subtle in that film, however, probably due to the low reflectivity of the back of the human eyeball compared to a cat's. Perhaps high-speed film combined (as you suggest) with keeping the front of the face dark will help increase the effect for your project, considering that "Blade Runner" was shot on 125 ASA film stock (5247) -- although a shadowed face hardly replicates the look of a flash-photo.
David Mullen ASC
Cinematographer / L.A.
>I love the way this was done to Rachel Ward in *Blade Runner*.
>I believe they used a beam splitter in front of the lens and fed it with a baby (red gel?).
>This was outlined in the AC article for the film, sorry I don't have the date.
>The red eye effect had been done with great success in the music video for Fiona Apple's 'Criminal.' I believe Mark Romanek was the director and that the DP was Harris Savides. I heard that the effect was done in post which makes sense to me. The in camera efx sound very cumbersome and iffy. What really sold the red eye in the video was the sun gun like light source which was placed just above the camera lens.
>>considering that "Blade Runner" was shot on 125 ASA film stock (5247)
>I talked to Jordan Cronenweth ASC about "Blade Runner" when I was an AFI intern with him and all the night stuff was shot on 5294 asa 400 not 5247.
>We will all miss him! Ralph Linhardt
>-has anyone tried using Unilux or Clairmont strobes bounced into a beam splitter for the red eye effect?
>The learned Walter of NY stated :
>>It sounds to me like you would be better off electronically creating the effect with a >paint box in post....Red eye works well in snap shots because of the axis thing, the >super intensity, the small size of the source flash, and the dark room scenario, all >happening faster than the pupil can react.
>Although I wouldn't want to make a habit of it, I completely agree with Walter suggestion.
>The "Red Eye" phenomena is basically caused by the eye being suddenly overwhelmed by a sudden flash of light before it has time to adjust. Recreating that condition at 24 fps would probably blind people.
>(If you have to double light intensity between frames to maintain the red eye effect - you'd have to shoot at F 1.4 for the first frame and increase it one stop per frame up to F 64 for the last frame - just to shoot 1/2 second of film. Ouch.)
>The only alternative I can think of to Walter's suggestion is to do stop motion animation with a 35mm still camera and a very bright flash. You'd have to allow enough time for the talent's eyes to readjust to the low light levels before snapping the next shot.
>However, at some point talent may develop a conditioned reflex and their pupils will start to react before the strobe is flashed, negating the red eye effect.
Director of Photography and Listmum
Studio City, CA USA
>>I love the way this was done to Rachel Ward in *Blade Runner*.
>Um... that was actually Sean Young... Rachel was her character...
>>This was outlined in the AC article for the film, sorry I don't have the date.
>The article was actually reprinted in the 80th anniversary issue this past March.
>jay Holben Director of Photography Los Angeles, CA
>>I talked to Jordan Cronenweth ASC about "Blade Runner" when I was an AFI intern >with him and all the night stuff was shot on 5294 asa 400 not 5247.
>That's amazing -- he must have travelled forward in time from 1981 (the year of production) to 1984 when Kodak introduced 5294.
>It looks to me like the May '84 issue of "American Cinematographer" carries the first Kodak ad for the 5294. Films at the time like "Against All Odds" -- March '84 issue --were some of the first to use early batches of the new stock.
>There was no high-speed 35mm color negative stock by Kodak at the time that "Blade Runner" began production in February 1981 (got that date from "Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner" by Paul Sammon) -- there was only 5247. Fuji had introduced a 250 ASA stock around that time and Kodak would introduce their own 250 ASA version (5293 -- not to be confused with the later EXR version) by 1982. 5293 was then later replaced by the 400 ASA 5294. I have a copy of the SMPTE article detailing the history of Kodak's film stocks at the time they introduced 5293 (October '82 issue.)
>It's not unusual for DP's to misremember things -- in the A.C. article on "Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade" (June '89), DP Douglas Slocombe recalls that the first film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was shot on 5293, two years before it was introduced (and the original A.C. articles on "Raiders" say 5247). He also admits in the article that he has a bad memory...
>Even after high-speed film was available, Jordan Cronenweth shot many films mostly on 5247 (such as "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "State of Grace") only switching over to using a lot of high-speed film on later projects like "Final Analysis."
>The A.C. article on "Peggy Sue Got Married" (April '87): "The entire film -- interiors and exteriors -- was recorded on medium-speed 5247 emulsion, which he rated for an exposure index of 100."
>By the way, the A.C. reprinted the "Blade Runner" article in the March '99 issue. It makes no mention of film stock used, which was not unusual at a time when there was only one 35mm Kodak color negative stock.
David Mullen ASC
Cinematographer / L.A.
>Recently, my DP had an unwanted Red Eye effect happen to him.
>The effect wanted was for a body suit to glow hot like a light bulb. The costume was made of 3M Scotch Lite(Sp?).
>We put on a 50/50 angled glass rig on the front of the camera. The light was a small Dedo minus it's own lens, angled straight down into the angle of the camera lens. Yes, it is very awkward. All extraneous light had to be flagged off the large, 12" by 16" glass. Well, the suit glowed fabulously in tests. However, when we shot for real close-ups, many of the actors had Red Eye. It was a night scene, with black out the window. The film was 5279, the stop a 2.4. The suit, I believe, read 2 , maybe 3 stops over. I think there was about 10 footcandles on the set.
>At the moment it looks like we have to go to post to get rid of the Red Eye!
>>Although I wouldn't want to make a habit of it, I completely agree with Walter >suggestion.
>[Editors note: This is not a personal remark directed toward you Jessica]
>I think as a cinematographer, understanding not only what can be accomplished in the camera, but what would better be accomplished outside of the camera is important in this day and age. Say in this situation, the director decided to go ahead and create the effect in post.
>For the job, they were going to have made a very specific color contact lens to fit over the eye. The idea would be to have the graphic artist use this color reference for tracking purposes with a HAL or Flame so that the computer could easily fit the effect in with the movement of the eyes. I would think that as a cinematographer, I personally would want to learn as much about this effect as possible, speaking to the graphic artist in order to understand his needs. I would not have the attitude that if it can not be done in a camera under my control, than I would not want to be involved or wouldn't want to make a "habit of it". This falls along with my thoughts on transfer.
>All too many people don't take the time to learn that transfer can help your position as a cinematographer, not hurt it. To know that you will expose something at a certain rate and have the ability to manipulate it later is something that is a gift to cinematography especially when limitations on shoots might make it easier to manipulate things later. It is wonderful to understand the art and be able to maintain picture quality and integrity throughout the process, but not to take advantage of the ever broadening tools available outside of the camera is selfish. Of course bleach processing and the physical post-shoot scenarios will always be important, but I see the requirements for the cinematographer as evolving.
>Technology is playing an ever important part of cinematography and these new tools only help make cinematography much more exciting. To do something with the understanding that it should not be a habit is a bit close-minded. We all talk about how little 'physical' cinematography played in the role of such films as the recent Star Wars, but the new evolution of cinematography certainly has shown that there is a need to know more than how many sprockets are in a meter of film. I remember a few years ago, people complaining about AC magazine. The complaints were all directed at the magazines coverage of CGI and the like and the lack of traditional stories about stock, exposure, etc.
>Has anyone watched TV or been to the movies lately? These elements are soon becoming fact of everyday cinematography. To bury our heads in the sand because we want to maintain our reputations as traditional cinematographers is a bit foolish. I see the future of cinematography as much more. Those who choose to say that something is impossible in the camera, so implausible, instead of saying that it is implausible in the camera, but there is a way to do it after the fact is going to find that there phone does not ring as often.
>>This is not a personal remark directed toward you Jessica
>It's not taken personally Walter. My earlier comment was a reference to our usual disagreement over matters relating to perceptual psychology.
>You're comments regarding the physiology behind the red eye effect were accurate and complete. There was nothing you said that I could disagree with - unless I really wanted to nit pick.
>I think in this instance doing the effect in post makes a great deal more sense than attempting to do it in camera. Who wants to blind talent or end up with an odd looking effect?
>Jeff Kreines wrote
>> Walter is probably right. Reflective contact lenses might work...partially silvered, with >a front-projection rig shining red light through a beam splitter at the contacts.
>I remember having to remove red eye from the whites of an actress' eyes because of wearing coloured contact lenses! If the talent is not used to wearing lenses this may be an issue.
>As Jeff points out, tracking (and replacing) eyes is not necessarily easy - unless you can clearly and consistently see the pupils, maintaining believable eyelines might be a bit of a problem. On the subject, I heard ILM did a fair amount of "re-aligning" of the young Anakin's eyes in Star Wars because he got so bored with endless bluescreen shots with invisible characters!
>If your talent happens to have clear blue or green eyes they could be colour-shifted in telecine (or elsewhere) fairly easily. This wouldn't affect the pupils directly, but if you are using bright light on faces to simulate flash photography the chances are that the pupils would be closed enough to get away with it.
Visual Effects Designer Computer Film Company
>I certainly threw a big stone in the pond with this one. I have been enjoying all of your responses so far. I should clarify by saying that the look is not necessarily meant to recreate the look of flash photography, more an effect just to get a retina reflection of some kind. At this point I'm guessing that getting contacts made for each band member is going to be too costly for this gag, since it is only one of many others. I'd like to try to keep this in-camera if possible, eventhough I agree with the suggestions that this could be done digitally (Walter). I'll be doing the tests at the end of this week to see what I can get. Someone had suggested trying eye-drops; (the kind the eye doc gives you to dialate your pupils) but I'm not sure how uncomfortable that would be for the talent.
>Please keep the discussion flowing, as all of the points made so far have been enlightening.
>And for those of you celebrating thanksgiving today, enjoy your holiday and hopefully you are spending it with family.
>>has anyone tried using Unilux or Clairmont strobes bounced into a beam splitter for >the red eye effect?
>"Stand right there, darling, this won't hurt a bit".
>While watching the movie "Practical Magic" last night on HBO I noticed a scene about 2/3 of the way through that may feature what you're looking to accomplish. The actor (Goran Visnjic) who has been killed and brought back from the dead has a scene where he has hugh white spots is his eyes. They almost appear to be catch-lights from a big source off camera but it didn't feel quite right for that. It may be the gag you're looking for, if it was done in red. You might take a look at it and perhaps someone from the list knows whether it was done in camera or in post. The scene takes place just after the actor rises out of Nicole Kidman's body. The DP was Andrew Dunn Hope this helps,
>The DOP Burt Dunk has a flash synchronisation system I built for him. You could place a flash directly into the eyes of your subjects while the Camera is in viewing position and it will not appear on film. This should give you an anti red eye effect similiar to that found in still cameras. I know Burt will rent this unt out.
Scott MacDonald (WFW)