Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Dodging Glasses

27th August 2006

Does anyone have any favourite lighting tricks for avoiding reflected light sources in eyeglasses?

I know a few good ones but got stymied by a situation today and realized I might need to know a few more than I already do. The thought I was left with today was, I wished Chimera made a softbox with a black silk panel in it ...

Mark Smith

Mark Smith wrote :

>Does anyone have any favourite lighting tricks for avoiding reflected >light sources in eyeglasses?

Assuming that removing the glasses altogether is not an option...

Still portrait photographers often find that slightly tilting the lenses forward by lifting the frame arms higher above the ear than they would sit normally, removes the reflections entirely (the frames hold in place, given minimal jostling, by pressure against the side of the head rather than resting on the ear).

However, this doesn't cover the additional issue of movement for motion capture. An alternative, used in the past in many situations, but less so recently as image quality has gotten better, is to pop the lenses out (assuming they aren't needed for the wearer's eyesight or for story-telling veracity).

And, of course, if there's the opportunity, have the lenses anti-reflection coated.

You may also find that a little dulling spray, judiciously applied, may dull the reflections without adversely softening the eyes, depending on how close you are and other factors.

And then, if nothing else works, you can always fix it afterward digitally (although not easy to do with the eyes).

Ira Tiffen
Basking Ridge. NJ


>>Odd that this should come to me as an afterthought, but you might find >>that a polarizer helps.

Didn't have the option to go +1 2/3 stops to compensate for Pola in the 1 minute before our high priced busy subject gave us before rolling....would have fried talent if we did.

I really like the black silk diffuser chimera if not for its effectiveness, then for its "coolness".

Mark Smith

The problem is how to work the fill light. In some situations the fill can be bounced off a very large area such as a wall behind the camera.

Since the light is coming from a broad source there are no hot spots on the glasses.

Phil Curry

If it's an interview w/eyeline just off lens, getting the interviewer in a slightly lower chair, or getting the on camera talent in a slightly higher chair (or chair/stool/talent on pancake, 1/4, or 1/2), or raising lens height a little, or a combo of the three will get the talent looking down just enough to greatly reduce or eliminate the reflection, without it seeming like they are looking down, especially if it's not an ECU.

If it's a straight to lens interview,  you're screwed.

IA 600 DP

Bill Berner wrote:

>> If it's a straight to lens interview, you're screwed.

Yes it was straight to lens and yes I was screwed somewhat, more by space constraints and the shape of the glasses.

Mark Smith

>>Yes it was straight to lens and yes I was screwed somewhat, more by >>space constraints and the shape of the glasses.

Glasses are one of the biggest headaches of the many interviews I do for various industrials and the occasional doc.

One of my first questions I ask when told we'll be shooting the CEO next, "does he wear glasses?" We'll pre-light before the moment of his arrival-can only give us 20 minutes- "precious time he has." I always tell them I'll need a moment for lighting adjustment. Glasses are all different so I don't think there's any really good solution. I, of course, want this guy or gal to look their best. Some glasses are so bad you see every light in the room. A big soft source is just unusable. A small bright source might be removable in post ($) What I hate to end up with is the shadow of the frames to lie right over the pupil- what an irritating compromise. You could go with a single source way off to the side and suggest that this makes the subject look powerful and mysterious.

But, good manners and diplomacy are important. Don't let your disappointment show. You want your subject to be relaxed (ha) and do well. I've tried tipping the glasses forward, the side bars sliding up the sides of the head, but that can look funny and again you don't want the subject to get any more nervous then he or she already is. "Are my glasses a problem?" "No, not at all. We can deal with that. You look great."

Edwin Myers, Atlanta DP

Edwin Myers wrote :

>We'll pre-light before the moment of his arrival-can only give us 20 >minutes- "precious time he has." I always tell them I'll need a moment >for lighting adjustment. Glasses are all different so I don't think there's >any really good solution.

The exact scenario...Only the Dude shows up 50 minutes into our 2 hr window. Things were pretty relaxed, and at first look the glasses seemed pretty good, but you never really know till the subject's exact behaviour becomes known: i.e. do they have a tendency to look right or left and how often and so forth. Main thing is I was boxed in space wise because of where we had to be and the shape of the room. My motto is space heals all wounds but in this case space wasn't on my side.

I asked for 5 minutes to create a fix, but at the time the director was concerned that we would run out of Mr Big time so that request was denied. However this did not in any way impinge on the director's ability to bitch about the reflection later...

We watched play back after the biggy left the building and it really was pretty minor AFAIC seems like one of those minor things that gets blown into a big thing in some one's mind because of pressures of the moment.

Still would like to have a Black silk diffuser for a chimera....

Mark Smith
Oh Seven Films

Sometimes I find a big chimera, high and toward the side and then raising the camera lens will combine to give the least reflection possible. Then add the softest fill you can get away with. If I know the subject wears glasses I start with the camera higher that reasonable and then it's easier to sink to a better position. With a chimera as a key, I can have it hand repositioned while the subject is in place until the best compromise is found.

When I think I've found the "spot" I ask the subject to move their heads around while looking in the direction they'll be looking during the shot to see if there's a problem area still. Of course, you can't plan for every possibility. A soft source can be raised surprisingly high sometimes and still look good, depending of course, on a ton of other factors.

Sometimes you can't make enough compromises for very curved and/or thick rimmed glasses. In that case you're screwed.

Randy Miller, DP in LA

> Still would like to have a Black silk diffuser for a chimera....

Good news, Mark: I can get you a deal on black silk ! Here's-the-catch news: you gotta send me to SE Asia.

(I once shot an interview with a filmmaker in a "studio" - their word for it not mine - with a ~ 7' ceiling. No time, no space, you know the deal - the subject willingly popped the lenses on his glasses (but what's the point of glasses then, well he looked serious !!)

After the final question, he reaches up and scratches his nose through the empty frame.

Director left it in

Sam Wells
film/digits/low ceilings/nj/usa/

I can usually take reflections out of glasses by raising the light but there are some pesky prescriptions which are too wide angle for this to work.

So, time for emergency measures :

1/. One suggestion I got here on CML was to light from the direction the actor isn't looking in the case of your classic 3/4 interview. It's not as nice but it's not wrong and it does help to break up the tendency we get into to light in formulas. (I think that in the real world, we sometimes look away from the light source to talk to people, if I remember correctly!)

2/. Where you have talent looking straight at the camera with lenses with reflections like a salad bowl, you can do the wine bottle trick with a frame of 216 really close to him so the reflection is there but it is totally transparent. Then you have to show the director and committee that the light there is necessary for his face to be well lit but that his eyes are totally visible and the reflection is not going to be distracting to a general audience as opposed to people who are looking for reflections. This is the hard part!

3/. You can use soft kickers on each side to get good skin tone and then have much more subdued light from the camera direction. The kickers keep the image from getting flat and muddy.

I had a lot of fun with these ideas last year lighting political candidates. We set up 3 full lighting setups and while the director was briefing the candidate, we chose one setup and adapted it quickly to the candidate, trying to find the ideal light for that person in 5 minutes. It was good practice for me and kept the lighting from being so much in a rut while doing 20 different people per day.

Bruce Douglas, DP
Sao Paulo, Brazil

>>I'm just concluding an 18-month doc shoot. 80 hours of footage, about >>2/3 of it talking heads.

Overall I had virtually no problems with glasses. Most of my setups were simple: a soft key (Rifa) on the far side of the subject coming in from as far to the subject's side as I could get away with. For fill, a small diffused L-Light using 50-100w PARs, coming from as far to the subject's other side as possible. (For backlight when needed, a 40W PAR in an L-light head.). Where the Rifa's reflection showed up at all, it looked pretty natural -- like a window, or, well, a studio light. As long as it didn't obscure the subject's eyes it simply wasn't a problem.

For the most part, both lights were close to eye-level, which fills nose-shadows, eye-bags, wrinkles, etc., nicely, and avoids throwing upper-glasses-frame shadows down into eyes,.

The only time I had a real glasses problem was with a pair of darkish-tinted glasses that had quite large, opaque temples. The subject had no other glasses, and looked godawful without them, so I bit the bullet , held my nose, and shot the interview. I was hoping maybe the morning after it would look better... but it never does, does it? This'll be a re-shoot (fortunately local), in a larger, white room with omnidirectional bounced light, and maybe a wee touch of backlight to add some zing to an otherwise flat look.

Dan Drasin
Marin County, CA

Sam Wells wrote:

>>the subject willingly popped the lenses on his glasses (but what's the >>point of glasses then, well he looked serious !!!)

I thought about this but or guy could read the prompter without his glasses so that killed off that idea.

Mark Smith

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