Cinematography Mailing List - CML


Perhaps someone can help me with this small, yet big problem. I'm shooting a 16mm short that stars kids and one of the lead actresses squints very badly for no apparent reason. She doesn't wear glasses, but her natural disposition is to squint. I have a great fear that when we finally shoot and the dailies come back, it's gonna look like her eyes are closed for the entire film. Other than constantly reminding her to open her eyes wider, are there any techniques anyone can suggest (lighting wise, camera wise) that would correct or reduce this problem?




Tiffany F. McMichael



Tiffany F. McMichael wrote:


>I'm shooting a 16mm short that stars kids and one of the lead actresses >squints very badly for no apparent reason.


Is it just me, or does Rene Zelwiger have this problem?


Why not shoot some cheap DV video as a test and show it to her and then let her work on it?


Or, tell her that crow's feet are looming in the very near future because of this habit.


John McDaniel

Audio Post Facility Owner

Sonic Arts Digital Audio Services, Inc.

Cincinnati, OH USA


>Other than constantly reminding her to open her eyes wider, are there >any techniques anyone can suggest (lighting wise, camera wise) that >would correct or reduce this problem?


Figure out what she really wants, i.e. candy, a Barbie doll, whatever, take her apart and promise it to her if...IF she only squints when you are NOT shooting her (listen, kids are much brighter than you suspect and often act this way because they either don't like you or simply want to screw up the proceedings out of sheer malice), try that lens that shoots at a 45 degree angle (Arri Toronto), or if you shoot video, some 45 degree angle surface coated mirror will do the trick.


You simply have to outsmart them.


Robert Rouveroy csc

The Hague, Holland


I plan to live forever. So far, so good.


How about what I call a "courtesy light ". I don't know your lighting set-up but this might help.


Often in studio or location situations I put up a courtesy light long before it's necessary. Basically light someone in 100 foot candles of light and step into it and look back at the camera direction and you'll that while the area outside where you lit isn't dark, its darker than where you are. For some folks the change in levels triggers their eyes to protect themselves by squinting.


A comparison would be a camera on auto iris. If you took a shot of a person at a window they would be too dark because the contrast behind them makes the iris want to shut down for 'normal' exposure. The light in the room might be fine but the contrast is too much, but if you could slide away that wall behind the person you'd have an area of light that might be bright but engulfs more of the persons field of view and the iris doesn't need to close down.


What I do in many situations with a " courtesy light " is to either illuminate a wall behind the camera or a hanging piece of foam core outside of the area I am lighting so that the light contrast between the points of bright light of the fixtures and the bigger area that is darker, outside of your pool of light reads as a larger area of less contrast, tricking the eyes into thinking everyone is at

the same level.


Walter Graff

Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer

HellGate Pictures, Inc.



When shooting day exterior (where squinting is most often a problem), I have them look up at the sky for a few seconds before the take. It helps a lot.


Blain Brown




>>>squinting therapy>>>




Did someone already recommend this?


Tell the actor to close his/her eyes and stare at the sun for a sec. An old trick that helps sometimes.


Matthew Alcorn

Los Angeles



Matthew Alcorn wrote :


>Tell the actor to close his/her eyes and stare at the sun for a sec. An old >trick that helps sometimes.


I used to do this and it worked BUT my doctor told me it could be what led to cataracts at a relatively early age. Just a bright sky or shiny board or light is much safer.


David Macklin



You might want to check on the little girl's eyesight. We ran into a similar problem a few years ago. The little girl actually had glasses but was embarrassed to be photographed wearing them. She squinted so that she could see better - stopping down works for human vision as well as for cameras.


A visit to an ophthalmologist and a set of contact lenses may solve the problem. She may also be overly sensitive to light, in which case a visit to an eye doctor is definitely in order.


Brian Heller

IA 600 DP



I second the idea of a courtesy light. Lately I have been throwing a light on the interviewers for documentaries when we are in dark rooms, so that the interviewee can better see their faces and feel less like it is an "interrogation".


This probably also reduces the squint factor...something like 500 or so interviews in the last 10 years and I am still learning something nearly every time.


Steve Slocomb


Montana, USA


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