Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Save Your Settings

I'm not a very good gaffer.

I mean, I know how to light sets and all, but I'm not particularly good at it.

Even so, I've shot enough stuff to know that this...

Lousy Lighting

...isn't very good.

In fact, it's down right bad. I know how to light a set much better than that. So why did my camera give me such an image today after spending thirty minutes playing with the lights?

Well, the problem may reside in the fact that I relied on my Zebra Stripes. I don't typically do that, even if it is a good idea. But something was odd because I was supposedly peaking out inside on a overcast day.

So I added an ND filter, and started filming.

After dumping the footage and seeing the terrible result, I was bummed out. When I got home I started talking with one of my mentees who had recently used my camera.

"Oh," he said. "That may have been fault. I set the Zebra to 75% for one of my shoots... so you were under exposed, right?"

Ah. Yes, that would do it.

See, in my camera you can set the Zebra Stripe Level to show peaking at various intervals (like 100%--truly overblown, or 75%--so you see where someone is being hit by light in a darker room). Since I didn't realize the Zebra level had been adjusted, I just went with the assumption that it was telling me what I wanted to know.

I should have reset the settings on my camera before shooting.

And if you have custom settings on your camera, you should do the same. And you should also keep track of what settings you used on your last successful shoot, just in case you need to recreate the look in the future.

An Overblown Image

The lesson: Don't trust your equipment unless you know the settings are where you want them to be. ...and this is why a lot of low-end/consumer cameras do so well: They give you less control so you have less of an opportunity to mess something up.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


James Weber said...

I actually was taught to use 75% zebra for exposure (one way). You're supposed to put the exposure up so the zebra is on the face, and then close the aperture down just slightly. That way the face is properly exposed.

John Holzmann said...

Interesting comment, Luke, about "why a lot of low-end/consumer cameras do so well.

So will you be able to salvage your underexposed material? Or will you have to re-shoot?

Luke Holzmann said...

Andy, ...I must admit, this is the first time someone has called my blog "sparkling," but I'll take it as compliment <smile>.

James, yes, I have heard that 75 is good for the face. Issues arise when your background is brighter than that so you have Zebra everywhere <smile>. There are certainly times to set the Zebra at 75, but it really threw me off when I hadn't set it that way <laughing>. I can be quite dense sometimes.

John, I'm not sure what will happen with the project. I haven't had a chance to spend time working on salvaging it. We shall see.