This week we invited Rob Jackimiec, product lighting expert, to our Brown Bag Lunch series for a demonstration of industry tricks and tips. By exercising these key lessons, it's possible to achieve polished and professional results.
How to shoot video of devices
We've tried our hand at video demos and photography of projects delivered on mobile devices like iPhones and tablets. While low-tech methods like recording video and audio in the bathroom with the lights out gets the job done pretty effectively, we wanted to adopt some tricks of the trade to make visual representations of our work more fun and captivating.
Rob shared some samples of his product videos for Motorola and interviews with celebrity chefs. In many circumstances, his team received art direction with limited resources and physical space to make an impact. With clever, improvised solutions and creative play with fundamental lighting methods, his team succeeded in producing near magical results.
Lighting is everything
3 point lighting: key, fill, background (before)
We set up a basic 3 point lighting formation, then explored some variations including:
- focusing and diffusing lights for human subjects
- sculpting objects with light
- light temperatures
- texturing backgrounds
- hand model wrangling
Filters and textured light thrown onto the background (after)
Video of mobile devices
Using a telephoto lens on a DSLR camera at the widest aperture, you can achieve a very blurry background and shallow depth of field.
We use Canon G12s at our office, a prosumer camera that comes with cool still photography and HD video capabilities. However, this camera doesn't allow lens swapping, so we had to learn how to create a very shallow depth of field using existing features.
Before lighting the scene, you can see there are variable exposures unique to shooting content on illuminated screens:
Adjusting exposure for the screen results in a dark background.
The first step is to establish your background lighting. We moved at least 5 feet away from the wall, and focused very tightly on the subject, close to the camera.
Next, we lowered the screen brightness on the device. To the naked eye, the device appeared very dim. But through the camera lens, the exposure looked balanced.
When we achieved a good exposure between the background and the subject, our next task was to balance the light temperatures. We started with a background that was too warm. Using lighting gels over the light sources, we 'cooled' the ambient temperature to match the cooler light coming from the tablet.
The photo above uses a key light and background light. Without a fill light to the left, you can see that Nick's hand has a very dark shadow.
Add fill light: voilá!
Once we completed our lighting tweaks, we could see Nick's reflection on the screen. We don't see more of him in the reflection because he was wearing a black shirt. Flagging essentially achieves the same result that his dark shirt produces. Dark, non-reflective cards or sheets are positioned to prevent light from reaching only Nick's head, removing his reflection from the image.
Joe improvises flagging with his wool coat.
The final result: