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STUDIO Lighting for virtual sets by Mike Perry, Photon Beard W e often get asked why lighting for a virtual set is not working well. The client has fitted a virtual studio painted with domestic green paint and fitted with presumably suitable lights, but the camera just can’t get a decent image. Where’s it all going wrong? Well, to answer questions about lighting a virtual studio, we need to understand some basic principles about light. The type of lighting you need depends on a multitude of factors, such as whether you want to simulate a natural or artifi cially lit scene. In the case of a natural scene, such as in daylight or a night sky, there is only one light source. With artifi cial lighting, such as a city street, there are multiple light sources, often in different colours and intensities. Indoor and outdoor scenes also make a big difference. The quality of lighting will interact with the materials used for the greenscreen, which might require you to change the colour or intensity of various sources. Colour is, of course, a critical element of lighting. You might think of light as ‘white’, but if you look around you’ll fi nd that light casts many different colours, even supposedly “white” light. For example, a tungsten light in your home emits a yellow hue with tints of orange. Department store fl uorescents emit a variety of pinks, blues and greens. All of this affects what you see bouncing back off ‘white’ goods or clothing. Speaking of clothing, some clothing will appear whiter than others because brighteners have been added to fabrics to make them appear to pop off the hanger, to be ‘whiter than white’. It’s a trick of chemistry specifi cally designed to take advantage of lighting choices, and it’s the same in a virtual studio. If you are used to lighting properly for TV or fi lm you will be familiar with three-point lighting. It’s a very fl exible technique common in cinematography and photography, and it can be used to illuminate a subject in a virtual studio in the same way. Three-point lighting consists of three separate lights that are used to control the lighting, shading and shadows of the subject. The Key Light is the main light source, it illuminates the subject the most and it defi nes the overall lighting design 54 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 92 AUGUST 2014 TV-BAY092AUG14.indd 54 08/08/2014 15:28