Hooo, that was a lot of fun! Thanks to the Dread Captain Marcos, our guest villain last night, and Jeri Lynn Cornish, our hostage du jour, and most of all, The Cosmic Ray Show for having us all on!
The show is already archived, by the way. Click on the link above and you’ll find it. We’re the final guests, so about 15 minutes before the end of the show, if you want to skip ahead. Or if you’re into space exploration – like Curiosity Rover and all that? Watch the whole show.
I haven’t talked much about DIY day lately, but setting up for this appearance gave me a great chance to use my art degree in a set-lighting environment, and it’s led to a DIY opportunity!
Here are two pictures. One is four days ago; the other was today. The physical setup of the room is unchanged – the angle of the camera is a little different, but not that much.
Basic front lighting
Improved front lighting
According to everyone who has seen both today, the bottom shot is better; I of course agree. It has more depth to it – it’s less flat, more 3D – there’s better presence, and what you can’t see here is that performers pop off that second backdrop WAY better – there’s no fading into the background here.
What do you think the difference is? If you guessed less light, that’s not it. If you guess a lot more light, actually, that’s not it either. Total lighting amount is unchanged; no fixtures were replaced. Camera settings? Also unchanged.
Two things are different. One, I have a glare shield around the webcam. I made it with white cardstock. It keeps ambient light from the side of the camera from affecting the image, and by doing so, boosts contrast:
The 5¢ Anti-Glare Shield
The second is that I warmed the light in the foreground by putting sheets of gold paper behind the light sources, and specifically cooled the light in the background by putting sheets of blue paper behind those light sources, all off camera. The primary line-of-light is not tinted at all, but the first and brightest sets of reflected light is all warmer (in front) or cooler (in back). This also increases visual contrast.
Just as importantly, this also creates an optic architectural layer; it divides the space into two spaces, a bit, in your brain, which makes the more distance space be processed as further away in your head. This is how architectural layering works in physical objects, too; a small room can be made to feel larger by putting a divider into it, one that you can see around – say, a stub wall coming down from the ceiling, or a bar, or an archway. Your brain will see two spaces instead of one; it will treat the second as further away, making the whole stage feels larger.
And since there’s actually more light, the people in front (once there) really pop forward. Again; bright foreground, darker background, more depth.
It still doesn’t look like a huge environment, but it looks a lot less cramped, and gave the video compression software a better chance not to do horrible things. Having looked at the stream a bit, compression still did some weird things, but the result is far better than tests we ran against the original lighting setup. The lighting shift didn’t change the visual world of the shot; it improved it, in subtle but meaningful ways.
And that’s basically just 12 sheets of creatively-placed coloured paper. Lighting is fun!