Are you shooting on WHITE?

Are you shooting on a white background/limbo project?  This is a very popular form of shooting because its simple and its’ a wonderful way to connect to your subject.  This, of course, was made famous by the ad wizards for APPLE and has been emulated millions of times.  

I like it and it serves a purpose - modern, clean, simple - but there are some pitfalls to avoid.  

1.  Choose a clean white surface like white seamless photo paper or a white cyc wall.  I’ve seen some really sloppy white backdrops that show up as dirty and dingy and usually ends up costing time to fix it in post or results in a poorly shot video. And - make sure there are no wrinkles.

2. Make sure you light your background evenly.  Pay attention to the edges of frame.  Make sure that you are exposing evenly throughout with no hot spots.  I find using diffusion helps a lot with this. If you have 4x4 frames of diffusion this could help - by lighting 45/45 on either side pointed at your backdrop - where the two lights overlap in the middle. You can use an exposure meter, a waveform scope, or close down the iris to until the white is grey and it’s easier to see the hotspots/falloff.

3. Set your exposure properly. You want the white to appear white and not to have any color aliasing creeping in - so it’s important that you don’t blow it out where the camera doesn’t read it properly and may add some color fringing.  I usually have the background just a little more exposure than the subject.

4. Try and Keep the subject as far away from the bkg as your camera lens will let you to avoid spill light bouncing off the background on to your subject.  That way you can light the subject how they need to be lit.

5. Make sure all you color temperature of your lights match.  You want to make sure that white reads white across the background.  If using kinos make sure all the bulbs are the matching.  

6.  Press record.  And that’s about it.  Holla if you have any questions. 

Jon Swindall

Jon Swindall produces, directs, and shoots t.v. shows, commercial, and feature films.