background windows overlooking the city – how?

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    • #37840

      Well I am embarking on yet another challenging project that I have no experience with. Call it risk-taking or stupidity, but I am going for it anyway. Here’s my current work – a bible study:’t be too critical – ALL of my video & editing has been self taught)

      The next study they would like to video in a huge building in front of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city – one lesson at night and the other lesson during daylight.

      So, isn’t that impossible? I mean wouldn’t everything (lights, me, camera…) reflect in the glass in the background – regardless of day or night? Is my only option to use green screen?

      Any direction will be helpful to me, feel free to assume I know nothing – forever learning, will remain a Doctor of education by training not a videographer/editor by training!

      Also – I have 2 Sony PD170 Professional cameras and edit on PowerMacG5 with Final Cut Pro 5


      Dr. Michelle

    • #167599

      You could rotoscope the window out (very tedious) and replace it with a scene of your choosing (like green screen, just not keyed to a color but a user defined region) or you could use a polarizing filter (or two) to get rid of the reflections.

      Also, your font is very hard to read – you need to work on the color (font or background) and give it some better contrast.

    • #167600

      @birdcat – thanks! One clarifying question though – if they want the city to be in the background, using a polarizing filter would also block that view, right? Or does a polarizing filter just “blur” the reflections, leaving the city in the background somewhat discernible?

    • #167601

      think of a bank shot in pool… the angle of reflectance = the angle on incidence…

      so getting rid of unwanted reflections is easy.. you plan carefully and move your light sources so any reflections off the glass are reflected away from the camera lens.. shotting at angles, as opposed to straight on to the glass will keep you and your camera out of the reflections….also color balance, you’ll need daylight colored lights for daytime and warmer tones for night… I’d go with halogens and blue gels to cover both, cheaply…

    • #167602

      A polarizer will allow you to adjust the polarization by turning the front ring and you can eliminate reflections (depending on light & angles so you’ll have to play around with it before you start) leaving the city in full view.

    • #167603


      ‘Cat’s suggestion of using a circular polarizer filter is a good one as would be a Graded Neutral Density filter. Problem is though, you’ll have to put more light on your foreground subjects to offset the effects of the filters on your talent and objects.

      The tried and true way other than putting up a greenscreen outside the window and using a photo or video plate of the scene outside the window is to gel the windows. Cheapest way is to get car window tint like you find in ‘S-Mart’ that’s 5-20% opacity and is ‘black’ or ‘charcoal gray’ (no colors!) Anything that says ‘Limo Tint’ leave alone, it’ll be too dark.

      Outfits like Home Depot and Lowes will also have ‘Window Film’. They’ll be more expensive as you can find larger sheets but be careful to get only ‘smoke’ or ‘black’ tints. Colored tints will wreak havoc when you’re trying to get accurate color during whitebalancing.

      Gelling the windows is just like putting a pair of ‘sunglasses’ on them and allow you to get an exposure which shows both the exterior outside the windows and the interior with your subjects. You’ll have to light your subjects because you’ll have cut down on the ambient light and won’t be able to get the same boost from bounce cards or reflectors.

    • #167604

      I agree with composite1 on the use of a circular polarizer and the adding light in the foreground. the difference in exposure will be like stepping out of a dark garage into broad daylight a difference of several levels of exposure and i know you don’t want your speaker looking like a silhouette. Experiment with these techniques and see what you like.

    • #167605

      Also keep in mind the time of day and weather conditions when shootong with windows behind your subject. I find an overcast day translates into a better looking background. Not as bright as a sunny dayso less fill light needed on your subject and a more consistent, ‘even’ look to the background as apposed to a bright sunny day where the sun might be playing ‘tag’ with clouds. Using blue gels on your lights will help balance out the colour comming in from outside. For night time shots, I get good resultsjust after sunset, during that ‘magic’ hour where the sky still has a bit of detail in it and is not pitch black yet.

    • #167606

      This is from a series of still I did – No polarizer (I wanted the reflections) but a filter would have gotten rid of them easily.

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