MAKE BETTER LOOKING outdoor video: the PLV-380 on-camera light reviewed


[Music] You’ll never guess the places that I’ve been. You’ll never guess the places that I’ve been. ‘Cuz everything is like a dream, yeah, but only in my dream that I live in. Now. [Talking] Outside of dawn and magic hour, getting shots of humans in bright sunlight can be really challenging. Most photographers aren’t going for a harsh, contrasty look. This is the Wattles Mansion and Gardens. In 2019, for four thousand dollars a day you can rent it for television shoots, movie shoots, commercials, and parties. Gurdon Wattles built this place in 1907. He moved here full time in 1920, kind of escaping Omaha, Nebraska, where he ran a street car company. There had been a strike and when the strike was busted, he was not a popular person there anymore. So he came out to live here. It’s in all kinds of movies and television shows and commercials. So for four grand your project can look like everyone else’s. It’s in The O.C., even though we’re in the foothills of Hollywood, no where near the OC. It’s in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s in the movie Rain Man. If you have a large crew, like on a big budget film set, large frames with silks and diffusers and all sorts of gear that comes in multiple five-ton grip trucks can easily solve nearly any sunlight problems you could imagine. If you’re fortunate enough to have an assistant helping you, that person could hold a reflector and bounce a little sunlight into the shadows. That will make a big difference. My friend Dennis is here, but he’s holding the weight of the camera and looking into a little screen to make sure that I’m in focus and in frame and enough light is getting into the camera so that he’s actually getting an image. We didn’t rent Wattles today. Dennis didn’t want to pony up for the four grand. I thought it would be a good idea. We’re just passing through it to get to the start of our hike, on the beautiful Harper Monkey Trail. If Dennis had four hands instead of the more-common two, he could hold a reflector and bounce some sunlight in here. But then he’d be looking at me and not into the monitor and who knows what he’d be shooting. We’d have Barkley hold the reflector, but Barkley lacks the required opposable thumbs. And he also thinks reflectors are chew toys. We typically walk Runyon Canyon three times a week and it can be super bright up there. So we thought it would be a great place to test another way to mitigate bright sunlight challenges, if you only have two hands. It’s an on-camera light that cinematographers call an Obie light. In our case we’re using the Obie light as a fill light, but that’s not its original purpose. It’s not even a typical purpose. On a big film set, an Obie light usually is used as an eye light. It casts a nice reflection in the eyes. It looks great. When you wear glasses like I do, not so good always. It’s original purpose was even very different than that. In 1937 actress Merle Oberon, “Obie,” was in a car accident that left all sorts of small scars on her face. In 1944 she was hired to be in a movie called The Lodger. The cinematographer, Lucien Ballard, attached a small light to the top of the camera that washed out her scars and made her look fabulous. She married him. In true Hollywood fashion, they divorced a few years later. These days the term “Obie light” refers to any small on-camera light. The Obie light that we’re testing today, as a fill light, is ESDDI’s PLV-380. A fill light like this is useful in direct sunlight, because it lessens harsh shadows. And, of course, scars. Take away the fill light and, well, hm. It’s also useful when you’re under tree branches and leaves. This is with the PLV-380. Without it, you get this harsh, mottled look. It’s also useful when you’re in complete shade. It’s easy enough to expose for facial skin, but behind you, you tend to blow out the background. A little fill light can lessen the contrast for a better shot. The key is to not add too much fill light. If you dial it up too bright, the shot won’t look believable. It’ll start to look like you’re doing a remote for your local TV news. “I’m Jeff Parker… and it’s crowded at the airport on Christmas.” Ideally, we want to create the illusion that this is natural. Although there’s absolutely nothing natural about it. Unlike Dennis who’s 100% whole grain. The PLV-380 makes it easy to set both brightness and color temperature, so you can shoot both indoors and out, at any time of day. It’s a great way to do small scale fill lighting. It also uses standard Sony batteries, so you can shoot with it literally all day long. Provided you remember to bring them. What do you think, Dennis? ESDDI’s PLV-380. A solid choice for indoor – and outdoor – fill lighting.

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