Getting a white background in video is harder than in photography.

I have started on my stock photography using my Canon T2i/550D. Every time I take a picture I also want to create a video.

I think I nailed this photo of a wine glass last night (below), it took some time to figure out how to light and position it just right. Then this morning I wanted to create a video of me pouring red wine into it in slow motion. I don’t think I nail it like I did with the photo.

I use Lightroom for my photos and Sony Vegas for my videos, but I can’t seem to get the same look to my videos.

I couldn’t get the background to be pure white like I wanted. I tried many times to get the white balance just right and then using the contrast curves to blow out the highlights but Vegas will not let me blow them out without scarifying detail in the glass.

I know I can do better before I release this video clip into creative commons, does anyone have suggestions on how to get the background to be pure white?

If you would like to use this Pouring Red Wine video clip you can download it on this Vimeo page.

Empty Wine Glass

21 comments

  • Les I did think about it but didn’t try because I thought the green reflection would spill all over the glass giving it a weird color. But perhaps I should try it.

  • Hi Dave, reading your blog daily for tips.

    Maybe is a youtube thing, but around the glass of wine, it look white enough. In the corners, where the light falls off, you get darker edges. Maybe you could try masking those areas and adding a white solid underneath you video.

    Hope that helps!

  • @Allen the key to lighting a translucent object is lighting it all from behind, believe me I tried all the other ways first and it can’t be done well.

  • Hmm, I wonder if you turned up the ISO and then cranked the lights behind the glass if you could blow out most of it in the camera. If your backdrop was far enough away you could (in my imagination at least) blast out the background but still have correct exposure on the glass.

    Or you could create a B/W version of the video invert it and use it as a luma key.

    If vegas has some Level controls you could get closer to what elements is doing.

    Then again, do all of the above…

    Just have to say I love this site! I recently bought a T2i to shoot a short film. (in good part because of Mr. Dugdale and this blog!) Much of what I know about my T2i and used to film the project, I learned right here.

    So I Just wanted to say thank you, Dave!

    PS I suppose if you wanted to get crazy you could save out the video as a JPEG sequence and record all of your actions including saving and closing in photoshop (or elements, if it supports batch processing) then run that action as a batch on all of the images in the sequence. Then convert it back into a video. That would allow you to make it look exactly like your images. the processing time could get ridiculous on longer sequences though.

  • I agree that a rear lightbox-emissive surface (instead of a reflective surface) would give a more even back light. Perhaps even a light tent with black cards inserted for negative fill (like scrimming all around the subject).

    I wouldnt recomend clipping or overexposing to much in camera, as it leaves you no room to change in post (essential for stock images). And the edges of the subject (glass or wine etc.) could get weird edges (aliasing) when you color correct later.

    Also I notice that TVC (TV comercials) tend to pour deliberately and get a less dribbly splashy fill up.

  • I think what you really see here is the limited bandwidth of the CODEC that the camera uses for video. not enough bits to color correct the top (luminance) of the image, whereas the photo has lots of color info to change.

  • Hi Dave,
    love your blog.

    Have you tried to light directly from the background as highkey-lighting? Just now you’re lighting directly to a white background and it reflects back to your object. The other option is to take something like a huge softbox, put it right behind the glass. Or even think about using a thin diffusing textile and put enough light behind it.

    It may also help you to light the red color from the wine, coz’ right now you don’t have any effect light for the wine. So it doesn’t look that tasty. Food designers sometimes make the fluid a bit thicker to have more effect in highspeed shooting and also to avoid too many bubbles.

    I was thinking about that because photographers sometimes uses a light tent/box for shooting products in a neutral white room with highkey lighting.

    hope that helps.

  • If you give more light to the subject you can then bring up the exposure to the background. Also get more light onto the background.

  • Hey Dave go buy a translucent shower curtain make a wooden frame for what ever size you need and cut the shower curtain and staple it to the frame. Shine some light onto the back. Keep the cup a foot or so from the curtain. Light the the cup separately Expose for the cup and take the video. Warning I never did this before, but just may work what you guys think.

  • Make sure the shower curtain is a smoky white type not clear. And don’t forget to white balance. Use all the same color temperature  bulbs. If you have a soft box already then you don’t need to make one with the shower curtain. 

  • Lots of ways – if you have limited lighting, overexpose the background – this isn’t film where you get lots of latitude in your highlights or shadows. Since the focus is the wine glass and not the backdrop, just blow out the backdrop and expose for the glass. One reader commented on lighting – I think this is the best way: light the background bright and then light your glass with a soft box at an angle to one side or the other. Expose for the background and then your glass – you want to lean towards anything that will make the background white – histogram should be almost totally maxed on the right side. If you don’t have one, seriously consider getting a good light meter – the shots and time it saves make it a worthwhile long-term investment.

    I just finished some work with a lava lamp and my T2i – I used my typical studio background white, but used only the light of the lava lamp to expose everything (the whole studio was dark save for the lava lamp – so I wound up with a black background despite the fact that it was white. The footage came out great and I’ll be selling online shortly.

    I’m curious that you want to do creative commons licensing when there is money to be made from a number of stock places online. You’re doing the work, you should be paid.

    BTW: keying things like glass and water is not for the faint of heart and I’d much rather have software do it.

  • Hello Dave,

    Careful positioning of your lights on the background to make sure you are not getting any “falloff”. To check this it is best to use a light meter which can measure to 1/10 of an f stop or maybe you could eyeball it using your laptop as a reference monitor. Slight vignetting/graduation though does help to draw your eye towards the subject.

  • It’s your lighting setup.

    For stills, a tintbox is a good way to solve your problems. For video, think about a lastolite. At the very least you need a fill light or a reflector to fix your issues as they are now. The right side is over exposed and the left side has to much falloff and is underexposed.

  • I agree that a rear lightbox-emissive surface (instead of a reflective surface) would give a more even back light. Perhaps even a light tent with black cards inserted for negative fill (like scrimming all around the subject).

    I wouldnt recomend clipping or overexposing to much in camera, as it leaves you no room to change in post (essential for stock images). And the edges of the subject (glass or wine etc.) could get weird edges (aliasing) when you color correct later.

    Also I notice that TVC (TV comercials) tend to pour deliberately and get a less dribbly splashy fill up.

  • What gear did you use? You said ” key to lighting a translucent object is lighting it all from behind”, what is the translucent lighting object?
    Do you have some actual screen and some sort of light that’s out of frame?

    Sorry, I’m a complete noob on anything that’s indoors, has to do with lighting, or audio but I’d like to learn.

    I think that It’d be cool to do something like that white BG, but idk how.