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Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
#3000017 07/07/20 07:47 PM
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I realize this isn't about digital pianos per se, but this is the most technical bunch on the forum so I thought I'd try here smile I'm having difficulty lighting my piano or maybe better said, getting my webcam to deal with the lighting properly. The problem is that if I use any of the existing lights I have, room lights or the light over the music desk, the webcam (Logitech HD Pro C920) washes out the keyboard. My teacher fairly accurately says that it looks like one giant white key. This makes it really hard for him to see where our fingers are going. The "black" spaces between the keys seem to disappear and the white keys get merged together if there's much light on the keys themselves.

I've "solved" the problem by turning off all the lights in the room and closing the drapes, letting in some ambient light from outside. I've one lamp that's way behind me on, but all other lights in the house are off. Then, I set the exposure down a couple notches from default. This makes the image fairly dark, but you can see the lines very clearly. This is going to be fine for a few more weeks as it's staying light until 10 pm here in the pacific NW, but it's not going to last. Especially for myself, I'll need to be able to see my sheet music with a light.

The worst offender is my music desk light. When I turn that on, it causes a huge "bright spot" on the keyboard and you can't see anything, including hands. I tried setting up a "sunlight lamp" to see if that would help by providing a more consistent light, but it made things worse, it washed everything out. I've tried playing with the white balance, but it makes no difference. Gain, brightness, contrast and color intensity don't seem to do much that's useful.

I'm wondering if the webcam is the problem, or if there's a way I can light the room that will work correctly with the camera. I'm open to buying a new camera if that would solve the problem, but I'm hesitant to do so and find out that all consumer cameras have a problem with white and black and it's a lighting problem.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. If it would help, I can capture some screen shots of various things I've tried.

Last edited by Chrispy; 07/07/20 07:48 PM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000034 07/07/20 08:53 PM
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What are the specifications of your webcam?

If you own a relatively new smartphone, you may find the picture quality of the built-in camera (and its ability to handle light) are superior to that of your webcam.

https://www.wired.com/story/use-your-phone-as-webcam/

Kind regards,
James
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Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

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Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000054 07/07/20 09:58 PM
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You need not apologize for being off topic. Though this is not one of our usual topics I think it's a refreshing change.

I'm no expert on lighting nor on how to get it right. But it's not hard to identify your problem. And I think the solution is to make your light sources more diffuse and more nearly omnidirectional.

Look at what they do at a photo studio and try to emulate that. You might even pay a visit to one ... I suspect they're not very busy these days ... and someone might offer advice.

Or if you know a wedding photographer ... or if you know someone who knows someone ... you might get some advice.

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000059 07/07/20 10:14 PM
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My phone (and the camera built in to my iMac) are able to see keys with no problem under a variety of lighting conditions. So it might be your webcam.


Rodney Sauer
Kawai KG-2E • Kawai ES8
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000063 07/07/20 10:37 PM
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Check Costco for Feit Electric 4' Linkable LED Shop Light currently on sale for $17. I already had one but I bought two more. 4000 lumens each... so a single one may do the trick for you. I direct them at the ceiling to create diffuse lighting. They really brighten up a dark room.

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000067 07/07/20 11:09 PM
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I think it mainly has to do with the Webcam ability to handle exposure right. I recorded this with my phone, I did have to adjust the exposure and shutter speed manually. Also recorded in a dark room. https://youtu.be/PHHCnG0bucY

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Mavs972 #3000076 07/07/20 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Mavs972
I think it mainly has to do with the Webcam ability to handle exposure right. I recorded this with my phone, I did have to adjust the exposure and shutter speed manually. Also recorded in a dark room. https://youtu.be/PHHCnG0bucY

Looks incredible. What kind of piano is this? It looks so rustic.

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000121 07/08/20 04:26 AM
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Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
navindra #3000209 07/08/20 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by navindra
Originally Posted by Mavs972
I think it mainly has to do with the Webcam ability to handle exposure right. I recorded this with my phone, I did have to adjust the exposure and shutter speed manually. Also recorded in a dark room. https://youtu.be/PHHCnG0bucY

Looks incredible. What kind of piano is this? It looks so rustic.

Thanks, it's a Studiologic Numa. I vinyl wrapped it, I made a thread about it here.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...inyl-wrapped-my-digital.html#Post2964886

Last edited by Mavs972; 07/08/20 10:25 AM.
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Kawai James #3000275 07/08/20 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
What are the specifications of your webcam?
If you own a relatively new smartphone, you may find the picture quality of the built-in camera (and its ability to handle light) are superior to that of your webcam.

I've got EpocCam to allow my iPhone to act as a webcam, the problem with it is that it add additional latency between the video and audio, which makes it not great for online lessons, as my fingers don't sync with my keys frown

This is the camera I have: https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/hd-pro-webcam-c920

Thanks all for the other suggestions. I'll try making some more diffuse light, alas my ceilings may not cooperate because they are angled and bright, but I'll see what I can figure out.

Definitely seems to be a consensus that the camera is my problem. So, any suggestions for a good camera that won't break the bank? Digital SLR's seem to be what all the guru's recommend but $800+ just to facilitate online lessons seems a bit of overkill frown Anyone have ideas in the $200 range?


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000332 07/08/20 04:23 PM
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Chrispy, I've also contemplated on how to set up for video recording, for posting performances, not for a teacher, though it's very similar requirements, so I'm glad you asked about this.

[Linked Image]

I also have the Logitech C920, and because of your question, I decided to record a video, simply holding my webcam in my hand. I haven't set it up, so that was the only way. The picture above is a screenshot from the video. I haven't edited the picture much, just rotated it, and changed the background. Didn't want to show my legs publicly, LOL!

However, I haven't done anything to change the contrast, or brightness. The reason the picture is a little blurry, is my shaky hands, so the frame I took a snapshot of, is out of focus. You should still be able to see, that the picture is clear, and the digital piano is well lit.

I have no lights set up whatsoever. All the brightness is from the daylight outside. I have the drapes pulled down, but they still let in some light, since their colour is white-ish.

If you have trouble getting decent lighting, I found the instruction video below very interesting. This woman simply bought a microphone stand, to which she attached her Logitech C920 webcam. Judging from her other videos, she gets good lighting, and her videeos are clear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ag7kBIuIhw

Her equipment is not that expensive. I myself already have the Logitech C920, a Blue Snowball microphone, so I would just need to get the other stuff, which shouldn't be more than $100. I might just do that, how about you?

Last edited by TheodorN; 07/08/20 04:24 PM.

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Casio PX-5S. Garritan CFX, Production Grand 2 Gold, Concert Grand LE, AcousticSamples C7, NI Giant, Sampletekk White Grand, Choc. Audio Steinbach, and a few more. Kontakt 5. Reaper.
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000335 07/08/20 04:34 PM
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I've never used a webcam. What's the advantage over a smartphone (assuming most people have smartphones)? All my videos are done with an old iPhone 6. No problems with lighting at all.

God Bless,
David


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Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
David B #3000345 07/08/20 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by David B
I've never used a webcam. What's the advantage over a smartphone (assuming most people have smartphones)? All my videos are done with an old iPhone 6. No problems with lighting at all.
It's for interactive lessons.

I also use an older Logitech webcam so that I can see my teacher on the laptop screen and she can see my keyboard. I don't use any fancy lights other than daylight and regular room lights. I switch between my external webcam and the laptop one for different views.

Chrispy's problem is puzzling.

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
_sem_ #3000347 07/08/20 04:58 PM
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He should have played Burning Down the House.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000349 07/08/20 05:03 PM
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The biggest advantage in my view, is the video is recorded directly to my computer's hard disk. No need to open the phone and pick out the SD card, or connect it with a USB cable to copy between devices. Other advantage is I can immediately see how good or bad the recording will be, by looking at my computer screen, before I start recording.


Me on YouTube

Casio PX-5S. Garritan CFX, Production Grand 2 Gold, Concert Grand LE, AcousticSamples C7, NI Giant, Sampletekk White Grand, Choc. Audio Steinbach, and a few more. Kontakt 5. Reaper.
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000360 07/08/20 05:22 PM
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I'll capture some images and show what happens with various lights. As with TheodorN's experience, I'm fine as long as I use ambient outdoor light (though I do need to set the exposure down), it's when I try to turn on any artificial lights that my problems begin.


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000363 07/08/20 05:39 PM
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Off topic. Chrispy, I have finished learning the nocturne for now, currently struggling with the prelude and I will get K545 recordable if it kills me.

K545 I learnt as a child and I have no recollection of the pain it is causing me as an adult. From the trills, to keeping rhythm and fast enough while being able to give it life. What a foolhardy project it has been for me.I hope your struggles have been less.

Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000373 07/08/20 06:18 PM
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Well, here's another screenshot, this time completely dark outside, and the ceiling light on. If anything, it's too bright, and I might have to change the settings to prioritize frame rate, instead of exposure, like I had it set. Then it might become even clearer.

[Linked Image]

Look forward to seeing your images, we'll work this out. Logitech C920 is a great webcam, and more than enough for your purposes. Of course a DSLR camera is better, but I don't see a need to get one, at least not for me.

Last edited by TheodorN; 07/08/20 06:21 PM.

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Casio PX-5S. Garritan CFX, Production Grand 2 Gold, Concert Grand LE, AcousticSamples C7, NI Giant, Sampletekk White Grand, Choc. Audio Steinbach, and a few more. Kontakt 5. Reaper.
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
TheodorN #3000418 07/08/20 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TheodorN
The biggest advantage in my view, is the video is recorded directly to my computer's hard disk. No need to open the phone and pick out the SD card, or connect it with a USB cable to copy between devices. Other advantage is I can immediately see how good or bad the recording will be, by looking at my computer screen, before I start recording.

Note that software exists that allows most if not all smartphones to be connected to a computer and used as a webcam. The video can also be captured directly onto the computer's harddrive.

Kind regards,
James
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Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Lighting a piano for video (kind of OT I know...)
Chrispy #3000589 07/09/20 10:13 AM
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Thanks KJ, didn't know that. I sometimes forget how versatile our smartphones are - and smart! There was a time when a phone was used to make phone calls, or answer them, but nowadays it seems they do everything but that. cool

I don't know how I would react if I got a phone call in the middle of a performance recording - using the phone to record, but that's another story! Actually, someone can call me on Skype or Facebook, thereby requesting access to my computer webcam, but the chances of that happening are not that big. In that case my phone would be available to take the Skype/FB call.

Last edited by TheodorN; 07/09/20 10:19 AM.

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Casio PX-5S. Garritan CFX, Production Grand 2 Gold, Concert Grand LE, AcousticSamples C7, NI Giant, Sampletekk White Grand, Choc. Audio Steinbach, and a few more. Kontakt 5. Reaper.

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