[AG-TECH] Furniture aesthetics

Markus Buchhorn Markus.Buchhorn at anu.edu.au
Wed Sep 12 23:43:08 CDT 2001

At 09:45 AM 12/09/2001 -0400, David E. Bernholdt wrote:
>With the recent discussion about colors of walls & such to improve the
>camera's perception of the space & the people in it, I'm wondering
>about furniture.  Personally, I'm partial to gray/white tables as more
>"modern" looking, but it sounds like we might actually be better off
>with something darker (i.e. woodgrain) to help provide the camera with
>a bit of contrast.  Any comments?  Thanks

Wenjun has nicely summarised the various angles on this - "it depends" is 
quite an accurate description.

I'd note that surfaces that are "too" dark don't act as light reflectors. 
This means, besides the exposure issues, that you need additional lighting 
to provide a more uniform coverage. The classic example is a dark-woodgrain 
timber table where people sit during a meeting. Lighting is from above. 
People tend to look forward and down - never up. In this situation people's 
faces develop the most striking shadows from their forehead, hair, eye 
sockets, lips and nose especially. Camera's don't work "well" in that case. 
I had a table like this. I ended up putting a light-coloured tablecloth 
over it and things improved dramatically. The only alternative would have 
been to put forward pointing lights by the camera, or uplighters below the 
table level. Neither of these are great on the ergonomic or aesthetic scale 
of Wenjun, but excellent on the technical scale :-)

So, to summarise, you want light to bounce around reasonably well, so 
everything is uniformly lit. To avoid giving the camera grief, you want to 
minimise the contrast. BUT then you want to use an auto-tracking camera 
like the Sony EVI-D31 - which hates this kind of environment and likes 
sharp shadows and strong contrast for tracking.

I'd note that most commercial ISDN VidConf centres have worked on these 
problems for many years - and they tend to go for pale-blue-ish walls and a 
very light timber or grey furniture. With light diffusers just in the 
ceiling you tend to get very good, natural, and clear renditions of people 
in the room.


Markus Buchhorn, Faculty of Engineering and IT,          | Ph: +61 2 61258810
email: markus.buchhorn at anu.edu.au, mail: CSIT Bldg #108  |Fax: +61 2 61259805
Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia |Mobile: 0417 281429

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