Processing

Please wait...

Settings

Settings

Goto Application

1. WO1998037737 - A SYSTEM FOR ILLUMINATING AN OBJECT

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

A SYSTEM FOR ILLUMINATING AN OBJECT

The present invention relates to a system for illuminating an object, and in particular to a system for use in e.g. photography or the like, where an image or image data is made of a fixed object.

Previously, especially in the field of photography, illumination has been an art in which very simple lamps emitting white light have been positioned on tripods and moved by hand. If coloured light is desired, optical filters have been positioned in front of the lamp, and in order to provide the light beam with a desired cross-sectional shape, e.g. a piece of cardboard with corresponding cut-outs has been made and put in front of the lamp.

This has been the working method of photographers or the like for decades, but it entails a number of disadvantages in that the illumination setups are not reproducible, whereby the photographer has to "rediscover" lighting settings or at least to put a large effort into obtaining a given lighting setting. This also entails the disadvantage that even superb lighting settings may be forgotten if not used often enough.

Another disadvantage of the prior art systems is the fact, that moving the individual products is heavy work which may additionally be hazardous, as the lamps may be quite hot, as a photographer may not have time to wait until the lamp has cooled sufficiently - and especially not when experimenting with lighting settings. Also, warming up the standard lamps typically takes approx. 20 minutes.

One suggested solution to the last problem may be seen in products from FOBA AG, Switzerland, where standard lamps are placed on elevational means in order to be able to position the lamps without having to actually touch them. Automatic rotation is not suggested, and the FOBA AG products do not provide means for saving or storing the settings and do not solve the problem relating to obtaining reproducible lighting settings .

The Martin Light Composer product, which addresses both problems, comprises to a frame and six computer controlled PAL 1200 from Martin Professional, Denmark. These high quality light sources comprise a number of optical filters, dimmers, gobos etc. controlled by step motors and controlling electronics again connected to the computer.

The computer used for controlling the light sources is also used for controlling a digital camera and used for showing and saving the resulting image or picture and for saving and later on retrieving the parameters of the light sources and thereby recreating the lighting setup.

Thus, positioning a number of light sources having variable parameters at predetermined positions, the operator or photographer may not be required to touch or move the light sources .

Positioning the light sources in the first, predetermined positions will enable the operator to more easily reproduce a lighting setting in that parameters of the lamps may be controlled and in that the positions thereof are predetermined.

The present invention relates to improvements of the Martin Light Composer product .

The first aspect of the invention has been developed due to the habits of photographers and due to the fact that only a limited number of lighting settings may be obtained with fixed-position light sources. The first aspect of the present system is a system for illuminating an object for use in an image generating setup, the system comprising a number of remotely controllable variable parameter light sources positioned at first, predetermined positions in relation to the object,

a frame -in relation to which at least part of the vari-able parameter light sources is positioned,

controlling means for controlling parameters of the light sources,

means for providing information relating to the parameters of the light sources,

- means for transferring data between the controlling means and the providing means ,

wherein at least part of the variable parameter light sources may be off -set from their respective first predetermined positions to second positions and wherein the system further comprises means for providing information relating to the off -sets and/or second positions of the at least part of the variable parameter light sources.

Naturally, an offset light source brings about the problem that previously defined lighting settings generated with the light sources in their first, predetermined positions will not necessarily provide the intended illumination of the object. However, as the system according to this first aspect comprises means for providing information relating to the off-set and/or second positions of the at least part of the variable parameter light sources, also these non- standardized positions may be reproduced and, thus, the lighting settings may be generated using these second positions.

Naturally, the system according to the first aspect may comprise means for performing the off -setting of the light sources. In that situation, these offsetting means may comprise the means for providing information relating to the off -sets and/or second positions. A number of moving or offsetting means also comprises feed back means or measuring means providing a signal or other information relating to the actual movement or offset provided.

Preferably this aspect also comprises means for storing the information relating to the off-sets and/or second positions. This information is suitably stored together with the parameters defining the lighting setting in order to ensure a connection therebetween.

A photographer, having defined a desired lighting setting not having all light sources in their first, predetermined positions, may wish to also be able to distribute these lighting settings to other owners of systems according to this aspect of the invention.

This transfer may be obtained in a number of manners. One is to provide the new user with the off -sets in order for him to off-set his or hers light sources accordingly. In this situation, the parameters may be directly transferred and the intended lighting setup obtained.

Another manner is to adapt the parameters of the new lighting setting to a system having its light sources in the first, predetermined positions. In this situation, the providing means are preferably adapted to convert parameters generated for an off- set light source in order for a light source in its first, predetermined position to provide at least substantially the same illumination of the object. Thus, the light source remains in its predetermined position, but the direction and optionally other parameters of the light beam from the light source are re- calculated in order to obtain the intended illumination.

Calculating a compensating direction of the light beam is standard to the skilled person. Other parameters may be the shape of e.g. a square light beam which may not obtain the correct dimensions using the same settings of beam profile defining means when the light source is positioned in the second position. In this situation, the providing means may also be adapted to alter the parameters of the beam shaping means in order to also compensate for this difference.

Thus, in this situation,
the off-set light source is adapted to generate and direct a light beam in a desired direction, said direction illuminating the object in a given manner, and
- the providing means are adapted to derive, when the light source is in its first, predetermined position, information useable by the controlling means in order to have said light source illuminate the object in at least approximately the same manner as the given manner.

The providing means may, naturally, also be adapted to convert parameters or information in the other direction, that is to adapt standard illumination settings generated for settings with the light sources in their first, predetermined positions to be useable in systems with off-set light
sources.

Thus, the providing means may also be adapted to convert parameters generated for a light source in its first, predetermined position in order for an off-set light source to provide at least substantially the same illumination of the object.

In that situation,
the light source in its first, predetermined position may be adapted to generate and direct a light beam in a desired direction, said direction illuminating the object in a given manner, and
the providing means may be adapted to derive, when the light source is off-set, information useable by the controlling means in order to have said light source illuminate the object in at least approximately the same manner as the given manner.

A second aspect of the invention relates to a system for illuminating an object for use in an image generating setup, the system comprising

a number of remotely controllable variable parameter light sources positioned at first, predetermined positions in relation to the object,

a frame in relation to which at least part of the vari-able parameter light sources is positioned,

controlling means for controlling parameters of the light sources,

means for providing information relating to the parameters of the light sources,

- means for transferring data between the controlling means and the providing means,

wherein the providing means comprise a first and a second part, the first part being portable and being adapted to provide data to the transferring means, the data being adapted to be used in the controlling of the light sources, the second part being able to generate controlling information for use in the first part in order for it to provide the information relating to the parameters.

Especially the fact that the second part is portable, pro-vides the advantage that the controlling means and the first part of the providing means may be remote controllable by the photographer or operator to control at least part of the operation of the system from a position near e.g. the light sources. This has the advantage that the operator may direct- ly monitor the effect of the lighting setting and e.g. move the object around in order to obtain the optimal lighting setting.

Especially for the photographer working alone, this has an advantage in- that he may from the same position alter the lighting settings and evaluate the results thereof. The alternative is to move between e.g. the controlling computer and the lighting setting. This, therefore, provides a much more efficient working situation for such a photographer.

Another advantage is the fact that the environment of the lighting setting needs not be adapted to that required by e.g. computers and the like, and the operator may still be able to control the system without having to constantly move from the controlling and the providing means and the actual lighting setup.

Thus, it may be advantageous if the second part is adapted to be used in the vicinity of the variable parameter lamps.

When the providing means are split up like this, the second part preferably comprises means for entering information relating to the controlling information. These entering means preferably comprise push-buttons and/or potentiometers. These means may be push-buttons for identifying which lamp or lamps is/are to be controlled by the subsequent settings, and the potentiometers may be used for varying the intensity/colours-/rotation of gobo/etc. Push-buttons may also be provided to e.g. instruct the providing means to store a given setting or to recall a given setting.

Also, the invention relates to a portable unit for use as the first part of the providing means of the second aspect of the invention.

A third aspect of the invention relates to a system for illuminating an object for use in an image generating setup, the system comprising a number of remotely controllable variable parameter light sources positioned at first, predetermined positions in relation to the object,

a frame in relation to which at least part of the vari-able parameter light sources is positioned,

controlling means for controlling parameters of the light sources,

means for providing information relating to the parameters of the light sources,

- means for transferring data between the controlling means and the providing means ,

characterized in that the system further comprises

a positioning device and

position determining means for providing information relating to the position of the positioning device in relation to a fixed coordinate system.

This positioning device may be used both in the setting up of the lighting setup as well as in directing light beams from individual light sources or groups of light sources.

Preferably, the controlling means are adapted to, on the basis of the information relating to the position of the positioning device, direct a light beam generated by a variable parameter light source in a direction towards the positioning device.

In one setup, the positioning device may be adapted to be fastened to or be comprised in the second part of the providing means in order for the second part to act as both information entering means and as a "light attractor". This pro- vides the operator/photographer with the possibility of controlling the direction of the light beam from one or more light sources by selecting these (using e.g. the push-buttons) and instructing them to direct their light beams toward the positioning device. By subsequently moving the positioning device, the direction of the light is altered. Having obtained the desired illumination, the light sources may be instructed to no more follow the positioning device.

In another setup, the positioning device may be adapted to be fastened or to engage with the object. In this situation, moving the object may cause the light sources to redirect the light beams in order to still illuminate the object.

Especially in the situation where the object is split up into a number of different objects, the part to which the posi-tioning device is fastened will "attract" the light, whereby the overall illumination of the objects will be altered.

Naturally, the positioning of the object in the present system will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the object. Presently, it is preferred that smaller objects are positioned on a surface, such as that of a table, the surface of which transmits visible light. This is due to the fact that certain types of images require or desire illumination also from the lower side of the object.

Standard tables for photography, such as the "Background table" from FOBA AG, Switzerland, comprise a light transmitting acrylic plate forming both the actual supporting surface and a back part thereof in order to avoid visible edges, etc. A table of this type which allows illumination from below and from the back of the object is also very well suited for the present purpose. In addition, due to the fact that the preferred light sources are adapted to vary the colour of the light, the same acrylic plate (or any other suitable light transmitting material) may be used for all background colours. This saves the operator/photographer both work and expenses in relation to the use and acquirement of different backgrounds .

Also, the invention relates to an image generating setup for generating an image of an object illuminated by the above-mentioned aspects of the present system, the setup further comprising means for generating an image or image data relating to the illuminated object.

Naturally, these means may be any type of camera, such as a olaroid camera, a camera using standard photographic film, a digital camera, etc.

In the situation of a digital camera, the setup thereof may also be stored together with the parameters of the lighting setup in order for the complete setup to be easily reproducible.

In a fourth aspect, the invention relates to a method of positioning a number of remotely controllable variable parameter light sources in relation to a predetermined space, each of the light sources comprising a first and a second part, the second part being movable in relation to the first part, the first part being a fastening or engaging part, and the second part being adapted to direct a light beam generated by the light source in a remotely controllable direction, the method comprising:

positioning the first part of a first light source in a predetermined position in relation to the space,

generating, with the first light source, a light beam directed to a position relating to a desired position of a second light source,

positioning the first part of a second light source at the desired position pointed to, generating, with the second light source, a light beam in a direction well defined in relation to the first part of said second light source,

rotating- the second light source so that the light beam generated thereby is directed in a predetermined direction or illuminates a predetermined area within the space.

Using this method, all other light sources may be positioned in the correct position in relation to that single, first light source.

This has the advantage that a given lighting setup or system may be defined on the basis of the position of a single light source and only a few other parameters, such as the angle of predetermined light sources in relation to the horizontal axis. Also other elements such as tables, objects or mirrors may be positioned using this method.

Consequently, knowing a few parameters of a setup, the setting up (positioning and rotating) of a large number of elements may subsequently be performed using this method.

A fifth aspect of the invention relates especially to the generation of images where two images, one of a certain object, such as a person, and one of a predetermined scene, such as a castle, a library, are combined in order to generate a combined image preferably closely resembling one taken with the object positioned in the scene.

Too often are images or pictures of this type seen where the inserted object is illuminated from one side and the scene from the other. However, using e.g. the Martin Light Composer product, a large number of lighting effects, such as that generated by illumination through a window or by a candle, may be easily and repeatably generated.

Thus, if the image or data representing it are provided together with data or information relating to how the object would have been illuminated, if it was positioned in the scene at the- time of generating the image thereof, the Martin Light Composer will quickly and repeatably generate the correct illumination, whereby the images of the object may be generated quickly and reliably.

Thus, according to this aspect, a method is provided of generating an image simulating an object positioned in a pre-determined scene, the method comprising:

providing an image of the scene in which the object is to be positioned,

providing information relating to how the object would be illuminated, if the object was positioned in the scene,

- positioning the object in a system for illuminating an object, the system comprising:

a number of remotely controllable variable parameter light sources positioned at predetermined positions in relation to the object,

- controlling means for controlling parameters of the light sources,

means for providing information relating to the
parameters of the light sources,

means for transferring data between the controlling means and the providing means,

means for generating an image of the object illuminated by the light sources, in the providing means, generating, on the basis of the information relating to how the object would be illuminated, information for use in the controlling means of the light sources in order for the light sources to illuminate the object in a manner at least substantially as how the object would be illuminated, if the object was positioned in the scene,

transferring the generated information to the light sources, so as to generate the illumination of the object,

- generating, using the image generating means, an image of the object,

combining the image of the object and the image of the scene in order to generate a combined image simulating the object positioned in the scene.

Especially when using the system of the invention, a
repeatable illumination may be provided.

A widely used method for generating images of an object which is subsequently to be separated from the remainder of the image is a blue screen method wherein the image is taken of the object on a predetermined, usually blue, background, whereafter the blue parts of the image are replaced by the corresponding parts of the other, desired image. Therefore, it is preferred that the method of the fifth aspect is one wherein

- the image of the object is taken where the object is represented in a predetermined, recognisable scene, and wherein the combination of the image of the object and the image of the scene comprises replacing parts, preferably at least substantially all parts, of the image representing the pre-determined, recognisable scene and entering corresponding parts of the image of the scene.

Also, the invention relates to a method of generating data for use in the method of the fifth aspect of generating an image simulating an object positioned in a predetermined scene, the method comprising:

- providing the information relating to how the object would be illuminated, if the object was positioned in the scene,

generating, on the basis of the information relating to how the object would be illuminated, information for use in the controlling means in order for it to control the light sources so as to illuminate the object in a manner at least substantially as that in which the object would be illuminated, if the object was positioned in the scene,

storing the generated information for subsequent use in the method for generating an image simulating the object positioned in the scene.

Normally, the information for use in the controlling means in order for it to control the light sources so as to illuminate the object would be generated by inserting an object, which needs not be the actual object to be represented into the combined image, into the system and thereafter, using the providing means, experimenting with the lighting setup until the illumination is suitable. However, especially in the simple cases, the skilled operator may, in fact, provide this information without having access to the system.

A major advantage of this method is the fact that a large number of scenes may be provided together with the information for use in the generation of the illumination. If a photographer was to generate a portrait, the object, that is the person, would be positioned in the system, whereafter a scene is selected, the information relating to the corresponding illumination is retrieved, the light sources controlled correspondingly, and the image of the object is taken, the images combined and the final result may be available within seconds. In this manner, a large number of scenes may be tested within a short time making the task faster and easier for the photographer - and the combined images closer to "the real thing" than would typically be the case.

Also, due to the standardized setup of the system, portrait scenes and illuminations may be interchanged without problems, so that an owner of an illumination system of the present type may quickly gain access to the scenes and illu-mination data without having to generate these by himself. This will make the task and results easier - especially for less skilled photographers, who may receive and use high quality scenes and illumination data from experts.

Naturally, a number of different types of light sources may be used in the aspects of the invention. The main requirement is that they are remote controllable so that a central control and providing of parameter information is available. Typically, at least part of the variable parameter light sources comprise a first part being an engaging or mounting part and a second part, the second part being movable in relation to the first part and, in a manner controllable by the controlling means, defining the direction of a light beam emitted by the light source.

Also, "less controllable" light sources, such as light sources having only a single or a few controllable parameters may be used - alternatively in combination with light sources having more controllable parameters - in the aspects of the invention. Light sources with less or only a single controllable parameter may be e.g. flash lamps which are not adapted to alter the colour of the emitted light. Flash lamps are typically preferred when a constant illumination of a given intensity is not desired or suitable, such as when taking pictures of moving items, such as living (typically human) models where a short exposure time linked to the lens diagraph is desired in order to capture the movement with a minimum of blurring.

Preferably, the variable parameters of at least part of the variable parameter light sources are chosen from the group of: colour, direction, cross-sectional shape, intensity, focus, rotational angle of gobos, programmed movement
sequences, softening of light (frosting of light) , and control of colour temperature.

As mentioned above, the providing means provide the informa-tion required by the controlling means (typically comprising a computer) in order for them to control the light sources.

Naturally, combinations of the above aspects will even further enhance the versatility and usefulness of the systems of the present invention.

In the following, the aspects of the invention will be described with reference to the drawing, wherein

Fig. 1 is an elevated side view of an illuminating system comprising a total of six variable parameter lamps illuminating an object.

In Fig. 1, six lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are positioned at predetermined positions for illuminating an object 22 from virtually all sides thereof. At present, the preferred lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are PAL1200 or MAC600 as available from Martin Professional, Denmark. With the present set-up, it is desired to be able to illuminate the object 22 evenly at all outer surfaces thereof.

To also be able to illuminate the object 22 from the lower side thereof, a mirror 24 is provided in order for the lamp 20 to illuminate, via the mirror 24, the object 22 from the bottom side thereof. Alternatively, naturally, a seventh lamp may be provided for this purpose.

Now having positioned the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 at the predetermined positions, a desired illumination of an object may easily be obtained in that each of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are able to alter their light output as desired by the operator/photographer, to store this output in the form of a number of parameters of the lamp, as well as to re-generate this output at a later date by resetting the parameters of the lamp accordingly. Consequently, one or a number of lighting settings suitable for different purposes, such as jewellery, raw meat, computer equipment, portraits, etc. may be stored and at a later date simply be reloaded into the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 in order to very quickly and precisely re-establish the illumination suitable for that product or purpose.

In addition, if a number of different lighting settings is stored, this number of different settings may quickly be evaluated in order to obtain an image or image data suitable for a certain purpose. It should be remembered that fashion in advertising and general customs vary between different ages or types of target customers, seasons, countries and so on.

The presently preferred lamp, the PAL1200, is able to be remotely controlled via cables (illustrated by 38) by a controlling computer (40) to vary the colour, the intensity, the shape, the focus, the direction, etc. of the light output therefrom. Having obtained the desired illumination of the object, the controlling computer (40) may store the settings of the individual lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20, and thereby all parameters required in order to regenerate the illumination of the object.

Also, the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 preferably comprise beam shaping means, such as gobos, in order to create a light beam simulating light e.g. entering a window, blinds, a frosted window, etc. Again, the actual gobo selected (and optionally additionally a rotational angle thereof) is con- trollable from the computer and may be stored in order for it to be reproduced later on.

Providing a system controllable by a computer, naturally, brings about- the desire to be able to provide a number of standard settings for a number of standard products, to create and store personal settings, as well as to distribute settings to other owners of similar systems. This is most easily done when corresponding set-ups, to which new settings are distributed, have the same lamps positioned in the same manner in relation to the object. Is this the case, setups may directly be transferred. If this is not the case (this will be described further below) , the settings transferred should be re-configured or adapted to the new, different setup. This will be described further below.

Positioning of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16. 18, and 20

Naturally, a predetermined lighting set-up will not automatically illuminate an object as desired, if the positions of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are not as contemplated by e.g. the person defining the predetermined lighting set-up. Therefore, a standard positioning of the lamps is preferably desired. At present, the following setup is preferred (cf . Fig. 1) :

all lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are PAL1200 from Martin Professional, Denmark

- the rig 28 has four legs with a height of 340 cm, the total "width" seen from the camera (between lamps 12 and 14) being 370 cm, and the "depth" being 250 cm (from centers of the legs) , the rig 28 preferably comprises engaging means, such as holes, for holding (in a standard manner) the lamps 10, 16 and 18 in the below described predetermined positions,

lamps 12 and 14 are each positioned vertically with the center of the mirror 30 at a distance of 192 cm from the floor, 95 cm horizontally from the front edge of the rig 28, and with a distance of 310 cm between their respective mirrors 30 (symmetrically around the middle line of the system) , this should ensure that these lamps cannot direct light directly toward the position of the camera (1-4 m in front of the table 32) ,

lamp 10 is fastened at the middle of the front upper transverse part of the rig 28 at an angle of 20° in relation to the horizontal axis and with its mirror 30 300 cm from the floor and directly above the object 22. This should ensure that light cannot be directed against the back surface of the table 32 when emitting "frosted" light,

lamps 16 and 18 are each fastened 85 cm (from the outer part of the legs of the rig 28 to the middle of the lamp) from the outer parts of the two legs of the rig 28 remote from the position of the camera, both lamps 16 and 18 being rotated 12° in relation to the horizontal axis and having the mirror 30 300 cm from the floor,

lamp 20 is positioned at an angle of 5° in relation to the vertical axis and with its mirror 55 cm from the floor. This should ensure that this lamp can illuminate both the back part of the table 32 and the lower part thereof (via mirror 30) ,

adjusting the light from the lamp 20 in order to take into account the colour of the material (acrylics) of the table 32, a setting of 10 on the cyan filters of lamp 20 is preferred,

the table 32 is preferably a "Background table" having a width of 160 cm and a distance between the legs "along the depth thereof" of 145 cm, holding part having a horizontal part, a front curving part (radius 40 cm) , a back curving part (radius 40 cm) , and a back portion (length 110 cm) in white acrylic, and a height of 86 cm, the distance from the front legs of the table 32 to the back part of the front legs of rig 28 being 35 cm,

the mirror 22 has a size of 145 (width) by 90 (height) cm and an angle of 45° in relation to the horizontal axis, and

- the overall controlling of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 is, as normally, performed with PAL1200.

Thus, some of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 are fixed to the metal rig 28, and others (lamps 12 and 14) are positioned movably in relation to the rig 28. As these lamps may deliberately or accidentally be moved from their standard positions, an initializing procedure is preferably carried out, in order to be able to reposition the lamps 12 and 14 (see Fig. 2) . In this initializing procedure, lamps 16 and 18 (being fixed to the rig 28) provide light beams and light spots on the floor directly below the standard positions of lamps 12 and 14 (ie. at the center of the square defined by the holders therefor) . In addition, lamps 12 and 14 are instructed to generate light beams that, if the lamps 12 and 14 are rotated correctly, meet directly at the middle of table 26 which is often used for supporting small objects 22 to be illuminated. Thereafter, the lamps 12 and 14 are rotated so as to be positioned at their standard positions.

In addition, lamps 16 and 18 may provide light spots which, when the table 32 is positioned correctly, illuminate well-defined parts of the table 32.

The present setting-up of the system is made possible by the fact that the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 therein define an optical axis which may be fixed by fixing the position and angling of the lamp in question. The light beam following this optical axis may be deflected controllably by a movable mirror, as is known in the art. Consequently, once lamps 16 and 18 are in their predefined positions in the rig 28 (including predefined angles in relation to the rig 28) , the light beams from these lamps may be precisely controlled to generate spots at different positions for subsequent positioning of the table 26, lamps 12 and 14, etc. - or even one or more cameras for generating the images or image data.

Means may, therefore, be provided in the rig 28 for holding a number of the lamps of the set-up, and these lamps, the rig 28 or other suitable means may be provided for precise positioning each such lamp in relation to a fixed point, such as in relation to the rig 28. Having once positioned a lamp in its standard position (or one of its standard positions) , the beam output therefrom may be controlled in the standard manner in relation to the fixed optical axis of the lamp in order to define points at other positions in the rig 28 or in the studio for positioning other lamps.

As illustrated above, such a positioning of a lamp may not provide information relating to the rotational angle of the lamp around a vertical axis. However, as the light beam output from the lamp may be controlled, the beam from the actual lamp may subsequently be used for the rotating the lamp into its predetermined position.

Consequently, a large part or all of the system may be demounted and reset merely on the basis of knowledge of a few of the parameters of the system, whereafter the lamps themselves may help in the remaining positioning or setting up of the system.

A more versatile set-up

Photographers are often used to being able to reposition lamps, cameras etc. In order to accommodate this desire, in a preferred embodiment of the present system, the photographer or operator is provided with this possibility. Naturally, repositioning of one or more of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 will alter the effect of predefined lighting settings not taking this off- setting into account.

However, knowing the off -set of a given lamp from its standard position, the controlling computer (40) will be able to compensate this off-set by e.g. rotating the mirror of the off-set lamp in order to redirect the beam therefrom again toward the object. Consequently, the present first aspect of the system will enable the operator to off-set one or more of the lamps and to input information relating to this off-set into the controlling computer in order for it to compensate existing lighting settings (relating to a standard lighting setting) in order for these also to function satisfactorily in this altered set-up.

The offsetting may e.g. be performed using a stepping motor 42 engaging a rail 44 along which the lamp is movable. The stepping motor 42 may be controlled by the computer 40.

Naturally, an operator may define his own positioning of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 and thereafter generate a number of lighting settings using this new set-up. This may provide this operator with a catalogue of lighting settings suited for his special set-up. Also, these settings may be transferred to other users, preferably together with information relating to the off-set of lamps in relation to the standard set-up.

Subsequently, these other users may use the lighting settings defined for the special setup by either off-setting the setups of the other users accordingly or by having the controlling computers thereof re-configure the lighting settings to the setups used by these other users. Also, these off-set positions may be illustrated by light beams from suitably controlled light sources.

Also, storing the offsets of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 together with the parameters of the lighting settings will enable any user to regenerate the actual illumination, also if the lamps have been moved subsequently.

Defining lighting settings

Due to the fact that the lamps 10, 12, 14, 18, and 20 of the preferred systems are computer controlled, the operator may control the operation thereof from the computer 40 while monitoring the effect of the illumination directly (by viewing the object) . Alternatively, the operator may monitor the effect of the illumination using e.g. a digital camera 46. The image obtained by the digital camera 46 is typically shown on the monitor of a computer used for controlling the operation of the digital camera. In this situation, this computer may also be used for controlling the operation of the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20.

Due to the fact that the lamps are individually addressable and controllable, the operator may, instead of choosing a standard lighting setting as provided by e.g. Martin Professional, Denmark, define individually for each lamp the colour, position, intensity or focus of the light beam as well as the beam shape (inserting gobos, light diffusers or irises) or additional mirrors (such as mirror 24) thereof.

Naturally, images or video of the object 22 may be provided using a standard camera, a polaroid camera, a video camera, a digital camera or any other suitable means. Using e.g. a standard camera, the final product needs development, etc., before the image or picture may be used in the setting up.

Using a video or a digital camera has the advantage that the product, that is the image, may be directly illustrated on a computer screen in proximity to the computer 40 controlling the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20.

In a preferred embodiment, the computer acting as frame grabber etc. in connection with a digital camera 46 may be the same as that controlling the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20, and the image and the controlling information relating to the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 may be il- lustrated on the same or different monitors. Consequently, both the control of the lamps and the evaluation of the final product may be performed at the same site, that may be remote from the actual set-up.

This has the advantage that the operator may be positioned in a comfortable environment in relation to an out-door setup or a setup at extreme temperatures, pressures or the like.

In an aspect of the embodiment, the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 may be remote controlled in the sense that the opera-tor remote controls the controlling computer 40 from a position at the illuminating set-up in order for him to evaluate a lighting effect directly at the object. This remote controlling may be performed via a wireless connection or via an electrical or optical cable or the like from e.g. a smaller remote controlling box 48 comprising a limited number of special purpose buttons 50, such as buttons identifying which lamp is to be altered, the desired colour, gobo, direction, etc. of that lamp, as well as e.g. a button for instructing the controlling computer to store the setup. In this manner, the operator may, using a relatively small size controlling unit 48, walk around in the studio and control the illuminating effects without being physically limited to the position or environment of the controlling computer.

In an aspect of the invention, a positioning device (illu-strated also as 48) is used, the position of which, such as within the rig 28, may be determined by a position determining system e.g. comprising ultrasound receivers 54 positioned at well-defined positions in the rig 28 for receiving a signal emitted by an ultrasound emitter of the positioning device, and therefrom determining the position of the emitter within the rig 28. A system of this type may be seen in US patents Nos . 5,101,746, 5,214,615, and 5,412,619 as well as in the international patent application PCT/CA95/00180.

Combining this positioning device with the illumination of the rig 28, the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 may be controlled so as to direct the beam collectively or individually towards the positioning device. Naturally, this will require calibration of the set-up. However, this will be standard to a skilled person.

Thus, once having determined the actual position of the positioning device, the controlling computer may redirect the light beam from a given lamp 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 or 20 in order for it to illuminate the positioning device.

The incorporation of this position determining system in the present system has a number of advantages in that it may be used for helping in the positioning of lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 in setting-up the system. It may also be used for determining any off -set of the lamps from the standard positions thereof, as the position thereof may preferably be provided at the controlling means and read or saved - preferably together with the data relating to the parameters of the light sources.

Combining this positioning device with the above-mentioned remote controlling device, the operator is enabled to generate a lighting setting in a very interesting manner in that he may select a given lamp and position the remote controlling device at the position which the beam from the selected lamp should illuminate. Instructing the position determining system to determine the position of the positioning device and subsequently the computer to redirect the light beam from the selected lamp to illuminate the positioning device, the operator may now simply move the positioning device over the object, and in this manner redirect the light beam of the selected lamp(s). In addition, if the positioning device comprises buttons or other controlling means for controlling the colour, intensity, etc. of individual lamps, the operator may now fully define the lighting setting without actually requiring access to the controlling computer or a screen thereof and without the use of polaroid cameras, normal cameras, digital cameras, etc. - in the setting up of the illumination.

In another embodiment, the positioning device is not combined with the remote control connected to the computer controlling the lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 but is directly connected (such as fastened) to the object 22 or a part thereof. In this manner, moving the object 22 will automatically ensure that the beams output from the lamps are redirected correspondingly. In this embodiment, moving e.g. a central part (in relation to other parts) of the object 22, to which the positioning device is fastened will tend to keep the illumination thereof constant.

Naturally, an operator may choose to use a combination of these different manners of setting-up systems.

Making portrait pictures

An especially interesting use of the systems and methods according to the invention is when generating portrait pictures when the image of a model is introduced in a scene, such as an image of a castle, in the form of a second, independent image. In this situation, care should be taken that the illumination of the model corresponds to that of the background, as the image would otherwise look artificial.

Using the system according to the invention, this illumina-tion may easily be provided, such as using the portable parts of the second or third aspect.

The actual image of the model will typically be taken using the blue screen technique, whereby the actual image of the model is easily separated from that of the blue scene, typi- cally a background.

Thereafter, the image of the model is inserted in a standard manner in the image of the background.

As the illumination system is one wherein the positions of the light sources are standardized or reproducable, the scene and information relating to the lighting setup may be interchanged between different systems or owners, whereby portraits using a scene may easily and quickly be made with superior results.

Scaling up the present system

The present system has been described for at system using six PAL1200 lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20, each comprising a 1200 watt light bulb. Naturally, this system has certain limitations as to the size of the objects which can be illuminated. However, the present system may easily be scaled to comprise more lamps in that e.g. lamps 12, 14, 16 and 18 are positioned so as to illuminate the object 22 evenly at a circumference thereof. Naturally, more lamps may be added to perform this task by simply repositioning these lamps, adding additional lamps and ensuring that the angle (seen from the object 22) between the individual lamps is approximately the same. More lamps may be added (in addition to lamp 10) to illuminate the object 22 from above, as well as (in addition to lamp 20) from below.

At present, it is preferred that the distance from the indi-vidual lamps 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 is approximately the same. Additional lamps should preferably have the same distance.

Naturally, this distance may be altered - also without actually increasing the number of lamps.

Increasing the distance from the object to the lamps will require a longer exposure time during e.g. the taking of a photograph or using a digital camera. However, if it is ensured that the object and the illumination are stable to a given degree, this bears no hindrance to the task question.