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Seeing the Light
Lighting Equipment Checklist
Lighting Tips
Main Light Categories
Lighting for Blue and Green Screen
Grip Equipment


Seeing the Light

  1. Brightness
  2. Size
  3. Color
  4. Number of light sources
  5. Distance
  6. Direction
  7. Quality:Hard, Focused or Diffuse(soft).

Lighting Equipment Check List

You should have the following items on-hand and easily accessible during your shoot:

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Safety First: Hazards of working with high-temperature movie lights

Safety First: Hazards of working with high-temperature movie lights include fire, electrocution, and physical injury. So be careful!


Lighting Tips

Most Light is measured in terms of color temperature, which is calculkated in Degrees Kelvin(K). Indoor tungsten lights have a color temperature of 3200 degrees Kelvin, whereas daylight has an approximate color temperature of 5500 degrees Kelvin.

The main thing to remember is that daylight lights are much stronger than tungsten lights; the daylight lights will overpower the tungsten lights.

Flourescent lights can be anywhere from 2700 to 6500 K. Sodium vapor (streetlights) lights are yellow orange and are around 2100 K.

You can use CTO(color temperature orange) or CTB(color temperature blue) to change lights back and forth between tungsten and daylght balanced. You also put gels on the windows instead of the lights.

Neutral density filters cut down on the intensity of the lights, without changing the temperature.


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Main Light Categories

Excerpted from:
Choosing the Right Lighting Kit: by John Jackman


Fluorescents are special versions of the fixtures hanging from your office ceiling-except they've been adapted for film and video use into controllable fixtures with color-corrected tubes and high-frequency, dimmable ballasts.

Fluorescents are hugely popular these days, and for good reason. They cast a beautifully diffused soft light, use less power than incandescents do, and run cool. Shoots with a lot of incandescent lights can create a furnace-like atmosphere that requires loads of cooling and makeup repair.

Probably the foremost name in fluorescent instruments is Kino-Flo, a company that began making specialized fluorescent instruments for film in the late 80s, when fluorescent was a bad word in the trade. At that time, fluorescents were bad for video because they tended to give pictures a sick, greenish tint. They were even worse for film because the 60Hz flicker of the bulbs showed up on 24fps film as an obnoxious pulsing. Kino-Flo made their own color-balanced tubes and used special high-frequency ballasts that overcame the problems.

The use of special color-balanced tubes allows you to mix the fluorescents with quartz lights or HMIs without gel correction.



HMI (Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodine) lights are actually the modern and more portable version of the arc light, and are valued because they throw off an extremely high light level at the same color temperature as sunlight.

They run off of very high voltage, so you still have to drag around a heavy power supply-although these power supplies have gotten much smaller and lighter recently. Some even run off batteries.

The advantage of HMIs is that they generate a pure, intense white light that closely matches the quality of sunlight. They are available in a huge variety of sizes and wattages, ranging from the tiny Joker-Bug 150 to behemoths like the LTM Super 12/18kW (kilowatt) HMI with its 24-inch fresnel lens. They are available in open-face PAR configurations.

Portable HMI kits usually consist of a single instrument with a fitted case, power supply, stand, and accessories.

Soft lights

Soft lights are designed to throw soft, diffused light. The lights range from traditional instruments with attached soft boxes (like the Chimera Softbank) to radically different, specially designed instruments such as the Bogen Aurasoft or the De Sisti Wyeth. The range is really huge. As with fluorescents, soft lights are commonly used in conjunction with open-face lights or fresnels. Several manufacturers sell kits that include a soft box or dedicated soft light combined with fresnels or open-face lights.GO TO THE TOP

Lensed instruments

Lensed instruments use a special lens in front of the lamp to control the spread of the light beam. The major categories of lensed instruments are fresnels and PARs. Fresnels use an efficient stepped lens to focus the beam. Fresnels can range in size and price from tiny 100W (watt) models to the 5000W Mole Senior Solarspot.

Fresnels are the mainstay of video and film lighting because of their flexibility. They can be adjusted to throw a wide flood beam or a narrow, hard spotlight. Nearly every lighting manufacturer has a line of fresnels, ranging from the Lowel Fren-L to the popular LTM Peppers.

Many of the kits sold by different manufacturers are built around two or three fresnels with some variation of soft light. It's pretty common to use a mix of two stronger instruments with a lower-power instrument to use as fill in a typical three-point lighting setup.

PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) lights are fairly simple fixtures that use a self-contained bulb and reflector assembly. An old-fashioned car headlamp is an example of a PAR bulb, as are the bulbs used in common outdoor floodlights. The type of lens on the bulb determines the pattern and throw of the beam, which is not adjustable. Many PAR instruments now have separate interchangeable lenses.

Open face

Open-face instruments consist of a bulb and a reflector, and depend on the characteristics of the reflector to focus the beam. Open-face instruments can range from an inexpensive Smith-Victor photoflood to more expensive instruments such as the ArriLite. Most of Lowel's instruments, from the V-Lite and Tota-Lite to the Omni-Lite and Lowel DP, are open-face instruments. Some can be focused, and come with barn doors and similar light controls. Others are very limited in the amount of control.

Instruments such as the Lowel Tota-Lite are very inexpensive floods that can light large areas easily. The Lowel Omni-Lite or Lowel DP can be focused and have Lowel's clever, multipart barn doors for control. Open-face instruments generally have the advantage of being much less expensive than their lensed counterparts.

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Lighting for Blue and Green Screen

Choose your compositing software before you shoot.
Different apps have different needs.

Place your subject as far from the blue/green background as possible.
This will help you avoid spill-reflective blue light bouncing of the blue screen and onto the back of your actor, resulting in a bluish backlight. this can make it hard to pull a clean matte later. If you can't avoid blue spill, try to make up for it by adding a hotter orange back light to cancel it out.

Light your subject and the background separately.
This will help avoid spill.

Light to minimize video noise.
Video noise can make pulling a matte difficult. Use enough lighting and disable automatic gain if possible.

Try to make sure the blue/green screen is evenly lit, so the blue or green tones are as close as possible throughout the background.
A spot meter can come in handy.

Avoid blue or green in your subject/foreground.

Dress the floor.
If the actors feet are in the shot, it will be easier to dress the floor with something like carpeting rather than attempting to composite it later.

Screen correction shots.
Most compositing software apps use a screen correction shot to make creating a matte easier. Either before or after each take, get a few seconds of footage of the empty blue/green screen with the same framing of the action.

Pay attention to shadows.
Shadows can tend toward blue, which can make creating a matte difficult.

Light to match your CGI material.
If your going to be compositing live action and CGI environments, be sure the live-action lighting matches the CGI environment lighting. If your digital background has an orange hue, it will look strange if your subject is lit with a blue backlight.


Grip and Lighting Equipment

MSE Grip Griptionary

Mole Richardson: Lighting Manufacturer

Arri:Lighting and camera equipment

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