Advanced Lighting and Production Techniques
Session 1: Types of Lighting Instruments.
Fresnel vs open face
Fresnels are lights with a glass lens in front of the lamp that produce an extremely smooth and even field of light. An example is an Arri Studio Fresnel w/barn doors, fresnels come in all sizes such as this Small Fresnel.
Fresnel lenses have been around for a long time, such as this old fashioned Lighthouse Fresnel.
Open face lights do not have anything except a safety screen in front of the bulb and produce an uneven and rough field of light. Some examples are the Lowel Tota and Omni lights. Open face lights are ideal for punching through heavy diffusion such as 216 frost, bouncing into a piece of foam core, or a lighting modifier such as a Chimera or butterfly.
Ellipsodal and PAR Lights
Ellipsoidal Lights focus their beams on a point allowing for a very sharp or soft edge. Ellipsoidals are basically a PAR (parabolic reflector), with an additional set of lenses at the end. These lenses allow for a sharp or soft focus of the beam edge and the instruments also have 4 shutters that allow the light to be shaped, and a slot for a “cookie” or pattern to be inserted into the light. Ellipsodals can be quartz halogen or LED.
PAR lights, also called PAR Cans, are very basic lighting instruments that utilize a “car headlamp” looking lamp to throw light down the “can”. Very limited control, used for wash lighting, PAR Cans are generally a tungsten instrument. Another super-powered version of PAR lamps can be found in Maxi-Brutes.
LED (light emitting diode)
Until very recently, the term LED as it applies to the production industry, meant primarily a type of instrument nicknamed a
1’ x 1’. The term is a generic way of saying an LED panel that is 12” x 12”. Now LED panels come in many sizes and styles such as PAR, Fresnel, Ellipsoidal, and mini-ellipsoidal. LED’s also have designations of the type of LED lamps they have. RGB stands for Red-Green-Blue, WWCW where the WW stands for white-white WWCW , and the CW stands for Cool-White, or RGBW which stands for Red-Green-Blue-White. LED tape lighting is also a very flexible alternative.
Depending on the type of LED, a color temp can be dialed in for very accurate color temps. Today, close inspection is required to determine if an instrument is an LED, Quartz, or HMI. For example, Aadyntech makes some very power LED’s that from a distance look like a Fresnel, and VisionSmith makes LED relamp kits for certain fresnels.
LED instruments can be controlled by on-board dimming, by remote DMX control and wireless Bluetooth.
Production florescent lighting instruments have been around for many years. KinoFlo is the biggest name in this arena. At first glance the florescent lamps look similar to a standard lamp, however production fluorescents have a very stable color temperature, either tungsten or daylight, and can be dimmed without changing color temperature.
HMI stands for Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide. It is an arc lamp that produces a daylight temperature output. HMI’s need a ballast to ignite the lamp. Certain units can be dimmed slightly without changing color temperature. These instruments come in Fresnel, and PAR’s which can also be turned into a BUG light. Some HMI’s can be very large HMI Fresnel, in the 18K or 24K variety. HMI’s of the PAR variety usually come with a pack of lenses to shape the beam, as well as barn doors.
Session 1: Characteristics of Lighting
Hard light is easily controllable, very harsh on faces, has a long throw distance, creates hard shadows, difficult on the talent’s eyes.
Only in very rare instances, or for special effect would you aim a hard light directly at a person without some type of modifier.
Soft light is hard to control, pleasing on faces, creates softer shadows since the light falls off very quickly, and is easier on the talents eyes.
Soft boxes are a generic term for instruments that provide a very soft, pleasing light. Chimera is a brand of soft box that has turned into slang. Chimera soft box, Chimera Pancake, Chimera Eggcrate, Chimera Mogul Base Adaptor, Chinese Lantern, Chimera Speed Ring.
Size of the soft light source
The size of the lighting source helps determine the quality of light, especially when using soft light.
The softening device whether a light bank, foam core reflector, or frost gel on the barn doors actually becomes the light source. That said the larger the light source, the harder it is to control.
Session 1: Color Temperature of Light
Understanding color temperature can have a very dramatic effect on the way an image looks. It can set the mood of a scene and help determine time of day in a scene. Light temperature is measure in degrees Kelvin or K, such as 3000 degrees K, or 3000K
Examples of Color Temperature
10,000 degrees Kelvin Bright blue sky
8-10,000 degrees Kelvin Post sunset and pre sunrise
5-6,000 degrees Kelvin Normal sunny day
4,000 degrees Kelvin Florescent tube lights
2,800-3,200 degrees Kelvin Typical light bulb and studio lights
2,000 – 2,500 degrees Kelvin Sunrise
2,000 degrees and lower Sodium vapor
A TV or Projector ~7500K to 10,000K
Tungsten Lamp 2,800 – 3,000 degrees K
Quartz Halogen Lamp 3,200 degrees K
HMI Lamp 5,600 degrees K
Production Florescent 3,200 or 5,600 degrees K
Quality of Light
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a rating given to lighting instruments that rate the quality of the light.
Session 1: Grip Equipment
Grip equipment includes all the stands, connectors, hangers, etc… that is used to mount, hang, block, diffuse, hold, cut, etc… lighting and production equipment. Most of the items we have here is made by Matthews Studio Equipment Company. MSE Grip www.msegrip.com
Session 1: Basic Lighting Instrument Positions
Key light is the primary source of light and usually sets the mood. It can be positioned anywhere. High/low/off axis of the camera left or right or directly behind the subject.
Fill light usually fills in the scene opposite the key light. Often can be just a very small fill or bounce, it does not have to be a physical instrument.
Also known as hair light, rim light, separation light.
Backlight helps to separate the subject from the background creating a more 3D look.
Typically directly, or nearly directly behind the subject. Can be an actual instrument, or in the right circumstance could be light from a window or a strong bounce.
A type of backlight but more to the side and usually lower, typically sneaks around the side of the subjects face. Helps to create more of a 3D look.
Highlights the background objects (bookcase, flowers, wall, etc…)
Session 1: Misc Info
Good books on grip and productions are:
Trade Magazines, some free, some not.
Sound and Picture Magazine ****Excellent***
Manufacturer’s Website Info
Great educational information and white papers at these sites.