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lighting for beginners


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#1 jonathan grant

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 02:13 PM

Okay, we have that basics. 1ks 2ks some smaller lights I think, a couple of softboxes, some cheap work lights w/ dimmers.

We need simple nice looking lighting set ups for our TV show which is a comedy, shot on locations mostly (sketch comedy/short films). What I don't want it to look like is youtube videos, but a little more cinematic. I understand the concept of 3 point lighting, but we struggled to light a simple house scene right (just a living room). Problems with the fill overpowering the key, bad shadows all over the place, problems getting light on the background without spilling on the actors and/or without making the background looking very unnatural.

Please help!!!
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#2 Jimmy Browning

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 03:57 PM

Okay, we have that basics. 1ks 2ks some smaller lights I think, a couple of softboxes, some cheap work lights w/ dimmers.

We need simple nice looking lighting set ups for our TV show which is a comedy, shot on locations mostly (sketch comedy/short films). What I don't want it to look like is youtube videos, but a little more cinematic. I understand the concept of 3 point lighting, but we struggled to light a simple house scene right (just a living room). Problems with the fill overpowering the key, bad shadows all over the place, problems getting light on the background without spilling on the actors and/or without making the background looking very unnatural.

Please help!!!


If the fill is overpowering the key, then you just need to reduce its intensity. There's lots of ways to accomplish this, each with their own pros and cons. Here's a few ideas:

Scrim the light. This is usually the easiest and quickest solution. If you don't have scrims or are using a light that doesn't have them, try some neutral density gel. It will accomplish the same thing, but it's better to scrim first because you might want to add diffusion to the light (especially if it's a fill) and you don't want to have to fight putting on diffusion over a light that already has a gel on it. Scrimming is faster.

Have the light on a dimmer. Dim that light down, but of course as you probably know, on most lights when you do this the color temperature can shift. This isn't a problem if you have the gels to correct for this, but it can be a hassle.

Diffuse it. Heavy diffusion can cut the light intensity down as much as a couple stops. This solution can often kill two birds with one stone, because you usually want your fill source to be soft/diffused anyway.

Back the source away. This can be another quick solution if you have room to back it away, but remember that this can introduce other considerations, most notably the lighting on the background, if your fill is helping to light it.

Or, just use a lower intensity unit.

Of course it's also important to consider where you place the fill, as well as how you diffuse it, to avoid the fill creating its own, secondary shadows.

Hope that helps.

Jimmy
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#3 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 03:59 PM

Hi Jonathan your TV show is a comedy, first rule about TV comedy use high key (low contrast), perhaps use diffusion in lights helps you
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#4 Micah Kovacs

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 04:36 PM

3 point lighting rarely applies and you don't want to restrict yourself by trying to follow those rules.

Experiment with a soft diffused key and try aiming a light up at the ceiling (if it's white) to raise the overall ambient level and get rid of most shadow problems. If the fill is too powerful then get rid of it entirely and try to use bounce boards/flexfills to help you out

If you have a scene of two people talking on a couch and you want it to be more dramatic, you could use an inside cross key and fill in from the camera side

Other than that, I would need to see your specific layout of the scenes to help you out
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#5 jonathan grant

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 08:33 PM

Thanks guys. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on online about lighting basics. We'll be almost exclusively lighting people and most of the time a little more open shots in general (as comedy usually is) which means there needs to be room to move without messing up the lighting. That presents some problems, obviously.

What are the most common setups you face (the most common problems)? The one we came up with and probably will a lot is a smaller room where the actors are forced to be fairly close to the background. To have enough room to get a somewhat open shot the actors are forced close to the opposing wall. This is a nightmare and we couldn't figure it out.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 28 May 2007 - 11:16 PM

Ideally you would block the scene a different way or in a different place so you're not so constrained by the space.
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#7 jonathan grant

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 01:10 AM

Yeah, but sometimes we don't have that luxury :-/
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Visual Products

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

The Slider

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Opal

CineLab

Abel Cine