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How do I make a big hall look good on a low budget?


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#1 Leonard Mazzone

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:08 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm producing and directing a live-to-tape TV shoot coming up two Fridays from now, on location in a huge dance hall. I only really have a budget for my camera operators (the cameras and most of the other equipment I'm getting for free), so I'm trying to think of creative ways to employ the limited lighting I have available to make things look as good as possible.

I'm basically treating this as a live performance broadcast, mainly featuring the band, but as it's a swing band I'm going to try and capture some of the dancing as well.

As far as lighting, I have 4 650w omnis and 3 350s. They aren't going to cover that much, given the size of the space.

My ideas are:

To white balance carefully so that the colors will be good, despite the inevitably poor house lighting.

If I can, I'll try to take some of the top lighting off the band with the 650s at 45 degree angles to the stage.

I'm also going to try and light a portion of the dance floor with the 350s, maybe with some interesting colors, so I can "feature" some people dancing on occasion.

Is there anything else I can do (short of having a real lighting budget) to make this look good?
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#2 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:06 PM

Not to sound sarcastic, but, isn't that something you would discuss w/ your DP? If you don't have one, maybe you could offer the job to one of your operators.
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#3 Leonard Mazzone

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:23 PM

Not to sound sarcastic, but, isn't that something you would discuss w/ your DP? If you don't have one, maybe you could offer the job to one of your operators.


Sorry, I thought it was implicit that I was my own DP as well. For the amount I'm paying my operators, the only thing they should have to worry about is the 4 hours of camerawork I'm asking them to do -- to ask more I think would be taking advantage of them, as I don't have the ability to pay them more than I am.

I normally do my own camerawork given the low budget nature of the projects I work on, which I don't think is that uncommon -- I've assisted on shoots with much larger budgets than mine where the DP doubled as the director. Maybe thats just a New England thing. I also work as a still photographer, so I have some idea of what I'm doing in terms of lighting. I was just trying to tap the collective knowledge of the people who frequent this site and see if there was anything I could do better, or if someone was in the same circumstances and knew way to make things look good.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:07 AM

Without knowing how big the space actually is and where you'd be able to rig lights, it's hard to really give solid advice.

Just guessing here so take it for what it's worth, judging from your description of the size and that there are already some house lights in there (?), those 300s won't do a whole lot to "highlight" anything on the floor. The spread is just a bit much. Maybe something like a Source IV for a spot instead.

And the 650s on the stage should be okay assuming you have a decent place to rig them.

I don't know what cameras you're using, but you should be able to balance the color to almost anything you want it to be. If the camera is set for tungsten (3200), you can trick the camera to get warmer by white balancing through some CTB. Try different levels of blue for varying levels. Just have a ROSCO gel book and play around with the settings until you find the look you like.

Maybe post some pictures and dimensions and we'll know more about the situation. :)
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#5 Leonard Mazzone

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:22 AM

Without knowing how big the space actually is and where you'd be able to rig lights, it's hard to really give solid advice.

Just guessing here so take it for what it's worth, judging from your description of the size and that there are already some house lights in there (?), those 300s won't do a whole lot to "highlight" anything on the floor. The spread is just a bit much. Maybe something like a Source IV for a spot instead.

And the 650s on the stage should be okay assuming you have a decent place to rig them.

I don't know what cameras you're using, but you should be able to balance the color to almost anything you want it to be. If the camera is set for tungsten (3200), you can trick the camera to get warmer by white balancing through some CTB. Try different levels of blue for varying levels. Just have a ROSCO gel book and play around with the settings until you find the look you like.

Maybe post some pictures and dimensions and we'll know more about the situation. :)


Good point about the gels/white balancing. It looks like we're going to be shooting with Canon XL2s, and between a white card, some gels and it's built in white balancer things should look ok.

The room itself is 82' by 95' . I don't have any pictures yet, but its essentially a large open space with a balcony around the edges thats about 15' wide. There are rather large columns which support the balcony. Cable length permitting, I was going to try and park one of my cameras at the back of the room in that balcony which is about 20' up to get a wide master. I'm going to scout over the weekend, I'll bring my camera along and post some pictures when I can.
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#6 Jim Keller

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 05:22 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm producing and directing a live-to-tape TV shoot coming up two Fridays from now, on location in a huge dance hall. I only really have a budget for my camera operators (the cameras and most of the other equipment I'm getting for free), so I'm trying to think of creative ways to employ the limited lighting I have available to make things look as good as possible.

I'm basically treating this as a live performance broadcast, mainly featuring the band, but as it's a swing band I'm going to try and capture some of the dancing as well.

As far as lighting, I have 4 650w omnis and 3 350s. They aren't going to cover that much, given the size of the space.

My ideas are:

To white balance carefully so that the colors will be good, despite the inevitably poor house lighting.

If I can, I'll try to take some of the top lighting off the band with the 650s at 45 degree angles to the stage.

I'm also going to try and light a portion of the dance floor with the 350s, maybe with some interesting colors, so I can "feature" some people dancing on occasion.

Is there anything else I can do (short of having a real lighting budget) to make this look good?


The most important thing to remember is that you're producing for the camera, not for the live audience. So when it looks right through the camera is when it looks right, no matter how ugly it is in person.

Having taped a fair number of live performances, always bear in mind that the camera will see the differences in lighting intensity much more than you will. Personally, I would be inclined to have every light in the hall turned on, and use the lighting gear to brighten up the band just a little bit over the ambient light, and then stop the cameras for the band.

But, that said, it's hard to say without seeing the space and looking at the monitor.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 08:35 PM

If you just need more light, you can't beat par cans. They're a lot of light and are very cheap. You can find them at film lighting houses as well as stage places.
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#8 Jim Keller

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 04:51 PM

If you just need more light, you can't beat par cans. They're a lot of light and are very cheap. You can find them at film lighting houses as well as stage places.


You mean you bother with the can? I'm notorious for "bare bulb" pars. :P
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Opal

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

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Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Glidecam