The Lighting Battle

I’ve always known how important good lighting is but it is one of those things that you don’t really realize how important it is until you have extremely good lighting!  Over the last year I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing LD.  I have never had such good lighting for video, nor have I ever had a lighting guy on the same page that I am.

What I learned about this guy is that he truly understands the word “Lighting”.  Most light guys just want to do the fun stuff, but lighting includes all lights, and to master the craft you have to know how to light well for video, the room, and do the fun rock and roll stuff. For most of the lighting designers I have worked with convention lighting is always put on the back track, it is the last thing they want to deal with and it becomes the least important thing they want to work on but it is the hardest thing they can master.

A true Lighting Designer knows all of their craft and if they don’t then I won’t call them a true LD (Too harsh?). I personally am sick of excuses from LD’s about their front light.  I have seen LD’s do amazing front lighting/ washes with every light under the sun, it is possible, if the motivation and willingness to learn is there.

In the end Video is Expensive and a huge investment.  If you aren’t lighting for video you are not getting your money out of your investment.

The biggest argument that I get from LD’s is that they want to light for effect.  Which is great, and in certain moments can be powerful.  But when you do this take video into account.  Either by not holding on an effect too long so they aren’t completely left out or by modifying the effect so that video is able to capture the effect well too, enhancing what they are doing rather than trying to take away from it.  With IMAG most people are watching screens and if video can’t capture what is happening you are loosing your audience.

Starting with 3 point lighting: Key, fill and back lighting is crucial for key positions.  Especially if you start to get shots from different angles than strait on, it becomes more and more important throughout the stage to get 3 or more points per positions for slash angles and hand held cams.

Back light has become a pet peeve of mine if it isn’t there.  Without it, it makes talent blend into the background and look flat.  I understand not using it much for Music, but for speaking it is critical and makes a huge difference even visually in the room.


32K vs 56K

There has been this Rumor in the Church market that 56K is better for video than 32K.  This is completely a Myth! 32K originally was always the color temperature of indoor lighting where 56K is the color temperature of the Sun and thus used for outdoor settings.  But as technology has evolved Movers and LED’s run at different color temperatures and the camera has been able to adjust to the changing demands.  There are many TV stations that have moved to LED fixtures for cost savings (energy) and their cameras still look great. But on the other side of the camera, you really can’t tell the difference between different color temperatures if the cameras have been calibrated correctly.

So the stress between the 2 is because in many cases we have conventional (32K) fixtures for front light and LED/ Movers (56K +) for set/ candy.  The human eye can see both color temperatures at the same time and it looks great, but the camera can’t and in turn alters colors a bit.  This is where the myth comes from.  But again, let me stress that you can make cameras look great in either color temperature but you have to sacrifice something when you introduce video.  You either switch your conventionals to 56K using CTB so that you get better color range or you leave it and understand that some colors won’t come through well on camera.

I am not a fan of a complete 56K lighting rig.  In the room it makes the people on stage look sick, flat, and it isn’t enjoyable to look at. So I would rather accept that there are certain colors that cameras can’t see and work with my LD to avoid those colors when possible.

I believe in an IMAG situation you should literally magnify what is on stage, and my goal is to make the screens look like the stage through camera and projector adjustments.  If they are drastically different, one area looks to be off.  But when there is unity between them and you can go from stage to screen with minimal difference it makes for a smooth transition and makes both areas look good.

If I was doing purely broadcast and didn’t have an audience in the room I would probably do a full 56K rig. But with IMAG I don’t think that video should become more important than the room, especially since I can still make my cameras look great!

Before the days of IMAG at your facility you may have used lighting to help direct people where to look when stuff is happening on stage.  Now it is video’s turn and Lighting has to work with video to take on this role.  It is a team effort when it comes to video and requires effort from lighting and audio in order to do video well (yes video can be a bit needy at times, sorry), you have to work as a team in order to do it all well.  I am no lighting expert but I have seen the difference and I’m tired of excuses.  It’s time for LD’s to step up to the plate and master their craft and be team players.  If they make you look good, then they only makes themselves look good.  If you look bad, they make themselves look bad! (Quote from an actual LD that get’s this concept)

About brhoda

I freelance doing a few different thing in the video and live production market. I worked for a church for 5 years directing services and designing control rooms.
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