Lighting Tips for Camera Crews
The Essence of Effective Lighting
When discussing lighting Tips for Camera Crews, one of the most vital aspects of quality film making and videography is the proper use of lighting. A shot with the right lighting can literally speak a thousand words, or poor lighting can kill a shot, a scene, an interview or a whole film. It’s a real nice-nasty problem to have, but with an understanding of the basics, and some quality pre-production, you can avoid all the pitfalls of having a ten year old’s birthday party look like a scene from a gothic horror movie.
Before we get into some of the more advanced terms, let’s define some basic terms that you may or may not have heard before.
White Balance – White Balance is the color balance or setting in your digital camera. This setting helps define and separate a crisper, more natural look for the colors shot by your camera.
Color Temperature – is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light bulb or light source. CT ( Color Temperature) is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000.
Location is Everything
One of the most important aspects of understanding what type of lighting you need is determining where you plan on shooting your scene, interview or video, inside or outside. The difference between an outdoor shoot and an indoor shoot can completely throw off the color temperature of your shot.
In or Out
Natural or Daylight lighting usually refers to an outdoor shot. A quick adjustment in your camera to a natural light setting will help you avoid a distorted image or an image that’s “too hot”. An image that is “too hot” will often look like anything white appears to be glowing. Natural or Daylight lighting usually reads as a “cool blue” tint. The color temperature usually reads at about 5600 k (Kelvin). Of course, outdoor shooting can sometimes be problematic because we can’t necessarily control what the sun does, if there’s cloud cover, or if it rains, or any number of natural weather events. On the bright side however, (pun intended) there’s nothing like the magic hour, the time period just before sunset or sunrise where in the sky is golden. If you’ve never seen it through the eye of camera, it’s not something you want to miss.
An indoor shot usually requires Tungsten lighting. Tungsten lighting is otherwise known as your basic incandescent light bulb lighting. Tungsten refers to the Tungsten filament in your basic light bulb. An adjustment to Tungsten in your camera will help get the best color temperature for this type of shoot. Tungsten lighting usually has an orange-ish tint to it, and reads at about 3200k.
Tungsten or Florescent
There are alternatives to Tungsten lighting. One such option is Fluorescent light. Fluorescent lights are a tube-shaped bulb with a fluorescent material coating. These bulbs are usually less hot than Tungsten’s. Fluorescent color tints tend to be good, but not as good as Tungsten. Some say that Tungsten lights create a more natural, realistic color image, particularly in terms of skin tones.
LED, a viable option for Interiors
LED lights are another option available for indoor shooting. LED lights tend to be longer lasting, more adjustable in terms of color temperature. They do not burn as hot as both Tungsten or fluorescent, and by and large take less power to operate. However, these lights tend to be more expensive and vary in quality. The best LED lights by and large are the Arri L 7 series.
Gels for Great Color
A great tool in the adjustment and manipulation of color are the use of gels. Gels are thin pieces of colored plastic placed in front of a light used to create a different tint of color for the light shined through it. For example, an orange gel might be used to create a more indoor look for a shot. A blue gel might be used to create a more natural light or daylight look.
Hard vs Soft
Finally, knowing the difference between hard light and soft light is essential. Soft light is defused light that isn’t focused on one area. It’s primarily used light a large area and avoid shadows. This light is sometimes used in film making and the creation of natural light scenes. Hard light is primarily used to light one specific area. It can be used for interviews or for dramatic effect.
There you have it. Understanding the basics of lighting will not only make your production simpler, but your post production a much easier process.