Sound & Motion class 7

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Lighting is creating shadows that define form

Safety first –

Protect yourself – wear heavy, non-flammable gloves when touching the lights

Watch out for shock hazard

Check out the circuits – try to put one light on each, so as not to blow a fuse/break a circuit


250W (what one of the small lights is rated at)=110*?

Or another way of thinking about it:

110v*15A (typical household circuit)=1650 or you could plug 3 500W lights in (if nothing else is on that circuit)

Be kind to the lights:

-Like any instrument, if it doesn’t do what you want right away, DON’T FORCE IT, figure it out

-Make sure you have an extra bulb before leaving checkout

- if you have to replace a bulb, look at the directions

-don’t handle the bulb with your bare skin (body oils can shorten the life of a bulb or even cause it to explode)

- when putting up the instrument supports, make sure all the controls are finger-tight, don’t over or under tighten

- put the light on the pole, and before taking your hand away completely, make sure the pole doesn’t collapse. That would probably shatter the bulb.

- if there is extra cable, coil it at the base of the light stand.

- don’t ever run cables so that they hang in mid air – someone will come along and trip, taking the light down with them.

- if you have sand bags, use them to weight down the base of the stand, especially if you have to put the light up over 5' in height.

- don’t move the light while it’s hot. This can cause the bulb to explode or burn out. Wait until it cools down before touching or moving it.

Practical things:

- Turn the lights off when not shooting

- -Have someone sit in for the initial placement (not the talent/subject)

- do a test recording and play it back to see how it looks in the viewfinder/monitor

- use barn doors to control spill

- white balance especially if there is a mix of lights

- use practicals if not harsh or ugly

- don’t shoot against a very bright BG like a window or white wall.

Key to fill ratio:

Dynamic range of the system Video: 2:1, 3:1 (limited dynamic range) Measured with a light meter

Contrast Ratio [[1]]

Eyes 1000:1

Film 500:1

Video 30:1


Positioning Lights

Key, Fill, Back Sometimes Background

Key: Hard, specular, main defining light

Fill: soft, diffuse, fills in shadows created by key

Back: separates subject from BG, positioned 180 degrees from the key


Height of lights

Above the eye level of the subject – 45 degrees

Light seems more natural if coming from above

Keeps it out of peoples’ eyes



Sin City - high key lighting [[2]]

German Expressionist Film [[3]]

low key lighting [[4]]

lighting in hollywood film [[5]]

high key lighting [[6]]