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Lighting Q&A

Lesson 36 from: Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

36. Lighting Q&A

Lesson Info

Lighting Q&A

I have a question. For me, because of the type of video I do, I'm always concerned about budget, and when I see all these lights I see a lot of dollars. What is really necessary for the-- Average person? Average person that might do some interviews but mostly gonna be doing things like family videos or weddings? Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure. So what was the first, there's two answers to that question. So the first segment of that question was hey we learned that earlier with ambient light. We can still treat ambient light in the exact same way that we treat regular lights. An ambient light, given the weather, is free, right? Second thing is, we talked a little bit about it yesterday in the gears segment, rental. Rental, you can rent these one by ones. And then these one by ones are relatively affordable. The daylight one's like $699. You know, that's like $600, $699, so you can get a few of them, and that kind of thing. You know, when it comes to this guy, I mean, this is l...

ike a renter. 'Kay? It's renter, it's like a $1400 light, you know? So the thing is guys, I really encourage you to rent your stuff to begin with, especially when it comes to lighting. Because a lot of photographers, still to this day, rent their lighting. Okay? How we doing over here? Doing great. We got one from Done, and Modern Elegance Photography, and a couple other folks, wondering about shooting a live event, and wanting to use lights in a big room and that sort of thing. We talked a little bit about that earlier, as far as using the natural light that's there. But do you ever set up lights for one area of the room and then leave the rest unlit? So, okay, I've seen this done at events where they actually will light a corner of the room, if they're gonna pull people in to do popup interviews, right? So that's one way, you just set up a corner room, throw a backdrop up, throw some lights onto the scene, set, light it, light it flat because you don't know who's gonna be there, and run it there. In events, you're pretty much limited by how much light's available in the space. And I think the purpose of an event is to capture it in the way that it was done. So when you start to add in extra light, it starts to kind of mess with the perception of what the event was like. So there's a very delicate balance that you're gonna have to wanna manage, between adding light, and then being able to have it reflect what the event was actually like. So you'll see a lot of videographers use on camera lights in that scenario, because it's acceptable at an event to use on camera lights to light your subject up, but not so much that the entire space around them gets lit in a way that's not representative of the event. Okay? So we make concessions, we make so many concessions when it comes to events, because we understand that there are certain things about an event that just, you gotta throw some light down on top of a camera and make an image. Okay? So, that will be the answer to that question. My question, when you go on a location, so you take these lights, what about the light stands? Do you actually have lighter light stands, or do you actually take these? Take light stands. So I bring in, when I do a job, anywhere from these three rollers, or three C stands, or three heavy duty aluminum stands. You know? You can bring, you can get heavy duty aluminum stands that will support these lights very well. I prefer heavier stuff like this, because I just make sure that the lights won't fall on the person. Aluminum stands can be a little too light, and especially if I'm flying them up like this, it tends to be a concern. Especially if I don't have sandbags, you know? You're not driving a Mazda Miata basically. I'm not driving a Mazda Miata. I'm driving around, I think I have a Volkswagen SUV. You know, yeah so it's a big car. Big car, yeah. Okay? Alright, 'nother question, this is from Mr. Iowa. Can you talk about, how about colored filters on LEDs? Yes or no? Okay, so let's talk about that. So they thing that I've done here... Is I've placed a colored gel in front of my light to mitigate some of the green shift in that bulb. That's what I've done. So if I were to put this gel back into the light I still have the ability... To put a number of different color gels into that as well. So... You know, it entirely up to you if you want to put in a color gel for stylistic affect. What you guys should do is watch movies, and you'll notice across the frame you will see warm tone, cool tone, warm tone, cool tone, warm tone, cool tone. Either not like that, but usually in alternating fashion, because that's the way that they create mood in the scene. Top Gun does it. Watch A Few Good Men. A lot of dialogue scenes. They actually do it subconsciously for you, because they'll create that mood and feel, and our eyes and our brains like to see contract between warm and cool tones. So, I could very well... Toss a gel in front of this, and it will knock down the light considerably, it will suck up a lot of light, and it will give us a bluer look to the light. So if I take out, let's see, one of these guys. And I put it in front of this light, you see how it changes the skin toner? It gives me that stylistic look? Generally speaking, with an interview, you're gonna probably go blue. You know, you'll probably use a bluer gel, and then accent them with that sort of light. And I think if you take a look at what we've done here today, it was a really good laying a foundation for us and understanding one, how light can be shaped, and how light can be placed. And how when you place light in a certain way, it affects the overall result. Lighting isn't hard, it's just you gotta take the time to see where that light actually is going to be falling, and how you can actually adjust and operate in the space that you're gonna be working in. Okay? Okay, so recognizing this might be out of scope, and feel free to say that, a lot of people are asking about lighting for multiple subjects, multiple people in the same scene. Can you talk about that, or ideally, can you demonstrate it? But can you at least talk about it? Actually this is great. Can we get a shot of our wonderful hosts? Okay? And then if we could pull back to this frame because it's already set up for me. Oh you're showing them how the magic happens, is that what we're doing-- So here there's one light that's very broad, it's casting on the subjects, right? And that's it. So one large source is casting on two subjects. And then behind them they've got a background light that's casting to separate them from the background. You can learn a lot guys, from watching TV. Because when you look at how life happens on TV, and how broadcast is done on TV, it's done in a way that makes it simple for those lighting crews to actually be able to light multiple people at once. Now here's the thing, are they sculpted, or is it flat lighting on them? Flat. A little flat right? So you're gonna have to make some choices, stylistically speaking, to be able to flatten out your subjects to accommodate for more people. Let's think about shooting wedding portraits or your wedding formals. Okay? On the wedding formals, I gang up like 20 people and then put them next to each other, and then stack them behind them, and what do I do? I just blow them up with light to make sure everyone's lit. I just care that they're lit, I don't care about it being stylistic, because I need to get the shot, right? So as you add more people you're lighting's gonna get flatter and less creative. Unless you're doing it like Annie Leibovitz. Where she's lighting each person individually, and she has enough lighting, and enough material, and enough stuff to do that. So ideally, ideally, if I was gonna light a second person here, I would try to add more lights that would affect this person, light them individually, light this person individually. And if you watch, and this is great, NFL sports broadcasters. Watch the NFL Network, when they fly that camera in and they show you that stage on the side of the field, you will see that each host is lit in their own pool of light. You will see that they're gonna direct certain lights in a certain direction, and they're gonna hang on a grid, and they're gonna point those lights at those hosts, to make sure that they're lit. So each person, ideally, if you can light each person, great. But a lot of the times we gotta kinda like, we're working on a shoestring budget, we don't have the ability to get like six lights, so we use three lights and we stack them up on each other, and we blow them up with light. And then hope for the best, right? Okay? Great Victor. Well Natalia would like to know which equipment you can buy used, and which ones do you need to buy new? You can guy your lighting stands used. Because a lighting stand is a lighting stand, especially C stands. There's a joke, C stand stands for century stands, and one of the jokes is, the ethos of the word century stand was because they last 100 years. There's number of different stories about where the word century stand came from, but that's just one of them, right? Ideally guys, you can guy all of this stuff used. You can buy all of it new, you can rent it. The thing with LEDs, is LEDs are evolving at a very rapid pace. We're like in our forth or fifth generation of LEDs right now. So when you think about buying older LEDs, you've gotta be aware that the technology is older, so some of the problems, or issues and challenges using LEDs are more apparent in that newer technology. Okay? So, I'm a fan if you are gonna go ahead and get some lighting. I would always recommend renting the lights first. And there's rental companies all over the country. And even Lens Pro To Go can rent you guys, if you don't have rental in your area, they can rent out lighting to you as well. So you have a lot of resources available to you, and I think it's a great time to leverage it. Because again, like yesterday I was talking, right? And we talked about it this morning, even this morning in the ambient light class, is I want you to start simple. And yes it can feel overwhelming that there's a lot of equipment that you quote unquote need to purchase, but I want you start first with the basic tools. A light meter, a viewfinder, a monopod. Work with ambient light, learn how to shape ambient light, learn how to use reflectors, and then get yourself kind of in the position where you know you need that next piece of equipment. Alright? Alright, question from Dugo, do you ever use a snoot on the panels to avoid light being spilled all over the place? Okay, so I haven't ever seen a snoot for a panel. If you guys don't know what a snoot is, it's a little device that would fit typically on a light, and it cones out so you can actually shape the light and direct the light with more specificity. With one by ones you kind of are limited, and LED panels, all the stuff, you're kind of limited in the ability of modifying with modifiers. So I know that Limelight is coming out with a soft box, you know, of some kind, that allows you to diffuse the light. But there's also grids that can be made available for one by ones, that help cut the light. There's a grid that's available for this, that cuts the light. And what I mean by cut the light is, if we go to the camera view real quick... We go to the camera view, and let's go ahead and back this lens out. I'm gonna turn the light off and turn it back on. Can you see how it's spilling significantly onto the background? Mhm. A grid will cut the light down and allow it not to spill on the background, but make it more focused on her. And there's a grid available for this, I just didn't bring it, because I didn't wanna overwhelm you guys with all that stuff. There's things for continuous light called barn doors, and the barn doors will fit on the light here, okay? Fit on the light here, and allow you to cut the light and angle the light in. And if you show a shot of one of these lights up here, that's what a set of barn doors looks like, okay? So in terms of modifying the lights, that's why I kind of stick to scrims and nets a lot of the time. Is because it's really easy just to toss a set of scrims and nets into your equipment. They're pretty affordable, they're kind of bulletproof, and they help you diffuse light in a way where, you know, if I didn't have a soft box or something like this. Now, over a light like this, there's something called a flozier. And a flozier is basically fabric that you can extend and stretch over the light to diffuse that light too. So there's different tools out there that will allow you to modify these lights, and do it in a way that's compelling. So here's one from Rick, Rick wants to know why do you put the key and the fill on opposite sides of the subject? He says "I've always put the key to set the pattern, "and then a diffused fill on the camera axis, "so right next to the camera, "right over or next to the lens. "Is there a reason you wouldn't do this in video?" There isn't a reason you wouldn't do that. So what I like to do, well, some, what I would consider more traditional lighting patterns. So the traditional lighting pattern is a key light that's off camera, and a fill like that's off camera. And if you actually do a key light and a fill light that's off camera, it allows you to see where that light's falling. A lot of the times, new people who do two light set ups, make the mistake of not separating their lights far enough apart. So when they meter eight, and they meter 5/6, and they turn they're lights on and try to get a reading, it gets 11 in the middle, right? They get 11 in the middle and they freak out and go, wait, wait, why is it 11? It's because they've put their lights too close together. You've got two units of light here, one unit of light here, and when you're mixing that light in the middle, you've got now three units. Because I've got two and one, and oh wait they've just overlapped now it's three. 11, eight, and 5/6. So it starts to confuse people. So for the purpose of keeping the discussion very simple, we talked about a key light off camera, and a fill light off camera, so that when I turn the lights off, you'd be able to kind of see the differences between where the key light hit, and where the fill light hit. Now, as you get on in your lighting careers, and as you get on into doing more lighting and getting more creative with the way you use light, what you can do is stack light right on one side and push it off from one side. Or stack light here and put one of top of the camera and get another type of light. Or stack and do counter light. So there's plenty of different lighting patterns and lighting scenarios that you can use, but I think when you're just learning and we're just starting to talk about how to use light, and how to understand light, the scenarios that I kind of gave you, the patterns I kind of gave you, are really easy to reproduce at home. They're really easy to reproduce when I'm not there guiding you or holding your hand. And it makes it easier too, if you guys were to pick up the course, look back and review, hey where were these lights, and how did that lighting pattern look on the screen, and that kind of stuff. You know? So I think absolutely you can do that, but I think for simplicities sake, we wanted to make sure that we understood where to place the lights and how to use them. Question from Jay, Victor. So we went into ISO yesterday and we talked about ISO, and you mentioned you would never go above 2,500. So earlier today you said you were at 640, and that that was high, you wouldn't normally be at that. So Jay would like to know what ISO would you usually aim for when shooting indoor like this? Okay so I just turned my camera off, give me a second. (laughs) Danielle, I need you a second. Come on back here. Alright so we're good, we're good. I got tone, good tone, alright. If you guys know what movie that's from, I love you, because it's my favorite movie. I got tone, I got tone, I got good tone. Alright, cool. So if we take a look at not Danielle but the space behind her. Okay? If I used a high ISO these cameras will show noise most in areas of middle gray to shadow, so from gray to black. So I tend to, for my interviews, try to keep my ISO around 320. 400, 320, something like that. Because a lot of the times my backgrounds will go from gray to black. And I don't want that noise to show up. Because remember I showed you that ISO video, where did the noise show up the most? It showed up the most in the shadow areas. If I want to shoot at a lower ISO I just need more light, don't I? And so the purpose of me shooting at a higher ISO today was to go to F8, so that I could show you various contrast ratios. So let's go ahead and change this just for a second. If I were to go to 320... And I'm gonna place this light where I want to place it. Okay? Let me get a reading here. Let's see here. Drop open up to 6.3. Okay. And then I'll just kick up my key light, or sorry, fill light. I can still make an image, and as we saw earlier today, at 6.3 if she were to rock back and forth, she would still be in focus, right? So my target for an interview, in terms of aperture, is somewhere between 6.3, 5.6. I want my subject to be at like 5.6 or 6.3. Okay? Because I can then use a lower ISO, and I can use my three lights and not have to worry. Now, okay, I'm gonna go pop this light on. Okay? So there is my three point light set up. So there's key light, there's fill light, and here we are with my hair light. That's exactly what I would do for an interview. I'd shoot at 320, my target aperture would be somewhere between 5.6 and 6.3, and I would light to that. Okay? Love it. Alright, I think one, just kind of a final message to wrap this all up, because this is kind of the last time we'll be talking about gear. And again, it's something that as we've gone through this course, and as we talk about moving from photography into video, adding that, the idea of gear and of having to buy all this stuff is very intimidating and scary. So can you again talk about sort of a step by step-- Sure. Where do you start when you're looking at lighting? What's the most important things to get? And then again, jut talk about do you need everything now, or can you start shooting without it? So the reason I started today with a course called Lighting 101, was because sunlight's free. And we can learn all of these concepts that I've talked about, all of them, outdoors using ambient light. Because you can take these lights and replace them with reflectors. You can replace them with reflectors and you can still shape and use direction of light in a very very compelling way. So... It depends on the work you want to do as well. So if you're gonna be doing hybrid portraits. You know, portrait films, hybrid weddings, wedding films. You can get away with not purchasing lighting right away. If you're gonna be doing corporate profiles, corporate profiles will require lighting. They will require lighting, because you're gonna invariably walk into a space that's not well lit, and you're gonna need to create light. Alright? And that's why we talked about the stuff here today, was because we wanted to create light in a scenario where you walk into an empty room, or you walk into a room where the lighting pattern and the lighting scenario is not optimal. So, ask yourself the question, what type of work do I wanna start doing? What kind of work am I going to be doing? And then make the active choice not to purchase that equipment until you're at the point where you wanna start doing that work. I have so many people that have talked to me about gear and equipment, and how they've purchased the wrong piece of equipment at the wrong time. And it sits on a shelf and collects dust because they're still at the event stage and monopod stage, and not really in the lighting phase yet, okay? So to answer your question in a very very round about way... At some point if you wanna start doing interviews, you're gonna need light. And you have the choice to rent it, to borrow it, or to buy it. Some people love owning their equipment, some people who live in New York like I do, can't have storage for this equipment so they like to rent. You know? Other people will borrow. And then a lot of people who kind of work together a lot, will chip in and get lighting together. It's like we used to do when we played in bands, no one could ever afford a PA system, so you all chipped in and bought a PA system, right? So I'm not gonna tell you, because I think lighting is different than actual equipment that will help you produce, like camera support and that kind of stuff. So lighting is a different answer. You get your lighting when you need it, and you have the option to rent it, because lighting is expensive no matter which way you cut it. Because not only do you need the fixtures, you need the stands to support the fixtures, you need all that stuff too. I love that, it's very realistic, it's very approachable. It's, you know what, you can just shoot in the daylight all the time. If that's you're aesthetic, if that's what you love, do that, doesn't cost anything. But it's a realistic approach, if you are going to wanna be able to do this, it's gonna cost money. So thank you for that, thank you for your honesty. And also thank you for all the education throughout this segment. It was awesome to see it all come together. You're welcome. Alright, so what are we gonna do with our next segment? Okay, our next segment is gonna be able pre-production. Okay? We're gonna go and we're gonna start with an idea, we're gonna flush that idea out, think of locations, think of how those locations are gonna look, storyboard those locations, create a shot list for those locations, create a call sheet for the amount of characters we need to do, think of what they three words are for the song. Basically do it all. Do it all so that if we were to step out tomorrow after having finished with class, you now have all of the things you have needed to actually go and shoot something. You have the education, you have the gear recommendations. And heck, you now even have a fully pre-produced piece to walk into and look at, and go, okay well here's what we looked at, I'm gonna change this, change this, change this, and let's got shoot something. Okay? So that's what I envisioned for the course. Is like, okay, it's three days of my talking and by the end of it I'll probably lose my voice, I want the day afterwards to come alive and have people actually go out and shoot something, and put it together. And hey I know we didn't talk about editing. And I did it on purpose. Because as you saw, we spent three days covering so much stuff, right? So much stuff. So I will tell you, if you're gonna wanna go into editing, you can start in iMovie. I started in iMovie. You can start in Windows Movie Maker. You can start in those two products, because it gets you to the point where you can understand. And then when you move on to a real editor like it did, to Premiere Pro or even Final Cut X, you'll learn so much from that process of editing, that, hey, you'll need to learn different words, and different terminology, and different buttons to hit. But the foundations been laid. And of course, organizations like Creative Live offer round the clock education, so you can pick up an editing course and go three days and learn about editing. I would love to spend more time to teach you guys editing, but personally I am a big believer in keeping things exciting, and I have not found a way to teach editing yet, without having people fall asleep.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution
Pre-Production Planner
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!

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