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Lighting for School Studio

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Kurt RobinsonLighting for School Studio
by on Nov 22, 2010 at 9:25:56 pm

Hi,
I am looking for lighting to light a school studio. We use a green screen as a background with a single camera. The lights would have to function as studio lights and as lights for any interviews we do around the school. I was looking at the lowel dv creator light kit, but I wasn't sure if that fits my needs. Also I am worried about the heat from the lights and how safe they would be for students to be setting up and taking down. My budget is around a $1000, but could higher for safety concerns. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Kurt


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Scott SheriffRe: Lighting for School Studio
by on Nov 23, 2010 at 7:40:42 pm

"We use a green screen as a background with a single camera. The lights would have to function as studio lights and as lights for any interviews we do around the school. I was looking at the lowel dv creator light kit, but I wasn't sure if that fits my needs."

You didn't say how much green screen you were trying to light, but it really doesn't matter because that isn't enough lights. The person in front of the green screen needs three lights, and you need at least couple of softbox or cyc types for the green screen, even for a single person shot. The Lowel DV kit is a very basic kit, and really only enough to do a small single 3-point interview type shot. A thousand dollars won't really get you very far unless you buy used gear, and even then maybe double that budget amount.

"Also I am worried about the heat from the lights and how safe they would be for students to be setting up and taking down."

Yes, they get hot. They can burn people and objects, and set off fire sprinklers. Bulbs also explode occasionally, lights and mounting fixtures can fail and fall and you often have to get on tall ladders when lighting. An insurance risk assessment at the last station I worked at listed lighting in the top 5 risks.
Students should be taught not only how to light, but how to do it safely. Even if you can avoid hot lights issue by using fluorescent fixtures, there are still plenty of other safety concerns. Media/film students really need to have experience in how to handle hot lights, since they are still the dominant light in the industry. If there isn't anyone at the school with practical lighting experience, it might be a good idea to go to a lighting workshop, or hire someone to come in for a day and go over the basics.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Lighting for School Studio
by on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:22:07 am

I agree with a lot of what Scott says.

You CAN however economize on the green screen part of this, using Home Depot fixtures and fluorescent tubes, just for lighting the green screen. 2-tube Lithonia shop lights are $20 at Home Depot. So a modest green screen for a 2-person news desk type set, or a one-person "weatherman stand-up" kind of set that's typical for a school studio, could be lit for roughly $100. That's for the backdrop only. You still need to light the talent. For the $900 you have left, I would shop around for bargains on used pro gear online. You can make your own softlights from halogen work lights, but these would be very crude and hard to control, and while they may allow you to get a program done, they wouldn't teach your kids much about how to light.

You're going to need at least a key and a fill for each person on the typical 2-man news/interview set. If you're clever, you can "cross-key" so that one guy's key is the other guy's fill, but this is a little advanced for beginners.

Look at finding used versions of these:
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&biw=977&bih=656&q=lowel+lighting&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=188530897085830411&ei=PHPsTJaIPI6ynwePyJnoAQ&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDQQ8wIwBQ#ps-sellers

or these:
http://www.lowel.com/llight/
which are very modest yet very flexible, and the PAR bulbs they use are very cheap at any hardware store. Add some tough-spun or tough frost diffusion sheets by Rosco (try markertek.com for small packs of this) and their light will be softened and more pleasing visually. You can use the flexible mounting hardware for the l-lights to hang them from a piece of overhead pipe and thus keep your set floor clear of lighting stands and etc.

That's the most "bang for under $1,000 bucks" I can suggest to you. If you have your mind set that you can't get more money and you have to have more lights than that, well, then it's back to Home Depot and some DIY fixture-building. You *could* make diffuse softboxes for keys out of those same Lithonia fixtures, but they will be really hard to control and aim unless you add barn doors and cutters.

Do an internet search for "graff lights" and you'll get some more tips on this kind of setup.

I will finish by saying that quality professional lighting instruments are your BEST video investment, because once you get them, you have them for life, and if you divide their working lifetime by the initial cost, it is pennies.


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Alan LloydRe: Lighting for School Studio
by on Nov 24, 2010 at 5:20:55 pm

[Scott Sheriff] "Students should be taught not only how to light, but how to do it safely. Even if you can avoid hot lights issue by using fluorescent fixtures, there are still plenty of other safety concerns. Media/film students really need to have experience in how to handle hot lights, since they are still the dominant light in the industry. If there isn't anyone at the school with practical lighting experience, it might be a good idea to go to a lighting workshop, or hire someone to come in for a day and go over the basics."

True, true, true.

Especially the safety part. Back when I was a staffer, I got an intro to a guy who had been a gaffer in the British film industry. (As an aside, there, to refer to yourself as a gaffer means you have been specifically hired by a director to light a feature. Just being a "lighting guy" isn't quite enough.)

I requested that our lead guy find some budget bucks and had him come in and give us a half-day workshop with the focus being on safety, as we seemed to have intermittent bouts of broken instruments, falling stands, and whatnot happening, though thankfully no fires or injuries.


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Dennis SizeRe: Lighting for School Studio
by on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:50:12 am

KURT: What school are you teaching at?

DS



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