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edit lighting

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Stephen Fenn
edit lighting
on Jan 12, 2008 at 7:58:24 pm

We have just moved into a new suite and the lighting leaves a bit to be desired as it is currently strip lights or nothing. My production manager has asked me what sort of lighting we need ideally.
At home I just have a incandescent desk lamp reflected off the wall which seems to do the trick. Any ideas about an ideal setup?

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grinner hester
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 13, 2008 at 2:46:34 am

track lighting up top and a lamp or two for daily-driving. brightass flourescents for engineering.
dont forget the lavalamp, man

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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 13, 2008 at 8:33:18 pm

Grinner could not be more correct... proper suite lighting STARTS with the Lava Lite and builds on that. All our our suites have at least one, and one of them (mine) actually has three. Indulgence.

Seriously, yes, soft and indirect is the way to go. Track lighting does work well. This picture is small (just ripped from our website), but maybe it will slightly show what we have on one of our suites that works well...'s hard to see, but maybe you can make out that we have track lighting washing the walls behind the computer, production, and client monitors in this suite. There are also some can-style "uplights" giving some wallwashing to the wall behind the wall where the edit system is. Everything is dimmable so we can determine how much or little we want. All your walls behind your monitors should be neutral gray. Some people like "bright and airy" suites, but I like them dark... that's just the way I always edited and am comfortable that way. We have a few pieces of artwork on the walls, and use little "museum type" pinlights in the ceiling to illuminate those so we don't have light spill into the room. Like a lot of suites, two of ours are multi-level and there is a raised platform for clients with couches and chairs, a little table, phone, etc. These areas are slightly more illuminated (small table lamps) so the clients don't feel quite so much like they are in a cave... and the raised platforms are ringed underneath with hidden ropelights so they shoot a little bit of a glow out from underneath... they look cool but mostly they are there to keep people from tripping and breaking their necks after coming into the dark suite from the bright outdoors.

This setup might not work for everyone, but works for us well.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark Suszko
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 14, 2008 at 7:16:47 pm

I like a gray cave too. No windows unless maybe on the door to the room, with a shade option. My suggestion would be to put in a large hollow crown molding all along the walls a foot or two from the ceiling and run rope lighting or daylight color temp flouro tubes in the trough of it to wash across the ceiling so the lighting is all indirect. Then use pin spots just to shine on specific task areas like a patchbay or deck rack, like that. Track lighting never seems to be placed exactly where I want it, always too far or too close or not quite the right angle.

Myself, I don't like backlighting the screens much, but others do, so make that an adjustable dimmer to suit each user's individual tastes.

I like a lot of toys and art around my desk but not in my eyeline where I edit. In the client area, sure, go nuts.

A spot for the iPod and cupholders, can't live without those. And a sideboard for the snacks and lunches.

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Del Holford
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 17, 2008 at 1:56:23 pm

Ditto the dark cave. My walls are all neutral gray 40% white but sound absorbing panels on the side walls are deep red. I use tracks in several places then use pendant lights from the track to light the producer's desk. I use 35 watt halogen spots on the tracks with barn doors to cut the light to specific areas. I do that on my work area as well. I have sound wave breakers on the back wall and they are grayish blue. They break up any reflected waves and make the room easy to monitor audio. SInce it's a theatrical setup I only see the gray wall in front of me when working.

At home, just for working on the computer there, I have a 25 watt halogen light that I shoot on the wall behind the monitor. Just eases the eyestrain from the monitor.

fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television

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Rich Rubasch
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 19, 2008 at 3:24:03 pm

Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers. Halogen lamps are a cheap way, but track lighting that you can adjust, and dimmers is the only way to go. We don't backlight our monitors per se, but we do have small wattage lamps above our monitors splashing the back wall behind them....again, very low wattage so it is just a minor fill.

We like Ralph Lauren's Studio Gray paint, available at Home Depot. We have that on the front and two side walls, and the back wall is a deeper almost gray blue just as an accent.

And of course, lots of album art frames with all my favorites from the 70's and 80's.

Like the Tubes "Love Bomb" and Pink Floyd's "Animals."

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media

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Charlie King
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 21, 2008 at 6:57:18 pm

I like softwalls grey fabric covering fiberglass insulation for the walls, it is neutral grey and makes the room literally a head cold room (sound is like you are suffering from a head cold, really dead). I like track lights for client work areas, and little lites for my work area desk, and as Grinner said big bright florescents for engineering work, keeping in mind these are only turned on when working on equipment.
Since my head is in my monitors and I mean my head is literally in my monitors, anything else that doesn't affect monitor color balance, or glare is optional.


ProductionKing Video Services
Unmarked Door Productions
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada

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Tim Kolb
Re: edit lighting
on Jan 30, 2008 at 4:22:00 pm


There are definitely a couple of approaches to this, and most of it depends on whether you do much color correction in the suite...

Industry standard lighting for an edit suite is D65...6500 degrees Kelvin reference quality (standard consumer 6500 Kelvin lighting has some 'slop' apparently...). The thought being that you would then calibrate your monitors to the same color temperature (LCD back lights are quite often 6500 anyway for those of us who have had to move beyond our beloved CRT reference monitors...).

Indirect lighting is, of course, the best to keep glare off of screens and reduce eye strain.

Once the lighting and displays are calibrated, the next concern would be the visual system of the human brain and its annoying ability to drift... The reason why we don't walk around outside on a sunny day and see everything bathed in blue is that our brain is on 'auto white balance' all the time. If our edit suite is lit, or decorated with warm tones, our brain will eventually convince us that this is the 'zero' point... The tendency of a colorist to skew warmer and warmer through the course of a day when working in an environment covered in warm wood tones, or even warm light (incandescent, or halogen) is relatively well known...

My suite is lit with these:

Also, my walls are all painted with a bit of a dark pigment added. Behind my monitor, I don't see any "color" at all so my reference is gray. the end of the day, each to his own I suppose. One can take this stuff to a pretty extreme level. Just understanding that the lighting has some effect on your perception is probably half the battle. Many people choose to simply look at color bars every 20 minutes or so to sort of "recalibrate" their perception.

In my case I was starting from scratch so it made sense to really do it the right way.

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,

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