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Lighting For Sony Z1U

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Lighting For Sony Z1U
on Jul 9, 2005 at 3:13:28 pm

I am gearing up to shoot a low budget sketch comedy show. I've been working with dv a few years now, but still am green. I will be shooting this production with a z1u, and would like a natural look leaning a bit towards warm. There are two locations - a rooftop, and a office with surrounding windows. What types of lights, and lighting setups should I use? Any help towards shooting the piece is much appreciated.

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Leo Ticheli
Re: Lighting For Sony Z1U
on Jul 12, 2005 at 3:44:05 pm

I'm sorry but your request is probably beyond the capability of a forum.

Hire someone. Cajole someone on the scene who will help you set up and teach you as you go along.

Some thoughts anyway...

Comedy can be lit in any style; there is no "comedy" lighting, although enough detail to see the face and eyes is usually important, especially in close up shots.

It absolutely does not matter what camera you use. Lighting is lighting.

If you insist on forging ahead on your own, you probably can't go too far off track with a few Kino Flo lights or similar units. For your exteriors, nothing is really practical but large HMI fixtures; they are very expensive, so you might want to rent them. Even rental of big HMI's is expensive; you'll need a competent crew and a generator to work with them. The alternative is to use reflectors and carefully choose your location and time of day to shoot. Reflectors can be dangerous in the wind and require someone to control them as you shoot.

Good shooting!

Southeast USA

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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: Lighting For Sony Z1U
on Jul 12, 2005 at 5:40:05 pm

[Bensne] "I am gearing up to shoot a low budget sketch comedy show. ... There are two locations - a rooftop, and a office with surrounding windows. What types of lights, and lighting setups should I use? ..."

Hi Bensne: The parts of your question which give me the greatest pause are the combination of "low budget" and "rooftop".

Not that a large budget guarantees safety, but a low budget often dicates cutting corners. Please don't cut corners when it comes to safety! For example, as Leo mentions, reflectors are often helpful for outdoor locations, but the combination of a rooftop location and reflectors can be fatal if you aren't extremely cautious! Even the slightest breeze can topple a reflector, and either the person or stand "securing" the reflector could be thrown from the roof, causing injury or death to your talent, crew or pedestrians below. So, please, be careful!

If money is tight, be sure to first cover the basics, including "Safety First".

For example, sandbags are very cheap to rent, so rent lots & lots of them. Secure each appropriately-strong light/reflector stand with at least two, and for tall stands and especially reflectors, further secure the assembly with rope or wires. Always ask yourself "What could go wrong?". A gust of wind can and does occur unexpectedly; anticipating it can be a lifesaver.

And of course, even when shooting indoors, safety should be paramount. On a low-budget shoot there's a temptation to work with makeshift lighting gear or to cut corners with safety. Although light is light, pro lighting gear is almost always much, much safer to work with than improvised hardware. Electrical shock, burns and fires are more likely to result from cheap/sloppy lighting compared to a pro approach.

Pro lights & grip gear can be surprisingly inexpensive to rent, and even a little can go a long way in making good-looking images. But whether you use pro or homemade, lighting doesn't have to be dangerous if you always ask, each step of the way, "What can go wrong?", and take concrete steps to address likely hazards.

As Leo suggested, an experienced gaffer is familar with such issues and solutions. Hiring a pro gaffer (or convincing one to volunteer some of their time) can have a huge impact on the quality, effeciency and safety of your production.

Sorry to be alarmist, but whenever I see "low budget" (and especially "rooftop") mentioned, a red warning flag goes up.

All the best,

- Peter

Just a friendly reminder to all: Please consider filling-in your COW user profile information so we have a better idea who you are, where you're from, and so forth. It's the friendly thing to do. Thanks!

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Re: Lighting For Sony Z1U
on Jul 13, 2005 at 5:29:35 pm

Thanks for helpful advice. It is very much appreciated.

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