lighting help for a church
Hi guys and gals,
Wondering if i could get some assistance on a shoot i'm doing soon at a church. I'm making a music doco and there is a gospel choir that rehearses in a bluestone church. Main issue is the church is pretty dark, with only lights hanging from the cieling (very high).
So i need to light the place up to shoot the gospel choir singing. There are about 30 or 40 members of the choir, and i need enough light to make sure they are all well lit and do some interviews off to the side as well.
I have never lit something like this before and will hire a lighting kit. Just not sure what to get.
There is a Redhead Kit available for hire which includes..
3 x 800w tungsten Lights, stands, gels and scrim set, power board.
3 power extension leads, safety gloves and 1 spare globe
Also there is a 2 K Fresnel Spot with wheeled studio stand
Includes Stand, light, gels/diff/pegs extension cable.
I'm using the Sony Fx1e video camera
Sorry for the long post.
Would love any advice that anyone may have.
I just did this about a month ago on a documentary I have been shooting, I rented 2 triple riser combo stands, 2-4' pieces of speed rail and 2-ears (for a 12x12 frame) that I made a tee with at the top of the stand where I hung 4-PAR 64 (1000 watt) rock n roll cans on each stand that lit about 30 choir members while they sang. I was able to position them near some pillars almost completely out of sight and made them safe with 4 large sand bags on each stand, and also taping down the 4 extension cords (2 separate 20 amp circuits per stand) they will need for power. Inside these PAR cans I used medium beam lens and added some light diffusion (opal) to the gel frame to take the curse of, What I neglected to rent was 4-2k dimmers to control them, something I would recommend you using. This rig was clean enough that if we did see these lights they looked like they were apart of the church. The Par cans are they cheapest theatrical lighting device to rent and I'm sure you could find them in your location, they also gave me the ability to hide them because of the through they have using the medium lens so I could position them off to the sides of the church near the pillars. You can also get narrow and wide lenses for them depending on your needs.
I problem I see with using the other lights you have is that you don't have enough to make it work, I would say you could use them on the sides for edge lighting the people in the audience if needed.
Hi Michael, thanks for the response.
It is very informative, but i must admit, slightly over my head. My knowledge of lighting is not even close to yours, i'm just learning as i use them more and reading what i can.
There isn't going to be an audience, as the choir is just rehearsing, so it's really only the choir singing together that matters, as well as the conductor/director.
Are u able to break it down into something a little more simple for me? Some of the terms you use aren't familiar to me...
The simple concept is to rig a mount for the lights (even the kit you describe would be adequate) that puts them in the best place.
Consider a goal post in American football, where a cross beam is supported by two uprights; you want to mount the lights on the crossbeam so that there is an even amount of light coming down on the large group of singers over the width of the group.
Practically speaking, you need two large grip stands called hi rollers, made safe with sandbags and either a 2x4 piece of lumber or speedrail span. You will need appropraite hardware to secire the crossbeam to the stands and the lights to the beam and voila!
thanks for the response John.
I understand now the setup suggested, thanks for that! I went to a lighting hire place and explained what i wanted. The cross beam part is very large, a triangular shape (is this the speed rail)? My problem with that is that i would need to hire a big van or truck to transport it, and for the length i would need it would cost a fair bit too.
Could i have 2 large grip stands that extend up to 4 metres, one on either side and have the lights angling into the centre of the choir??
Or will this give a harsh uneven light?
I am told now that there will be an audience so i can't have a stand in the middle as it will block the view of the audience on the choir.
Thanks again for your response, really appreciate your time and effort.
Ok, knowing that there isn't church services and an audience to be concerned with helps, and perhaps you can use the lights you mentioned.
The triple riser combo stands are tall stands with 3 risers that extend up for a total of about 12-14 feet and it would be good to get one for that 2K you have. IMO It would be a more natural look to get the main source light up high and through the shadows down behind the choir to not contaminate the background.
If these are the only lights I had I would pick a side and start lighting from about 20-25 feet from the center line on the choir and about 12-15 feet away first using that 2K fresnel razing it up as high as you can get it. Build a platform for the stand if needed. If you picked say the right side I would spot in the 2K (just to aim it) and pan it just left of the centerline of the choir and lock off the pan, then tilt it to center up the choir and lock the tilt, then flood it completely out, then use the barn doors, wider on top and bottom and close the top door down in tight near the tops of the heads of the choir top row and adjust the bottom up to taste. Then step back and see what you did, and hopefully it will cover the entire choir. you may need to pan it back to the right but then the right side may become a little hotter, I wouldn't pan it much as you can only aspect so much from any one unit, and then use the redheads to fill in if needed. I would look for ways to bounce those redheads to create a soft fill. For me this lighting setup would be for the widest of shots and I may want to bring the source light back around making it a little more side lit for tighter work.
I would imagine you won't be able to position any back lights so depending on the location you might want to take 1 or 2 of those redhead units and up light the back ground wall, this will create separation from the choir heads. I might try just tilting them up so that light is just above the heads creating a glow behind the choir. This is all to taste and you will know what works best for you on the day.
What I love about lighting is that there are so many ways to create a look that is natural and I have only given you one solution. Take your time and stand back and enjoy it.
Thanks again Michael for the response.
I'm understanding what your saying and thank you for your help.
So setting the 2k fresnel up as high as possible from a corner and directing it just off center from the opposite side of where the light stand is, then fill if needed with the redhead from the other side..
And yeah wouldn't be easy to light behind the choir, but should be room to direct a light straight up behind them on the back wall to seperate the choir from the background..
For tighter work as you mentioned, are you saying move the fresnel around to the side more because the light might be too harsh for close camera shots?
Thanks for your responses, appreciate it.
"So setting the 2k fresnel up as high as possible from a corner and directing it just off center from the opposite side of where the light stand is, then fill if needed with the redhead from the other side.. "
"And yeah wouldn't be easy to light behind the choir, but should be room to direct a light straight up behind them on the back wall to seperate the choir from the background.. "
You may not need to light this wall, you be the judge of this. Some like to separate their subject with a rimlight/backlight and some like half lit highlights on walls.
"For tighter work as you mentioned, are you saying move the fresnel around to the side more because the light might be too harsh for close camera shots? "
No, I'm saying I would move it back around for a more dramatic look for the performance. A fresnel IMO is kind enough to use as a key light for a wide shot at this distance, If you have the time to adjust the light for tighter work try this and see if it works for you. If you do have the time you may like the fresnel raw as you have first set it or you may like it a little softer by adding some diffusion. Some like to protect the subjects faces from reflective light and some like what you describe as a harsh look. You decide if what works best for the project. I believe less light helps drive a dramatic atmosphere so don't be afraid to turn lights off for tight work.
Since you're renting lighting, then just bring in one helium balloon light. The double 1.2kw HMI or double 2,000w watt unit will be all that you need for this event. Fly the light up to about 18 feet -- 15 feet in front of your choir -- and in an hour you'll be ready to shoot. Two smaller units on camera left and right (from the front) would be ideal.
If you're so inclined, use a diffused Source 4 PARnel, or 2, (or even a 2kw fresnel) on a stand next to your camera to provide some frontal/directional source lighting... or a 10 or 19 degree leko, or 2, on a stand from the balcony loft (if there is such a position, and depending on how far away it is).
I'd also suggest Rosco or Lee white silk diffusion - the directional "spread" will help even out the light falling across the members of the choir. (Orient the fibers vertically - but you knew that!)
Any decent lighting supply shop will have sheets of it, or sell you bulk off the roll.
Thanks for the response. I'm no expert on lighting, just learning..
Could you explain in a little more detail how the white silk diffusion will work best and how.
what they showed you was "truss". that is overkill for the purpose of hanging a few small lights. You can get speedrail of reasonable length (like 8-10') and join them to make long enough. Another alternative is to use "boom arms" to dangle the lights into position. If all you can do is have tall stand left and right, the best design would be to have a harder light (Like a 2k baby junior with thin diffusion like Opal on one side (as key) and on the other a soft light (like 2k zip soft). This way you won't have double shadows, rather it will seem like the key, or main source is coming from one direction. Another design would be to use three or four theatrical spot lights (like 750w Source Four Lekos with 26 degree lenses) from high up and further away. Needless to say, the actual layout and architecture of the room often determine the best light placement, and if an audience is present, safety concerns come into play.
Thanks again John,
Ok, i did think the truss was overkill at the time, it looked like something used for massive lighting events. I will enquire about the speedrail (is it basically just a long metal pole? Does it have any attachments etc?). Sorry for my ignorance on the subject, but it seems that some places i have been to aren't equipped with the stuff mentioned on here..if i can get my hands on that and stay with the original plan of hanging 3 or 4 lights evenly on the speedrail i will do it that way.
If not, what you recommended (Like a 2k baby junior with thin diffusion like Opal on one side) is this the actual name of the light? Is it similar to a fresnel light etc?
Thanks again for your continued help,
Yeah, a 2000 watt fresnel. The speedrail is just as you say, a pipe made of aluminum so that it's lightweight. Whatever vendor you find that sells or rents it will also have the fittings. To hang the lights you'll want pipe clamps with baby spuds. You're best off sourcing all this stuff (with the high roller stands and sandbags) from a grip lighting vendor. I don't know where you live but you could check Mandy.com to find the closest one.
Thanks again John,
Living in Melbourne, Australia so im guessing probably not too close to you..checked the mandy.com however and found one place that i hadn't yet seen that may be applicable.
Looking through their catalogue though i can't see speedrail anywhere and am wondering if its just called something different etc here??
Does it have any other names?
Even though it's not listed in their catalog, it's a standard rigging accessory. It's often used to make large framesets for silks and solids, just describe what you have in mind and they'll come up with something. You can also use 2x4" lumber, c-clamped together, but it just doesn't look as elegant.
Just ask for a 4 meter lighting boom with a 50 pound base (or whatever metric equivalent they stock). They will most assuredly have it...and know what you're asking for. You can speedrail to it...but I would recommend 1 1/2" Schedule 40 steel pipe. Cheseboro (pipe clamp) a one meter pipe to it as a crosspiece of whatever length you want and hang your lights from it.
Live large and get two booms and connect them with another 4 meter schedule 40 pipe or speedrail (aluminum conduit)...forming the goalpost that John was telling you to set up way back in the beginnning of this thread.
Get some sandbags for your bases to be safe and make the job even heavier.
John, Dennis, Michael and anyone who gave input on helping me, just wanted to say thank you for your help.
The church choir that i filmed was done the other day, and i was quite happy with how it turned out. I did a few quick interviews afterward too which were good too.
Just wanted to give a big thanks to each of you guys for your help. It was invaluable the advice that you gave.
I notice more and more in my filming experiences (especially for the doco im shooting) is that the practicality of things/events/people often trumps technical aspects. I found myself rushing to not waste peoples time who waited to be interviewed etc, compromised somewhat on my power (electricity) needs for the sake of musicians/ other people involved etc etc.
I guess i'm just saying that there are so many elements to trying to make decent movies of any sort, and alot of experience to get things as right as they can be.
Thanks again guys for the help.