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Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms

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Drew Mortensen
Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 8, 2011 at 6:42:37 pm

I was recently tasked with purchasing lighting for our growing in-house productions. Unfortunately, I don't have any significant experience with lighting (except fire hazards from "custom" placements of household lamps.) We are doing a mix of styles/locations, including: interviews, talking head, conference room (70x40,30x20,15x15), and a few close quarters shots... I doubt that we'll ever be outside. I would like to be able to cast some harsh/crisp shadows, but that won't be the normal. Most of the existing indoor lighting is florescent. We are shooting with Sony XDcams in full 1920x1080. I'm expecting that we'll be purchasing at least four lights and a bunch of accessories. Power in these locations is fairly standard for an office building. The questions that I am stuck on are: What type of lights (Florescent, Tungsten, mix of both)? What wattage(individual + cumulative)? Which brands? Which accessories?

The budget is flexible in the low thousands, but this will be a one time purchase, so I'll need to get everything that I'll ever need. Forever. :)

Thank you!



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 8, 2011 at 10:28:36 pm

Easy first step: replace the existing overhead fluoro tubes with Videssence or KinoFlo tubes as a base.

For drop-ceilings, you can get flush-fitting fixtures that act as scoops or reflector/diffusers, and they are not at all obtrusive. A state agency I work with did this for their press briefing room and the lighting hits their speakers's podium area at the right angle, fixtures unseen. Very clean look. Of course, permanently fixed positioning.


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Drew Mortensen
Re: Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 10, 2011 at 2:21:39 pm

I'm open to this idea as a partial solution, but I don't think that I could get all six of our conference rooms outfitted. Any suggestions as to portable lighting?



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Craig Seeman
Re: Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 10, 2011 at 10:45:28 pm

You'd have to kill the room fluorescents then.

You might consider Flolights.
http://www.flolight.com/
They range from 500 to 1500W equivalent but they use much less power so they are less likely to blow fuses.
They're cool so you wont toast your subjext.
at 5400k they're "daylight" color which makes it a bit easier if you have sun light coming in from windows.
You can get dimmable versions which gives you reasonable control.

Sometimes a softbox can help as well. You might consider Lowel Rifa EX which can use daylight fluorescent as well.
http://www.lowel.com/rifa/
You can figure a few lights in one and each has it's own on/off switch.

If you need to light a large area with ambient non directional light you could add a China Ball like this
http://www.filmtools.com/lantern-lock-china-ball-system.html
using a CFL light in it.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:51:56 am

Fast, Good, Cheap: you only get to pick 2, any 2 but ONLY 2.

Here's an idea that may work with a lower budget, if you never know which room you will shoot in, but can't afford to light them all... you CAN afford to attach brackets on the walls of all the rooms, and have a detachable light bar you can hang up before the job. I would base this on Manfrotto Auto-Poles, which are lightweight aluminum alloy tubes that telescope down to make moving them from room to room easier. You hang your lights on the pole, and leave them attached, if they are not too heavy. So, one set of lights for as many rooms as you want, just one at a time. The pole also means no stands in the way for people to bump into, and no stands in the way of your shots.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Lighting for HD Video in Office/Conference Rooms
on Apr 12, 2011 at 4:31:29 pm

Hi Drew,

This year I'm shooting a series of physician interviews in a total of eight different conference rooms, ranging from closet-size to larger (thank goodness). I don't know what I'm going to get until I show up. I'm a one-man-band setting up all my own equipment. I have an hour to set up everything including camera and audio.

Here is an image from the last shoot I did.



I'm using four lights; all daylight balanced. I always kill the overhead fluorescents. Key light is a Flolight 6 bank fluorescent. I find with the sensitivity of the Panasonic GH2 that I'm shooting with, I only use 2 banks. Fill light is a Flolight 500 LED with minus green gel and diffusion. Back/rim light is another 500 LED unfiltered. To add an interesting gradient to the blank wall, I used my Coollights CDM 150 fresnel close to the wall and raked it down at about 45 degrees, using the barndoors to adjust the shadow. All the fixtures are low wattage and I never have any power troubles.

Every room is different, though. One conference "closet" had a skylight, a window and white walls. I don't carry material for blocking out windows, (which is one reason I use the daylight balanced fixtures), so I added some light to the background to give it a cleaner 'clinical' look and used the window w/ blinds as dimmable fill. (It was a cloudy day with nice soft light coming in).

If I were buying lights today, I would get everything from Coollights.biz. IMO, their quality is a little better than Flolights and their customer service is way better.

Audio is another factor. These rooms are usually pretty echoey. I use a directional shotgun mic on a boom, which sounds decent. I'd like to take my audio up a notch by hanging some sound blankets. I do need to take into account my 1 hour setup time, though, so I can't go too crazy.

My client was originally going to shoot these interviews themselves with a flipcam, but decided they wanted a nicer look. They have been delighted with the shoots we have done so far. Since I am shooting on a Panny GH2, I mentioned that I could take nice photos. They jumped on that and now I tack on an additional charge for headshots with virtually no extra effort. Not bad for a $900 camera!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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