Lighting for university event venues
I've recently been hired by my graduate school to help them improve the quality of their event video recordings. To this point, they've just been using the room lights and as a result most of their videos turn out extremely dark. There are two primary rooms where they shoot events, both with fairly similar layouts and copious windows (in one case an entire wall, in the other 2 entire walls). To give you a sense of the room size, each will fit about 150 people in a theater setup. I'm guessing I can get them to pony up $1000 for a kit that would alleviate their problem of low light. Would two 1k Lowell DP's do the trick? I really appreciate any advice you can provide.
All the best,
[Max Entman] "Would two 1k Lowell DP's do the trick?"
No, not if you are wanting really good results. That might bring your levels up a tiny bit to help with some of the "darkness," but it's still not going to be a well lit scenario.
First issue is firepower... two 1Ks is just not enough for a room that size (and you probably want additional instruments, such as backlighting, as well). Secondly, your color temperature is wildly different considering you have two entire walls of windows in one of the venues. You'll have daylight light coming in there, and adding tungsten instruments to it. They both need to be the same. The options are, firstly, gelling the instruments to brings their color temp up to daylight (using a bit of blue gel). The problem is, that is going to drastically cut the output of those 1Ks, and they are already underpowered as it is. The other option would be to permanently gel all of the windows to bring them down to tungsten temperature. Sounds like that would be a big job, and it wouldn't be cheap. The third option (best) would be to use daylight-balanced fixtures of some kind. HMIs are probably not an option because they just are not usually appropriate for a "theatre" situation like this, and secondly they would be waaaaaay out of budget. Flos would come to mind, next... Kinos or Videssence or other studio flo lighting... but again you are talking about instruments that would total many times your $1000 budget.
At this point, I think a good start would be to find out exactly how much of a budget you can get, and then I'm sure you'll get lots of good specific suggestions in here. But to do it right and to do a decent job, unfortunately you're going to need something that is at least a bit more than the money you're talking about so far.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Both your description of the lighting issues and your question make me wonder how qualified you are to be hired to fix the problem. I don't mean to be harsh, but a typical professional who would receive such an assignment would not consider doing it for less than a $1000 fee, independent of the lighting equipment purchase itself, and surely two Lowell DP's are not the correct choice.
The work involved would be a thorough investigation of the various uses of the room, designing a lighting plot, calculating the light output at the prescribed distances, ordering fixtures/rigging/hardware/wiring/dimmers, etc. not to mention the actual installation which might require scissor lifts or A-frame ladders, depending on the ceiling height.
I doubt very much that it's really a matter of "low light" levels, as modern video cameras are very sensitive and produce very little "noise" even in gained-up modes. It is more likely the position of the practical lights; they are most likely ceiling mounted "area lighting" designed to illuminate the room in such a way that people can find their way to a seat and then find their belongings when they leave.
What is required is lighting that will light the faces in the action area where the speakers play. The number of people who must be lit in this area will determine the amount of lighting units and their size. To allow flexibility for various configurations, a dimmer panel would seem appropriate so various "scenes" could be created, programmed and called up as necessary. In addition there would be some flexibility to adjust for unanticipated permutations.
Off hand, if I were to recommend any one particular type of fixture to use it would be the ETC Source Four which with the proper selection of globe (575 or 750w) and lens angle 19,26,35,50,70, etc. would provide the control necessary (vis a vis the open faced Lowell light).
Rigging a pipe in the proper place would allow a mounting platform for many such units, and routing the wiring to there from a multichannel dimmer backstage or in the back of the room where you can see the effect would be logical.
Needless to say, this can not be done for $1000, but perhaps $5000-10000. The best thing you could do is to make a convincing case to do this correctly, not half-assed with a couple of Lowell lights. Such a proper installation will last many years and will greatlu increase the usefulness of the facility.
Please do not take offense, but it would be best to hand this off to a lighting professional and or an architect who has some specific specialization in lighting such venues.
Todd and John -
Thanks to both of you for the prompt replies. I am most certainly out of my depth in this case. To clarify, I've been hired to help them with their online videos broadly - lighting is certainly not my expertise. That said, I highly doubt they will be willing to shell out 5-10K for this expense. Especially given that there are two rooms in question, is there a portable solution more in the $2000-$3000 range max that would suffice, if not achieve perfection? I know half-assing is not ideal, but is there a "better than nothing" sort of option?
Again, I appreciate feedback from actual experts.
The solution is simple; just reschedule all events to take place during the day when there will be plenty of daylight pouring in those huge windows :) What kind of events are these? A speaker at a lectern or a group of performers? What camera(s) are being used?
Video production... with style!
I like Sharaf's suggestion of the Source Four's, and these might be found used here and there. At least a pair would be needed to hit a stand-in-one-spot lecturer setup as a key and fill. The Source Four's offer tremendous control, the ability to project logos on a wall or curtain, internal colored gel holders and would be superior to Lowels in this case for this particular application. (Don't have a heart attack, John; I know that Lowels can't solve EVERY problem:-) )
In smaller venues like some community colleges, they might approach this kind of thing by hanging a track lighting bar from the ceiling with some PAR cans in a place where they can be aimed to hit one or two pre-determined marks. For a more portable setup, T-shaped lighting trees like a DJ might use could be positioned in the side wings area. That is more in keeping with the spirit of your thousand-dollar budget but frankly is still going to go over budget by some margin, to do the job right.
If you saw the recent Republican Presidential Debate in Orlando Florida (on the FOX NEWS CHANNEL) you would have seen 9 candidates at podiums (typical University lecture presentation) lit by Source 4 lekos .....just on a much larger scale -- and with 6 lekos on every podium.
I totally agree that a thousand bucks won't do it and that they need to hire a professional. However, just curious,what are the actual room dimensions including ceiling height? Also, are their events all similar with speakers at one end and people seated or is there a great variety with folks roaming about the room? When they say the videos are dark, is that because they try to shoot toward the windows?
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