Jennifer O'Rourke: Hi, welcome to Tips and Techniques, i'm Jennifer O'Rourke.
John Burkhart: And I'm John Burkhart.
Jennifer O'Rourke: And this is our first of two parts on lighting , today we're doing light kits, next week we're doing camera lights.
John Burkhart: Right. Essentialy this is going to be our quick primer on different types of lights you have out there and what they're used for.
Jennifer O'Rourke: You want to start?
John Burkhart: All right, let's start with the basic flood light.
Jennifer O'Rourke: It's a pretty big light, it's pretty powerful, and it's really, really hot, so when you get this light and want to put it in a new position, decide where you want, how you want it set up before you turn it on, because it's going to get hot really fast. And if you need to do any kind of adjustments, you need gloves.
John Burkhart: Yeah, yeah, it gets very, very hot. Its primary use is to use it as key light, and it spreads a large amount of light over a large surface area. And it’s pretty much the light you use to light your scene generally, and then you would use other lights to fill in sort of shadows and details, and things like that.
This is what, 1000 watts?
Jennifer O'Rourke: Yeah.
John Burkhart: So you have to be very careful, you can probably only plug one of these into a standard household light switch; you have to be careful about tripping breakers and things like that.
So, once you have general light from your flood light, you can go and adjust where you want other lights. You can use something like this.
Jennifer O'Rourke: It’s a spotlight
John Burkhart: Yeah.
Jennifer O'Rourke: This is a spotlight and in this case it’s an omnilight, low omnilight. I’m going to turn it away from the camera, and Joseph is going to shoot some close-ups for me here, but what this is, it has what’s called a focusable setting. You can see it moving here, and it gets tighter on the spot or spreads out to be more of a flood, more to what we have here.
John Burkhart: Now both of these lights, like we said before, do get really, really hot, and they come with a, custom lamps. Or you don’t call them bulbs in the lighting world, you call them lamps.
And generally, you don’t want to ever touch them with your fingers, because the oil on your fingers can cause the lamp to heat unevenly, shorten its life and even blow up. And that’s also, they have these screens around them-
Jennifer O'Rourke: they will pop.
John Burkhart: They can explode, and it’s always fun to use, you know. You always need a little element of danger in your shoots.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Yeah, it happens at the worst moment. I was shooting for the Council one time and popped on me. I think I thought I got shot or something.
John Burkhart: Yeah. Well, generally you can use just a tissue paper or a lense cleaner, but you don’t want to actually touch them directly with your hands. And one thing I just illustrated on purpose before is the fact that on these stands, they’re fairly easy to knock over, so generally what you want to do is look down here and use sand bags to sort of anchor the light stand a little bit better.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Yeah.
John Burkhart: And that makes it a lot harder, while you can knock it, it won’t actually, you know, tip over.
Jennifer O'Rourke: And that’s a very valuable tool. We use them a lot here in the studio, because we use our studio for a lot of different things. If these were set lights, then we wouldn’t have to move them, we wouldn’t have to worry about it, but we do, and we trip over them all the time. And the sand bags have saved our bacon.
John Burkhart: A lot of lighting is lighting safety, actually. A lot of things you need to know about these lights. And this is how lights have been made for, you know, fifty years now. But lately there’s been some more technological advance in lighting that, you know, increase the safety factor, and actually provide a more pleasant light.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Right. Which is what we actually use on our vidcast is the banks. This is a smaller one, we use a larger one on our show. I looked right into it. And you have a little bit of the barn doors that you close off and open up.
John Burkhart: And the bulbs here are actually fluorescent, which means there’s a whole lot less power, and don’t, and aren’t as nearly as hot as the old incandescent lamps. And what’s nice about these fluorescent is that they come in different color temperatures as well. Generally, the lights that you get in your old lighting kits are, you know, not daylight balanced, but indoor, balanced for indoor. And so you have to adjust your white balance.
With these lights you can buy fluorescent elements that are balanced for daylight, so for example, if you were shooting in a room with a window, and there was some light coming through the window, you could use this light to also illuminate the same scene and not have to sort of adjust the color balance on each one.
Jennifer O'Rourke: And over here we have, we’re not going to turn it on for you, but we have a RIFA light, which is really nice little light to get, if you have no other light that you can get, you can’t afford to get a light kit, one of the these is pretty versatile little device. If I can get it out of here. It opens up like a regular old umbrella, and has all sorts of possibilities. This is a really little cool light to have. You can use it, you can hand held it actually, or you can hook it on a stand like we have over here.
John Burkhart: But essentially what it does, it takes this hard incandescent light and it reflects it off a surface to soften it and to expand the range of illumination.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Now I want to talk real quick about the light stands. People often don’t look at light stands, and you’ll notice light stand, we have, we use, back here has wheels on it. This is usually our standard light stand and most people will open it up from the top and move down. And you actually want to open it up from the bottom because that’s where your heavier legs are. So, raise it, raise the height from the bottom, until you get it to where you want, so you’re not actually raising the smallest portion which makes it a little bit more tippy. That’s just one little tip there.
And the other little tip I wanted to talk about is, some do with cables. This cable has a light switch to it. And that’s a really nice little tool because you can turn it on and off right wherever your light stand is, if you have a light that you’ve got switched all the way up, and you can’t turn the light on, you have to bring down, take it back up, bring it down, take it back up, and that’s not good for your bulbs.
John Burkhart: No, actually, with the incandescent bulbs, the oil lighting bulbs, once they’re lit, you don’t want to move them. Because they’re much less stable when the bulb, when the lamp is on. And they can pop a lot easier. And the same thing is when you’re finished, you want to give them enough time to cool down again. They will remain, retain that heat for some time.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Yeah, the rule is, once you’re finished with your shoot, first thing you do is turn off your lights and leave them there. Don’t move them, don’t pack them, put everything elseway first.
John Burkhart: And the lamps for video lighting are fairly expensive, you know. You can’t end there, they’re somewhat difficult to get, you can’t just go to your local hardware store and pick up a new light for one of these.
Jennifer O'Rourke: No, they look like they’re the same kind, but they really aren’t. Let me talk a little bit about these reflectors here. This is one of our favorite kind of reflectors that we use here. Because, open it up and you’ve got a silver side, and a gold side. And inside that is, you take it apart, lot of you won’t notice, is a white fuse inside. If, or something very, very soft. I can get a little bit of light going on from here, but you’d see a lot more of it from the gold. And you can see the reflection kind of makes him a little warmer, silver is a little bit cooler. And these are really great for outdoors.
John Burkhart: Right, when you essentially use the sun as your key light. But they’re great to use inside as well, to balance the light, you know, kind of exactly where you want, and need it.
Jennifer O'Rourke: And if you can’t afford a really expensive one like that, there are smaller ones, and they’re actually easier to use if you’re one man band, when you’re trying to be shooting and doing it at the same time. Or you have someone else who’s working with you. Or if you got some hard, in this case fumcore 08:20. It’s hard enough that you can actually lean it to get something if you’re not, if you’re not shooting with a grip, or an associate.
Or, the large one that we have used in the past, silver reflector, which is great for outdoors when you need to get lots of light on a dark, really, really dark forresty area or something.
John Burkhart: Although a little unwieldy at 8 feet tall, but…
Jennifer O'Rourke: That, we just bought that at the warehouse store.
John Burkhart: So, generally, that’s different kinds of light available right now. Generally you can buy them stand alone or as a kit, comes in threes with stands and cords. The lamplights, the old incandescent lights are still probably the least expensive, whereas the fluorescence and the new LED lights tend to be more money. But, you know, there’s a huge trade off both in terms of 1- safety, 2- power consumption, and 3- the different quality of light, both in temperature and the softness, or hardness.
Jennifer O'Rourke: Right. If you want to know more about lighting, our upcoming January issue has a Lighting Buyer’s Guide. It has a whole lot of good tips on what kind of lights, what kind of bulbs, and what you need them for. So, check that out, and go shopping.