Lighting is an essential part of any video production. When you watch a student film or movie made by amateurs, what is it that stands out the most? While often inferior acting and possibly incorrect camera angles might also be at play, it is usually the poor lighting that draws the most attention.
Lighting can make or break a production and it is exactly why you need to know what sort of lighting equipment to use. Unless you have a large crew, you probably are not able to bring large production lighting equipment with c-stands, generators, flags and other material. Not only is all of this gear expensive and heavy but it takes up a large amount of space.
Instead, you need to look towards other video production gear you can easily transport and even afford on your own. While you can learn about the use of high-end lighting equipment in school, knowing about some of the more cost-effective and transport-friendly options is to your advantage as well.
Light Producing Gear
This comes down to the quality of the light, the intensity and the preference of the director. Fresnel lights are the larger, heavier, studier lights. You can pick up a set, ranging from the smaller Arri 150 fresnel to larger, brighter lighting kits that work for larger lighting setups. These lights become especially hot and do require some additional maintenance, but they are a solid option.
Fluorescent lighting kits are great if you want something light and easy to carry. They are also desirable for studio shoots and interviews. These soft fluorescent lights are different than the ones you purchase for your home and they provide better lighting color quality. With bulbs and setups, this equipment is inexpensive, easy to move and works for smaller productions.
LED lighting is another option that is starting to gain more popularity. The bulbs do not run hot, which means takedown time is greatly reduced. The bulbs also don’t burn out like the bulbs in a fresnel light. Typically, these lights are not great for the key or source lights due to their smaller size, but if you are looking for a pepper kit or something of that nature, LED lights will work.
Additional Lighting Gear
Always remember the light meter. This is simply a must. You need to know how hot the lighting is, whether it is too bright and what setting you need to give the camera. Video production and lighting is very technical, especially when working with high-end cameras (both digital and film). You don’t want to just guess at the lighting and color temperature based on looks alone as your eyes can deceive you. Instead, always carry the light meter.
Light scrims are also a must, especially when working with fresnel lighting gear. They are basically metal screens that slide in front of the light. This reduces the intensity of the light and each kind of light can be measured by the f-stop reduction in lighting brightness. This makes determining brightness and temperature on the fly easier.
On the other hand, a net defuse is something you’ll stand up with a c-stand. These nets can help diffuse the light naturally instead of just making it less bright. So, if you want a softer light instead of a harsher light, nets are the way to go.