Technological advancements aren’t just changing the way we watch and experience media; they are also transforming the actual process of creating media.
For example, TV lighting has evolved considerably to keep pace with new media formats like HD and 4K. Now, the average TV broadcasting studio is equipped with several different types of lighting fixtures – ones that weren’t necessarily required a decade or so ago.
Types of Television Lighting
A studio’s lighting set-up largely depends on the type of content being created. As you would expect, lighting for a morning news program will be much different than lighting for a drama series.
For broadcasting, the most widely used lighting equipment falls into one of three categories:
- Quartz lamps
- Fresnel lenses
- LED lights
Quartz lamps have long been a staple of the industry, but LED lights have become increasingly popular in recent years.
In general, there are six essential types of TV studio lights:
Key lights serve as the primary source of illumination for a subject. In many studios, a type of light called the “Fresnel spotlight” is the standard choice. There are two important reasons that Fresnel spotlights are a studio staple:
- The beam can be easily adjusted, with options ranging from a wide flood to a narrow spot focus. Using barn-doors allows for even greater flexibility regardless of the shape of the beam. As a result, there is precision-level control over the light’s intensity and coverage area, with no need to change the fixture’s actual position.
- The lens system creates a soft-edged beam, which easily blends with various other lighting fixtures used on the set.
Backlights separate the subject from the background, producing the appearance of depth. The backlights are situated directly behind the subject and above the camera plane, carefully mounted to avoid putting direct light on the camera lens and generating unwanted shadows and spills. In many cases, a Fresnel spotlight is also used for backlighting (because of its adaptability).
A scoop or floodlight is commonly used as a base light, establishing the set’s overall light level. Base lights may also be utilized for creating a certain color mixture.
Ideally, the focus of base lights will be easily adjustable so the beam spread can be controlled. Like key lights, base lights must also have a soft-edged field of light to blend effectively with other lighting units.
Fill lights are very similar to base lights, but the two lighting forms are not quite interchangeable. Fill lights work as secondary light sources, delivering a diffused output similar to base lighting. They are intended to reduce excessive contrast and blend any shadows created by the key light.
To create the appearance of smooth, even lighting on a backdrop/cyclorama, set lights are used. They can serve various purposes, including intensifying background illumination, blending with the overall set, balancing the picture, or even creating a specific mood.
These lights can be customized for color mixing so that the perfect lighting design can be easily achieved.
Effect lights add visual interest or change the mood by projecting images onto a background or subject. A profile spotlight is frequently used as effect light, offering several different mechanisms by which the projection can be adjusted.
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