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  • Lighting a Semi Circle Panel Discussion

     Rick Wise updated 4 years, 11 months ago 4 Members · 8 Posts
  • Terry Leahy

    October 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Hey Guys,

    I’m doing a panel discussion that will be in a semi circle formation on high chairs coming up that will be filmed in a live production style with a live audience. I am trying to figure out the best way to light them without disrupting the audiences view. I own a KINO-FLO 400 Diva and was just thinking of grabbing two others and creating a low light bank. I’m a little worried about the light being unflattering even though it’s soft.

    Should I boost them high or do this? Also I could set up two hard lights on the sides out of the audiences view and just throw one KINO in the front.

    Thoughts?

  • Todd Terry

    October 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I’ve got to make this super fast (late for being on location) or I would write more… but….

    For something super fast/easy/cheap in a semicircle (or full circle) roundtable situation like this, I’ve often started with a large China Ball hanging directly over the table and just barely up out of frame as my key. It gives nice soft flattering lighting on everyone, since it is both soft and equidistant from all your talent. Then I usually did individual backlights for each talent, and sometimes that was enough and good to go.

    It’s not the most interesting lighting, but it’s fast and easy and everyone looks pretty. When you have a bunch of people in frame and restrictions of space/time/budget and all that jazz, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of making the plot interesting for everyone, so this is a pretty fast-n-easy way to go.

    T2

    __________________________________
    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
    fantasticplastic.com

  • Rick Wise

    October 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    If the semi-circle is tight enough, Todd’s solution is elegant. If they in a sort of arc, then 3 divas around 45 degrees above horizontal with 1/2 grid cloth on each should give you decently flattering key lights. Add the back lights if you can.

    Both of these solutions are easy on the participants’ eyes. Unless one or more are super sensitive to light, they won’t squint or complain.

    Rick Wise
    Cinematographer
    MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
    San Francisco Bay Area
    https://www.RickWiseDP.com

  • Terry Leahy

    October 21, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    The backlights should take care of themselves as there is a nice little light wall built into the set. Now I’m armed with an ARRI kit with a 650 a 350 a 150 and my KiNO. I like your idea Rick but I can’t set up a light right in front above 45 without interfering with the audiences view. Which means I need to figure out how to get my moderator a key light without blocking the audience. Thoughts?

  • Todd Terry

    October 21, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    [Terry Leahy] “The backlights should take care of themselves…”

    Perhaps… but don’t underestimate that. I’ll often tell people to watch for the full-length head-to-toe shot when someone is standing on stage on a well-lit show like The Tonight Show or The Late Show. Look at the floor, invariably the strongest (sometimes only) shadow you’ll see is in front of the talent… meaning the brightest and/or hardest light is the backlight. The “little light wall” might not be enough to give you a true decent backlight with a good hair rim, shoulder spillage, etc., that will give you good separation from the background. If possible I’d dedicate at least a small fresnel instrument to each talent for backlighting, that’d do the job nicely.

    T2

    __________________________________
    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
    fantasticplastic.com

  • Mark Suszko

    October 21, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Where do you guys get your China Balls? And are they actual paper ones like from Pier One, or industry-specific versions made with heat-proof materials? And are they incandescent or Flo-powered?

  • Todd Terry

    October 21, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Well, I’m embarrassed a little to admit this in a place where the real lighting designers and DPs can see it…

    But… yes, while you can buy “real” China Balls made for photographic purposes (Chimera, etc., makes them), you mentioned the Pier One paper Chinese Lanterns… and those are exactly what I use.

    Even the very biggest one is something like 10 bucks… are fairly durable… and when they wear out just throw it away and buy a new one the next time you need it….

    Here’s an old behind-the-scenes photo montage that I uploaded to the COW years ago about another project, you can see the China Ball in a few of the shots…

    For the lamp I use these bigass flo tubes… I mean BIG ones…

    These are 200w mogul base tubes… now, that is not 200 “equivalent” watts the way you’ll often see flos listed, they are 200 actual watts, so they are very bright. I have them in both daylight and tungsten temps. They aren’t wildly expensive, it’s been a long time since I bought any but if I recall they are less than a hundred bucks. Now, these are NOT true photographic lights but I was pleased to find that the CRIs on them are more than high enough to be adequate. Of course I did have to rig up my own socket/mount and all that jazz because the Pier One lantern is literally a paper ball on a wire frame and not much else… but it was no big deal.

    Gives a very pleasing light.

    T2

    —–ADDENDUM——

    I forgot I had a behind-the-scenes video from this same shoot here on the COW… you can see the China ball in action, it was on a long strut on the dolly that floated it along with the talent….

    Of course there were bunches of other lighting instruments in this scene, but the China ball was the key. If you’re curious enough to see that finished spot, this is it….from a few years ago…

    __________________________________
    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
    fantasticplastic.com

  • Rick Wise

    October 21, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Looks like Amazon sells the daylight version of those bulbs for around $62 with shipping. A CRI of only 84. But you can probably manually white balance to them and make them work well the way Todd did. Cheap China Balls are a treasure. You can also get 250 watt tungsten bulbs for them. Those get hot, so be sure to use the large size balls.

    Rick Wise
    Cinematographer
    MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
    San Francisco Bay Area
    https://www.RickWiseDP.com

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