Lighting

Video production requires specialized lighting, both for sufficient light levels as well as aesthetic concerns. Concerns include the use of mixed light (such as daylight and tungsten) as well as excessive top light or uneven lighting for a broad area. If there are large windows that allow light onto the subject, you may want to close the curtains or leave the curtains open and use color correction gel on the lights so you can daylight white balance. All lights should be placed in locations that are not readily accessible to stray audience members. Use sandbags to secure the lightstands and brightly colored gaffer's tape to mark off (and block if necessary) areas around the lights.

The three point lighting model (key, fill, backlight) is a style that can be used and adapted for all situations. Remember to have a sufficient "wash" of light or areas of light where all the subjects will be at all times, so that if a speaker steps to the side of a lectern, they will still be properly lit for the camera. The light levels and your camera should be able to correctly expose at f/2 to f/5.6 when set to normal (0 dB) gain. If the camera zebra is set to 70ire, you should be able to see zebra on the forehead, nose and tops of cheeks.

The simplest form of lighting a single person or lectern-style talk is to use a single strong key light near the camera position. A high angle ellipse placed just slightly behind and to the side of the camera will throw a shadow behind the subject. The high angle (45 degrees or steeper) will help throw the shadow away from camera view. Screens and light diffusion can be attached to reduce the intensity and hardness of the light, and the vanes and focusing mechanism of the ellipse can be adjusted to shape the outline and edges of the light.

Alternately, two ellipses, or other instruments, can be used to produce a more modeled, crosslit look. The lights should be placed about 45 degrees from the subject. Designate one instrument to be the key and the other as a fill, and add diffusion or adjust the spot/flood control of the lights. Be careful of the double nose or chin shadow effect created by two lights, and adjust the hardness and softness of both lights to eliminate or minimize.

A backlight adds definition to the subject, but beware of lens flares as well as placement that is visible to the camera. Placing the light stand slightly off to the side and behind the subject, as well as the use of a flag above the camera lens, can alleviate such flares. If a C stand is available, you have more options for placing the backlight out of camera view range.

The backlight should be strong enough to add definition and modeling to the head and shoulders without causing overexposure or a too-bright, "holy" look to the speaker. Focus the light to land between the shoulders, just below the neck. The backlight should not be aimed at the top of the head, as this causes unflattering glare that will also be overexposed. You'll need diffusion to cut down the intensity, and the use of colored gel (rose or light pink, straw, bastard amber) will help add definition as well as cut down the intensity.

Using House Lights

If the venue or location already has instruments in the proper positions (such as a theater), these can be adjusted for video use.

Ask house lighting personnel for more "front light" and less "top light". The lights in front of the stage and in the wings can serve this purpose. The camera can aid you in determining proper light levels. Lighting for the camera will also provide adequate light for the audience.

You may find lights above the stage that point directly down to the speaker's position, creating an unhealthy "top light" that will produce shadows in the eye sockets and overly bright areas on the top of objects. These lights, when sufficiently dimmed, can be used as a backlight. Again, caution should be used so this light will not create areas of overexposure on the top of heads.

Lectures with Projection

Projected material (slides, PowerPoint, discs or tapes) should be copied or transferred so it can be cleanly edited into the program. This allows the camera operator to concentrate on shooting the speaker and referencing the projections only when necessary. In addition to obtaining copies of projected material, the projector itself may be used as scan converter. Connect the video output of the scan converter or projector to a deck to capture that material.

A balance of exposure must be achieved between the light on the speaker and the projection. You should be able to shoot a wide shot of both the speaker and screen without over or under exposing either. This will require using only enough light on the speaker's position for a healthy exposure at normal (0-dB) gain.

When possible, try to reduce the brightness and intensity of the color of the projection. The color in most computer projections will exceed NTSC safe levels without proper adjustment. Also, the white or blank areas of computer projections or slides may overexpose if left at normal or unadjusted levels.

The key light should be adjusted (using barn doors, vanes or black wrap) so that no light falls on the screen. If the light must be placed off to the side, place it on the same side as the screen so that the shadow of the speaker falls away from the projection.
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