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Gear & Now: The Lighting Side of Videography
Posted Oct 6, 2004 - May 2005 Issue Print Version     Page 1of 4 next »

Despite what you've heard about today's light-sensitive cameras (some even promise to shoot in the dark), DV imagery looks best when light—and shadow—are used to enhance technical and creative objectives. And with HDV cameras (requiring much more light than standard DV) on the horizon [see Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen's HDV article in this issue, pp. 60], lighting solutions will be more important than ever before.

This article highlights some of the popular and effective lighting kits available for the independent videographer.

Hard vs. Soft Lighting
Strong and directed light, preferably from a focusable lamp (such as a fresnel), provides good key lighting. This hard light is used to place shadows, add contrast, or increase depth between foreground and background. Focusing helps spread or narrow the light beam for even greater control, turning a standard light into a hair light, keylight, kicker, or accent light.

Softer, diffused light (bounced off an umbrella, or coming through a soft-box attachment) provides good base illumination throughout a scene. Soft lights can also be used as keylights when a more gentle, sculpted look is desirable.

Kit Components
Good kits should offer a range of light outputs (such as 250, 600, and/or 1000-watt), in order to give more creative control over the end image. Depending on the shooting environment, kits should accommodate daylight (5600K) applications, indoor tungsten (3200K), or a combination. Accordingly, HMI, quartz, fluorescent, and now even LED lighting kits are available to meet different shooting and lighting requirements.

Kit accessories include light stands, clamps, or other mounting devices; dimmers, barn doors, scrims, or other light control tools; cables, extra lamps, and even the type of carrying case itself. These are all important options.

Naturally, there's a wide price range, from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

Some of the least expensive lighting kits are still suitable for basic video lighting, such as two-person interviews or simple on-camera presentations.

Quartz (3200K)
Kits Owens' Originals offers a 2000W total output continuous lighting kit, available for $329 (www.owens-originals.com). The 2000W kit will get certain types of jobs done at low cost. The 3200K lamps do generate some heat, but are rated at 300 hours, operating on 120 volts.

The $329 Owens kit includes:
• four 500W Quartz lights (2000 watts total)
• two 40" white reflective umbrellas
• 5-foot tall steel construction light stands
• Swivel clamp mounting adaptors.

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